• Welcome to Talking Time's third iteration! If you would like to register for an account, or have already registered but have not yet been confirmed, please read the following:

    1. The CAPTCHA key's answer is "Percy"
    2. Once you've completed the registration process please email us from the email you used for registration at percyreghelper@gmail.com and include the username you used for registration

    Once you have completed these steps, Moderation Staff will be able to get your account approved.

  • TT staff acknowledge that there is a backlog of new accounts that await confirmation.

    Unfortunately, we are putting new registrations on hold for a short time.

    We do not expect this delay to extend beyond the first of November 2020, and we ask you for your patience in this matter.

    ~TT Moderation Staff

MiSTer: the thread of cycle accuracy

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I thought Shakewell's excellent thread from the old place should continue here.

So, what is MiSTer? It's a homebrew system for playing classic games, continuing where the MiST left off.
Why not get a mini console / Raspberry Pi? They're cheaper and easier to set up. This is true, but these solutions use emulation, which generally isn't very accurate; accuracy to the level of BSNES requires a beefier CPU than is found in these computers. MiSTer instead uses an FPGA to run these old games - the FPGA is a reconfigurable chip which can effectively become the old console's chipset, ensuring incredible accuracy when programmed correctly. Games run with no lag, exactly as they did on their original hardware. And the upscaling and optional filters look spectacular.
Added to that, the FPGA in the MiSTer is pretty beefy; it is thought that eventually it will be able to run PlayStation games and already runs Game Boy Advance ones.

 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
MiSTer users well know the suffering of not having a dedicated power switch for the system. You can buy in-line switches that connect to the 5.5mm connector that the DE-10 uses, but some of them cause voltage drops that might impact performance of the FPGA board. You can get a more expensive power switch in a different shape, which should fix that problem, along with an adapter. Some people even get a version of the IO board with a power switch on it, but I don't have one of those. So far, I've been literally plugging and unplugging the power cable at the wall outlet every time I've wanted to turn the MiSTer on or off (or both in rapid succession).

But no more! I stumbled across a tweet where someone suggested using a smart outlet that you can control with a voice assistant and my eyes lit up. I have a bunch of smart plugs in my house that I use to control various lamps, so I decided to grab a couple more and hook one up to the MiSTer. It's possible that there will still be voltage issues, but for $15 that's a gamble I'm willing to take. My new plugs arrived this afternoon, so I'll get it set up tonight and report back.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
Heh, that's pretty clever. At some point I need to work out how to get my SN30 to work over a USB connection. I have a USB 6 button Mega Drive pad and great though it is, it's terrible for SNES games.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
You should be able to get the SN30 to work via Bluetooth, I have a cheap adapter and it works very well (with an Xbox One controller, anyway).
 

John

(he/him)
Porkchop Express/Mister Addons compiled a spreadsheet of different controllers and latency, and it confirms there's a pretty wide gulf between wired/Bluetooth, but it depends on the controller. Microsoft controllers fared really well using Bluetooth, 8bitdo's across the board, and Nintendo's universally poor.

 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
Well, I finally worked out what's wrong with mine. It behaved itself for days, then yesterday went bad. I ran the memory test while it was bad and it failed. Transient fault on the memory. I emailed the place I bought it from and they agreed to fix it within about ten minutes. So I was quite impressed by that.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Nice! I think the MiSTer community is still very small and generally quite passionate about the project, so I’m not too surprised to hear that. It’s still pretty cool though.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
During the time it was working it was the best experience I've had with old games. Can't wait to get it properly fixed.

Edit: it was a pretty smart thing to do, with a small knowledgeable crowd it's not wise to get a bad reputation. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone who asked now.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
So, I did the thing and installed a smart switch to control my MiSTer! So far it seems to work like a charm. I also installed a new HDMI switch that I bought to switch between the MiSTer, SuperNt and Wii, which reminded me that merely connecting a MiSTer to your TV can break HDMI CEC. I have no idea why this is, but I read it somewhere on Twitter and it's absolutely true. The very moment that I connect an HDMI cable from my TV to my MiSTer (whether it is on or not), I lose the ability to control other devices over HDMI or auto-switch TV inputs. You can actually buy HDMI adapters and cables that remove CEC from the signal, but I'm already in possession of something that can fix the problem: my old 2-way HDMI switch. So now my MiSTer runs through my old HDMI switch into my new HDMI switch into my TV. It's stupid as hell, but it works: the new switch automatically shows whichever console is running, and HDMI CEC works again. The downside is that I had to use an extra HDMI cable to make this setup work and I've actually run out of them now, to my surprise (I have like 10 of the damn things and apparently that's still not enough). I did a quick test with Street Fighter Alpha to see if there were any visual problems or additional latency, but it all seemed to look good and respond quickly. There's probably an easier setup I could be using, but this whole mess was cheap to setup and it does what I want.

In actual core-related news, today marked the beta release for Jotego's Street Fighter (1) core. So, uh, get excited about playing a really bad fighting game soon, I guess?
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
That's exciting! I got my memory back from the supplier and mine's been excellent so far. Can't wait to play with it properly.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Because I am a ridiculous person, I've been looking at local classified ads for old monitors to use with my MiSTer. And not just one type of monitor, but two different ones! First, I'm trying to find an old CRT computer monitor that I could potentially use with the VGA-out on the IO board (that I don't own). Obviously, I need this so that I can do simultaneous analog and digital video output, which will let me stream kaizo Mario hacks while playing with zero lag on the CRT. The second monitor that I'm looking for is a 1600x1200 LCD, since that would allow for perfect 5x scaling of 240p video sources (ie, almost everything on the MiSTer right now). What would I actually do with that monitor? I don't know! I could try to use it to build myself a bartop arcade cabinet or something, but it would literally be years before I actually completed a project like that. Still, it's a tempting idea, and to my surprise someone just listed one in Montreal! But it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaay across town and I don't think I can invest the 2 hours it would take to go get it when I'm not even sure what I would do with it. It's tempting nonetheless, since it's a fairly rare monitor resolution and they don't come along all that often.

As for the CRT, I might have a line on one in my neighbourhood. It's a 14" monitor with a broken stand, but it's also close to home and the seller is only asking $5 for it. I think CRT computer monitors are pretty easy to come by in the grand scheme of things, but this one is right here and I can at least try fiddling around with it to see if I want to look for a nicer one later on. I would eventually like to order the IO board, the USB hub and possibly the sexy aluminum case that Mister Addons is working on right now. Though I am a bit worried of how much it will cost to ship all that to Canada, and whether it will even make it across the border under current conditions...
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Well I didn't get a CRT, but I DID get a 1600x1200 LCD monitor last night! It's an HP L2035 20" screen, which I just now learned had a product recall for giving people electric shocks, so I'll have to check that out! Anyway, it's in very good shape, but it's also an LCD screen from 2005, so I don't know yet how nice the picture quality will be for retro games - I suspect the refresh might be a little slow to eyes that are used to modern screens. I've ordered a DVI to HDMI cable recommended by Smokemonster that should be able to support the full resolution properly; once it arrives I'll see if I can configure the MiSTer to output at 1600x1200. Maybe some day I'll even convert this thing into a MiSTer multicade, but for now it's a fun toy that is serving as a second monitor for my computer, and it was cheap to boot. Don't expect any MiSTer footage captured at 1200p, however, as that seems to require a video card that sells for $700 USD.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I'm more excited about the MiSTer news than I am about the other stuff, and the other stuff was pretty exciting.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Despite picking up that 1600x1200 LCD explicitly for MiSTer purposes, I seem to be unable to keep myself from seeking out CRTs in the local classified ads. I'm should be going to go see one tomorrow, a 17" NEC that maxes out at 1280x1024. The hope is that I could an IO board to get simultaneous output to the CRT and my capture card, which would enable me to stream retro games while playing on the CRT. I've been investing a lot of time into kaizo Mario hacks lately, and the quick response time of an actual CRT would be greatly appreciated for what I'm doing. First step is to actually get the monitor, though, then we can talk about all the rest.

In the meantime, just LOOK AT THIS:

 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
That's absolutely beautiful

MiSTer is such an incredible project, stuff like this makes me want to spend a lot of money
 

John

(he/him)
That is all I want. There's still too much fiddling to get something like that working perfectly though, and Candy Cabs are never available in my neck of the woods. Will forever be something to aspire to.
 

ShakeWell

Slam Master
(he, etc.)
That's absolutely beautiful

MiSTer is such an incredible project, stuff like this makes me want to spend a lot of money

Less money than buying individual boards!

Also, yesterday on Twitter Jotego committed to his next release being CPS Dash! GET HYPE.
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
Well, I found myself a CRT computer monitor (that 17" NEC that I was talking about the other day) and I've just ordered myself some new accessories to upgrade my MiSTer. I was initially hoping to get the sweet aluminum case that PorkChopExpress has been showing off on his Twitter, along with the IO board and USB hub to complete the package. But the aluminum cases won't be ready for another month or more, and I don't want to wait that long to start using the CRT. The USB hub won't fit in my current case, plus it doesn't add a lot by way of new features, so that's on ice too. What I did decide to order, however, is a SNAC pack. SNAC lets you use an original controller with its appropriate MiSTer core with essentially zero lag. You use the USB 3 port on the IO board to plug in your controller, so it only supports one player, but I can't see myself really needing that extra response time in a multiplayer setting anyway. PorkChop sells a little board that lets you use controller adapters made by Bliss Box, so you buy the cables for the controllers you want from them and you're off to the races. I'm excited to see how it all comes together, in theory this should give me an original controller in a zero-latency setup, plus the ability to do simultaneous HDMI out for capture and streaming purposes. It's a bit pricey to put all this stuff together, but I've been playing a whole lot of old games recently and I'd rather invest in that than chase after the new generation of consoles and video cards right now.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
This is amazing. I'm so glad I decided to go for a MiSTer. Smoke Monster's New Year videos were very persuasive!
 

MCBanjoMike

Infamous third lava dolphin
(He/him)
My MiSTer got some serious upgrades this week! I installed the IO board and I had my first experience playing on a CRT monitor using the SNAC adapter last night. My old setup was Super Nt HDMI out > capture card passthrough > LCD monitor, and the switch to playing on a CRT monitor with SNAC controller was immediately noticeable. The only issue I've had is that the HDMI video output is now scaled differently for reasons that I don't entirely understand. I turned on the forced_scandoubler option to convert 240p into 480p (because I don't think the monitor will handle 240p) and it seems to have also forced the HDMI output to be at 480p. I was using integer value pixel scaling, so that seems to have prevented the HDMI output from using the full 720 pixels available to it and the image became a lot smaller. I can probably fix this by switching to 0.5x pixel scaling, but I'll do some tests to see what works best.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to using my new dual-output SNAC setup for its ultimate purpose, streaming kaizo Mario hacks! But in the meantime, it was tested using the fan translation of Clock Tower last night, if anyone is interested. Turn on the chat replay, Smokemonster stopped by and dropped some knowledge (not that I quite agree with all of it...)

 
Last edited:

muteKi

Hashtag give it to gilly
Does the TV max at 720p? It should be possible to up that to 1080p without any real issues (so you'll get 960, where it was before with integer scaling). I think there's a way to control the output for the HDMI scaling and the VGA scaling separately in the main config but I don't have a file offhand to mess with, and I just use HDMI out anyway.
 
Top