Let’s Build a Basic MiSTer FPGA Console (Part 2)

Part 1: Introduction and what you’ll need
Part 2: Hardware assembly
Part 3: Setting up the micro SD card
Part 4: Setting up a USB game controller
Part 5: Adding games to the SD card, and using some common cores
Part 6: Extra Settings, Features, and Hardware

Building the MiSTer couldn’t be simpler, and requires only a Phillips-head screw driver.  While the DE-10 Nano comes with a nice acrylic top plate, we unfortunately don’t need it, so remove the four screws holding it in place.  Leave the metal standoffs mounted on the board, and save the four screws.

Now we only really have two things to install; the fan plate and the memory expansion module.  Before screwing on the fan plate though, we need to stick the heat sink to the Altera Cyclone V FPGA.

Position the board so that the HDMI and power ports are on the left, as shown in the image above.  Peel the protective film off of the bottom of the heat sink, and press it down onto the FPGA so that the “fins” of the heat sink are horizontally oriented, for optimum air flow.

Now place the fan plate on top of the four metal standoffs so that the fan is protruding up and the fan’s power wires are coming out towards you.  The 40-pin connector closest to you is GPIO-1; the fan draws its power from pins 11 and 12 (11 is labeled on the board).  Push the fan connector onto these pins so that the red wire is on pin 11 (5V) and the black wire is on pin 12 (GND).  You are certainly free to cut the zip tie (careful!) on the fan’s power wires and attempt to route them under the plate in some way so as to make the whole thing look less ugly.  Use the four screws that formerly held the acrylic top plate in place to screw down the fan plate.  Don’t over-tighten them; “snug” is fine.

Lastly we need to add the memory module.  Turn the board around so that the fan’s power connector is facing away from you, and the DE-10 Nano’s other 40-pin connector, GPIO-0, will be facing towards you.  The memory module has a female 40-pin connector on it that is not keyed, but the module tells you which side faces outward.  Carefully line up the two connectors so that the chips on the memory module are facing towards the fan and the side that says “THIS SIDE FACES OUTWARD” is doing exactly that, and gently push the module down all the way.

That’s it!  You’ve now finished the hardware assembly portion of the MiSTer build.  See how easy that was?  Now to set up your SD card.

<Next: Setting up the micro SD card>