[Coco] SuperBoard Update, was Status, anyone?

Mark Marlette mmarlette at frontiernet.net
Tue Feb 1 11:54:48 EST 2011


I asked, so you aren't telling me what to do. :)

So noted.



----- Original Message -----
From: "Frank Pittel" <fwp at deepthought.com>
To: "CoCoList for Color Computer Enthusiasts" <coco at maltedmedia.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 10:14:53 AM
Subject: Re: [Coco] SuperBoard Update, was  Status, anyone?


Although I got my first coco many years ago I discovered and joined the "coco community" just
a short time ago. Since then I've purchased many of the cloud-9 products and have been impressed
by the quality of the design, construction, operation and support. It is also clear from following
email threads and conversations amoung other "coconuts" that cloud-9 has a impecable reputation in the
coco community.

That said I think you need to get on with getting the superboard into production. From your email I see
that you need to implement a technology freeze and let the state of the art pass the superboard up. Make
a board that will do what you promised and call it ver 1. :-) After that you can add an expansion port to allow
it to be added to via modules or version 2, 3, 4, etc. As you may know my degree is in EE and I spent a lot of
years working in process control / factory automation in some cases a single project could take more then a year.
During that time the state of the art changed and had we not implemented a technology freeze at some point early in
the project they would neve have been completed as we would have been chasing technology forever.

Not trying to tell you what to do or how to do it. Just offering my opinion and a few of the lessons I've learned
in my life.

The Other Frank

On Tue, Feb 01, 2011 at 01:51:36PM +0000, Mark Marlette wrote:
> Paul,
> I have renamed the thread a bit. Beware long post.....
> Not sure which Paul H. this is or if this is either one of the 
> two Paul H.'s that has made a SuperBoard down payment. In either 
> case I will give an update.
> First I would like to say thanks for the kind words of understanding
> from Bruce Calkins, james Daggett and Brian Blake. No one wants 
> this to go away more than I do, OK, maybe Sandy, my significant other.
> She knows more than anyone else how much time I dedicate to the Cloud-9
> effort. She has indicated that I need to simplify my life and that means, to 
> her, reduction of time to the business. For those of you that do run 
> a business, you well know, you just don't turn it on and off like you 
> walk out of the office at night.
> Life is still very busy, I was away from the list to fight another 
> snow storm in MN this year and then this. Working a 4am -2pm 
> shift this week and was outside till 8pm last night. Putting the final 
> fixes in my 3pt 54" snow blower which blew the gear box out in a 
> big drift.... :( Over $400 later, a shaft, gear, bearings replaced and an 
> improved design, we are back on track. Most wouldn't consider this a 
> big deal but each time the wind blows or snows. I have just under two miles
> to blow out my drive way. Multiple passes on a very long drive. Over 2hrs 
> last night and dual stage blower tosses it ~60', but it still piles and 
> keeps coming. Global warming is appreciated in MN....but where is it? :)
> As some of my updates have had a ton of excuses, which all have been real, 
> all too real. This will not have any. My health is back, losing weight, still 
> have a job, barely, doing the work of three people now and our lab is scaled 
> back from 21 to 5 employees and I am one of the lucky ones working. Sometimes I wonder.
> Bad environment, but it does pay the bills and I am grateful. Did I mention I have 
> two WONDERFUL grandchildren, which do take of some of my former free time. My daughter, 
> son-in-law and grandson live with me while she is attending nursing school and 
> getting her degree. Those two are precious and someday hope to be CoCo users.
> Now to the meat and potatoes.
> People have asked that I delegate, ask for help, etc. I have tried that within the company. I
> have spent consider amounts of time trying to setup and off load, only to have that
> time really become a not effective use of my time. Ultimately I get sucked back into the
> branch of the project and overall I should have just done it. I can not fault them for
> being guilty of what I am. They are stuck in the reality of life as well. It happens, 
> besides, the pay is terrible
> The AT keyboard project which was originally designed by Dana Peters has been replaced
> with my own design. Created my own cross point switch in a CPLD and is 100% operational
> on the hardware level. Boisy was tasked to produce the firmware but for 
> various reasons, the project was returned to me. So currently I am writing the firmware
> for the PS2 Interface board, which will reside in the standalone board and the SuperBoard. 
> This portion of the task was not planned, but something that I must finish now, again
> another delay. This is the ONLY area at Cloud-9 that there are outstanding orders.
> SuperIDEs went from 8+week lead times to the current less than a few days delivery times.
> Trust me, this is HUGE task to enhance.
> As this project forever drags on and being an Engineer. I am forever surrounded by 
> technology. These new technologies ALWAYS look attractive. So rather than produce 
> a board with outdated resources, I investigate. More later on this. So I am at a point
> of what to do. Move forward with the old design and finish it with knowing all good 
> and well that I will be adding an expansion board for my new goodies or finish the 
> replacement add ons an incorporate in the SuperBoard. These investigations all require
> development time, some more than others.
> The areas of exploration have been :
>   1. SD, easy to implement. This would replace the CF.
>   2. USB serial, this has been a time magnet and yes I do have a USB serial interface working
>      on a test development platform. Thanks Aaron for the awesome host side development 
>      test tool! This could be an add on card, Super Expansion Card for the paks
>      and the SuperBoard. Currently we are doing sustained serial transfers of +100KB, over 
>      1M baud. That is not 115.2Kb, but BYTES. Just as fast as the Compact Flash(CF) or 
>      hard drive interface.
>   3. Was looking at replacing the PS2 with USB, but am leaning towards PS2 just due to the 
>      fact of development time. I have not finished my investigation in to the development 
>      of such a device but I am 90%+ complete. There is an issue with my interface / development
>      software as far as up/down key code detection for the CoCo's matrix. For those that say 
>      USB serial is working,  USB keyboard, why not? All USB devices are not created equally, there 
>      are different device classes and how they are handled. The CoCo's matrix keyboard is
>      a PIA and I don't mean Peripheral Interface Adapter. It must remain as many applications
>      and or games, peek the hardware. There are such better ways and less burden on 
>      the uP, but....... :(
>   4. Ethernet, same as USB. Just haven't had the time to play in this area. I have the
>      development tools and hardware in place, just haven't went down this road as a test
>      case yet. I viewed this as an after effect product anyway. Again this is not beyond
>      what USB is doing right now. Just a different transport method. I did spend an large 
>      amount of time researching this area though.
> In closing I can say that the CoCo is still very much of my everyday doings. The 
> past several years have taught me one big simple lesson. I can't do anymore than
> I already am, but I can do less. I still work on this project, I can't say daily as I
> do still have other aspects of the company to run. I have been busy, hopefully this update
> proves that I have. Those critical of me and my time it has taken. I ask you this. What 
> have you done in the past year for the CoCo or even the past 10-15? My point is simply this.
> It is easy to sit on the fence and judge others. Everyday I am doing something with 
> the CoCo, building, testing, designing. shipping product, accounting, tax prep, 
> etc, I do it all. Along with ALL other aspects of life. It is a hobby business.
> So I am asking you, the people that have placed a down payment. 
>  1. Should I quit the project and refund a portion of the down payment as there were 
>     development costs and parts procured with the project? This would be the easiest.
>     Many people have grand plans and then cancel / terminate a project. What I am guilty
>     of is taking people's money upfront. This will NEVER happen again. What I am not 
>     guilty of is quitting. I am not a quitter, I will finish this, it will be just a fact
>     or not if I produce it as a product.
>  2. Allow some to cancel their down payments and get a partial return? This could, effect
>     the project as a whole depending on the actual number of cancellations. Portion 
>     of the refund would be based upon costs in the project. Since I am over, well over 80%
>     completed with the design, this number as a guess is 50% return or less. Most will 
>     take offense to this but there is risk with bringing a product to market.
>  3. Finalize the board as it was conceived(legacy devices), work out some details(board layout),
>     test and complete project? Apply 100% of the down payment to the cost of the
>     product.
>  4. Take more time and drop the legacy serial port? Leave this to already existing product
>     lines. Possibly add USB keyboard?
> Finally, I am always here. Might be gone a few days over the weekend, on vacation, etc, but 
> I still actively read the list. I post less because I can either talk/type or actually DO 
> something. Well, I am the latter.
> Regards,
> Mark
> Cloud-9
> Regarding the soon to be forgotten, apparently, what is the status
> of the Superboard, into which many have already invested $100 or more?
> -ph
> --
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> Coco at maltedmedia.com
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