Build an Old School BBS with a MiST FPGA in Amiga Form and an ESP8266

The Commodore Amiga has remained a been a popular computer since its launch in 1985, and while working models are challenging to come by…

Cabe Atwell
2 years ago

The Commodore Amiga has remained a been a popular computer since its launch in 1985, and while working models are challenging to come by, some enthusiasts turned to emulation to approximate the system. Several years ago, Poland-based Lotharek released the MiST FPGA, which can be programmed to act as any number of retro computers, including the Amiga 1200. This breakthrough allowed coder and Amiga enthusiast Bruno Antunes to build an Amiga BBS platform to host an old school BBS.

As the MiST system doesn’t have any network interfaces, Antunes needed to mod the FPGA, which he did by cracking open the case and connecting an ESP8266 module to the serial port. He then flashed the module with the ESP SLIP firmware and tweaked various software settings within WinUAE Amiga emulator to get it to communicate with the added hardware. Antunes goes on to explain, “I used WinUAE to create two ‘hard drives,’ one 500 MB and the other 700MB. The idea is to have a system drive with all the software, and a data drive with all the BBS’ files and extra games you’d like.”

While adding the ESP8266 module was a straightforward endeavor, the MiST’s metal casing prevented the module from communicating with his network, so Antunes enlisted his artistic girlfriend, who designed a papercraft enclosure that works quite well for his setup. Although his Amiga BBS is undoubtedly impressive, it’s also quite the undertaking software-wise, luckily Antunes provides a step-by-step walkthrough of the process for anyone looking to recreate his build.

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