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

Mark Marlette mark at cloud9tech.com
Fri Apr 6 14:45:10 EDT 2007


Without GREAT customers we wouldn't be here!

You all make it worth while.



Quoting Ken Carlin <carlin at nauticom.net>:

> I just want to add my opinion here.  I am willing to wait however long
> it takes in order to get a Superboard.  Since I work in a pcb
> development environment, I have a really good understanding as to what
> all must go into developing something of this magnitude.  And to
> consistently make things of such elegance is a testament to both Mark
> and Boisy.
> But it's not just my admiring what they create.  It's also pure
> selfishness on my part.  I really, really, want what they make.  The
> Coco is such an important part of my childhood, and I am so happy to be
> able to bring that long-ago happiness to today.  In a very large part,
> it's Mark and Boisy that have made that possible.
> So I will wait.  Somewhat impatiently (grin), but always with the
> knowledge that I will be amply rewarded for that wait.
> So get cracking and finish the darn thing already! (large grin)
> Ken
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Mark Marlette" <mark at cloud9tech.com>
> To: <coco at maltedmedia.com>
> Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2007 11:39 PM
> Subject: [Coco] Fest Chat Response/SuperBoard Update (WARNING: LONG POST)
>> 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.
>> [START]
>> {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 products.
>> 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 efficient? YES
>> 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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