Sunday, November 11, 2018

Emulating MS-DOS on a Raspberry Pi and Playing Games using DOSBox

I have a soft spot for MS-DOS, as it was the first PC operating system I used. It started in 1984 with Compaq luggable computers available for loan at Caltech and at JPL when I worked there over the summer of '84. I don't ever recall using IBM's version, PC-DOS, as I never recall using IBM hardware. But thanks to using 100% IBM compatibles rather than offshoots like Tandy computers, it really didn't matter.

The first PC we bought, one of our first large purchases as a couple, was the first Compaq Deskpro (Model 1, 8086), Compaq's first foray into desktops after the success of the Compaq portable.

Compaq Deskpro Model 1 (8086) via this site.
So I have a soft spot for DOS computing.

I've wanted to put DOS on small, modern hardware for awhile. My first project is using the Raspberry Pi 3.

I have a RasPi mounted to the official Raspberry Pi display.
Raspberry Pi and official LCD display (photo via this site)
The only hardware you need to add is a keyboard (a mouse helps for setup). I have a couple of wired keyboards with built-in trackpads. Any USB keyboard that the Pi will recognize will do.

There are many Raspberry Pi tutorials on loading Dosbox, the MS-DOS emulator for Raspberry Pi. This one at PiMyLifeUp appears to be just fine, I think I followed a different one but they are very similar.

I set Dosbox to use the directory dos under /home/pi as my MS-DOS disk. I mapped this to drive C:\

I added a link to the graphical interface under games.

How to get the files from my PC to the Pi? There are many ways to do this, some more painful than others. 

I used this guide at Raspberry Pi HQ to use SAMBA to map my DOS directory as a network shareable location. This guide may also help.

I said public=yes which means anyone can access my Pi but I suggest you have the login. My SAMBA setup allows access to the entire /home/pi directory - you might want to just map the dos directory for more security.

In Windows file explorer, in the location bar type \\raspberrypi\pi and you should see your files. Note that you'll have to enter a password if you configured it.

Copy over your games. Our favorite is Rogue, redone for PC from the DEC VAX et al. sources. Wikipedia. You can play it in-browser here to try it out via Internet Archive (it's some sort of hacked copy there though). You can see it being played by someone in this Youtube video.

Rogue is in color and is ASCII graphics like alot of early text games and programs. I think our copy was ported from Unix and not a copy of the Epyx release, Techers did a lot of porting to MS-DOS from Unix back then.

I still had the original files from the '80s to I copied them over to the Pi and they appear in a subdirectory in Dosbox. And it runs like a champ!

If you are looking for MS-DOS Games/software, you can Google around. One site I found is which looks good. In all their software, they have Rogue also if you want it.

Hopefully this has given you some ideas for how to set up your own MS-DOS emulator. If you think I skipped steps or it is unclear, there are other sites that may have better step by step.

I hope to run a real 8088 code emulator on hardware soon. It all depends on time.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book Review: Ask an Engineer on September 12th

Limor "Ladyada" Fried and Phil Torrone review my new book Getting Started with Adafruit Circuit Playground Express from this clip on the Ask an Engineer broadcast on September 12, 2018.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Getting Started with Adafruit Circuit Playground Express book now out from major booksellers!

Out today September 10th! A new paperback book on the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express board! The book gets you started with microcontrollers by learning how to use the Express with Microsoft MakeCode and CircuitPython. There is also information on configuring and using the board in the Arduino IDE.
Now available from online bookstores like AmazonBarnes &, and
The book will also be available from Adafruit to include bundling with Circuit Playground Express, stay tuned.
Have all the information at your fingertips in this new book. Check it out today.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

My Current Writings on the Adafruit Learning System and Blog

Where have I been writing if not on the blog? Besides writing my new book Make: Getting Started with Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, I have been writing a good number of tutorials on the Adafruit Learning System and posts on the Adafruit Blog.

What is the Adafruit Learning System? It's 1500+ free tutorials on making. With the best writers on making, electronics, and open source, the Adafruit Learning System is the place to look for inspiration for your next project.

You can find projects I have contributed to here.

Of course I have a good deal of writing on the Circuit Playground Express board - it's the easiest way to start interacting with electronics and making.

Lately my writing has focused on the new Adafruit Crickit robotics board. This not yet another robotic board (NYARB?). You certainly can make robots that look like the two wheeled bots everybody makes. But it is designed to do so much more. Do you want to use stepper motors and/or servos, check. Add NeoPixel LED lights, check. Add concurrent sound to your project, yes! So you are able to do so much more compared to previous products.

Crickit comes in two versions, one for use with Circuit Playground Express and one for Adafruit Feather  processors and boards. Adafruit has hinted of upcoming versions of Crickit for the BBC micro:bit and one for the Raspberry Pi as a HAT.

So, if you'd like to read more of my writing, please visit the Adafruit Learning System and the Adafruit blog.

New Book: Make: Getting Started with Adafruit Circuit Playground Express

My new book Getting Started with Adafruit Circuit Playground Express: The Multipurpose Learning and Development Board from Adafruit was released earlier this month in a Humble Bundle in eBook format. The final print and eBook will be out in September, hopefully available at World Maker Faire in NYC September 22 and 23.

Prerelease buy on Amazon: Getting Started with Adafruit Circuit Playground Express: The Multipurpose Learning and Development Board from Adafruit

I should be at Maker Faire NY - stay tuned for when and where and plan to come & have fun hanging out with the Makers!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

New Company: BarelaTech, LLC

As part of my retirement and consulting, I have formed a new company: BarelaTech, LLC. Instead of me using my name, I may publish under the BarelaTech banner from time to time.
I was trying to register Unsound Engineering but the state didn't like it.

You can see the company website at and

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Blogging Talk

For this month I have been taking classes in preparation of retirement from my career of nearly 30 years. They teach us a lot of skills for doing things post retirement. It's not common for an employer to provide so much preparation for retirement.

The campus, with a small snow storm moving through that lasted not even an hour.

Today was a panel discussion on writing, publishing, and blogging. The original blogger could not accommodate a revised schedule so I volunteered to talk about my experiences.

It was fun to tie in the concepts they have been teaching us in class with my experiences over the last few years.