mouSTer Is a Universal USB-Mouse Adapter for Retro Computers

Revise classic GUIs on an Amiga or Atari 8-bit computer.

James Lewis
a month agoRetroTech

Retro computing platforms all feature some form of a keyboard. In the very early days of home computing, the keyboard differentiated the computers from each other. Later, as applications became more sophisticated, the mouse became the next significant input device to catch-on. Early 8-bit machines from Atari, Commodore, and even Apple all had a mouse interface. However, like other peripherals at the time, they were not compatible with each other. Today's retro computer enthusiast may have a hard time finding a functional mouse for their favorite platform. Sold by Retrohax, the mouSTer is a universal modern USB-to-retro mouse adapter.

"It all started with an idea to create the most convenient modern USB mouse adapter for as many retro machines as possible."

Early mice usually featured a DB9-interface, but that interface was not always compatible across platforms. A mouse designed for an Atari Falcon may not work on the Commodore 64. The mouSTer handles those translations. Additionally, it serves as the USB HID host needed to enable a modern mouse. Before mouSTer, retro-mouse adapters tended to favor the older PS/2-style mice. Few mice sold today still have that legacy protocol.

Retrohax says that nearly every modern mouse they've tested works with the adapter. Advanced features like RGB LEDs could technically be supported, but there is doubt that the retro computers supply enough current for those modern features. In terms of another limitation, there is not support for PC serial mice. Computers like a Commodore 64 expect a pair of analog signals from the mouse. Serial mice on the PC were RS-232 / digital devices.

MouSTer firmware updates happen via a USB flash drive. A couple of files on the drive allow mouSTer to reflash or reconfigure itself. Today mouse emulation modes default to Amiga, Atari ST, and game pad. The expectation is the adapter should work with Amiga 3000, the Atari XL/XE series, and the Commodore C64 and C128.

Getting a case for mouSTer has been an issue. Injection molding is not an option because it would cause the USB-connector to become filled with plastic. Retrohax has plans to release STL files so that users can 3d print a case. The first batch of 220 units is for sale on the Retrohax web store, with a plan to produce another batch based on demand. Currently, the price is 116 PLN Polish Zloty, which is about 31 USD.

James Lewis
Fan of making things that blink, fly, or beep. Host on element14 Presents, baldengineer.com, AddOhms, and KN6FGY.
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