Relax, Take It Easy

Summer break time. Not actually going anywhere, just resting and trying new ideas. I do have a couple of DocBrowns though and that shouldn’t be too much work so I will open orders this Saturday, around noon as before.


Rhea orders will open this Saturday at 12:00 CEST. There’s a catch though.

Up until now the ordering page would ask whether you need pegs for VA0 or VA1 console but more often than not I’d pack both anyway since many of you are just too lazy to actually check, and/or would get the selection wrong and email me later to correct it. This is easier but also wasteful since most people would just throw away one set of pegs.

Well, with the pegs shortage I had to come up with something else – and that’s pegs with threaded end and a small nut. These work really well but I only got a limited amount since I wanted black ones and only one size was available in that color. Then it turned out packing those small nuts is a problem because they tend to get easily lost – a way around it is to screw them onto the peg for transport. At which point I discovered that making these peg+nut sets this way is such an annoying and slow process that I don’t want to do it unless I have to.

So, this time you will get the VA0/VA1 thing right the first time when ordering. If I get another flood of emails telling me to change the selection I will start canceling such orders. Seriously, I tell you the orders will open days in advance. If you can’t be bothered to check and write down what you need, why should I. You will only get that one set that you ordered and I will not send you a different one afterwards – the amount of work (packing, stamping envelope, paperwork, posting it, answering “where is my package” emails) for just 2 small plastic pegs is not worth my time.

In other news, more DocBrowns will be coming soon as well (2 weeks or so). There will be a small break afterwards because I really need some free time to work on FW updates and FM Towns prototypes.

No Good, contd.

It seems I have a bit of emergency on my hands. A bunch of devices shipped on June 4th got somehow damaged in transit – crushed by the looks of it. If your device was shipped on that day, inspect it well before connecting to the console. Email me if you spot any damage – I will repair or replace all affected units.

To add insult to injury – judging by the photos I got not even cardboard boxes would’ve prevented this damage. The bubble wrap needs only to last that one trip and I even got envelopes returned to me from USA being almost flat by then and yet there was no damage to the PCB or FFC. I sure hope this was a one-time event and won’t happen anymore.

But that’s just part one of the problem. Part two is I’ve run out of the plastic pegs for Phoebe because my supplier messed up, and now I’ll have to wait 4-6 more weeks to get what I ordered. This particular size is rather uncommon and hard to get. Point here is I need to keep more Type-3 ODEs on hand as replacements for the damaged ones, and with the peg shortage it means I have to pause all remaining orders. Sorry but if you are still waiting for the payment request, good chances are you are going to wait some more. Unless I can get something else to fit in there.

Peg shortage also affects Rhea – so I won’t be taking orders until this is resolved – but GDEMU is unaffected and will start shipping next week.

No Good

Small status update: EU elections got in the way a bit more than I expected so there will be some 2-week delay shipping Phoebes. Sorry. In the meantime though I will open orders for GDEMU – that will be this Saturday around noon. Can’t say exactly when because I already know I will be busy so I might not be able to open at the precise hour.

I would like to remind you that “Is it ready yet” questions are ignored. If you can’t deal with a week or two of delay then do yourself a favour and cancel the order. You’ll be much happier. I most certainly will be.

Lastly, there’s been a plague of wrong or incomplete shipping addresses lately. It’s been so bad that I can spot these before I even ship, but who am I to question the customer. And then the package gets returned to me (sometimes I have to pay extra to claim it), the customer is angry, and I still have to re-test and re-pack the device which not only costs me money but also precious time.

So, new rule: From now on, if your address was invalid and it was your fault, I will refund you when I get the device back and your order will be cancelled. You’ll also end up on a list and I will only accept your future orders if there are devices to spare. Which is probably not anytime soon. Same goes for the name you gave on the order form and the PayPal email. If I can’t easily tell who it was that paid (because neither the name nor the email matches), I will cancel the order.

Seriously, how hard it can be to monitor your PayPal, pay when asked to do so and make sure your name and address are correct? 99% of people can do it. That 1% that can’t really annoys the hell out of me. I’m done dealing with that.

UPDATE: A bit late but GDEMU orders are open now closed.

Electric Lion

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately, so many in fact that I would like to remind you, dear customers, that this blog is here for a reason. I simply do not have time to answer each and every question about when device X will be for sale again, and can I put you on the list. There’s too many of you and one me. I tend to ignore emails with questions like these, not only for my sake but also because it wouldn’t be fair to all the other people who patiently follow the blog and wait for orders to open.

And speaking of orders, Phoebe will be available this Saturday, 18:00 CEST – to make this window more USA-friendly.

I still have some GDEMUs to ship and those should be ready by Monday or so. Sorry for the delay, I was hoping to get the PCBs in two smaller batches but instead I got a single big one, later than I planned. But I’ll have them tested and packed in the next few days so you won’t have to wait much longer.

UPDATE: Welp, that went awfully fast. This is the problem with USA-friendly ordering windows, a lot of people up and ready to click the button. As usual, give me a few days to process all this and send out confirmations.

Resource Deficiency

As I was waiting for the Phoebe PCBs I had the opportunity to work on a Commodore 64C board. I know next to nothing about those but I got the board cheap in rather sorry state and figured I’ll try to fix it – for the fun of it.

Long story short, the board does work now but it was missing the TV modulator so there was no video output at all, as on these later models the video amp is also a part of the modulator. So I had to come up with a replacement. Now, schematics for C64 are available and I wasn’t the first person with that idea but for some reason all the projects I saw on the net were using crude veroboard/wire based hacks, with very questionable component selection.

So here’s my take on this:

There’s no actual modulator in there anymore, just the luma+chroma amps based on low-noise high gain transistors. Both S-Video and composite signals are being generated. I’ve built two of these and now I’m looking for a C64C owner willing to test the other one. Note, this is only compatible with the C64 models equipped with the new VIC chip running from 5V!

What I offer is this here PCB, free with worldwide shipping. What I expect in return is a report from someone who has experience with C64 and it’s video quality – especially on LCD monitors – who can tell me if it’s acceptable or not. I think all these 300ohm resistor hacks in S-Video cables are unnecessary, but I need someone with better idea on what should be on the screen than I have.

Obviously installation will require soldering so if you have to ask, it’s not for you.

Rising Haul in Silence

Time for status update.

It took a while but I should be finally done with current DocBrown list next week. Those matte black soldermasks are a pain in the behind to work with. Need to be extra careful not to put any scratches or fingerprints on them.

On the bright side – I’ll be getting another batch very soon and so I will most likely open orders for these on first Saturday of April. I will confirm that later.

Now, Phoebes. Those got badly delayed (in part due to a nasty cold bug that’s been very active lately) and the finished PCBs will only arrive next week. Then I still have to inspect, final clean, program and test them, that’ll no doubt mean another week of waiting. Sorry about that.

It seems though the Brexit armageddon has been postponed a bit so I should be able to ship all UK orders in time. At least I’ll try to prioritize those. If you’re in UK and still waiting for your Phoebe then pay attention to your PayPal, the sooner you pay the sooner I can ship.

Because of all the delays I’ve decided not to open orders for GDEMU or Rhea yet, it only adds to my problems. Now that I’m almost out of the woods though I can plan for new batches so GDEMU orders will open next week.

UPDATE: GDEMU orders are open now closed again. It seems there was some confusion as to the time but it’s nice to have the emails flow in one by one rather than have a massive torrent at the exact hour. Oh, and before I forget, DocBrowns will be next week, as mentioned above.