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8 hours ago, ZeroByte said:

Let's face it - if the X16 had a MIDI port and a decent host application to present at least General MIDI as well as a custom patch engine, hooking it up to Qbase and doing chiptunes with it would be pretty sweet.

That's basically what I picture doing with the Gen X.  If a program can be written to allow the user to set which MIDI channels go to which channels of which chips, and which MIDI CC messages control which aspects of each chip, then the Gen X would act as an external MIDI tone generator giving you access to all five flavors of sound chip even from the DAW on your modern machine.  Of course, that software doesn't exist for the Gen X yet, so if I do get one I may end up having to write it myself.

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19 hours ago, John Chow Seymour said:

If a program can be written to allow the user to set which MIDI channels go to which channels of which chips, and which MIDI CC messages control which aspects of each chip, then the Gen X would act as an external MIDI tone generator giving you access to all five flavors of sound chip even from the DAW on your modern machine. 

If I were writing such a thing, I'd probably go a slightly different route, presenting a single synth to the DAW and making the synth UI (on-system) able to leverage all chips at once to make some interesting tones that way... kind of like what Concerto does on X16.

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I'm sorry if I didn't make it clear. That is pretty much what I had in mind.  The DAW would only be aware of one MIDI-out with the standard 16 channels.  The UI on the Gen X would let you assign those 16 channels to whatever you wanted.

Unless you mean there'd be only a single incoming MIDI channel - and you could use the UI to control how any or all of the five chips could respond to events on that single channel.  That would be different - and is an interesting idea to consider.  (I'm sorry, I haven't checked out Concerto yet, so I don't know how it works.)  You could probably do some interesting things that way, but I naturally think of composing for more than one voice at once, and would surely want the option to be able to control different chips on different channels.

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18 minutes ago, John Chow Seymour said:

Unless you mean there'd be only a single incoming MIDI channel - and you could use the UI to control how any or all of the five chips could respond to events on that single channel. 

That's what I mean. So the combination of selected voices would be a single "instrument" selectable on MIDI, and you'd be able to get polyphony based on how many channels it takes vs how many of those types are available. So if you used one voice each in the OPM, OPL, and a SID, then you could have 3-note polyphony with 1 SID, or 6 with 2 (as that's the limiting factor) - no SID, you could have 8-note polyphony. 3-voice OPL patches would leave you with 3-note polyphony. Etc.

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7 hours ago, ZeroByte said:

That's what I mean. So the combination of selected voices would be a single "instrument" selectable on MIDI, and you'd be able to get polyphony based on how many channels it takes vs how many of those types are available. So if you used one voice each in the OPM, OPL, and a SID, then you could have 3-note polyphony with 1 SID, or 6 with 2 (as that's the limiting factor) - no SID, you could have 8-note polyphony. 3-voice OPL patches would leave you with 3-note polyphony. Etc.

There's always two soft SID's they just don't have the analog filters as they are implemented in the FPGA that is acting as the master for the sound chips side bus ... the sockets are for two additional real SIDS (or FPGA implemented soft SIDs that use the whole FPGA to emulate the analog filters).

Plus there's what Stefany refers to a the CODEC, though I would guess she means the hardware to play an LPCM codec.

Edited by BruceMcF
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  • 2 months later...
On 9/3/2021 at 3:58 PM, EMwhite said:

Site now says shipping Sept 2021 (now).

The website could be a little more clear about the different models and their releases, but, if I understand correctly:

  • What's shipping in September are two models in the new "A2560" line, an MC68SEC000-based version of her existing Foenix U and U+ consoles, as well as the original (65C816-based) versions of the U and U+ which were unavailable for a while.  These will begin shipping in about three weeks (so, late September).
  • The Gen X is still slated for October or November.

Apparently there's also an MC68SEC000-based version of the Gen X in the pipeline, called the A2560X, launching around the same time as the Gen X.  (Both have the slot for a second processor; the difference is the built-in processor is the 65816 on one and 68SEC000 on the other.  Maybe also something different about graphics, I don't know, I'm not a graphics guy.)

And, somehow, a keyboard-case variant.

We're over here arguing about whether the X8 should be allowed to ship or not and she's over there bringing to market whatever 3 or 4 new versions popped into her head this year.

We'll see how these two different approaches play out.  Personally I'm pleased to be in both communities.  (Also, as a music guy, I'm so excited by the idea of having five sound chips in a system that I can program to work however I want, that I am optimistic about the Gen X.  I did indeed put my money in for a pre-order, a few months ago.)

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On 9/4/2021 at 8:11 PM, John Chow Seymour said:

We're over here arguing about whether the X8 should be allowed to ship or not and she's over there bringing to market whatever 3 or 4 new versions popped into her head this year.

We'll see how these two different approaches play out.  Personally I'm pleased to be in both communities.  (Also, as a music guy, I'm so excited by the idea of having five sound chips in a system that I can program to work however I want, that I am optimistic about the Gen X.  I did indeed put my money in for a pre-order, a few months ago.)

Not sure about arguing : ) more like we are overwhelmed with options, vaporware, and experts and the group that does the actual work and invested the actual money is stuck like my family is when we decide to go out for dinner (one person wants steak, one wants Veg, one wants Del Taco).

If you don't mind me asking (about Foenix) what did you order/pre-order and why?  (feel free to PM me instead if you desire).  I've always been a 68K fan, still have my original Macintosh (yes, full spelling) and have a Mac 68030 aka "SE30" but never had the $$ for Amiga or ST in fact my Unix and C programing career started just after I said goodbye to the C64 (for a while).

Is there a fair amount of software or grass roots OS layer and dev tools for an open 68K platform?  Seems to me to be alot more for 65x02 but it's only because I've been paying attention to this space?  I dunno.

 

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So, I ordered the C256 Foenix Gen X, which will come with a 65C816 processor. 

It will also come with a slot into which you can insert cards that Stefany sells that allow to use one of your choice of a handful of other processors alongside the built-in 65816.  I have no interest in other processors and have not preordered one.

I'm a musician and I have been looking for a way to get into chiptune creation more deeply.  I am also an 8-bit era programming hobbyist (not expert, but not a newb either).  A few years ago I adopted an abandoned C64, nursed it back to health, was pleased to find that its original SID was still working and have been learning to program for the SID directly onboard in assembly.  It's fun, but I haven't yet found a workflow that really makes it practical.  I started work on programming my own little compositional utility, when news of the Gen X reached me.

The Gen X will include five different flavors of sound chip:

  1. SN76489
  2. Two Gideon SoftSIDs in FPGA, and two more slots for hardware SID chips (real or emulated)
  3. OPM (YM2151, as a JT2151SA - an FPGA version Stefany designed that also incorporates the amp chip that's supposed to always go with the 2151.)
  4. OPN2 (YM2612, as a JT2612SA - similarly, an FPGA version)            
  5. OPL3 (YMF262, apparently as the actual F262 chip) 

...also a piezo "PC speaker" for what it's worth, heheh.

And, it has a MIDI input (No Output or Thru).  I like MIDI a lot, I've been working with it (even at a binary, programming level) for a long time and know its ins and outs well.  So what I'd like to do is program (in 65816 assembly) a program that will let me route the incoming 16 MIDI channels to whichever voices of whichever chips I want, and assign MIDI parameters to whichever aspects of those chips I want.

I see this as a do-able challenge.  The hardest part will actually be learning to make the graphical interface on the C256, since I'm really ignorant about graphics processing, and the Foenix is not the simplest setup to learn learn on.  I'll likely do it in character graphics.

There is also a tracker (already written) for the existing Foenix systems which should port easily to the Gen X, so while my own MIDI handler is under construction, or if I can't write it after all, I can fall back on the existing Tracker (I don't care for trackers, frankly, but I can use one if that's what's there.)

The five chips and MIDI input are also available on the FMX, but as far as I can tell this is not being sold.  The chip shortage would have forced Stefany to redesign it to bring it back to market, and my understanding is that she decided to move on to her next thing, the Gen X, instead.  

3 hours ago, EMwhite said:

Is there a fair amount of software or grass roots OS layer and dev tools for an open 68K platform? 

So, I've been mostly ignoring the 68k news because that's not my chip of choice. (Stefany has said, however, that it is her favorite CPU.)  I should say, I may have misrepresented the A2560: I don't think it's 68SEC000 is built-in after all, I think maybe it has no built-in CPU but the 68SEC000 is the card that it comes with (swappable for other CPU cards). 

The Foenix systems have not yet involved a 68k CPU, the forthcoming models will be the first to have any flavor of the 68k series.  For this reason, the already-developed software all 65816 based.  One big project that everyone's trying to make a push for right now is a C-based Kernel that can be compiled for any of the potential CPUs; there's a team working on that one.

There are other works in progress.  A member named 'vinz67' is working on porting EmuTOS for any of the supported 68k series.  Another user named 'gadget' is working on her own OS, aiming to be usable by any of the CPUs.

So I guess the short answer to "is there a fair amount of.." is "No, not yet."  Or at least, not specifically by the Foenix crew; how compatible existing 68k homebrew material would be, is beyond my knowledge.

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Awesome amount of detail.  Thank you for taking the time.

 I too have an interest in electronic music but for me it’s a combination of 70’ Moog Modular and a vintage ‘76 mini plus some marginally new (80’s) Early MIDI so I’m onboard and maybe we can collaborate on something.

What I’m challenged with is finding a way to place a preorder/order for the GenX so please share.

As I mentioned in the other thread, I had a pool of a few hundred $$ that I’ve constantly been draining and adding to, reserved for the X16.  At this point, I believe this platform will be a good one while we all wait to see “how is it going to end”,  - Truman Show

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went ahead and bought a C256/U Rev B. + the SID / Ethernet add-on.  Despite the base having a Gideon SID built in, I'm a sucker for SID and will pry SIDs out of my unused SX-64 and 128 then code a multi-SID tracker using 3 'SIDS' as a first project.

Took a very long time to get through the web site / options, Discord threads, Twitter feeds, and many (but not all) of her marathon videos dating back to the earlier products.

Stefany is a one-person wrecking-ball with undeniable experience when it comes to HW design, knowing how to get fab done, sourcing parts, etc.  She only cares about two things... everything Foenix ("being able to produce cool f'ing sh* that will inspire people") and being able to pay rent a distant 2nd.  Commentary about not worrying about where she will be in x years is hilarious and she has a number of really talented people delivering incremental piece-parts code etc.

Mostly, she seems to really have great instincts about what not-to-include and why not to go down a particular path, this sometimes paralizes group-think and design by committee efforts. 

Similar to @John Chow Seymour, I'm still watching what is going on here, but Foenix has already shipped and is going to ship the latest efforts in the next few weeks; it's just too appealing to pass up so if you haven't been there (understandably, it takes a fair amount of time/effort to read it all), have a look at the C256 or the A* if that platform appeals.  Based on the experience I'll probably be signing up for the Gen X. also once it gets closer.  The 68K and enough resources to code in C "for fun and for profit" will be very appealing down the line.

 

Edited by EMwhite
typo, poor English language skills (not my primary language)
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Just ordered a 'shield' for the wall mount of the 'C256 U' which is on order.  As some of you likely know, I mount as much of what I own on a plywood wall.  This will eventually take the place of my beloved Corsham Kim One clone.

Had to back into measurements via 3d model so there is a 50/50 chance that the panel will be the size of a postage stamp or the dipswitch hole/text does not line up.  "Measure once, see what happens". (I can always turn it into a designer keychain).  Hopefully, I'll have it in my hands by VCF East.

More later...

597361268_Uwallmountr2.thumb.jpg.6069d142d7d88720d8934db7abcaa307.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

If anybody is interested, C256 Foenix released the A2560K (keyboard version) today.  68040 goodness in an Amiga 600 style looking case with so many ports, well ....

Watch he VCF East vid for the unveiling below @  2:30:00 into the video.  If you want the full Foenix update, backup about an hr.

Here is what it looks like:

https://twitter.com/StefanyAllaire/status/1447232100478775299

And here is the vid (again, ffwd to 2:30:00 if you are not interested in the other parts)

 

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I'm still a big fan of the number pad, but otherwise, not bad.  It looks like the late-80s Dell or Zenith Data Systems MSX Turbo-R machine that never was but woulda-coulda-shoulda been.

Uh, does Madame Allaire have plans for the blank key between Z and left Shift?

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Likely... there is another blank key next to the chunky Enter key.  This is prototype #1 and she is currently working on integrating the 40mhz 68040.  

If anybody is even remotely considering investing in one, better hurry.  Most of what she will sell is likely to be ‘Gen X’ cubes but there will be a window for the next month to get in on these (I predict), before focus changes.  As of now, they are all hand built in Canada with piles of surface mount components arduously affixed to the 6 layer board, by hand, by one person.

I think the Gen X will be a minimum assembly required ‘kit’ (no soldering) to ease shipping and tariff etc. but stay tuned to her site, discord, and Stefany’s Twitter... things are moving fast.

 

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Is there software for these machines? I mean Stefany and other users should've been already written at least several useful programs for these machines, and should've shared them with community. I navigated to Software category [https://c256foenix.com/software/?v=6cc98ba2045f], but is says "IN CONSTRUCTION", and all sublinks redirect to other non-software site categories.

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Depends on your definition of software.  I'm pretty sure I'll be corrected in 5.. 4.. 3.. 2..

My C256U ships today (others that beat me have picked theirs up early in the week and shipped yesterday) so I'll be digging in for a first hand view of what I can get to run.  I bought an add-on card that adds two physical SIDs and an Ethernet RJ-45 and one of the team created the Ethernet stack so I anticipate horizons opening up (the 'U' does not have an onboard Ethernet unless you add it as I did but the 'K' and the 'Gen X' does).  Otherwise, there is an SD card slot as we've all come to expect.

Stefany likens these machines similarly to the C64 experience when you (if an early adopter) first got your hands on it.  One difference is that WDC produces a C compiler, a Forth compiler, assembler, etc. and there are many many of us that have a lifetime of software development behind us AND owned C64s when they were first released so I expect a good following.

I remember well, typing in that basic program to create a sprite of a balloon and watching it traverse the screen diagonally.  I expect header files are available for all of the Vicky II registers (tiles, etc) else you can just make them yourself.

There is a BASIC interpreter but it's got nothing to do with Commodore.

Of the 70 people that purchased the FMX a few years ago, some software was produced that can be (is being) ported.  I've also seen a few screens of AtariST TOS GUI in development on the A2560U.

Here are two quick vids by Daniel Tremblay (he's got others on his channel).

 

This one starts with Stefany first taking on the project (of the original FMX) and goes up through a few years ago starting with David's intro to 'dream'.  One thing that has not changed is the CPU, the clock speed, and the FPGA video capabilities and the that there is still plenty of sound.

This guy (below) @PGW on Discord, is writing the Kernel (the original C256 and even todays 'U' kernel is written in Assembly) but he is porting it in 'C' so that it can be leveraged across the full line of Foenix machines.  It's a low budget monitor to get a binary loaded and up and running.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMNLxfepc0xAZodcvOlVenQ

So on one hand, it's early days, on the other, there are retro style games in the works (pong LOL), utilities, tools, etc.

 

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On 10/13/2021 at 10:32 AM, Cyber said:

Thank you for sharing info and videos! I meant any known working software. Just wanted to scroll through some list of names, descriptions, screenshots, videos.

There's no definitive list at this point.  None that I know of, anyway.  Your best bet is to ask on the project Discord.

EDIT: Discord link

Edited by Calculon
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  • 2 weeks later...

Foenix has landed.  Here is mine mounted to my 'wall of doom':

IMG_5828.thumb.jpeg.e77c44abbd42e8ef670b3ff62f3f5a3f.jpeg

Close up of the hand soldering/baking quality; the connector is for an IDE hard disk (but I'm not using that); it has an SD slot on the bottom left of the board, a USB debug port for pushing in code as well; as a cost cutting measure, Stefany dropped the floppy interface that is present on the FMX via SuperIO IC. On the left, you can see the Yamaha OPL.  On the right you can see the expansion connector and I have the 2 x SID + Ethernet RJ45 on order; it will ship with my A2560K.

IMG_5829.thumb.jpeg.d931328a26c06dccf6ce99fd1e434be7.jpeg

Here is the boot screen; it takes about 2 seconds to display the banner and the text below it scrolls out in TTY type fashion.  If you don't know the people involved, Stefany owns the project and design/builds everything from concept to 3D modeling, FPGA development, and HW Peter Weingartner wrote the Kernel and other tools and is actively engaged in ongoing development; he is "Tail Recursive" and you can watch his 65C816 series and FMX related vids if interested.  Daniel has written a fair amount as well including some of what I posted above.

IMG_5831.thumb.jpeg.d1e1b43cef30b7e78f9439cd10f9e83b.jpeg

The first thing I did after getting it installed and running was to type "Monitor" from basic and enter some VICKY II register changes to 'light up' my first sprite.  If you've done C64 development, you'll be comfortable with Sprite pointers including X and Y positioning (both of which have L_byte and H_byte due to resolution).  Also, no faffing about with memory windows, you've got full 24 bit addressing in the 65C816 so you'll note the two additional significant digits "AF" in the monitor which are the 17th-24th bit (if you count from 1).  In this case, I merely set the video mode which is a bit mask of Sprites + Text overlay on top of Bitmap, etc., enabled Sprite 1, and set the location on the screen of 128, 128.  (of course the # of sprites and color palette etc is vastly improved).  Next up, 64 Amiga bouncing balls : )

IMG_5833.thumb.jpeg.d0a71f6b1c052a6fd831c3386889514d.jpeg

So many differences between what is happening on Discord in terms of the style of communication and who is doing the talking and posting versus what is happening here and I know this is a polarizing topic for some, but I urge anybody sitting on the fence to have a look at C256 Foenix.  It's legit.

If 68K is more your thing, you can get the same exact hardware and experience but with a genuine Motorola 68K onboard.  The startup is different due to the use of a microkernel which is still under development but this platform and the code base will eventually merge since it's written in (primarily) C lang.  I think I mentioned prior (or somebody else may have) that some of the community have Atari ST software in mind for porting to this platform.

The C256U and A2560U set the groundwork for the C256 Gen X (cube) and the A2560X, each of which have many many more ports and in the case of the Gen X, an option for a 2nd processor which will be selectable at boot time.  This platform is due to ship in the next month or so, I believe.

Then there is the A2560K which is the all-in-one keyboard based design posted above which is MC68040 based.

 

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Stefany remarked in her A2560K video that 50 out of 70 of the first devices that she produced were sitting around doing nothing and it pissed her off. She's not putting all this effort into hand crafting doorstops and trophies. Her perspective on the purpose of her work is admirable, but it's probably lost on most people who will buy her products; Devices will sit on shelves, hang on walls, teaching little more than consumers will consume.

Edited by Tatwi
Mo samy ytpos!
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On 10/22/2021 at 8:43 AM, Tatwi said:

Stefany remarked in her A2560K video that 50 out of 70 of the first devices that she produced were sitting around doing nothing and it pissed her off. She's not putting all this effort into hand crafting doorstops and trophies. Her perspective on the purpose of her work is admirable, but it's probably lost on most people who will buy her products; Devices will sit on shelves, hang on walls, teaching little more than consumers will consume.

20 out of 70 NOT sitting around doing nothing is a pretty good strike rate.

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She is supremely talented and passionate about everything she does in order to further and support her platform, hence the surprise or disappointment that more FMX'es are not in use.

If you watch the video of her presenting at Jim Drew's CRX (I think '18 or '19), you'll see a very different person; long on plans but less mileage under her belt.  She's experienced so much by now and upon reflection, cannot understand why there are not more people still using the FMX, at least that's what I gleam from her statement.

In comparing the U+ to the FMX, the latter looks superior in terms of specifications; it's a rocket ship; but they both have the same core and perform as well for 99% of the workloads; the main diff is I/O and some of the Audio capabilities if you are an IC snob.  I wish I could get my hands on one.  The U+ is much more economical and actually the ONLY VIABLE option in 2021; it's brilliant that she arrived at this end.  The A2560K and Gen X will be better still and the best yet, especially now that the MC68040 and other 68K family CPUs are options.

With supply chain matters being what they are, it's a miracle she was able to ship anything, especially in small quantities.  This only works because she dedicates 18 hrs a day and being more concerned about "being good" than "looking good" or "being famous",  She admittedly "doesn't give a F..." about so many things.  I'd like to see her Briggs Myers and compare it to other innovators that went on to succeed in the face of adversity.

Credit also goes to others on her virtual team and their support of the platform; increasingly, evenings are becoming Christmas-eve like events as core developers in different timezones come online and post updates on progress and code; user level apps (games and utilities) are starting to surface as well.  There is no app-store or organized SW repo per se, but momentum is building.  Peri did a massive favor for the X16 community by conceptualizing and implementing this forum (I think he is the one that deserves credit for it).  Without it, many many more developers would have wandered away by now because every other aspect of platform delivery has been disappointing.

 

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