Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Pre-Ordering for the MEGA65 Developer's Kits (DevKits) is nigh!

Goodness me, it's been a long time that we have been working on the MEGA65 nowhelp. But we are finally at the super-exciting end of things where things are starting to happen more quickly.  And that includes this week, when pre-ordering of the DevKits will open over at Trenz Electronic.

So let's talk about what the DevKits are, and what the price will be. 

But before I continue, I just want to be careful to explain that the pricing of the DevKits is not representative of what the price of the final machine will be.  There are a number of reasons for this: 

First up, at this early stage of things, we don't have the price of the various components optimised.  We are buying smaller quantities, and learning how to do everything thing right. That all translates to increased costs for the DevKits. We hope to be able to sell the final machines for less than it costs us to manufacture the parts for a DevKit, for example.

Second, the DevKit release is partly to help early adopters get hold of the machine and start writing software, documentation and other goodies for the community, and partly to provide us the cash-flow to get the production machines out ready as soon as possible.  This means covering the cost of designing and printing the packaging, user guide and other goodies.  While we are already well advanced on some of that, there are some very real costs that we need to cover.

Third, somewhat counter-intuitively, the acylic cases of the DevKits are probably more expensive than what the injection moulded cases of the production machines will cost.  This all comes back to the wonder of injection moulding: You pay a fortune up front, and then you can produce the best cases at the best price for a long time after.  That's where we are aiming to be for the production machines.

All up, expect that the DevKits will be quite noticeably more expensive than the production machines.  Also, remember that the MEGA65 is an open-source computer being produced on a non-profit basis: None of the MEGA65 team earn anything from the sales. It all goes to cover costs and support the completion of the machine.

But let's get back to talking about the DevKits: One of our big goals is to increase the number of people who can develop on, and contribute to the MEGA65.  We see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help shape and be part of the story of The Last 8-bit Computer that never was, and now will be.  There may be other 8-bit systems in the future, but as the spiritual successor and completion of the C65, we think the MEGA65 has a pretty special role to play -- and we'd love to have more folks help us make it as awesome and exciting as we can. 

We want it to be a machine with a variety of software and good compatibility and rock-solid performance when it is ready to arrive under people's Christmas trees, birthday present piles and Retro Rooms, so that we can recreate that "Christmas 1982" feeling one more time for the community. To achieve this, we need as many people to contribute in a variety of ways, whether helping with documentation, C65-fixing existing software, writing new games, programmes and tools, or contibuting to the VHDL and operating system software of the MEGA65 itself. 

It's a radically different model to most computers around today, that are more like mountains upon which we gaze, or perhaps at most seek to climb.  But we want the New Zealand model, where geography isn't just something you look at, but is rather more of a participatory sport.  So to with the MEGA65, it's by participating in the story that you have the most fun, and can share the most joy with the community. Come. Be part of the story with us.

Frequently Asked Questions





Q: What's a DevKit?
A: A development kit aimed at developers so they can start coding software for the machine and even help shaping the final product before it is released.

Q: Why does it look so different?
A: The case is made in a way it can be produced in small batches before injection moulds are finished. Its transparency helps finding out if the smoke stays inside the chips.

Q: I am a collector not a developer.
A: The DevKits have laser-engraved Logos and serial numbers to make them unique. DevKits usually are great collector's items.

Q: I only want to play with it!
A: The DevKit is like a "real" MEGA65 only in a preliminary form. You might encounter hiccups but you can always (soft-)update it.

Q: I do not like the floppy.
A: The DevKits come as (hence the name) kits which include a refurbished floppy drive. Feel free to leave that out and donate it to us.

Q: What will it cost?
A: DevKits are always more expensive than mass-produced machines, they also get strong support from the makers. The MEGA65 DevKit comes with a price tag of EUR 999 which is in fact very low considering the cost of the components, support and general preparations required for this initial production run of machines, as well as our costs of getting the final machines ready for release. The final machines will benefit from these things, and improved economies of scale, which will allow it to be released at a lower price.

Q: Can you build it for me?
A: It's really easy to build, usually under an hour, maybe a bit more if you are clumsy. If you do not dare to build it yourself please ask in our support forum or via the other communication channels you will get access to. There are many nice people around!

Q: I am more interested in the final MEGA65 and not really a developer, how can I support and improve the development of the final machine?
A: Please buy a DevKit and lend/donate it to a talented developer!

Q: When can I buy it?
A: From tomorrow on, but do not wait too long!

Q: I am a blessed developer and want to sacrifice all my time but I do not have any money!
A: Please talk to us about support!

Q: If I buy a DevKit, can I transfer the PCB and keyboard into a MEGA65 case later? Can I even 3D-print my own MEGA65 case?
A: Most probably yes! But we can’t guarantee it.

7 comments:

  1. when will the delivery start?

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  2. it's been a while since i've been really doing my vhdl coding and exploring FPGA's but do you happen to know if the fpga's in the mega65cs are comparable to the DE10-Nano (used by the mister console) kinda curious if bit streams could be made of their consoles that work with the c65cs - but otherwise will be fun to have a reason to use my vhdl skills just to play around again.

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    1. The FPGA is a really big Xilinx A7 200T. We have already started looking at the MiniMig core, and it should not be a big problem to make work. If you would like to help port cores to it, please let us know, as we would love to have more hands on deck working on porting cores, help increase demand for the MEGA65 which will help keep prices down, and this will benefit everyone -- on top of the fun of having the extra cores.

      Paul.

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    2. ever since i spotted the mister, and considered the setup of the c64 with the multiple cores i got interested in trying to get that kind of thing working - and a reason to keep my vhdl skills going (not had a good reason to touch it in a while)

      I'll admit to not having looked at what exists too much on both sides - predominatly as i find it hard to think it through without hardware to work on - and the fpga's dev boards aren't cheap either.

      Though, i also have a bunch of c64 games down the back shed hooked up to an original c64 and an old tv that is rather inconvinient to handle :P

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  3. Hi Paul, i ordered a DevKit, would be very cool i got it bevore end of November so i can showcase it on VCFE Zurich/Switzerland

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    1. We'd love for you to be able to do that, and we are working to get the DevKits out as soon as humanly possible, but I can't yet guarantee if we will have them out by the end of November -- but be assured we are trying.

      Paul.

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