Future H5 buyers & assembly

Information and progress towards the H5 board.

Future H5 build options

Bare PCB only - no parts
1
6%
Generic SMT parts assembled (birdseed)
6
38%
Bulk parts assembled (as they are sold now)
9
56%
 
Total votes: 16

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rubber_jonnie
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by rubber_jonnie »

exxos wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 11:28 am At the end of the day, the buyers are just simply not there.But anyway, I think I'm probably repeating myself a lot again.
Maybe it's a question of marketing? Is there some way we can get the message out there in a better way.

There are a couple of issues that springs to mind for me, and that is the issue of batteries and caps.

Since the ST never had one, there's really no issues with battery damage like is often found with Amiga's, so likely there are fewer people needing a replacement PCB.

Similarly, how often do ST's end up with capacitor damage? I don't think I've ever seen one and the lack of SMT caps certainly helps in that.

And are people going to potentially kill a good working ST in order to do an upgrade? Probably unlikely.

Just a few thoughts.
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by peters »

I didn't even know this existed until recently.
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by exxos »

rubber_jonnie wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 12:12 pm Maybe it's a question of marketing? Is there some way we can get the message out there in a better way.
I know it's been mentioned on forums at least briefly at some point. Though I'm not really sure what else could realistically be done. I think there is still a lot of confusion about what the platform is all about in the direction it is going in. Though Icky has done three or four talks on all this by now anyway.
And are people going to potentially kill a good working ST in order to do an upgrade? Probably unlikely.
It is a valid point yes. I never really condoned the idea of sacrificing the working ST to build a H5. Though as use old-timers know, these boards just have so many problems, it can become rather problematic to fix all the issues and indeed troubleshoot. At which point it's probably just easier to go with a H5 as it has all the mods and it is unlikely to fail after a few weeks like the original boards do.

It is a bit of a weird limited market in some respects. Of course I'm not going to go over the H5 design philosophy of easier upgrades and all that again. Indeed it has a lot of advantages over a original board. Realistically the H4/H5 are replacement boards for the originals which have basically gone beyond reasonable repair. As we know, a lot of people managed to totally destroy the motherboard. So rather than the rest of the system going to landfill, this is where the replacement boards such as the H4/H5 really shine.

But even that is not entirely accurate because I want to get the ST chips and have them recreated in FPGA in order to have a much faster machine ultimately. That would not necessarily need a original machine been sacrificed. But of course, i've already wrote loads about all that already. But the FPGA cores would basically become a type of plug-in accelerator for the H5 series. It doesn't really lend much point in recreating the board to have that built on unless there was sufficient demand.. So it basically hits the proverbial brick wall again.

There Is of course a lot of other features and things I have talked about previously in expanding the capability of the original ST. This involves higher resolutions, better sound system, and of course faster bus etc. It would basically run rings around a machine like a stock Falcon ultimately. The problem is who is going to code for the platform ? You basically hit the proverbial brick wall again. I just have to work with the philosophy of having the legacy library of software usable as the top "requirement".

It's why ultimately why my motivation has been to only work on a original ST design as that is where the bulk of the software and games lives. Of course if we can have a faster machine which can still backwardly be compatible with the original library then I think that is just the simplest and most realistic thing to do. But of course even that still needs a sufficiently large user base to make it worthwhile.. Again the proverbial brick wall...

I also think it is somewhat getting confusing with the amount of "clones" appearing. More recently we have the ATX boards, there is already MiST, firebee, suska, the milan basically died because of lack of support if I remember rightly. Suska I don't think ever really took off either. Then there's other things like the pistorm, buffee and god knows what else. I'm not trying to bash any of these projects, but with such a small user base and more and more different directions people are moving in, it is just ultimately going to dilute the user base even more IMO. As to what projects people ultimately get excited with and support, who knows. But the bottom line is still ultimately the same that the user base is very small and the people contributing to projects is only ever decreasing.

Even if you go with the H5 is just a replacement board for the originals. It could be another 10 years before the original Atari machines and people realise they are just simply not fixable any more. But that also has the problem of, will people even care about these machines in another 10 years time..

I think if anyone is going to care about anything in the future, it will be getting the original machines running again by whatever means necessary.. This is where the H4/H5 would come in because it can run the entire legacy software catalogue. But again, I think the user base is just going to be pretty much non-existent in the future anyway.
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by exxos »

peters wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 1:07 pm I didn't even know this existed until recently.
I don't really know if you are more of a newcomer to the Atari world or not ? But indeed anyone who starts off just getting a ST off evilbay and playing around with it probably not going to be aware of absolutely anything happening in the Atari world. Or any of the related problems associated with these machines.

There are people who obviously want to fix the original machine as I do see posts about this semi-frequently. But here lies the problem that if you go and fix all the "problems" on these original machines, you basically end up with a H4/H5 at the end of it. You can only fix so many things on the original boards. If you want to do all the general mods and upgrades and fix common issues, it would actually be more cost-effective to go for a H5. But newcomers are simply just not going to understand this.

Of course as I basically said in my previous post, if people are struggling to fault-find and repair machines or even upgrade them and even kill them, then changing the board to a H5 is a logical step..A lot of the original chips get reused. It's better than landfill! Though that is going to cost them a lot of money at least in the short term. I just foresee a lot of people just giving up and just moving onto the next platform like Spectrum etc.

I have said it before a lot of times, Atari world does need a huge injection of fresh blood and new users who are basically long term and will support projects long-term. But I would presume new users are not going to have a long-term "labour of love" with these machines as a lot of us did when we was growing up with them in the 80s.
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viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1585 Have you done the Mandatory Fixes ?
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by exxos »

Another thought just popped in my head.. If I remember rightly my current PCB house can actually distribute boards themselves.

The problem is with this, they were shipped from China, and they would not go to the effort of making the boxes as small as possible to meet the "small packages" thing. So the postage could end up being a lot higher.

Also, I'm not sure if China to USA is still possible.

So while it could potentially save myself some distribution problems, the cost to the end-user could potentially be a lot higher. I did not say it was a good option, but it is still a option which I had forgotten about until just :lol: :roll:

For the newcomers, basically I spent a lot of time working out how to ship the motherboards as a small packet. It was incredibly challenging to do this to keep the shipping costs down. It is also why I cannot ship other items with the motherboard because it simply pushes it over the small packet requirements. Putting it simply, it is just simply more cost-effective (cheaper) for the buyer to make two separate purchases from the store rather than ship one single larger box with all the items in.
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viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1585 Have you done the Mandatory Fixes ?
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by peters »

exxos wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 1:19 pm
peters wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 1:07 pm I didn't even know this existed until recently.
I don't really know if you are more of a newcomer to the Atari world or not ? But indeed anyone who starts off just getting a ST off evilbay and playing around with it probably not going to be aware of absolutely anything happening in the Atari world. Or any of the related problems associated with these machines.
I've been using an STfm since 1988 and a Milan since 1999 as my main, often only, machine.

I only joined this forum a couple of years ago. Did H5 ever get publicised on the Atari forums ?

H5 isn't an obvious name for a new ST motherboard.
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

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peters wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 9:59 pm Did H5 ever get publicised on the Atari forums ?
It did, I sent one to Dal to review and publish on the forum. I think he did write about it. But most people on atari-forum hate my guts anyway. So I think it was all kinda pointless. The guys who support me generally hang out on my forum. I think realistically everyone who would likely buy a board already has one by now. I really need to concentrate on the add-ons, but unfortunately time is ever decreasing for getting things done.
H5 isn't an obvious name for a new ST motherboard.
It is called the Atari ST remake project. H5 is just the revision of the particular generation. But we are actually calling it the Phoenix platform these days. I'm a bit reluctant to use the word "Atari" for obvious reasons. I have been stung with that type of thing of couple of times before.
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viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1585 Have you done the Mandatory Fixes ?
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by mikro »

exxos wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:22 pmBut most people on atari-forum hate my guts anyway. So I think it was all kinda pointless. The guys who support me generally hang out on my forum. I think realistically everyone who would likely buy a board already has one by now.
Those are very subjective conclusions, IMHO.

I'm not aware of anyone on AF who "hates" you, there is a couple of trolls who are ignored by majority of users and that's it. I'd say that a good half of AF users are also your customers.

And as for the purchasing, I for one waited for the final version of the board so I'd avoid soldering various fixups. So if you tell me there wont be more revisions and the current latest revision has all fixes included, I'm in. And I'm sure there's even bigger group of people who wait for someone to take your boards, put all (or some) ICs on it and sell it as a finished product.
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by exxos »

mikro wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 9:33 am I'm not aware of anyone on AF who "hates" you, there is a couple of trolls who are ignored by majority of users and that's it. I'd say that a good half of AF users are also your customers.
Maybe my poor choice of words, but when I look on other forums there tends to be a huge sh*t throwing witchunt and im normally in the mix of it all. Plus the endless argumentative attitudes of the trolls. Thats why myself and this forums founding members quit as we was sick and tired of it all.Dal did try to help by making me moderator, and dealing with all the Simbo BS, but I was in a impossible situation as I was at odds with some moderators and the forums "top contributors". What could I do ban them all ? I was in a impossible situation, I posted in the moderators section about such things, there was no reply. So in the end, I left and never went back. Every time I go on another forum I end up regretting it. I see all sorts of people having "digs" at myself and my work. It gets tiresome year after year. It's also in-part why I am not doing much anymore. It gets into a complex topic, but it's all been said before.
And as for the purchasing, I for one waited for the final version of the board so I'd avoid soldering various fixups. So if you tell me there wont be more revisions and the current latest revision has all fixes included, I'm in.
The H5C1 has issues with the audio circuit when used with floppy drives. Maybe one or 2 minor things. But while C3 was the final board, it's unlikely to get produced. But a "final" board isn't ever likely going to happen.
I'm sure there's even bigger group of people who wait for someone to take your boards, put all (or some) ICs on it and sell it as a finished product.
That would be great, but it simply hasn't been the case. As a developing platform, if "everyone" waits for the final board, nothing would ever get done, the project would be dead right from day 1. With the support of people on this forum, we made huge progress on the platform. But peoples time and cash is more limited these days. Someone will need deep pockets and a lot of time to do such things. It's just unlikely going to happen.

A couple guys made the odd board up and sold them, but that was just "one-off". Like I said before, Its a "brick wall" problem. You have to see it from my point of view, that I have tried my best to get stuff done, people have helped yes, but you have to assume now nobody will help with anything at all. I've asked for help with stuff for years and almost nobody helps. There isn't enough people to do anything anymore. I gave up asking for help. I had to abandon a lot of projects for various reasons. But the bottom line is lack of support. It's the "brickwall" problem. I can only hit it so many times before admitting defeat. I mentioned all this in my previous posts anyway.
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https://www.exxosforum.co.uk/atari/store2/ - All my hardware mods for sale - Please help support by making a purchase.
viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1585 Have you done the Mandatory Fixes ?
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Re: Future H5 buyers & assembly

Post by mikro »

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you've founded this forum, it definitely has its place in the Atari world. I just wanted to point out that even if it may look like that there's majority of people against you, it is exactly the opposite -- a few vocal ones post stupid things but the silent majority loves your stuff and there's no reason to put them in in the "those people from forum XY" bag. :)

As for the help with testing and progress, yeah, I admit, in this case I was the lazy Atari user waiting for cool stuff to happen. Sometimes one just has to make hard choices what to spend free time on. :(

But in general -- don't give up on Atari users. Just a simple example: in 2005 I coded a really nice tool (if I may say so), mxPlay. Me and a friend of mine put a ton of time and effort into it, it looked cool, it had cool features, we basically loved it. And the rest of the Atari world simply ignored it. A few emails here and there and that was it. Then, one day while being bored in Australia in 2013, I realised that it would be really trivial to add more plugins, targeted at CT60, resulting in being able to play basically anything you throw at it. It took me what, maybe 3-4 weeks to get it done? I released it as just a minor update, and while being at it, I also compiled a ColdFire version, just for the lulz.

And suddenly, I was getting a "ton" of emails from happy Atari users, FireBee users, CT60 users, everybody was so happy to have a player like that! And I was like wtf guys, where had you been for those 8 years? Sometimes it takes time to get noticed and sometimes it is the smallest and dumbest thing which makes it happen.

I could tell you similar story about Jookie's project (SatanDisk, UltraSatan) -- first it looked like a huge commercial failure barely covering the costs, then Jookie sold the UltraSatan license to Lotharek and now there's thousands (!!!) of units all around the world and everybody knows it was Jookie whom they can thank for it. Ironically same for the SatanDisk -- after UltraSatan and CosmosEx release I would have never imagined that there's a place on market for those devices and then people came with the super-cheap clones and voila, again, Jookie was the guy doing it before it was cool. :)

So who knows, maybe in a few years, you will be the cool guy with the first recreated ST board or your project will serve as base for another cool project... so do what you like, don't do what you don't like and the rest is history as they say. :)
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