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Change of product direction, good and bad news!


What should we do?  

374 members have voted

  1. 1. Should we release the Commander X8?

    • Yes, it should replace Phase-3. It's good enough.
    • Yes, but you should still offer a Phase-3 Commander X16 eventually too.
    • No, don't release the X8, stick with the original plan.
  2. 2. Should we still make a Phase-2 product?

    • Yes, Phase-2 is what I want
    • No, skip and go straight to Phase-3
  3. 3. For the X16 Phase-1, do you prefer a kit or a somewhat more expensive pre-assembled board?



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5 hours ago, paulscottrobson said:

... I do wonder about how that affects the price. If the price of the kit is $250-$300ish a custom case and keyboard would probably do a large chunk of that on its own, and at the X8 price you are probably bare board level. Which is fine, screw it to a bit of perspex or something.

In any event, the keyboard alone would certainly NOT "do a large chunk of that on its own", as the non-custom version retails for $25-$30 on Amazon. The problem with the "customized front-plate" case (it wasn't a fully custom case) is also scale, but unlike the keyboard, you can't share it with emulator+ keyboard "support" tiers and the "full set" K8 tier.

If it is crowdfunded, then yes, the X8 should have bare board tier and a full set board + keyboard + gamepad + hdmi cable + PS tier.

If the X16p DIY tier is set at 250-500, the X8 full set tier at 250-500, the X8 bare board tier set at 250 minimum between full sets and bare boards and uncapped, and the crowdfund budget set so that if the X16p and X8 full set both hit at the minimum target, the support tiers have sold 300 keyboards, and the keyboard is costed into the build budgets at order cost plus 20%, the keyboard deposit will be recouped if the project funds, and if the project goes above the minimum, it will be recouped at a profit.

If there is sufficient profit, then enough additional keyboards can be purchased to allow a X16p built campaign with a cap that is reasonable to build in a reasonable delivery time, without having to make the minimum purchase order limit for the customized keycaps.

Edited by BruceMcF
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One problem is that 1,000 of anything = more money than anybody would normally want to commit to well ahead of even knowing what (or if) a product will come to fruition.  Hopefully it's just fake news and nobody invested $10K or more on a pile of keyboards.

Interesting that Stefany over @ Foenix has been adamant that the inclusion of anything such as a keyboard, mouse, or a boondoggle keychain is just more crap to buy, store, ship, and that equals cost-delay-logistics and more cost.  ESPECIALLY if needing to ship to places like Europe where anything and everything is going drive cost up further and tariffs due from end user.  She says "just a go to Amazon in your region and get your keyboard with free shipping".

Maybe the bundling of Petscii Robots Sooper-Dooper Platinum edition will bring enough fans out of the woodwork and drive viral interest.  Hopefully the continuing efforts of people like Matt Heffernan and CITY Connection from Ani Kirilov will keep the fire burning.

 

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17 minutes ago, EMwhite said:

One problem is that 1,000 of anything = more money than anybody would normally want to commit to well ahead of even knowing what (or if) a product will come to fruition.  Hopefully it's just fake news and nobody invested $10K or more on a pile of keyboards.

Interesting that Stefany over @ Foenix has been adamant that the inclusion of anything such as a keyboard, mouse, or a boondoggle keychain is just more crap to buy, store, ship, and that equals cost-delay-logistics and more cost.  ESPECIALLY if needing to ship to places like Europe where anything and everything is going drive cost up further and tariffs due from end user.  She says "just a go to Amazon in your region and get your keyboard with free shipping".

Maybe the bundling of Petscii Robots Sooper-Dooper Platinum edition will bring enough fans out of the woodwork and drive viral interest.  Hopefully the continuing efforts of people like Matt Heffernan and CITY Connection from Ani Kirilov will keep the fire burning.

 

Well, Dave said he'd invested 5 figures and that Peri had invested 4 figures.

I'm not sure how much actual cost there is in the development.  I'd got the impression, perhaps wrongly, from comments that it was done for nothing or for a share of any profits. Parts cost can't be huge. PCB costs, didn't think they were ridiculous. Pre-paid the licensing is a possibility I suppose.

I wonder if a decision will come sooner rather than later. One consequence of the original post will be some developers will be wondering if the machine they are writing the game for will ever exist, especially if it is Vera heavy stuff. There's something special about seeing one of your games on a real piece of hardware.

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2 hours ago, paulscottrobson said:

... I thought they were selling the customised version, my bad 🙂

Ah yes ... to the best of my recollection, those were always a special for those who wanted the mechanical keys. Myself, I haven't been spoiled for keyboards, and a butterfly switch keyboard with substantially higher profile keys than the ones on this notebook I am typing on now would do me just fine.

AFAIU, the "standard" customized version is a USB/PS2 multi-mode wired compact keyboard, with the customization coming with a substantial minimum order requirement, rather than a per keyboard cost like the customized mechanical switch keyboards. But with the customized mechanical switch ones available Quantity 1, they have been the only custom X16 hardware available, to date.

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2 hours ago, paulscottrobson said:

Well, Dave said he'd invested 5 figures and that Peri had invested 4 figures.

I'm not sure how much actual cost there is in the development.  I'd got the impression, perhaps wrongly, from comments that it was done for nothing or for a share of any profits. Parts cost can't be huge. PCB costs, didn't think they were ridiculous. Pre-paid the licensing is a possibility I suppose.

I wonder if a decision will come sooner rather than later. One consequence of the original post will be some developers will be wondering if the machine they are writing the game for will ever exist, especially if it is Vera heavy stuff. There's something special about seeing one of your games on a real piece of hardware.

I suspect that David has been absorbing most of the costs. Not to say that any of the rest of the team haven't had their own expenses, but my impression is that David feels a moral or ethical obligation to pay most of the costs for his dream computer. Cloanto is probably part of that expense as you observe, plus whatever has been invested in keyboards thus far. PCB expenses, if there have been three prototypes up to now, at $25 or more each in a lot of 5 per prototype, plus shipping, could easily be $500 alone. Shipping of completed boards to various people for testing & analysis will add up. We know Adrian Black received one, it wouldn't surprise me if there are others who've received one who don't have a YouTube channel to document the experience. I don't know what the cost is for maintaining this website and community of the past however many months. I'm sure it's not hugely expensive, but it is just yet another expense.

There are so many variables at play and people who want to be compensated for their contribution on top of people who donate their time freely. I don't think it would be hard to reach the $10,000 level of investment, the minimum five figure value, over a two+ year window.

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8 hours ago, BruceMcF said:

If the X16p DIY tier is set at 250-500, the X8 full set tier at 250-500, the X8 bare board tier set at 250 minimum between full sets and bare boards and uncapped, and the crowdfund budget set so that if the X16p and X8 full set both hit at the minimum target, the support tiers have sold 300 keyboards, and the keyboard is costed into the build budgets at order cost plus 20%, the keyboard deposit will be recouped if the project funds, and if the project goes above the minimum, it will be recouped at a profit.

There is no way in my mind that an X8 at anything like $250 would be an attractive prospect.

I think that the path forward for any crowdfunder mechanism needs to be a straight forward, single option for the DIY X16p kit (with keyboard and chuck in a free copy of PETSCII Robots) priced and targeted to ensure that it covers some of the sunk cost, and achieves a minimum quantity to make an intitial production run viable. Maybe a limited quantity of preassembled kits available (#'s capped at however many Dave can put together himself without going insance, and charged at an appropriately high premium). No case, no variant pledge options, no X8 etc. KISS.

The X8 obviously isn't the computer Dave wanted to create for himself - but its a mechanism to claw back some funds, and could be a great device for many people. It could be a success if launched on its own at the right price - but diluting an X16p kickstarter by adding the X8 would be a mistake IMO.

The X8 only needs to exist until design/production of a lower cost/ready to go surface mount X16 or X16e exists, as these would supersede a lot of its end user appeal. On the other hand, if the X8 is just used as a temporary mechanism to claw back some funds and bolster development of the X16, then orphaning it as soon as it achieves enough sales to dig the X16 out of the hole would be a pretty cynical move towards buyers - either it stands on its own two feet and serves a longer term market purpose, or don't bother. 

It's a tough situation.

Edited by Wonderdog
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2 hours ago, Wonderdog said:

There is no way in my mind that an X8 at anything like $250 would be an attractive prospect.

Sorry, that was a bit ambiguous. Those numbers weren't prices (hence no "$"), they were quantity ranges ... a complete set (which is substantially more fulfillment work), maybe a minimum 250 for the tier (to get a price break on the power supply, hdmi cable), maximum 500. A bare board tier without a cap on the tier, because if it is ordered from the board maker with each one in it's anti static shipping bag, the fulfillment is easier.

I'd be less confident than you that the 1,000 DIY X16p's required to hit the minimum order for the keyboards will fund. And in any event, when your top tier is as expensive and as skill demanding as the DIY X16p, a crowdfund campaign NEEDS lower cost "support" tiers for people who want to support but can't splash down hundreds of dollars on a kit they may be unable to build.

May as well kill two birds with the same stone and have the "support" tiers built around the keyboard, to make it easy to hit the minimum keyboard order. A "supporter" tier, you get a special pdf of the X16 and X8 documentation with a list of supporters. Another more expensive support tier with keyboard and printed docs. An "VIP" supporter tier with keyboard, printed docs and a signed framed X logo signed by David.

Edited by BruceMcF
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4 minutes ago, BruceMcF said:

Those numbers weren't prices (hence no "$"), they were quantity ranges ... a complete set (which is substantially more fulfillment work), maybe a minimum 250 for the tier (to get a price break on the power supply, hdmi cable), maximum 500. A bare board tier without a cap on the tier, because if it is ordered from the board maker with each one in it's anti static shipping bag, the fulfillment is easier.

Apologies - I misunderstood.

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9 hours ago, BruceMcF said:

Sorry, that was a bit ambiguous. Those numbers weren't prices (hence no "$"), they were quantity ranges ... a complete set (which is substantially more fulfillment work), maybe a minimum 250 for the tier (to get a price break on the power supply, hdmi cable), maximum 500. A bare board tier without a cap on the tier, because if it is ordered from the board maker with each one in it's anti static shipping bag, the fulfillment is easier.

I think 250 for the X8 is a bit pessimistic, thought it matters less because it's the easiest to physically implement I think. If it's being sold at £50-£100 I think many people would buy it even if they bought an X16 as well. It's almost a beer money purchase.

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David needs to decide what will he be happy with.  How close is it to his goal building his dream computer.  From what has been accomplished already I know it will be fun to program and play with.  Sign me up.  Don’t worry about the future, maybe there will be a backward compatibility mode or whatever when and if you get there.  That will be a problem for then.  For now, shoot for what will make you happiest and most satisfied.  

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2 hours ago, David Morton said:

David needs to decide what will he be happy with.  How close is it to his goal building his dream computer. 

That's absolutely correct.

I think he decided when he laid out his original plans.  The design only changed when it gets blocked.

In other words, he's not dithering.

 

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I am a big fan and a believer in this project.

That having been said, there is certainly a downside to David's announcement -- this thread -- posted 1 month 3 days ago as I write this.

If you read his post, you will walk away with a general impression of uncertainty about the future of this project, as if everything is in flux now. David publicly questions the direction the project will take, asking US what we want, etc. Nothing says "in flux" like that. Anyone who was trusting in the leadership has to be worried, as the leader himself (apparently) doesn't know what to do! That is certainly a bad thing. 

No one can deny we are in a different situation post-August 19, 2021 than we were before that. Before that date, we could all assume David has a plan (albeit with some course corrections, etc.) and everything is under control. That would be the natural, default assumption.

Virtually all of us here both LIKE the leader (David) as well as trust him. But when the leader lays out tons of problems, suggests everything is in flux, suggests that even he doesn't know what to do next -- what's a devoted supporter to do? We have to be worried, at least.

That is going to have a chilling effect on development work, etc.

MY POINT: Now that this post has been made, and David has his feedback from the community -- he needs to follow it up -- QUICKLY -- with a firm decision, and a show of leadership, so we can all trust that this project is still going to happen, everything is back under control.

Every additional day of "limbo" is only going to hurt the project. Before August 19, 2021, they could go months without posting updates, etc. NOT ANYMORE. At least not until another set plan has been put forward, that we can all re-subscribe to and trust in.

 

P.S. I say this as a big fan of David's work, and a huge believer in the necessity of 8-bit systems like this -- exactly like the X16. Even the world of Star Trek TNG would still need to teach all these concepts (though they don't show it). Unless you can download knowledge into the brain like The Matrix (which, according to my beliefs, will NEVER happen), humanity will never "outgrow" the need for simple, understandable systems like the X16. Babies would have to literally come out of the womb with an understanding of Ohm's Law, digital logic, basic electronics, etc. -- which will never happen.

Edited by maktos
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8 hours ago, paulscottrobson said:

I think 250 for the X8 is a bit pessimistic, thought it matters less because it's the easiest to physically implement I think. If it's being sold at £50-£100 I think many people would buy it even if they bought an X16 as well. It's almost a beer money purchase.

A floor is the minimum the tier needs ... as I said, they may want to be a bit conservative on the full X8 kit and set a ceiling (500 was just a guess) because of the fulfillment of packing the X8, keyboard, PS, drop in card, HDMI cable into a box. The bare board is much simpler fulfillment, so it could be more easily be a tier without a ceiling.

These are just numbers for illustration of how a set of tiers can cover the scale requirement for the keyboard without any individual product line having to hit that scale. If they are more optimistic about the demand for the X8 boards, they could well set the floor for the bare X8 boards higher, if it lets them give a better price break to set a better crowdfund tier price.

 

@maktos said, just now:

MY POINT: Now that this post has been made, and David has his feedback from the community -- he needs to follow it up -- QUICKLY -- with a firm decision, and a show of leadership, so we can all trust that this project is still going to happen, everything is back under control.

Every additional day of "limbo" is only going to hurt the project. Before August 19, 2021, they could go months without posting updates, etc. NOT ANYMORE. At least not until another set plan has been put forward, that we can all re-subscribe to and trust in.

On the other hand, it has to be on a timescale of a hardware project, not on the timescale of online computer discussion. Minimizing the number of weeks that go by before there is an announcement that clarifies the new project timeline is important, and should be a priority.

"Each day that passes" is more about the fever pace of online discussion. A hardware project doesn't operate at that time scale.

Edited by BruceMcF
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I signed up to place a vote here, but I figured it may be helpful to add some context.

Honestly, I don't have a lot of money to spend on these kinds of things. I am still using my AMD FX-8320 based desktop that I built in 2013 and I intended to replace in 2018, because you know, kids, house, etc. Even this tool I use literally every day is way down there on the priority list, so I just can't justify spending more than $100 CAD on a nostalgic toy.

Cost aside, realistically and ideally, I would actually prefer an all FPGA board that uses SD card storage, because...

  • It won't suffer from the issues associated with software emulators.
  • It will run software as it's intended to be run.
  • It's perfectly fine for programming new software.
  • It's small enough to mount inside a custom chassis I could build around a nostalgic-looking usb keyboard that I already own.
  • I just can't see myself ever actually using any of the expansion features of the full sized X16, but if I did sometime in the distant future, I could always upgrade at that point.

At this point in life, I am content to fart around with QBasic 1.1 in DOSBox, as far as my computer programming hobbies go. I do this because it's convenient, it's very nostalgic for me, and the limitations, flexibility, and static nature of the environment make it easy to break projects down into small pieces that don't over-utilize my time. Programming is to me as Sudoku is to others. That said, it would be nifty (and perhaps more motivating) if the stuff that I made might actually be used by another human being, so that's where my interest in the Commander X16 lies - moving to a platform that isn't hugely complex, isn't dead, and is its own neat thing.

Being that I prefer programming in BASIC, I looked into getting a Colour Maximite II, but after import fees and what not it would have cost about $190 CAD for just the board. For some cost perspective, my Gen1 Lenovo 100e Winbook only cost us $260 CAD new and that included a Win10 Pro licence which retails for $180 CAD (not to mention the 4 core Intel CPU, 4GB DDR4 2133RAM, and 120GB EMMC storage). As crappy as said Winbook is, it can emulate everything up to a Pentium 75 just fine.

Really, the selling points of the X16 for me are the top three points I listed above, because otherwise I already have plenty of old computers I can emulate and program with. I really like physically using the 100MB Zip drive and 3.5" floppy drive in my Compaq Deskpro 4000 (cost me a whole $25 back in 2002), for the sound and feeling, but in a practical sense I need that desk space for other stuff. So the Deskpro lives in the "underhouse", only to be used for occasionally testing software, and I just emulate everything else with my desktop (or my crummy, yet delightfully portable, laptop).

In summary,

Do I need an X16? No.

Do I want to assemble one? No.

Why don't I want to assemble one? First, I would have to buy a lot tools that I don't already have. Second, I have shaky hands that aren't well suited for soldering. I can solder, I have a Weller and a life time supply of rosin core solder, and I don't mind doing it, but I can't do well and I can't do it a lot and that means it's not something I enjoy doing.

So why would I buy the cheaper FPGA version of the X16? Ultimately, to be part of something in a way that suits my capacity and my desires.

I hope this helps. Maybe I am just one crazy old man, but perhaps there are others who feel similarly. Who knows! 🙂

Take care and thanks, to all involved, for all of your hard work.

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On 8/20/2021 at 4:30 PM, The 8-Bit Guy said:

Absolutely.  I had already planned to bundle Petscii Robots with the X16.  And it can certainly run on the X8 as well.

As a Canadian everything I order from the USA costs at least 25% more due to the currency conversion and we often have to pay an additional 13% tax, plus international shipping rates and duty fees. This is why I've never purchased any of your software. As a matter of principle, I simply hate throwing away that much of our money on nothing. That said, I would make an exception if the price and the product was right. In this case, I would pay up to $70 USD for an X8, a Petscii Robots manual, a digital download copy of Petscii Robots for the X8, and a Petscii Robots box labeled for any non-Apple system that's convenient for you. Shipping would have to be $20 or less though; $90 USD is about $115 CAD and that's pushing pretty heavily on my wife's benevolence boundary. 😄

I would likely never buy an a full sized X16, because it's too expensive for me to justify. Frankly, I'd rather spend $400 USD on a new motherboard/cpu/ram/power supply to upgrade my desktop. In reality, that money would go towards replacing our 35 year old washing machine, car insurance, dental fees, school fees * 3, etc.

So I suppose you could say, 

An X8 would give you money now and get me into the ecosystem without using emulation, whereas an X16 wouldn't give you anything and leaves me out, because I can't afford an X16 and if I am going to emulate, I'd rather carry on programming on devices I already own. At least from my own perspective, the X8 would be a net benefit towards reaching your over all goal of making your dream computer. It's a worthy dream, David. I hope you get there.

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WWJ(ack Tramiel)D?

Would Jack release the X8 now to bring in cold hard cash? Is there any doubt the answer is a pounding-the-table yes?

Would Jack cripple the X8 in order to make it somewhat more compatible with a planned future product that's still years away? Haha, no. You know who would? The clueless marketing division at CBM, after Jack rage-quit and had poached all the engineering talent.

Would Jack allow the X8 and the X16 to find their their own loyal and fervent audiences? He would. Jack didn't try to dictate how his computers should be used; he left that up to all the software and hardware developers who thanked him over the years for the awesome and affordable machines he released into the wild.

Would Jack sell the X8 to the masses, not the classes? Yes. Take my money. Sell me a cost-reduced keyboard with petscii keycaps, too, thank you. Nerds outside the US especially will line up by the thousands, probably tens of thousands, to buy a product that isn't loaded up with expensive import duties, high shipping costs due to weight, customs inspections and delays, etc. The X16's killer apps are just waiting to be programmed by X8 buyers around the world.

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I feel bad having missed this thread since last month. If this is a Sitdown, so to speak, then I would have to add my two cents...

I am going to be very real, right now:

I am not soldering this project together. If you wanna charge us us $25*8 hours markup, be my guest. It's only fair given the circumstances.

Sadly, this violates one of the core missions of the project but let's be fair: The world simply will not allow this to be made cheaply, right now. Two hundred dollars for a complete version of the computer that's supposed to be a day-to-day usable computer is fine by me. I've spent as much on a Polish button box. It costs what it costs.

I will say this, though: I am only buying the computer ONE TIME. If updates are made, it will have to be on the board I had bought, with the components I had. I have no problem buying addon cards or other devices (Kind of the exciting part, to be honest. Feels very retro to me.), but whatever you release to the public - I want that case and computer. I want that product. I'm only buying it once. I am either waiting a long time, or hoping the crowdfunding drive nets me something neat so I can support you for far less with some headway to getting the thing I really want.

I want to add about the keyboard: The keyboard being a top end mechanical thing is way way way too much. I saw that keyboard - it's very pretty. That price, though! You absolutely need a cheaper solution, and I'm fine with anything that works on modern USB with a PS2 adapter. I have those laying around, at least. That would save money.

So, how to get my money NOW?

As for this X8: I'm going to be honest - If the X8 is companion to crowdfunding and is less than 50 bucks pledge? I would get it, but I'll say right now I have absolutely no use for a Raspberry Pi other than turning it into other hobby projects. How you fund the business venture (Be completely up front about the stretch goals - no use shorting yourself when it's obvious the costs need to be completely there.) will be important to getting this done. The X8 as Crowdfund Bait is fine enough, but I honestly don't know what I'd do with it. Even as a programmer, I'm a high level guy - I need BASIC, and I need a modern BASIC. All the work going into the kernel and ROMs is absolutely worth the time.

I want that computer. The Computer. The whole thing. I am not soldering this thing together. I don't mind assembling components into the case or chips into sockets, but I absolutely do mind burning myself and doing a sloptastic job and destroying my computer with only a "Oh well, to the forums!" or "Oops! Oh well! Spend more money!" to say if I screw anything up. Nope. Do Not Want.

Edited by Starsickle
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Hi!

I'm late to this thread, but below is my way of looking at it.

I am going to put it straight.  Probably many disagree with me, but I am ok with that.
To keep my enthusiasm for development for the platform, and to get me to spend money on the platform, below is more or less my list of thoughts / requirements to make that happen.
 

Let's start with my view, and then I go into the questions.

Quote

What I really want is this.

First: A breadbox like the C64, with PETSCII keyboard, but it says X16 on the top. What is in the breadbox is more or less irrelevant to me, as long as it boots up, and pretends it's the X16 that we now all know and love.  That would really make my day.  But since you can't have it all, below is some more nuance.

Secondly: A cool development community like the X16 community is just now, where you can discuss development, and display your programs.

 

Quote

X8

For me the X8, is a no go. 

Unless,

- You chuck away the X16 completely, and X8 takes over the show.

- Or the X16 is really an compatible upgrade of the X8. Think C64/C128.  The X16 should at least have a "goX8" command, if both have to live in the same universe. Or at least they both should have the same way accessing the Vera.

- Or there is at least 5 years time between the releases.

 

Quote

Keyboard

About the keyboard, as it stands.   I don't mind at all how good or bad quality, ps2 or usb it is.  The only thing I REALLY want is the cool PETSCII characters on the keyboard, connected to my X8/16. If I can't have the breadboard form-factor, then the PETSCII keyboard is the next big selling point for me. 

 

Quote

KIT

KIT or no KIT.  I am not buying a KIT, period.   I'd love to buy one and put it together, but I am way to clumsy, and I end up breaking the KIT.  If KIT is the only option, I'll be doing the rounds on eBay to see if someone wants to sell an assembled kit.

 

Quote

The insides and the outside

I'd prefer a through hole circuit board of course, with all parts being discrete.  But since $$$ and also we already have a FPGA onboard, I more or less don't care what's inside.  Put in a raspberry pi, pre-configured to be an X16, and I am still a happy camper.  The thing that matters to me how it boots up like a X16 and how it looks like a X16.  So, does it look like a X16, or does it look like a generic box.  For example I LOVE the Myster, but the form factor is the worst I've seen in a long time. 

I like my retro computers  not only to work great on the inside, but also look the part.  Since I rather have it in a display cabinet next to a C64, looking cool, during it's "off time" periods.

 

Quote

Approach

Myself, I would perhaps take a different route.

0. It sounds like the X8 has a better Vera architecture, change the X16 to copy that.

1. Dump the X8, cool idea, but, nah.

2. Phase 1, is the raspberry pi, bundled with a bare metal emulator of the X16 as it stands now, a generic box, but with PETSCII KB. (I would totally buy that)

3. Phase 2, is a full FPGA version of the X16.

4. Scrap the through hole. Great idea, but maybe only as a kit for the hardcore enthusiasts.  And my daughter can look at resisters, capacitors and transistors in my old C64, that's fine for me.

 

Quote

Conclusion

In short, I really like this project.  And respect the people working so hard to make it happen.  So even if you ignore all my points, I probably stick around, and buy "one of whatever comes out of the oven" 🙂

So please continue, and keep faith !!  

 

But that being said, I will focus on one single platform, and buy one hardware, and ignore the other one. 

Also, If prefer outside looks (with Keyboard) over inside looks, and a KIT won't do it for me.

 

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On 8/19/2021 at 8:32 PM, The 8-Bit Guy said:

The Commander X8 - Believe it or not, this product already exists.  I've had one sitting on my desk the last 6 months.  This is entirely designed by Frank.  It's a 100% FPGA implementation.  It is sort of a subset of the Commander X16.  It has mostly the same architecture, but it has minor differences. There is also already an emulator for it.  It's about the size of a Raspberry Pi.

I can't tell if comments along the lines of "I don't want a Raspberry Pi" are facetious or exaggerations, or if there's a genuine mistaken perception among some that the X8 is nothing more than an emulator of the X16 on a Pi board, but above is how the man himself describes the 100% FPGA X8.

Sounds good to me. I'm probably not going to drop $400 on a hobby computer. I want the low cost Jack Tramiel "for the masses" machine. But I'd be much more likely to buy that $400 machine when it eventually becomes available if I was already invested time and knowledge-wise in the X-family ecosystem. The saying goes, Less is more. I say, More is more. The more X8's are sold, the more X16's will sell.

Also, with the Covid-throttled parts supply situation, it may actually be 5 years before the X16 can be realized. If selling the X8 brings in a big infusion of cash, that could only help to accelerate release of the X16.

Edited by VIC-2020
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12 hours ago, VIC-2020 said:

I can't tell if comments along the lines of "I don't want a Raspberry Pi" are facetious or exaggerations, or if there's a genuine mistaken perception among some that the X8 is nothing more than an emulator of the X16 on a Pi board, but above is how the man himself describes the 100% FPGA X8.

It is inevitable that some people will make that mistake.

Some people just skim through things, so are basically "too long / didn't read" but reply anyway. If they were aware that a RPi0 can emulate a C64, they might be unaware of the difficult that a top end RPi can have in emulating the X16 at full speed when Vera is being pushed harder.

Indeed, some people, after all, are under the impression that an FPGA "emulates" hardware rather than being hardware with a an ability to reprogram the connections between the hardware elements at a very low level.

So, yes, while it follows directly from what David said that the X8 is not a Raspberry Pi emulating the Vera chip, but the Vera chip being rewired to have almost all of the the complete system inside of it, it does bear stressing that point for those who are confused.

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23 minutes ago, BruceMcF said:

Indeed, some people, after all, are under the impression that an FPGA "emulates" hardware rather than being hardware with a an ability to reprogram the connections between the hardware elements at a very low level.

I think part of the problem is "dictionary definitions" vs "real world meaning of words". Yes, a strict reading of the dictionary states that FPGA emulates a CPU, but at the same time, one could say every automobile after the first automobile can be said to be emulating its predecessor. And those automobiles (aka horseless carriages) emulated a predecessor. And every hammer after the first emulated the first. Every building after the first. Etc Etc Etc.

Some people do use the term negatively as an insult because it isn't original equipment. But just as software emulation can be good or bad, an FPGA based solution can be good or bad. They are just tools and can be used well or poorly. This is part of the brilliance (or maybe insanity!) of creating Commander X16. It tries to be reminiscent of the past without claiming 100% fidelity to something else.

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