[Coco] Fest Chat Response/SuperBoard Update (WARNING: LONG POST)

Jim Cox jimcox at miba51.com
Fri Apr 6 00:07:57 EDT 2007

Mark and Boisy:

I understand the frustration that you two deal with in 
regards to running a business - I've been there and done 
that myself.

I hope you both understand the frustration that some may 
feel with regards to the Superboard taking a long time to 
develop, but I hope it does not dissuade you both from 
pressing on with the project.

I have down payments on two boards and I for one will 
patiently wait for the project to complete.

I realize my involvement with the CoCo has not been all 
that   great, but the recent incident with Diego risking 
everything to go to the Fest as given me new inspiration 
to get serious with the CoCo and do something creative 
with it.  I really want to have a CoCo running a 
Superboard, so I for one will wait until C-9 delivers.

PS: Boisy - Is there any update for Drivewire and if so 
how do I get it.

On Thu, 05 Apr 2007 22:39:09 -0500
  Mark Marlette <mark at cloud9tech.com> wrote:
> All,
> While away this past weekend in Chicago at the fest, 
>there was a chat log produced which contained references 
>to the SuperBoard and Cloud-9. I would like to take this 
>opportunity to address the contents of that chat log and 
>update the people that were not at the fest about the 
>status of the SuperBoard.
> The chat log has been edited here only to show 
>conversations that pertain to the subject at hand.
> {1618} Roger Taylor Rodder, the SuperBoard was due 10 
>years ago. I truly don't think this will happen. Luckily 
>I didn't make a $100 deposit like so many people did.
> {1619} curtisboyle Roger - it's a pretty big undertaking 
>(the Superboard). I have seen partially working 
>prototypes at Mark's house, but there is a lot of 
>drivers, etc. that have to be done to get everything 
>fully functional.
> {1620} Roger Taylor Anytime I was late on delivering, I 
>got hate e-mails, but I guess since they have delivered 
>work-up-to products that people think they will 
>eventually deliver, but I dunno fellas.
> {1623} Sock Joelav - Existing 2M upgrades work just like 
>the 512K upgrade. The only difference is the MMU bits 
>aren't readable registers.
> {1622} Roger Taylor One guy reported me to PayPal 3 days 
>after he ordered something because I didn't reply to his 
>e-mail quick enough. I retaliated agressively so much 
>that 2 days later he withdrew the dispute and apologized. 
>How Mark has deals with this is beyond me.
> {1622} Nick The Superboard sounds great but it does 
>noting for me that I need for game development. It also 
>doesn't fit a PAL CoCo3.
> [END]
> I would first like to say that this past year was a year 
>of improving processes and making tasks at Cloud-9 more 
>efficient.  For example:
> 1. Boisy and I changed the way our internal sales are 
>handled and tracked in our accounting process.  This 
>saves us time and allows us to focus on our respective 
> 2. Most all of the Cloud-9 products are now tested on an 
>Automated Test Equipment (ATE) system. There are hundreds 
>of hours of code written and debugged with hardware that 
>allow me to rapidly test and find the manufacturing 
>problems. I had seven SuperIDEs that I were dead, and I 
>couldn't identify the source of the problem.  On just one 
>of them, I spent over 8 hours of troubleshooting and 
>still couldn't find the problem. This being a hobby, I 
>can't afford to throw away almost $800 of product.  Now 
>with the ATE software, it takes 3 minutes and 45 seconds 
>to run approximately 4000 tests across the SuperIDE with 
>only 6 nets that I can't test or get access to. EVERY 
>board has been repaired in under 5 minutes after it came 
>off this test system. This is true for all of our other 
>products as well. I had piles of bad boards, and the pile 
>is now empty.
> These several hundred hours of hardware/software 
>development did cut into my free time which is spent on 
>SuperBoard development.
> I also suspended sales so that I could work on the 
>SuperBoard. This allowed me to do the above. As with any 
>business, sales are what sustains the life of the 
>business. I had to restart sales after most all of the 
>stock was replenished. I still can't keep up with the 
>SuperIDE sales. I have another board run going out soon 
>and this will then be the final chapter on it's process 
>improvement. The hand-wired modifications that are added 
>to the board take longer to incorporate than building the 
>whole board itself!
> As Curtis stated above, he has seen various prototype 
>while at Lab North. Don't kid yourself: this project is 
>complex (it ain't no DVD). We are changing the way the 
>CoCo 3 operates in a fundamental way (VROM and booting 
>for example) along with many other details that I don't 
>want to explain at this moment. EVERY product (both 
>software and hardware) that we have made has paved the 
>way for the SuperBoard.
> Nick mentioned that the SuperBoard doesn't fit in a PAL 
>form. This is true, but it reflects the reality that 
>virtually all SuperBoard customers will have NTSC 
>motherboards.  I have several Australian customers who 
>have placed a SuperBoard down payment, having made the 
>switch to NTSC CoCo 3s and realize it for what it is and 
>why.  I can develop a PAL board but with selling only a 
>handful of units, everyone would bear the cost of the 
>development and the SuperBoard has a high enough cost as 
>it stands now. I cannot justify raising the price of the 
>NTSC version for the few PAL orders I would get.
> When you do this as long as we have, you will realize 
>that you can't please everyone.  That said, our customer 
>base is GREAT and have shown immense patience.  Now, am I 
>happy that the board is not done? No, it bothers me 
>greatly; nobody wants it done more than I.  (Well, there 
>is one other person... Boisy.  Do we feel good about what 
>changes we have made to make our free time more 
> Last year at this time I was at the end of my rope, 
>ready return the down payments and pull the plug on 
>Cloud-9. Boisy basically told me we needed to either wrap 
>this up or throw in the towel and do a mass refund.  I 
>was exhausted... but today I feel good about the company 
>and the state it is in.  Stock is up and orders are being 
>filled in an efficient manner. The road is CLEAR to 
>develop the SuperBoard.  Currently, I have 14 orders on 
>the floor, and not a problem with any of them.
> I will also admit that the SuperBoard is holding us back 
>from doing other things with the CoCo. There are so many 
>projects that the entry level research has been performed 
>on.. items that the community wants and needs. Don't ask 
>me what they are, just trust me when I say most of you 
>will fall over to know what they are.
> Boisy hasn't been sitting on his laurels either. 
> Working with Tim Lindner, they have added SuperBoard 
>extensions to the MESS emulator so that he can develop 
>drivers on virtual hardware. This was discussed at the 
>fest this year as well. Now, this will take you only so 
>far and Boisy is currently waiting to debug his code on 
>real hardware.
> So in short, is the SuperBoard not going to happen? I'll 
>let you guys (sorry Mary) and the CoCo community decide. 
> After being in business for years and making every fest 
>since our inception, I can promise you that we aren't 
>leaving, we aren't going anywhere, were aren't selling 
>our domain name and stock. We are committed to the CoCo, 
>the machine that made Boisy and I what we are today.
> As Boisy stated once: Now is truly the best time to own 
>a CoCo.
> Regards,
> Mark
> Cloud-9 

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