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Change of product direction, good and bad news!


What should we do?  

357 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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11 hours ago, Ethan72021 said:

Is there a chance we could see a 3D model of the case so we could 3D print our own?

Have a look at this thread:

Essentially, due to legal issues it is unlikely that the case design will be released to the public, sadly.

Edit: "Legal issues" is perhaps too strong ... See following posts

Edited by kliepatsch
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17 minutes ago, kliepatsch said:

Essentially, due to legal issues it is unlikely that the case design will be released to the public, sadly.

This just gets better and better...

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Just now, Brad said:

This just gets better and better...

To be clear lest that be misunderstood: The "legal issues" are simply "a third party, not one of the X16 principals, did design work in anticipation of a future payday, and is unlikely to voluntarily give up their design because their time is valuable".

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4 hours ago, Scott Robison said:

To be clear lest that be misunderstood: The "legal issues" are simply "a third party, not one of the X16 principals, did design work in anticipation of a future payday, and is unlikely to voluntarily give up their design because their time is valuable".

That isn’t quite right. It’s actually pretty simple:

The X16 case design used an existing design as a basis to cut end user costs (as stated in the other thread and since the start).

I then designed changes to that to customise it.

We therefore cannot give out the full 3D files because we do not own 100% of them (we don’t own the basis / the original design).

Analogy: Imagine you wrote a song, and someone else added a new verse and chorus, then they gave your song away for free.

It also isn’t “legal issues”, just standard copyright law. 

More clarity is in the other thread as I don’t want to detract from David’s goal of this thread. 

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3 minutes ago, Perifractic said:

I’m going to step in and clarify that isn’t quite right. It’s actually pretty simple:

The X16 case design used as a basis an existing case (as stated in the other thread and since the start).

I then designed changes to that to customise it.

We cannot give out the full 3D files because we do not own 100% of them.

Analogy: Imagine you wrote a song, and someone else added a new verse and chorus, then gave your song away for free.

It also isn’t “legal issues”, just standard copyright law. 

More clarity is in the other thread as I don’t want to detract from David’s goal of this thread. 

Right ... I'm saying "the other company owns the design, where design is more than just the skin on the outside". I feared a quick reading of the summary, without going to the other post, would lead someone to think "Perifractic and 8BG are in a legal battle" and I thought clarifying that was of value. I don't think I was "wrong" per se, but certainly this is "more accurate".

Edited by Scott Robison
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For those advocating crowdfunding, remember that it creates with it a new set of time-consuming issues that have to be addressed, as well as other stress. This is a part-time, side project for the team, and adding obligation and stress from a crowdfunding campaign could easily push them over the edge.

For me, personally, I want the kit form, most of all. I enjoy assembly such things, and it takes me back to my younger days.  I don't care as much about a polished assembly with a board, a pretty case, etc - I'd rather assemble the board, and if I then need to source my own case for it, so be it. That's no different than all the computers I've built over the past 25 years or so.

My guess, if the team were to release the X8 prior to the X16 is that it would become a distraction and the X16 itself would be less likely to ever be realized. To me, it comes down to David thinking in terms of his vision from when he kicked this project off - if the X8 meets that vision and he'd be okay if it stopped there, then consider releasing the X8. But if the X8 would leave David feeling disappointment for not having achieved his vision, then I would avoid that distraction and continue on with the X16.

As far as component issues go, that's a real problem that's impacting a lot of projects and supply chains. I have a couple friends who produce niche electronic products and they need to have another production run done - they spent over a week sourcing parts that were compatible with items that they just couldn't find. They had to make some compromises that they'll have to address on the software side of their product, in order to be able to meet customer demand. Those backlogs and demands for components are not expected to get better until late 2022 or possibly into 2023.

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3 hours ago, michele75 said:

Could the X8 be bundled with PETSCII ROBOTS?

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

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I can't speak for anyone else, but I find humor in the idea of bundling the X8 with PETSCII ROBOTS. Used to be you got software bundled with your hardware. Then some of 8BG's software comes with hardware to support alternative controllers. Now we're going to ship an entire freakin computer to you with the software just so you can play it! 🙂

Edited by Scott Robison
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Crowdfunding would pose certain challenges?  Okay.  But if the project is impeded from lack of money (is it?) and if crowdfunding can provide that money...?

As for the case, aren't phase 1 and 2 both designed to fit in a standard case?  Problem solved?

The X8 to me just isn't the same thing that David described from the get go.  It doesn't even have the same vibe to me at all.

My three cents. 😉

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I just wanted to chime in about the costs and confusion on the X8.   First and foremost, it is really hard to narrow down a cost structure with the crazy chip market at the moment.  Hopefully that is a temporary problem.  So let me tell you where we would be if the chip market were the same as two years ago.

The X8 could be available immediately and be well under $50.  I'm not sure how far under $50.  I'd say as low as $25 and as high as $50.  

The Phase 1 system sold as a DYI kit could be well under $300. Maybe under $250.  Add another $100 to $150 for a pre-assembled kit.

Again, you can't hold me to these numbers because so many things are unknown right now with the cost of chips.  But that hopefully puts things in a ballpark for people trying to figure this out.  

For those trying to figure out what the advantage would be of an X8 versus what is envisioned for the X16 Phase-3 (known as the X16e).  Well, the X8 would still be half the price.   For example, the X8 might be $35 and the X16e would be like $70.   There is simply no way to ever produce an FPGA based X16 as cheaply as the X8 can be produced.   And the X8 brings with it most of the functionality and personality of the X16.  And it's not an emulator.  So, there's that.

And there's another more depressing matter to consider. If the X16 doesn't sell well enough to recoup some of the costs we've plunged into it, the X16e will never see the light of day.  Where as the X8 could start sales very quickly and actually help fund the entire project.  So there's that too.

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1 minute ago, Carl Gundel said:

Crowdfunding would pose certain challenges?  Okay.  But if the project is impeded from lack of money (is it?) and if crowdfunding can provide that money...?

As soon as you take money from someone, there are obligations that go along with that - responding to inquiries, getting product out the door in a reasonable timeframe, etc.

As long as they've not taken money from anyone, they have zero obligation to anyone and can work according to the team's priorities and needs. They currently control their own destiny. That changes completely, once they take money.

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1 minute ago, troj said:

As soon as you take money from someone, there are obligations that go along with that - responding to inquiries, getting product out the door in a reasonable timeframe, etc.

As long as they've not taken money from anyone, they have zero obligation to anyone and can work according to the team's priorities and needs. They currently control their own destiny. That changes completely, once they take money.

Kickstarter has no such requirement. Which is probably another reason why 8BG doesn't want to go into it and take money unless he's sure he could fulfill it.

Kickstarter is "you are helping fund an idea, and if you never get any premiums that were promised because the idea never comes to fruition, oh well." https://www.slashgear.com/superscreen-kickstarter-fails-takes-2-5m-down-the-drain-11549706/ Don't ask me how I know.

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2 minutes ago, Scott Robison said:

Kickstarter has no such requirement. Which is probably another reason why 8BG doesn't want to go into it and take money unless he's sure he could fulfill it.

Regardless of whether a crowd funding platform requires something or not, I have a reputation of integrity to uphold.  The last thing I want is people saying that the 8-Bit Guy took their money and didn't deliver on a promise.  However, I have been considering doing some sort of crowdfunding where it would literally just be asking for donations to keep this project alive.  An infusion of $20,000 with no requirement to repay it would go a LONG way to pushing this product out to the public.  $100,000 would guarantee a successful launch.   But that's a lot to ask.  I know there are several thousand people interested in this.  If everyone just donated $5 that would probably be an incredible help.

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Speaking only for myself, I am truly afraid that the X8 would take over the X16 and it's userbase / softwarebase.

I talked earlier about following a similar scheme as RPis with X16 being 100% retrocompatible with the X8.

To be honest I'm only interested in the X16 and if the X8 sounds appealing at first it would just be a temporary product in wait for the real thing.

I deeply want to see the X16 seeing the light of the day, so if I can help in any way, just tell me ! 😄

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10 minutes ago, The 8-Bit Guy said:

Regardless of whether a crowd funding platform requires something or not, I have a reputation of integrity to uphold.  The last thing I want is people saying that the 8-Bit Guy took their money and didn't deliver on a promise.  However, I have been considering doing some sort of crowdfunding where it would literally just be asking for donations to keep this project alive.  An infusion of $20,000 with no requirement to repay it would go a LONG way to pushing this product out to the public.  $100,000 would guarantee a successful launch.   But that's a lot to ask.  I know there are several thousand people interested in this.  If everyone just donated $5 that would probably be an incredible help.

That's a reputation you've worked hard to build, and it can be destroyed in the blink of an eye with a crowdfunding campaign that goes sideways, despite your best efforts.

As far as project funding goes, I don't think it would hurt to ask if people would pitch in money to help fund the project, with zero obligation - purely a donation. I know I speak only for myself, but I would happily do so.

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1 hour ago, Scott Robison said:

To be clear lest that be misunderstood: The "legal issues" are simply "a third party, …

I read that thread so I understand exactly what Perifractic was talking about. Not to be too snarky about it, but I wouldn't doubt we see some cases that look exactly like the X16 case on the market soon, knowing how Chinese companies feel about IP.

19 minutes ago, The 8-Bit Guy said:

If everyone just donated $5 that would probably be an incredible help.

I'm guessing everyone who posts on this board would donate $5, or more, and David could probably get the $100k he needs just by asking on his channel. Just show our names in the official docs or something.

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Been trying to figure out how two major show-stopping technical problems (PS/2 kbd. and SD access) lead to as discussion on how it would be expensive to build a through-hole machine and suddenly X16 is out the window.  The answer is probably buried in one of the hundred+ posts that landed in the last 24 hrs.; I'm not a facebook or twitter user for a reason; it's just too much.

[redacted - keep comments helpful please]  It is now clear that a "hurry up and sell something" approach that would leverage a case-less (probably documentation-less) kit and might throw lots of software and tool chain development out the window; definitely NOT what was sold to the many interested that have been following the project.  Also, I already bought PETSCII Robots twice and while I like playing it with my 12 year old and do view it as a great piece of work, it's not exactly MacDraw/MacWrite that made the first Macintosh appealing.

Grabbing a microwave popcorn and cracking open a 25 oz. Budweiser to see how this ends.  I'm still interested, but less so.  (I didn't see a way to express this view in the poll)

 

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Two Questions:

(1)

17 hours ago, The 8-Bit Guy said:

Uses a USB keyboard instead of PS/2.  and USB for controllers (so, no SNES ports)

Up until now, every time someone asked for (or, usually, complained about the lack of) USB on the X16, the answer was that supporting modern USB devices is complicated not only from a hardware standpoint but also from a programming standpoint.  SO my question is, will the X8 be harder to program for becasue its keyboard, mouse, and controller inputs use the more complicated USB?

(2)

I've never bought a case separate from the computer before, so maybe I have the wrong idea, but wasn't the Phase 1 board designed specifically to fit into a standard case size?  I thought "ATX" was like a standard size, made by a variety of different manufacturers.  Is it actually just one company's proprietary size? 

Setting aside the logos and color scheme, only the jackfield on the back panel needed to be customized (to fit the X16's specific I/O assortment)... right? 

 

aaaand, one comment:

EDIT: I removed the comment, the 8 Bit Guy himself already said it, while I was writing, and there's no need for me to repeat it again.

 

Edited by John Chow Seymour
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I'm going to take a moment to be a cheerleader: 

You all are Awesome!!!

To the community, full of so much wisdom and passion: you are all Awesome!!!

To all the Devs (past, present, and yet to be) your Awesomeness is Epic!!! 

And to 8-bit Dave: your dream has  inspired so much imagination and innovative spirit: your Epic Awesomeness is Legend!!!!!

I have complete faith that the Commander X16 will be Most Excellent, and I'm happy to wait as long as it takes.

P.S. I pray we Never have to subject 8BG to another crowdfunding: he did a video about the last one...I am happy to contribute on Patreon(s) if it comes to that.

Edited by Davish47
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1 hour ago, The 8-Bit Guy said:

...I have been considering doing some sort of crowdfunding where it would literally just be asking for donations to keep this project alive...

...

If everyone just donated $5 that would probably be an incredible help.

That sounds like Patreon to me.

I just doubled my monthly Patreon donation to you... well from $1 to $2, ha! 

Is that the right kind of help?  If it's a matter of "need the money now", I could just bump it up for a month then settle it back down.

 

Edited by rje
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I'm not sure this thread will be helpful to anyone. This is the internet, someone will always be unhappy. As someone else said, should just go with your gut and that be it.

I kinda feel there are two groups, those who want to make and ticker with the hardware so want expansion ports and the like or to be able to build their own machine. And those who are more software focused, so just want an interesting piece of hardware to code against. Personally 'phase 2' is best for me, as I don't own a soldering iron. That said anything is fine. As a developer I'd spend 99% of the time using the emulator anyway.

The X8/X16 question does trouble me a bit. Just to quote the original post:

  • VRAM access is fundamentally different.  There is a 256 byte window into the VRAM which is mapped to a section of base RAM.  You can move the window around. This is actually more efficient than what we do with the X16 and is only possible because it is all inside an FPGA. This does mean software written in assembly language will need to be tweaked to be compatible.
  • The Vera is more or less the same.  All of the same registers.  Same PSG sound features too.  But, programs that use more than 64K VRAM would need to be modified.
  • There is no Yamaha sound chip.  However, as we've seen already.  The 8-voice sound system in the Vera is pretty darned capable!

This is worrying as I'm not sure can say the Vera is more or less the same given it uses a completely different way to address it, as well has having half the voices and who knows what other differences. (Someone said it would only have one layer for example -- this may or may not be true. Only a handful of people would know this.)

My guess is if the X8 is released now, and the Vera isn't 100% compatible, it will mean the X16 is unlikely to happen. You can't change something as fundamental as how you address the VRAM between two machines and expect software to be written so it is compatible. I really like how the X16 accesses VRAM with DATA0/1 with the marching, there is so much fun things that can be done as a developer there. But I also see the advantages of the framed VRAM in the X8. (The reduced RAM\VRAM doesn't bother me, it just makes it all the more challenging and so interesting to develop for. An X8 with the X16's Vera sounds great to me, but that wasn't an option.) 

tldr; Ignore this thread. Do whatever you think is best, everyone wants something different, you can't please us all, and ignore any negative noise when you do decide. Heh, good luck! 😉

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1 hour ago, The 8-Bit Guy said:

Regardless of whether a crowd funding platform requires something or not, I have a reputation of integrity to uphold.

Absolutely, and sorry if my post read contrary to that. People who think Kickstarter guarantees a "return on investment" are wrong, but I also wrote:

1 hour ago, Scott Robison said:

Which is probably another reason why 8BG doesn't want to go into it and take money unless he's sure he could fulfill it.

I don't know you personally, but I believe you to be an honorable person who would *not* go the Kickstarter route unless you were 100% certain you could deliver whatever was promised. Software is a lot easier to guarantee delivery on than hardware. Software only has to obey rules of logic, hardware was to obey laws of physics.

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@The 8-Bit Guy

Tell you what, in lieu of outright donating:

Sell me an X8 for $100. (This is double your $50 Max you mentioned)
Or whatever the equivalent is in the current circumstances, to a $100 X8 when the market was "normal".

I'm guessing a lot of other people would pay this.

Use the extra cash to wrap up X16 development, and maybe that means scrap the Phase 1 because of the difficulties, and go with a Phase 2 that Kevin can build or outsource, and that can come as a complete computer with 1 or 2 expansion ports (could an expansion plane be developed if someone needed more than 1 or 2 slots?).

Let the chips fall where they may.
No pun intended.

Edit: Maybe keep open the possibility of making the Phase 1 available for the diehard hackers, as a kit only.

Edited by x16tial
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^ Clever idea.

3 minutes ago, x16tial said:

(could an expansion plane be developed if someone needed more than 1 or 2 slots?).

I seem to remember hearing about a riser-like thing for expanding the expansion ports out, so to speak, way back when.

 

Edited by rje
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