Last updated: 9 June 2015 (updated status of Dexter's compatibility)
PRICING FOR DEXTER
At CAX 2011, during my presentation, I told the crowd that I estimated that Dexter's final price would be about $400. After talking to the company that is going to manufacturer the Dexter boards, I am pleased to announce that we are able to offer Dexter for a lower price than the initial estimate if it is bought in bulk.
The prices as of now will be: $399 for 1 Dexter complete package* $374/each for 2 Dexter complete packages $349/each for 3 Dexter complete packages $324/each for 4+ Dexter complete packages
PRICING FOR LASERDISC IMAGES
I've signed a deal with Digital Leisure, the copyright holder of many laserdisc games, to distribute their titles with Dexter! Here are the prices:
Dragon’s Lair $19.99
Space Ace $19.99
Dragon’s Lair 2: Time Warp $19.99
Dragon’s Lair Trilogy [DL/SA/DL2] $39.99
Mad Dog McCree $12.99
Mad Dog 2: The Lost Gold $12.99
The Last Bounty Hunter $12.99
Crime Patrol $12.99
Crime Patrol 2 : Drug Wars $12.99
Who Shot Johnny Rock $12.99
Fast Draw Showdown $12.99
Old West 3-Pack [Mad Dog 1, Mad Dog 2, Bounty Hunter] $28.99
Crime Fighter 3-Pack [Crime Patrol 1 & 2, Johnny Rock] $28.99
Time Traveler $9.99
Thayer’s Quest $9.99
NOTE : These laserdisc images will be copy protected!
In addition, I am currently manufacturing (and negotiating further manufacturing for) a small number of prototype rev3 boards to do the final testing to make sure we can clearly communicate to customers exactly what this board is going to be able to do at launch.
We are going to offer these prototype complete packages for $350 each (limit 1 per customer unless there are a bunch of extras). Here is the scoop about the prototypes:
They may have very minor design defects but this is very unlikely at this stage (this is at least the 4th iteration of the current design).
I cannot offer refunds, only help in fixing problems. However, previous prototype runs have been very successful, and there are many youtube videos showing the prototypes in action (which I can link to if anyone has a concern) including videos of Firefox, Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, and Thayer's Quest in action.
Use this spreadsheet to see exactly what player types and games are currently supported. Additional player types MAY work in the future with firmware updates that we provide (we plan on this but cannot guarantee it. what you see today is what you get today.)
I will pre-install certain licensed laserdisc images for the prices listed above.
* Complete package: Includes 1 Dexter board, 1 Raspberry Pi, 1 USB flash drive, 1 SD card, 1 Raspberry Pi <-> Dexter connector cable, 1 RCA cable, 1 3.5mm audio cable, and 1 5V power supply. Licensed laserdisc images will be pre-installed!
I forgot to announce this, and I know that this will be disappointing to some of you, but I am not going to be officially support the Pioneer LD-V8000 player in Dexter rev3. The problem is that, as I understand it, Galaxian 3 (the only game that actually uses it that I am aware of) requires two LD-V8000's to be synced to each other and there is no way for Dexter rev3 to support this right now. I may still add unofficial support for the LD-V8000 later via add-on card that will not support seeking but still can be controlled via the serial connector.
Dexter rev3 is ready! I've ordered 6 PCBs from oshpark.com for testing. If all goes well, I will start taking orders and mass produce these things. I have cut it really close as it is 17 June so there is no guarantee that I will have enough time to get the board back from oshpark.com and be able to get it assembled in time for CAX on 12 July, but I am going do my best!
While it is probably difficult to judge, this represents a massive improvement over Dexter rev1 and rev2 and is quite a bit smaller in size than rev2. I crammed the parts as tightly as I possibly could. There are still some empty spaces but this was definitely a growing experience for me.
I just routed the lower left corner of the rev3 Dexter board. It was quite challenging but I am quite pleased with how it turned out. As you can see, I packed everything in very tightly and still managed to have 4 sets of pin headers in there and a ground plane. The LM1881 and video mux ICs are also in there.
Dexter is getting close to being available to public (yes, really!).
As part of hurrying to finish this effort, I need to decide what kind of USB flash drive to include with Dexter (I am leaning against putting everything on the SD card due to reliability issues).
I purchased a Sandisk Ultra USB v3.0 flash drive (16 gig) which claims to be able to read 80 megabytes/second and I am going to try it out in my Dragon's Lair cabinet soon to see how the performance is. It only cost $12 so it is a good option to keep costs down for Dexter customers :)
Here is a benchmark I ran on it (using USB v2.0 interface, so the max speed is bottlenecked by the bus limitation). It seems to choke when reading smaller chunks than 64kb at a time which shouldn't be a problem.
I added a tiny little 2-input OR gate to pins 9 and 10 of the 24-pin LD-V1000/PR-7820/PR-8210A connector. These pins (unless I am greatly mistaken) are only used by the PR-8210A. One of them is the remote control signal from the game hardware and the other indicates whether the remote control signal should be heeded (ie not ignored).
In addition to improving performance so that the AVR doesn't have to think about this logic, it also avoids using an extra pin on the AVR (which is pretty much full as it is).
The OR gate essentially turns pins 9 and 10 into a single pin that is only low (active) when the game hardware is really trying to send a command to the player. And the thing is so tiny (2mm) that one could sneeze and never find it again if one isn't careful.
I just got official word that I will be presenting at CAX 2014. If anyone has anything they specifically want me to talk about that they would find interesting, I am inviting feedback starting immediately. Commenting on this blog post is one way you can get word to me :)
I made some progress on the layout for Dexter rev3. I added a small 74LS244 IC to control whether VSYNC and CSYNC from the LM1881 make it to the 24-pin connector on the bottom of the board. This is so that Star Rider can receive these signals but LD-V1000/PR-7820 games will not.
I also tried to pack in the resistors to reduce the board size. Once I add all of the new components that I want, I will probably start routing. I also am seriously considering reducing the IC size of the MAX222 and LED driver ICs in the interest of shrinking the board size some more.
I've been looking for an excuse to learn Java for years now and I finally found one. Over the weekend, my ISP was flaking out on me, so I decided to write an app to monitor how often my ISP forcefully disconnected my open TCP connections (which is really annoying for IRC usage). I initially wrote the app in C# as that is what I am more familiar with, then ported it to Java, using SWT for the UI.
As you can see, there is a defect in the Java version with the time counter, but otherwise it seems to work pretty well.
UPDATE: Wow, just tried to see how hard it would be to get the Java version running on linux and it turned out to be pretty easy! I am impressed!