Jack Gassett

Papilio DUO Kickstarter - Feedback request!

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Hey everyone,

 

It's been a little quiet lately, I went down the rabbit hole that is known as a "Kickstarter Project". You always think, "Oh, it will only take a couple weeks." and then find yourself still slogging away a month later... 

 

Well, I'm happy to say that I have finished a first cut at the video and the first draft of the Kickstarter page and it is now submitted for approval by the Kickstarter team. 

 

While they are reviewing it I was hoping to get feedback from the Papilio community. So if you have a minute please check out the draft:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/13588168/1085391207?token=368484e6

 

The goal was to keep a simple message and make sure everything was crystal clear. If anything doesn't make sense or is confusing then please let me know so I can fix it up. Or if you think something important is missing then I'd love to hear that too.

 

Thanks!

Jack.

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Looks pretty flashy Jack, I wish you all the best with this new KS endeavour and hope you achieve the funding. Video sound is a bit echoey, mic must not have been close enough but nothing major.

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Thanks Alex,

 

I just cleaned up the audio track with audacity a couple hours ago, does it sound any better now? The camcorder I have only has a built in mic, so it was picking up some background noise that I removed with audacity. I also reworked the last section, I was a little wishy-washy about asking for help in the previous video. In the new version I ask directly for help and let people know that we need help to bring this project to fruition.

 

There is also a 3D rendering of the circuit board that we are working on so the part where I talk about the board and its just pictures is pretty weak right now. Hopefully to be replaced with something really cool.

 

Jack.

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My first reaction was "When does this go live?"

 

Since I'm part of the target market, I think you are doing a good job.

 

 

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Hello Jack,

 

What a brilliant design! This belies the amount of work you have put into the project and it deserves overwhelming success.

 

I got started with FPGAs using the Papilio and I really look forward to seeing this project launch on Kickstarter and being an earlybird.

 

The schematic system will get many creative designers starting designs with FPGAs. I started that way and eventually learned that VHDL wasn't that hard after all! So am really pleased that both mechanisms - schematic and HDL will be incorporated in Papilio Duo.

 

Your Kickstarter pitch is very professional and I wish you great success with it,

 

Phil.

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Thank you very much Phil, I have some pre-Kickstarter jitters and this helps to reassure me. :) I've put so much effort into the Papilio DUO that it will be hard to recover if the Kickstarter is not a success... But, I think its going to be great, I've done everything I can to prepare and all the great support and feedback I've received has helped steer me in the right direction.

 

So thank you all for the great help so far!

 

Jack.

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Great Kickstarter!  I'm glad to see it almost 25% funded as of this moment.

 

One nit-pick that some people might find annoying.  The first paragraph mentions "the headache of learning a new programming language like VHDL/Verilog".  VHDL and Verilog are not programming languages, they're hardware description languages.  I'd suggest changing it to "the headache of learning a hardware description language like VHDL or Verilog".

 

JMO/YMMV

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Great Kickstarter!  I'm glad to see it almost 25% funded as of this moment.

 

One nit-pick that some people might find annoying.  The first paragraph mentions "the headache of learning a new programming language like VHDL/Verilog".  VHDL and Verilog are not programming languages, they're hardware description languages.  I'd suggest changing it to "the headache of learning a hardware description language like VHDL or Verilog".

 

JMO/YMMV

 

Hey John, thank you for the feedback. I struggle with this sort of thing all the time, it is of course correct to call it a hardware description language instead of a programming language. But unfortunately most people don't know what that is, the next closest thing they know instantly is a "programming language". If you tell them that then they will hear the real message, which is that they don't have to learn a new language. If you tell them the correct thing they get caught up with the question of, "What is a hardware description language" and can miss the intended message.

 

My tendency is to be technically correct, because that is what establishes that you know what you are doing. But, I've been slaughtered in past Kickstarters when I did that. I've learned and adapted and now I go out of my way to keep it real simple and basic when explaining the ideas.

 

 

Backed.

 

Thank you bithead, I missed you in the chat room, I stepped out for lunch and you were gone when I came back!

 

Jack.

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I'm just annoyed that I missed out on the cheaper 2MB boards. I went ahead and pledged the extra $25 to get that.

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Yeah, sorry about that, the "Zero Day Backers" special did not work out as I intended... Going to think if there is any way I can make things right later.

 

Jack.

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Oh, I don't think there is anything to "make right," I just didn't get there fast enough! Be happy that it went as fast as it did!

 

Man, Papilio One, Papilio Pro, XuLa2, Pipistrello, Logi-Pi, Parallella, and now a Papilio Duo.

 

I might have to admit I have a problem.

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Man, Papilio One, Papilio Pro, XuLa2, Pipistrello, Logi-Pi, Parallella, and now a Papilio Duo.

 

Wow, dare I ask which one is your favourite?

 

I'm just going to leave this right here...

 

minichart.png

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Hmmm. Right now I'm playing with the Parallella the most, because it arrived last week. Before that it was the Pipistrello, and I assume that when the Logi-Pi arrives, it will get the majority of my attention.

 

I like them all differently. The Papilio was my gateway drug. I had the Papilio One and the Pro first. Getting the Pro got me interested in the Spartan 6, and that led me to the XuLa2, with a Spartan 6 LX 25, and a breadboard form factor, and that had my attention for a good long time, but the relatively lack of GPIO kept me going back to the Pro.

 

Then I had the opportunity to pick up a Pipistrello, and its Spartan 6 LX 45, with roughly the same peripherals as the XuLa2 (SDRAM, micro-SD card slot), but with as much or more GPIO as the Pro, distracted me for a good long time.

 

I've become a believer in the CPU+FPGA fabric combination, which attracts me to the Parallella and its Zynq chip, the Logi-Pi with its integration with the Raspberry Pi, and now the Duo and its Atmel chip on board.

 

Basically, I love them all, the one that gets my attention is usually the newest.

 

Hopefully I will eventually have a project worthy of publicizing.

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Basically, I love them all, the one that gets my attention is usually the newest.

 

That's a sentiment I can appreciate!

 

It's also what worries me about the Raspberry Pi, and the community at large. We're all attracted to the newest and shiniest thing, and those at the bottom end with the least experience and capability are riding on our coat tails ( admittedly, when it comes to FPGAs I'm very much at a loss myself! ).

 

If something like the Papilio DUO is to really succeed, it needs a lifespan to match the likes of the Arduino Uno or similar. The Arduino basic model has barely changed since its inception, despite minor improvements and a whole halo of more edge-case boards. 

 

The Papilio DUO shouldn't be "a board" but a brand which can be built upon and supported, maintaining its community and backlog of resources, for years to come. If that means latching on to an FPGA that's seen as "obsolete" and dragging it waaaay out of its typical lifespan until we've made programming it so accessible that your nan could do it; so be it!

 

I'm an ignorant and passionate dreamer, who speaks from little experience! But I'm sure I probably make a tiny bit of sense.

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It's also what worries me about the Raspberry Pi, and the community at large. We're all attracted to the newest and shiniest thing, and those at the bottom end with the least experience and capability are riding on our coat tails

 

 

I can see that. On the other hand, I also know a lot of people that are playing with the Pi, and I don't really see that dropping off, especially with the shield market starting to take off like it is. Just look at the number of Pi accessories available now. Hell, when the Logi-Pi shows up (it's a Spartan 6 board that attaches to a Pi), I'll be right back at the Pi.

 

I also don't see the Arduino market going anywhere. The Atmel chips have a heck of a lot of power available for very little money.

 

I'm not sure about the lifespan worry. From what I can tell, Gadget Factory can get more inventory by just having SeeedStudio make a bunch more boards, the limiting factor would be if any of the parts hit end of life, which I think is more of a risk for the Spartan 3E chips than it is for the Spartan 6.

 

Lets face it though -- we are a niche. Few people will bother to learn an HDL. The software being promoted alongside the Duo will go a long way towards making that better, but it's still going to be limited to those people who want to learn something new.

 

I don't mean to sound negative. I don't feel negative. I think out's an exciting time -- when I went to college, I learned a little bit of microprocessor design. If I wanted to continue with it, I would have had to get a job at a place that did chip design. Now, I can do all of that and more with an inexpensive FPGA. That's huge.

 

It's wishful thinking, certainly, but both Apple and Microsoft got their start selling to curious hobbyists.

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I'm not quite of the right place to put this, so I'll just put it here.

 

It would be REALLY COOL if one of the components provided in the circuit library was a text-mode VGA driver. Something that displays a simple 80x25 (40x25, 64x16, or something) text screen.

 

I know that perhaps that is something that should be left as an exercise for the user, but it would be so handy.

 

I understand that this is fairly involved -- a font will need to be created/licensed/stolen, there's the VGA driver to be done, is it memory mapped, and many other considerations...

 

Think of it like the video driver chip that motorola shipped next to the 6809 -- Radio Shack put the two together and made the color computer.

 

I can dream.

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There is this project too:

http://forum.gadgetfactory.net/index.php?/page/articles.html/_/papilio/papilio-one/spi-vga-controller-working-with-the-papilio-one-r19

 

And Alvie has a wishbone VGA core that is already working with the schematic library.

http://papilio.cc/index.php?n=Papilio.VGA

 

Its definitely on the agenda to get all of these working in the Papilio Schematic Library. I can't wait to get to work full time on all of this!

 

Jack.

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Marek has raised an interesting question on the KS, about shipping to the EU: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/13588168/papilio-duo-drag-and-drop-fpga-circuit-lab-for-mak/comments

 

I have the same concerns about the UK. Are you going to look for a Europe/UK based fulfilment partner so that shipping here is completely local? It'd be greatly appreciated, but I'd know nothing of the costs/difficulty of setting something like that up.

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I'm a bit confused by that. If you import it you don't pay US sales tax but you pay your local sales tax (vat) instead. That doesn't change whether it's bulk imported, imported by a company or anything else. Doing a bulk import might save on shipping (unless the courier loses the whole batch ;-) ) and slightly on processing costs but the sales taxes don't go away.

 

By the time you've factored in the cost of repackaging and local reshipping I imagine it wouldn't actually save much at all.

 

Alan

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I'm a bit confused by that. If you import it you don't pay US sales tax but you pay your local sales tax (vat) instead. That doesn't change whether it's bulk imported, imported by a company or anything else. Doing a bulk import might save on shipping (unless the courier loses the whole batch ;-) ) and slightly on processing costs but the sales taxes don't go away.

 

That's a fair point. In my experience, and speaking only for the UK, it's no so much the sales taxes which are the problem but the associated, flat-rate "handling fee" that gets applied to anything we import that isn't either:

 

a) Exempt from sales taxes

or

B) Prepaid

 

It's probably a non-issue, but those of us outside of the US absolutely love to complain how we get "stung" by "taxes" when we buy things from the US.

 

I'd gladly pay in advance to make sure my delivery went smoothly and arrived at my actual front-door, than leave it and wait for a little paper slip saying I owe xyz + handling fee. I don't know much about how this works though!

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