MiSTercade and aluminum passively cooled cases both due in October!

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Let's take a walk down MiSTer memory lane *extends hand*.

Most of you have heard my backstory but I've been involved with MiSTer hardware sales since 2018. It's been a wild ride. One thing I've learned along the way is that cases are crucial for opening MiSTer up to a broader audience.

 

2019/01 - 3D printed case:

I started out with NegSol's great MiSTer case. At the time, I didn't have ANY CAD skills so I paid a co-worker to draw it from scratch so I could modify it to my liking. After months of running printers non-stop, and hand-tapping M3 holes, I needed a change of pace. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3647626

 

2019/03 - Acrylic case:

This was really my first standalone creation and I was so anxious to open the box containing sample panels. I purchased a 300x500 mm laser cutter that nearly set my house on fire, followed by another one of the exact same model because I'm a genius. There were many sweaty days spent in my garage with a respirator, like something off of Breaking Bad.

MiSTer FPGA Acrylic Case 1
MiSTer FPGA Acrylic Case

 

2019/08 - PCB case:

Sorg saved me from my garage when he shared his PCB case files with me. I traded garage time for solder bench time as I carefully pressed and soldered PCB mounting tabs into side panels. It was better, but still a buttload of work. I made a few variations of the case which took me a long time as I was fairly new to PCB design.

MiSTer FPGA PCB Case
I made this one for myself, with UV LEDs for extra glow. Just toss your EPROM over the light pipes and come back in 10 minutes.
MiSTer FPGA PCB Case
2020/08 - Aluminum Passively Cooled Case:
After going through 3 case styles in a year, then landing on PCB cases for a year, my next big case form factor was finally ready. I can't take much credit for it as I hired outside help for design and production. It's the case you know (and hopefully love, because I still have another large batch coming, plus: PURPLE!).
Sometime in 2019 I got the idea of making a new plastic case with a new form factor. I spent time working up different ideas and figuring out how to route the ports without a bunch of extension cables crammed into the case like an eMachines PC.MiSTer FPGA Early Consolized Case
MiSTer FPGA Early Consolizer
I mean, it was definitely a start. It had some character and was as small as possible. MiSTer has grown beyond my ability to 3D print parts, and injection molding still seemed a bit out of reach. So I put the case on the proverbial back burner, while I honed my PCB skills, focused on MiSTercade, and made more business contacts.
I'm proud to announce a sneak peek of my new case form factor. Codename: too early for a codename, so TBD.

Features:

  • Price: TBD
  • Availability: Early 2022?
  • ~150 mm x 150 mm x 50mm (see size comparison below)
  • Anodized aluminum OR powder coated steel (not sure which)
  • Fully compatible:
    • Custom PCB to replace USB hub
    • Uses official IO board, and SDRAM
    • Supports all current configurations including dual SDRAM should PS1/Saturn need dual SDRAM
    • Front/bottom/rear case will be either standard OR digital
  • Expandable:
    • Room sub-PCB surrounding the 2.5" drive
    • 40 pin header to extend signals
    • Openings in the rear case possible for extra IO ports
  • Cooling:
    • Active cooling
    • Possibility of passive cooling add-on
  • USB-C power in - everyone's favorite port!
  • ESP-32 microcontroller
    • 16 addressable RGB LED for solid or animated under-glow
      • Using modified WLED firmware
    • IR receiver with code for popular LED remotes
    • (Experimental: audio reactive LEDs - ok, put down the glow stick, Porkchop)
    • Other system functions are firmware dependent and TBD
    • Possibly connected to MiSTer via USB
  • Power switch rated for 4A of current - enough for all accessories including a SATA drive
    • Controlled by front switch
    • Goal: also controlled by onboard microcontroller via IR
    • Goal: also controlled by onboard microcontroller via wifi
  • ESD protection and resettable fuses on inputs for maximum protection
  • Socketed USB hub in case of damage or failure in the future (untested)
  • 2.5" SATA drive mount
    • Goal: integrate SATA2USB circuit onboard (circuit design done, awaiting testing)
    • Fallback: internal USB header for third party SATA2USB adapter
  • Decent amount of space left on the PCB and in the case - what am I missing and what would YOU like to see?

First up, size comparison; approximately 15 mm (~1/2") bigger than a PCE Core Grafx in all dimensions:

 


Rear View: USB-C Power in, 1 or 2 USB ports in rear (depending on whether SATA is used), User IO port (for SNAC, MT32-Pi, etc.), Network port, Audio Out, Analog Video Out, HDMI Out, Debug port. Room for extra IO below?




Left View: On/Off switch (only useful for standard IO since power is controlled from the microcontroller or front power switch), Primary SD card, ADC-In port fits neatly into one of the vent holes (If you have an ADC-In, it blends in, and if you don't, you don't have an awkward hole.), and CURSED Secondary SD card


Top vent with possible mount for passive cooling heatsink
THAT'S GREAT BUT SHOW US THE PCB
This is a preliminary design and subject to change.
Top view: DE10-nano and IO board mount in the top left
Front view (USB ports will look different)
Bottom view: RGB LEDs at top, 2.5" SATA mount, and backup internal USB port
Rear view: USB-C power, USB ports (1 or 2 depending on if SATA is used), User IO port, and Network port. 40 pin header for extra expansibility.
Have more ideas? I'm all ears. You know where to find me on Discord, Twitter, or using my contact page.
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