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Learning from the Spectrum Next on Kickstarter

  • https://www.kickstarter.com/pr…35143999/zx-spectrum-next

    I'm currently following the Spectrum Next on Kickstarter (as a backer BTW) and think that it is handled extremely well (contrary to some former Spectrum related kickstarter projects). I would love to see the MEGA65 perform in a similar way, when the time has come.

    What I find interesting is what is going on in the corresponding facebook group. The whole Next team is present and is communicating very well.


    Community ideas are taken into account and responded to, even if not really applicable. From time to time videos get posted to what is going on behind the scenes. Community members are exchanging ideas and concerns. Even though I'm no big fan of facebook for that kind of collaboration, it makes the whole communication very 'accessible'.

    Besides the product is very rich on features and well designed.

    My point is, if the Spectrum can reach this level of interest, the MEGA65 should be able to even top that. At least if communication is done equally well.

  • I wish they would do something like this too. But doing that takes a ton of time and dedication to follow through. I hate being impatient but it seems like this is taking a long time. If they had some funding, maybe things would go faster? I would love to see this come out and be the ultimate C64/5 machine. I want to unbox it and play with it. I wish it was here now :(

  • One of the ideas the Spectrum Next project has given me is making a PMOD connector for the Pi Zero.

    I don't know if there's a protocol or anything for PMOD, or even how you'd access the PMOD boards (I'm assuming the MEGA65 guys have an idea for this considering they are adding the connectors to the official mainboard), but it could be pretty neat solution to adding WiFi (if you use a Zero W) as well as a co-processor and extra RAM etc.

    I'm a bit sad really. My Nexys4 board is still pretty much in the box, and whilst I've had a bit of time to play recently, none of my monitors support the resolution of the MEGA65 :-(
    I hope the "downgrade" to 1080p happens

  • @pmprog: We already have a 1280x1024 @ 57Hz (just don't ask why it is 57Hz at the moment!) intermediate bitstream as we move to 1080p.

    Regarding sophisticated community engagement on facebook with videos etc, our problem is indeed simply lack of time. If we were to do all that, we wouldn't get much actual work done. Of course, we do try to provide updates as we can on my blog (c65gs.blogspot.com.au).

    There is also nothing stopping, you, the community, from making cool videos showing off the latest progress on the MEGA65!


  • The Next project was not that well advertised prior to the kickstarter campagne as well. So this is no rant about missing communication from MEGA65. :-) I just wanted to record my observations, about what I think makes the Next so successful during this fund raising phase. After all the projects are similar.

    Additionally what I said above i see that:

    * stretch goals are added over time not only about the hardware, but also delivering games that showcase the Next features.
    * pledges are expanded over time (they ran out of pi-zero pledges pretty soon and added new zero pledges later)
    * many online media outlets reported about the campagne.

    Of course should the MEGA65 go a different route then a crowdfunding phase this is mostly irrelevant.

  • They blew out their stretch goals at the end. We'll see how it goes, but a couple of other observations.

    My impression is they were able to use the Sinclair name in part because part of what was raised goes to charity.

    The stretch goals also incented people to evangelize for them. At one point, they hit a goal and everyone gets more memory on their machine. That last stretch goal was a second joystick port on every machine. If you convinced a friend or two, you (and everyone else) reaped the benefits.

    They also focused on nostalgic details. A premium box. A wire bound printed manual. Things that brought back memories for some.

    But they were something of a public relations juggernaut. They definitely put a lot of effort into that side of the project. A small development team can't necessarily do that.

    The 6502 is my chip. I've worked with a lot of other processors and systems over the years, but it's the one I really enjoy. I appreciate all the efforts on the Mega65 and hope to have one so the Spectrum I signed up for sets unopened in its box for some time to come... :-)

  • The Next had a "board only" option that shipped recently. Thus has no case, keyboard, power supply, etc. Some wanted it because it was low cost, some because it was shipping earlier, and others because they wanted to install it in sn old Spec case.

    When they started arriving, there was chaos.

    Suddenly hundreds of different makes and models of monitors were in use. Thousands of programs were loaded. Different keyboards and joysticks were attached. Expansion memory chips were soldered in. Various makes of sd cards were used.

    I have to admit it was incredible to watch. The development team did a great job of determining root causes so hundreds of issues were caused by (and provided clues to) by one thing.

    Code was pushed out. One volunteer spent incredible amounts of time walking users through things. Communications was a bit sparse and terse, but what was said made it clear the team was engaged, working hard, and listening to users.

    Honestly, I thought it was going to be something of a train wreck. Instead, they made it through.

    In addition to listening and fixing at warp speed, there was a huge lesson that was totally happenstance.

    Those who ordered the "board only" tended to be the tinkerers and people willing to roll up their sleeves. They helped troubleshoot problems and answered questions from the development team.

    When the systems ship in a few months, I suspect it will go much smoother because of the board only trail blazers.

    Maybe there is some kind of two step release of the Megs that will make sense as things progress.


  • Hi Jim,

    Thanks for this.
    Getting a product out from a volunteer team is a crazy process. We are trying to take a staged approach, because we know that there will be problems. This is why we are offering a very small number of pre-production boards to help create the opportunities to do much as what you have said. As to whether we have a general board-only availability, I am not sure whether that will make sense for us at this stage -- however, we will certainly be thinking about it.


  • There has been the ability to run the Mega65 on an available FPGA platform which is something the Next never had. So a board only offering probably makes less sense.

    What I was thinking when I mentioned a two step release is that many who did order the "board only" were more comfortable with a soldering iron and flashing a new FPGA image than the typical user (who ordered the final and complete version) might be.

    The FPGA users are probably the parallel of that for the Mega65.

    I wish I could afford one of the pre-production units. I've done commercial product management before, so I understand the price and don't think it's unreasonable--it's just more than I can afford.


  • The Spectrum Next team had the company that was going to mold the cases back out at the last minute. They are scrambling to find someone else to take it on. They have hit a lot of issues and I would say it is NOT from a lack of planning and preparation.

    Does kind of prove the advice of figuring how long it will take and then double.