As promised, here are the latest details from the manufacturer regarding the delivery of the final batch of Chip Maestros to me, with information about how I will test, package, and finally ship them off to you!
The entire batch of Chip Maestros are being manufactured right now, and are scheduled to ship by May 10th. The shipping time from them to my lab is 3 business days (May 16th), and after I receive them, I will use my test bench to make sure every single one of them is functional. This should take no more than 2 days, as I've had lots of time to streamline my testing processes and tools, and I can work through that weekend (May 19th at the latest). Once they pass all the tests, I apply the label to the cartridge as my seal of approval, put it in a Chip Maestro box, and package all that together into a USPS Priority Shipping box. That means after they leave my labs (May 20th), it should take 2-3 days for domestic backers to receive their Chip Maestro, and a few more days after that for international backers (shouldn't be more than 5-11 days). I'll keep all the tracking numbers, and if you do not receive your Chip Maestro on schedule, please let me know and I'll do everything I can to help find your package.
The next update will be posted as soon as I get the tracking number for the entire box, and again with an unboxing video as soon as they arrive. I'll take a video of my testing process, and after the Chip Maestros ship, I'll start working on getting an FAQ and support page up, followed by links to the source code, schematics, gerber files, and all the other good open-source files. Currently I'm working on getting an instruction manual ready to go at the same time as the Chip Maestro ships.
Start servicing your Nintendos! As a tribute to filling all the slots for Golden Chip Maestros, I had the manufacturer apply gold-plating on EVERY Chip Maestro circuit board (only gold backers get the special Golden cartridge though~). This means your Chip Maestro will be more reliable than an official Nintendo cartridge! However, if your NES hasn't felt the love in a long time, you may want to test it out with a few official games to make sure it still works. Take this time to get a new 72 pin connector!
Speaking of Nintendos, I've tested the Chip Maestro with a Retron NES clone and a Hyperkin Handheld NES clone, and unfortunately they do not support the Chip Maestro fully. I believe the issue is related to the power supply not being able to give the cartridge the full juice it needs (if anyone out there has a Action 52, let me know!) Even when I could manage to get the Chip Maestro working with either one through fancy power supply tricks, the sound coming out of them was sub-par, nothing compared to the real thing, and stability was a real issue.
If you have any changes to make to your shipping address, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Looking forward to hearing some beautiful music!
The production samples arrived from my manufacturer the other day, and they are amazing. The sense of pride I felt when they came through the door was immense, and the suspense when I first plugged them in for a test drive....you could hear a pin drop. Luckily, the next sound was of my MIDI piano playing notes through the NES! The hardware works perfectly, and I'm currently implementing a few code changes that my dev kit backers have proposed. As soon as this final revision of code is complete, all I have to do is send the code back to my producer, and the Chip Maestro will begin production! All the pieces and cases are sitting in their warehouses waiting for my order.....the excitement is electrifying!
One of my dev kit backers posted a sample recorded using the Chip Maestro on the forums, and he was kind enough to allow me to use it for my update! You can find it attached to this update towards the bottom. A big thank you to DJ SymBiotiX (https://soundcloud.com/djsymbiotix) !
Also I included a few pictures of the production samples and my backup NES dev unit: an FC Mobile II. I love prototyping on this thing, however I only use it for stability testing; it's audio recreation is subpar, it can't run the Chip Maestro off of batteries (a consequence of the FC Mobile's battery-saving features), and it makes chords sound like disjointed notes instead of blending them together gracefully, as the NES does. I'm afraid this is a limitation of the NES-on-a-chip hardware, and you might experience similar performance on most NES clones. I'm also getting a Retron in the mail soon so I can test with that, and give a fair compatibility report. The only officially supported hardware so far is the original NES, MIDI Keyboards and MIDI Digital Audio Workstations, however I've seen MIDI Guitars and MIDI keypads work well with the Chip Maestro!
The next update will be posted when the order is given for production to begin. At that time, I'll be confident enough to have a ship date ready! Thank you again for all your patience, just a few more steps guys!
As I mentioned in the previous update, I've already sent out the files for mass production at the beginning of the month, and soon the plastic cases will go out to the manufacturer for final assembly. Soon after the Chinese Holidays I should receive the final prototypes of the production run, and soon after approval, the entire batch will be programmed and shipped out.
If your address has changed since you filled out the survey, please send me an email at email@example.com with your old address and your new address. Your old address is used to verify that it's actually you sending the request :)
I'll be uploading more pictures as soon as the factory prototypes are in my hand, and a video with my home-made MIDI tester that I'll use to test each and every Chip Maestro before it's shipped out.
After long nights poring over cost and shipping sheets and working with this vendor to get everything in line for assembly and production (could you believe it took about a week to find a way to get a few hundred MIDI cables made?), I have sized my first batch, which will give me enough units to fill all my backer orders, as well as a few gifts for the community.
My Dev Kit backers have started getting their Chip Maestros running with no complaints, and a few suggestions have come in as well! I'll do my best to support them while getting the first batch produced successfully.
The finish line is in sight!
pledged of $1,150 goal
seconds to go
May 8, 2011 - Jun 7, 2011 (30 days)
Pledge $1 or more
Backdoor access to all my build logs! I'll also give you my personal contact info, so you can shoot me ideas, comments, criticism, or just ask how I'm doing. Every backer, regardless of amount, receives this info.
Pledge $5 or more
Ticket to pre-order a Chip Maestro (please read description for info on pre-order tickets)! Get it before it goes on sale to the general public!
Pledge $50 or more
200 backers All gone!
Paid pre-order of a limited-run Chip Maestro cartridge! These backers will receive a cartridge from the first batch as soon as they're assembled, hot out of the oven! Backers at this level and above also get their initials (up to 3 letters) silkscreened onto the back of every cartridge that goes into production! Own one of the first of hundreds of Chip Maestros to make their way into the hands of musicians worldwide! Shipping for this reward is included for domestic and Canada, 8$ worldwide.
Pledge $125 or more
18 backers Limited (7 of 25 left)
Chip Maestro cartridge development kit! Backers at this level will receive a special Chip Maestro cartridge with the programming headers attached, and USB programmers to write their own code for the chips on the board! This package is for adventurous types who want an even greater degree of customization with this already flexible synth. If you would like to get a head-start developing for the Chip Maestro, email me after you place your pledge and I will send out a kit as soon as possible.
Pledge $250 or more
4 backers Limited (1 of 5 left)
One of 5 Gold Chip Maestro Cartridges! There will be a limited run of 6 golden colored Chip Maestros! The only other Gold Chip Maestro will be given to highest level backer!
Pledge $1,000 or more
1 backer All gone!
My highest level backer will get the full VIP package! I will personally deliver your brand new Golden Chip Maestro cartridge, an NES to play it on, and a MIDI keyboard, then set it up in your home/studio! East Coast backers only please; if you would like to set up some other arrangement, please contact me in advance.