Say hello MiSTer

I sold my bartop because I wanted a MiSTer. I am increasingly less satisfied with playing DOS games in Dosbox on RetroPie. Some games like Dune II, slow down to a crawl with MIDI sound enabled. It’s probably something that can be worked around, but I don’t want to put in the effort. Also, I want a new project to play with. Enter MiSTer. I only got the DE10-nano board so far. And that enables me to play with the Sega Megadrive core and with the ao486 core. In the future, I also plan to work with the ZX Spectrum core, because the Turbo Chameleon 64 V2 doesn’t feature that core. That was another reason to go for a MiSTer.

I’ve messed around with the ao486 core and managed to get quite far in just a couple of days. Mostly spent revitalizing my faded DOS skills.

had to create an ao486 folder in games/ . put the boot.rom and boot1.rom files in there. Now the 486 boots. Menu didn’t show. Turns out you have to press Win + F12. Sounds logical. But why does it always have to be F12? That means I cannot easily use an Amiga keyboard, as that only goes to F10. And the Windows key also doesn’t make much sense for a DOS environment as PC keyboards prior to Windows didn’t even have a dedicated Windows key.

In the end, I’m happily playing Dune with MIDI sound. The next step is probably going to be to get a IO-board in order to more conveniently output the display to my primary monitor for playing DOS games. And also to be able to more conveniently output the SoundBlaster audio output to my mixer.

Here’s what I configured up until now:

  • I had to create a config/inputs directory
  • I copied Retrodriven_MAME script installation script over. I now have all sorts of cool mame roms. I noticed that it’s almost end of life.
  • I had to create an ao486 folder in games/ . I put the boot.rom and boot1.rom files in there. Now the 486 boots. Menu didn’t show. Turns out you have to press Win + F12. Sounds logical. But why does it always have to be F12? That means I cannot easily use an Amiga keyboard, as that only goes to F10. And the Windows key also doesn’t make much sense for a DOS environment as PC keyboards prior to Windows didn’t even have a dedicated Windows key. Turns out the Fn + F12 also works. Which doesn’t help with very early PC keyboards.
  • I created a virtual harddrive in Windows 10 partitions settings. Formatted it and made it bootable in ao486 with FORMAT C: /S and SYS C:
  • Disk images of DOS versions are available on archive.org
  • I downloaded a package from archive.org for MiSTer ao486. The Windows 98 package had all sorts of handy drivers, like MicroSoft Mouse (mmouse.exe) and SoundBlaster drivers. They need to be configured in autoexec.bat and config.sys.
  • I remembered how handy doskey was.
  • I installed Norton Commander
  • I managed to install a memory manager and cd-rom driver.
  • I also got MIDI output working by enabling MIDI in the core menu under UART mode and running softmpu. Some games need different irq settings.

Here’s my autoexec.bat:

And here’s config.sys:

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