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What if you are actively 'developing a product', but decide to not bring it to market.

Is there a limit on how many 'beta testers' a product in development can have? icon_wink.gif

 

If you pay to join the 'development team'... but withdraw a few weeks after receiving your 'test unit'...

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In the 3-5 years of F18A MK1, Matthew only netprofited maybe $5K to $10K total for all the units. If he had to pay an annual fee of $5K per year to use VGA, he wouldn't have been able to do this.

Dude, you're only doing Matt a disservice by making numbers up here... ;)

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Dude, you're only doing Matt a disservice by making numbers up here... ;)

 

I get Wildstar's idea, but, yeah, we kind-a need to work with real figures not hypotheticals to plead our case.

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Dude, you're only doing Matt a disservice by making numbers up here... ;)

 

I'm figuring off the top of my head the price of each item and the BOM (bill of material) which he illuminated. There isn't a while lot of margin between BOM cost per unit and product price of the original F18A.

 

Developing hardware 'products' for the retro-computing market isn't and never been about making it rich. $5K to $10K or so spread out over 5 years is only $1K to $2K a year. Not even close to a viable sales run for the HDMI license.

 

The numbers are ball park figures. Even if he made a little more, it really doesn't change the issue. It is apparent that Matthew isn't making enough annual sales from the F18A MK1 to begin with. The F18A MK2 would have similar sales. If there was enough demand like 1500+ units sold a year, it wouldn't be a big issue. Without being able to subsidize the annual fee on other products, it will require a sales volume of 1000+ units to pay the fee. Lets not forget that there is more than just having an HDMI Adopter license. The product has to be tested at an ATC (Authorized Testing Center) to comply with HDMI specifications.

 

Current sales volume (F18A MK1) is a variable range of 100-250 a year. This is based on what matthew had already said about the MK1 sales. There is no reason to expect sales to jump to 1000+ sales. We would have to be looking at sales upwards of a magnitude of an order higher volume than what was of the original F18A. We are a small niche community of an already small niche community in retro-computing. Only a subset of the retro-computing users buys hardware upgrades and replacements for their original. The rest of the retro-computing community only work from the emulation environment. This is simply the reality of retro-computing business. You're not going to be the next Bill Gates from the sales of products for these 30+ year old computers. The TMS99xx technology is roughly 40 year old technology which started around 1977 according to Karl Guttag (one of the TEAM OF SEVEN "miracle workers").

 

If we think about it, there are only so many of us from that generation that still has the passion for these systems. There is even less of us that uses the physical hardware. There is a lot more of us as "emulator" users than those of us with the real hardware at our fingertips. Even I wouldn't spin up the process of making runs of 288 F18A MK# without being able to sell them let alone running a production run of 1000+ to 2000+ units unless I stand to recoup the hard costs and a little for my time.

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I get Wildstar's idea, but, yeah, we kind-a need to work with real figures not hypotheticals to plead our case.

 

I agree but there is some real figures to extrapolate from. Price per unit. Matthew already mentioned how many F18A MK1 were sold. He already given some figure on his BOM costs.

 

matthew isn't doing this as a full fledge retro-computing business.

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Those sales are across all the different retro platforms, Many of those platforms will not need a MK2, other people who already have an original F18A might not feel a driving need to open up their legacy hardware just to replace a perfectly fine working piece of hardware. While the device WILL be an improvement for many, especially newbies, the projected sales curve may not be as steep as some envision.

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Those sales are across all the different retro platforms, Many of those platforms will not need a MK2, other people who already have an original F18A might not feel a driving need to open up their legacy hardware just to replace a perfectly fine working piece of hardware. While the device WILL be an improvement for many, especially newbies, the projected sales curve may not be as steep as some envision.

 

I expect sales in a stand-alone drop in replacement to be of limited sales. While I can envision more sales by making it a cartridge that a game, app, etc. would use and be a required hardware and be part of the price of the game, app, etc. but as a drop in replacement, sales would be limited especially to those willing to go through the effort of installing it. There is a number of people uncomfortable in removing and installing ICs when soldering is involved. So, a plug-in board on PEB or Apple II, or a cartridge on the C64 and some other systems would apply to a different level of comfort zone. I couldn't predict sales on that front but I can reasonably project that F18A MK2 direct sales to customers would likely be equal to or less than the original MK1 sales because some who already has the MK1 might not feel the need to buy the MK2 just because it plugs into HDMI or Displayport.

 

I can see the value of the F18A MK2 used in various forms of embedded computing as well. However, sales on that front is uncharted territory. Matthew isn't planning to produce this for that and anything like that would have to come from a person licensing F18A MK2 from Matthew to explore that.

 

If we need to reach annual 1000+ unit production runs, we'll have to really find a way to sell that many but we'll have a very difficult time trying to do that by only targeting the TI/MSX/Colecovision users.

 

Please note: It is not ALL the different retro-platforms. I would say all the different retro-platforms that originally has the TMS9918.

Edited by Wildstar

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One exciting aspect of this specific hardware is that it's really, REALLY generic. It will go in almost any socket where a ULA was used and can be configured by FPGA programing to be almost any device. The limits are basically the power and ground pins, and if any pins are not GPIO but just GPI or GPO. This could replace the 8301 or 8302 in a Sinclair QL, a lot of video processing in the earlier Ataris or Commodores - all it takes is the right FPGA code to map pins and to decode the video correctly.

Also, while the MSX market may be quite small here, it is quite large in Japan and other EMEA markets. Also, the UK/EU retro scenes are much more active and those guys (and gals) eat this stuff up.

I think he would sell far more by also having an "unprogrammed" option and people can just read the datasheet, create and install the JEDEC of their choice, etc. He'd find a whole bunch of aftermarket uses for this device.

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One exciting aspect of this specific hardware is that it's really, REALLY generic. It will go in almost any socket where a ULA was used and can be configured by FPGA programing to be almost any device. The limits are basically the power and ground pins, and if any pins are not GPIO but just GPI or GPO. This could replace the 8301 or 8302 in a Sinclair QL, a lot of video processing in the earlier Ataris or Commodores - all it takes is the right FPGA code to map pins and to decode the video correctly.

 

Also, while the MSX market may be quite small here, it is quite large in Japan and other EMEA markets. Also, the UK/EU retro scenes are much more active and those guys (and gals) eat this stuff up.

 

I think he would sell far more by also having an "unprogrammed" option and people can just read the datasheet, create and install the JEDEC of their choice, etc. He'd find a whole bunch of aftermarket uses for this device.

 

While it could conceivably be mapped to work in place of the VIC-I or VIC-II, but the reality is, we would more likely install it on a cartridge and map the address and data lines and other lines as needed. The TMS9918 works differently enough to the VIC-I & VIC-II to pose some problems. You have an interesting idea there since it is an FPGA, after all. While initially, I didn't understand the ULA part but after a brief 'look it up', I can see how a FPGA can be useful that way. The key trick is how we print or layout the circuits from the underside pins to the FPGA. With minor modifications of the circuit designs, we can arrange for any known locations for power and ground and route it. This design profile is awesome BECAUSE it would be functional mechanically for most if not all 40-pin DIP based microcontrollers and in some cases, the protector IC and HDMI connector is not needed. Therefore, the brilliance of coming up with drop in replacements chips for our beloved computers components would be awesome. Our limit is ultimately in the FPGA's available logic elements/cells. In the future, I am confident FPGAs 5mm x 5mm will have the amount of logic cells/elements and logic gate resources to make any chip from 1975 to 1995 with enough contacts for any chip up to 208 pins such as having more contacts on the FPGA than a Pentium in a 15mm x 15mm chip for a drop in replacement for Pentium processor. it is all a matter of time that they can even run processors as complex as a Pentium on an FPGA as fast if not faster than even a Pentium processor with less heat dissipation without even needing a heat sink. Of course, that is years down the road but from what I see, we can see our beloved computers having drop in replacements before that in the next 5 years as I can see the Pentium drop in replacement on FPGA in 10 to 15 years.

 

I think we can see a FAT AGNUS on FPGA on an 8mm x 8mm to 10mm x 10mm FPGA on a PCB that plugs into an 84 pin QFP in the next few years. I can see all kinds of stuff made for our beloved systems whether it is a Sinclair, C64, TI, Apple II, Amiga, or so forth.

 

The trick is getting the FPGAs inexpensive enough so people can afford to buy all those components without costing a fortune (in the perspective of discretionary funds budget people tend to have on retro-computing).

Edited by Wildstar

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I found this product/topic because I have an old industrial machine with a control terminal using a Intel 8032 and a TMS9129. The terminal was not outputting video. After a month of banging my head against a wall because everything was working properly but I still had no video output. You can only swap chips/caps/resistors/didoes/transistors so many times. To get me unstuck I bought a Colecovision and TI-99/4A so I could hook them up to my oscilloscope and logic analyzer to have something working to compare to.

 

I got the industrial terminal fixed but now I have a Colecovision and TI-99/4A I want to play with at home. So I was looking on how to hook them up to my TV and found this product/thread.

 

My suggestion would be to implement a USB-C connector. USB fees are only required if its certified. Ship the units preloaded with VGA output through the USB-C. Or have it preloaded as a drop in TMS9918 replacement, no output through the USB-C.

 

Then make a script/program that will upload the FPGA program through the USB-C.

 

With in the FPGA program or an init file have a declaration that says which output you want through the USB-C connector (vga,rgb,dvi,hdmi). Then have a notice that says the HDMI does not work, or is in development along with the rest, or whatever you want. Maybe not even say anything about HDMI but we all know the secret code to output HDMI (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start).

 

Alternately the up-loadable HDMI file could be hosted at one of the usual sites or through a proxy email/google drive. But all you provide is the VGA output program.

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Is it possible to provide the output as Scart, but using a smaller connection? Scart seems to have a lot of conversion options available to other outputs - but is also still supported (although sadly to a lessening degree) .. mostly europewide I think?

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Is it possible to provide the output as Scart, but using a smaller connection? Scart seems to have a lot of conversion options available to other outputs - but is also still supported (although sadly to a lessening degree) .. mostly europewide I think?

I assume RGB over SCART. In which case... may as well use VGA again.

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Even if they used the RPi, they would still legally have to be an Adopter and pay the fee since the final product has HDMI output on it.

 

Originally the plan, I believe, was to use the Pi mainly purely for that purpose. But it now outputs to HDMI from the FPGA itself.

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Quick update: I spoke briefly with my attorney yesterday and she said she had some research with what looks to be good news. We will be having a lunch-meeting sometime next week.

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Status: Still working on options in between a heavy day-job load right now. I'm also very interested in what OLDCS1 has to say about his attorney's findings. No time frame as of right now.

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Looks like there is another RGB board for Coleco that just came out as well. But not sure if it supports ADAM and its RGBS. I still like the idea of straight to HDMI since these other board seems to require an upconverter if going to a TV or a VGA monitor that supports RGBS which is rare. Plus it requires and oscilloscope to tune in the colors.

 

Just curious if anyone owning an F18 might compare video to this one. Would be interesting to see how all 3 options would compare in terms of video and color quality.

 

I myself own an F18 and waiting on the planned MK2 as well. Pretty impressed with the videos of the F18 I have seen and looking to get me mod on my ADAM done soon with an F18 and then mod another with MK2.

Edited by jfcarbel

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Status: Still working on options in between a heavy day-job load right now. I'm also very interested in what OLDCS1 has to say about his attorney's findings. No time frame as of right now.

 

She has been sick and I have not been able to get on her schedule as she catches up. I am working to get with her as quickly as she can and will report back in.

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She has been sick and I have not been able to get on her schedule as she catches up. I am working to get with her as quickly as she can and will report back in.

 

Anything to to share? I'm very interested in getting an MK2 for my colecovision :)

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Anything to to share? I'm very interested in getting an MK2 for my colecovision :)

 

She had to go out-of-state and I am expecting her back next week. Otherwise we have been busy with the hurricane and its results. I have put everything else on our agenda aside to get this done. Trust me, I want one or two myself :)

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My main reason for wanting this board was for VGA output to an older monitor I have. With that, I could always buy a cheap VGA->HDMI converter, which I already have and was ~$9 on Amazon, if I wanted to hook it up to a newer TV/Monitor (which also has a VGA connector). So, at least for me, another run of VGA versions would be perfect, I'd buy two. That would forego any licensing risks, I would think?

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