ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

For experts to discuss very technical stuff and newbies to ask why the Spectrum they bought off ebay doesn't work.
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ZXDunny
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by ZXDunny » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:55 am

I remember, back in... oh. 2006 or 2007, being very very excited for the new Open Pandora console. I had a GP32 and GP2X and this was gonna bring linux/ARM handhelds right up to date. Powerful hardware in a portable package.

Pre-orders started in 2008 and I jumped in for a measly (as it turned out) £200. After many, many, many stumbling blocks with manufacturing, I eventually received mine in 2011. Three years after the pre-order, and six years after the initial excitement.

It was badly mismanaged by the project leader, and this compounded with issues due to plastics, board manufacturing and small problems with components led to delay after delay and people got really shirty about it. The UK arm of the company collapsed eventually leaving a huge number of pre-orders unfilled. The German side of things managed to keep ticking over but many people lost their pre-orders - the price of the unit went up, with the profits going towards filling those UK pre-orders, but this only filled a few. It was a shitshow.

But Michael Mrozek, the German chap in charge now, kept his integrity and worked as hard as he could. To that end, when he announced the DragonBox Pyra, a successor to the Open Pandora, he went slowly, with much discussion on progress, careful choosing of manufacturing partners and transparency that is not seen in the crowd-funded arena today.

The campaign started around 2014/15, with pre-orders opening in 2016. It's still not here - issues with the case, bugs in the PCB and other problems have gotten in the way. It's not going to be delivered to customers until 2020, and that's a conservative estimate. And people are not cancelling, people are not moaning about it. We've all been there before and we know Michael is a good guy.

By comparison, the Next has been up on KS since what, 2017? A little over two years. Created by a team that has little experience of this sort of thing, with an order base so small that most companies will either push them to the back of their priorities list or worse not deal with them at all.

With all this in mind, if the cased Next comes out in the next two years I'll consider them to be lucky and above all dynamic. It's just the way these things are - unless you're Samsung or Apple or Intel or... Well, things move slowly.

Personally I'm not getting a Next because it's not what they advertised, but that's another story.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Bizzley » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:38 am

Alcoholics Anonymous wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:58 am
Whoever promised an update every two weeks made a mistake. Nothing happens in two weeks - it should be a regular update once a month even to say nothing happened, and extra updates for real news.
That would have been Henrique Olifiers himself in the Kickstarter Update dated April 2nd 2018 -
"...and from this update onwards, we’ll keep you posted every two weeks with whatever news we have on the case production."

If Mr. Olifiers is the only person who can post regular Kickstarter updates and is finding that tedious to do so then perhaps he needs someone else involved in the project to do it for him instead. Or at least write them for him to repost in his name.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Alcoholics Anonymous » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:41 pm

ZxSpence wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:45 am
"professional malcontents" oh dear, paranoid much? From what I've read there's a lot of tongue in cheek ribbing on the run up to the next promised update.
Are you new in the spectrum community? There is a small number of trolls who take every opportunity to attack for their own entertainment. This is not next-specific; it's across everything.

Asking questions, being legitimately concerned, wanting to know more is not being a "professional malcontent". It's actually reassuring that people show they are concerned - it only happens because people care. I hope it comes across that the people working on the project also care.

It is not acceptable that the composite keys on the keyboard, like DELETE, could be hit four times with three times coming up 0 instead of DELETE. The correction in the fpga would not have been acceptable due to the wide difference in time seen between the CAPS+0; the correction would slow the keyboard response perceptively. These things had to be redone otherwise they would have spoiled everyone's experience. We have to live with the fact each fix attempt takes 3-4 weeks. A manufacturing slot cannot be scheduled until the product is finished so we will have to live with lead times there being serially attached to the keyboard resolution. That's just how it is :-/
That would have been Henrique Olifiers himself in the Kickstarter Update dated April 2nd 2018 -
"...and from this update onwards, we’ll keep you posted every two weeks with whatever news we have on the case production."
I think he believed it was very close to being done and fix cycles for the keyboard could be done more quickly. Actually everyone involved has thought things were imminent for some time; the core and sd card contents have been frozen more than once.
Personally I'm not getting a Next because it's not what they advertised, but that's another story.
Maybe you will change your mind once you've seen one :) I think it's much better than what was promised - a traditional machine with a graphics accelerator in the pi that added sprites and produced hdmi video. Not really a "next" in my view. Now everything new is integrated into the spectrum architecture, the pi is optional and the system software extends the +3's. It does build on the +3.

If you're only into the classic machines, that's still there with the bonus that the machine is able to behave like a 48k, 128k, +3 or pentagon. The ula implementation for each of these three types is not quite 100% yet but it will get there. Maybe you want to help out in that department :) ?
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Bizzley » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:15 am

Alcoholics Anonymous wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:41 pm
If you're only into the classic machines, that's still there with the bonus that the machine is able to behave like a 48k, 128k, +3 or pentagon. The ula implementation for each of these three types is not quite 100% yet but it will get there. Maybe you want to help out in that department :) ?
Do you need actual physical Spectrum Next hardware to work on these ULA implementations and test them out or can they be done via software emulators? Because if you need the hardware you can kind of see the flaw in asking people who haven't got it to do it.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Seven.FFF » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:29 am

A lot of people are helping out with knowledge and collaborating with people who do have boards. You might not personally want to get involved, but it’s not accurate to characterise people doing it as flawed.

Do you have anything positive to contribute at all, Bob?
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Bizzley » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:55 am

It's not the people that are flawed its the logic of asking people who don't have the hardware to contribute to the hardware that is.

I have positively contributed £185 of my own money to this project. I won't count the suite of graphic utilities I wrote for the Next in 2017 since they were for my own use and and been superseded by later developments. The collaboration with one of the stretch goal developers in setting up a comms link for the Next so they could speed up development wasn't much to write about either really.

Other than that, no, that's the sum total of my contribution towards development of the Spectrum Next. I'm sorry I haven't been more productive or positive, I shall try and do better in the next life.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Seven.FFF » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:30 am

The Zeus comms link works great btw. 2meg up and downlink over wired USB serial cable, and remote debugging. I collaborated with Simon on that one last spring, and did the early Robotron dev using it. Absolute lifesaver, given that the emulators were both at a very early stage then.

Of course it's ok not to contribute, nobody should feel they have to. But I have noticed you're very vocal in your criticisms on this board, which seem to be mostly of the "in hindsight, they should've done this" type. You should write another book, I'm sure it will be useful for people doing future crowdfunding compaigns.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Alcoholics Anonymous » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:07 am

Bizzley wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:15 am
Do you need actual physical Spectrum Next hardware to work on these ULA implementations and test them out or can they be done via software emulators? Because if you need the hardware you can kind of see the flaw in asking people who haven't got it to do it.
It's largely a paper and pencil exercise and it would be helpful to know vhdl or something about digital hardware. But accurate emulator authors have another skill and that's knowledge about important sequences during the display generation to get that accurate emulation. Emulators are different from real hardware implementation and the language used to describe the display generation and how it's done in software does not, by and large, reflect what goes on in hardware. But being able to identify where something may not be quite right is a contribution that can solve the last 1-2%.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by ZxSpence » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:43 am

Alcoholics Anonymous wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:41 pm
ZxSpence wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:45 am
"professional malcontents" oh dear, paranoid much? From what I've read there's a lot of tongue in cheek ribbing on the run up to the next promised update.
Are you new in the spectrum community? There is a small number of trolls who take every opportunity to attack for their own entertainment. This is not next-specific; it's across everything.

Asking questions, being legitimately concerned, wanting to know more is not being a "professional malcontent". It's actually reassuring that people show they are concerned - it only happens because people care. I hope it comes across that the people working on the project also care.

It is not acceptable that the composite keys on the keyboard, like DELETE, could be hit four times with three times coming up 0 instead of DELETE. The correction in the fpga would not have been acceptable due to the wide difference in time seen between the CAPS+0; the correction would slow the keyboard response perceptively. These things had to be redone otherwise they would have spoiled everyone's experience. We have to live with the fact each fix attempt takes 3-4 weeks. A manufacturing slot cannot be scheduled until the product is finished so we will have to live with lead times there being serially attached to the keyboard resolution. That's just how it is :-/
I don't see anything from the guy who normally corrodes the discourse at all, but then I blocked him. So perhaps you could name names?

I don't have a problem with the reality of delivery, or where it's at. I do have a problem with seeing backers being jumped on for asking perfectly legitimate questions and making reasonable complaints. The attitude could be adequately described as "shut up or sell your pledge". Most of the time they don't get likes or backing from those working in the core team, but sometimes they do. It's not the right way to deal with people.

It's true that committing to a two week update was a rod for Henriques' back, but having made it and failed to keep it and having no intention of keeping it anymore he should put it in an update. People tend to put their heads in around update time. Those in the know already have the answers and perhaps don't appreciate how it looks from the outside. So it might look like a small step to insiders to be frustrated with those asking how it's going from the present level of internal frustration. But from the outside it looks irrational, defensive, condescending and quite often just plain rude.
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Re: ZX Spectrum Next Discussion

Post by Bizzley » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:51 am

Seven.FFF wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:30 am
Of course it's ok not to contribute, nobody should feel they have to. But I have noticed you're very vocal in your criticisms on this board, which seem to be mostly of the "in hindsight, they should've done this" type. You should write another book, I'm sure it will be useful for people doing future crowdfunding compaigns.
Unfortunately the second book just creeps along because all my time now is spent writing Dead Lights, the July issue is due in a fortnight and it has to be proofed and printed first. I don't think my written work would help crowdfunding much - any contribution I could give on that front would pretty much amount to "tell the people who's money you took what you're doing with it" but seeing as I give my written work away for free then I dont think that would carry much gravitas. Besides, what kind of idiots with all that money would take advice from an old coder operating in hindsight mode? :)
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