New Memories, contd.

Rhea ordering window will be open this Saturday, 2020-01-18, at 18:00 CET. So this is another USA-friendly one.

I was away in December and otherwise pretty busy, and have a huge email backlog that I’m slowly dealing with. This prompted some less patient people to send their message several times – in case it got lost or something. While I understand the reasons, it forces me to try and filter out the copies and, shall we say, less important content from the actual requests for help. So if you don’t hear from me until Februrary and you have a problem that needs my attention, please email me again. But not before the end of January, pretty please.

Oh and about the OLED idea and devices other than GDEMU, I get asked if it’s possible to add that to Rhea/Phoebe and DocBrown maybe. The answer is yes but it’ll take some time – so GDEMU first, then I will work on the rest.

And in case it wasn’t clear, the OLED display is completly optional, and not part of the device. In fact I don’t want to make it a permanent part of the device as this would require cutting holes in the case in places you might not want to touch, not to mention adding power draw and heat even if you were never to use it. However some people do like features like these so that’s why I’ve made it an option.

New Memories

Happy New Year 2020, everybody! GDEMU shipments will soon commence. I’m running some final tests on a new bootloader code that will support 128×64 OLED display based on SSD1306 chip:

Getting that new code, and font definition, to fit in the already very memory starved MCU was no easy task. In fact it took me so much time that I’m not yet ready with the new FW for GDEMU – that will come in a month or two. This new FW will also have OLED support and will require the new booloader to work – though in general GDEMU will be somewhat limited in what it can show and when. Updating the display takes time and drive emulation takes priority, obviously. Note, I’m using a display with split-color screen but that’s not a requirement (looks nicer though).

Since I want every existing GDEMU owner to be able to use the new FW (and I mean all of them, including the early v4/v5 units on green PCBs) I will also prepare an “upgrade FW” that can update the bootloader code in older units.

Every device sold from 2020 onward will already have the new bootloader. The devices I’m about to ship will come with a hybrid FW that works with it, but doesn’t yet have the improvements. Do not attempt to flash them with any older version, that won’t work and you’ll be stuck with a non-functional device until I have the new FW ready.

Will other devices also receive OLED support? Yes, in due time, since that also requires some code changes and testing. And if you don’t care for the display, no problem, you don’t need it, the ODE will work without it.

I’ll update GDEMU page with some more info on what OLED screen to get and how to connect it soon. Keep in mind that some soldering will be required.

Out of Time

I’ve removed all download links to the FW files. I’m probably going to take down the whole Updating section of the site down eventually. The concept of allowing users to update the ODE on their own kind of backfired – I’ve had to help more people bring their devices back to life after a failed FW update process than there were ever any serious bugs in the software to begin with. And I mean, WAY more.

  • I wanted to make sure I have the lastest version.
  • Something didn’t work right after installation.
  • I had problems with my SD card that works OK in other device(s).
  • Games kept crashing and my console reboots on its own.

These are NOT valid reasons to update the FW. Especially not if you have power supply issues, SD card issues, or have made installation errors.
Plus, too many people just can’t follow simple instructions. If step 1 says to rename the file first, and then step 2 to copy it, then you are supposed to do exactly this, in that exact order. And it’s not a language barrier either, but I’ll leave it at that.

With that rant out of the way – GDEMU orders will open next Saturday, around noon CET.
It was supposed to happen much sooner but… reasons. The actual problem now is I will, again, not be shipping anything in December if I can help it. Trust me, that’s a bad idea, even if you’d want a nice XMAS gift. Shipping will resume early January, this worked pretty well this year so let’s try it again.

More Rheas are on their way as well, in fact I’m hoping to ship most of those out also in January. Haven’t decided yet when to open orders, I’ll let you know once I have some idea how many GDEMUs will need to be shipped.

PS: Pretty please keep the comments civil. I know some people have rather strong opinions about these devices, and me in general. Let it go. These are merely toys you can do without (especially if you find the price too high) and I pity the fools who think otherwise.

PPS: It would seem what is obvious to me isn’t always obvious to everyone else. To answer the question of “What if there is a bug or a new feature that needs FW update?” – well, you bought from me, you have my email. Why not ask for the update that way. In fact I’m flabbergasted people would rather complain about their installation problems in the comments than email me.

UPDATE: GDEMU orders are now open closed. As usual, I need a few days for processing and after that I’ll send out confirmation emails.

Dark Matter

The break has been a bit longer than I have planned but there were some external factors. We’re only just restarting PCB production. On the bright side I got some rest and have a few new ideas.

Speaking of external factors though, there are another two potentially looming. One is Brexit, again, this time it might just hit. It’ll most likely only affect UK orders but who knows. Then, if you’re in USA, you need to read this:

U.S. to leave global postal union next month barring last-minute action; exit could send global parcel rates soaring

This might affect my shipping costs and delivery times. Don’t know yet because my envelopes are classified as letters, not packages, but that too could change.

I’d like to get something shipped out before any of these two come to pass so I will open orders for Phoebe this next Saturday – same as before, around noon. It will be a short run though, I might have to reject some orders (rather than tell you to wait longer) like I did with DocBrowns to ship everything on time.

UPDATE: Phoebe orders are open now closed.

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.

Pulse

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.