Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 4, 2012.

Update #19

Shipping Update and Upgrades!

I'm very sorry but I just learned that due to some logistics related to writing the firmware to all of the RetroCade boards there has been a delay in the shipping. The RetroCade Synth boards will begin shipping tomorrow and I am asking for clarification as to whether an email with tracking information will be generated and sent out.

The good news is that I have put together an upgrade or special offer for all backer tiers, let me explain why. During development of the RetroCade software I ran into an unforeseen snag with the Papilio One 500K board. There is just not enough code space to support the libraries needed to implement an SD Card FAT filesystem AND play MOD files. The Papilio One 500K can provide all of the synth features, such as the SID and YM chips, but without SD card and MOD file support it just isn't what was presented in the Kickstarter project. Therefore I decided to cover the costs to upgrade all of the Papilio One 500K backers to the Papilio Pro! Of course, I can't upgrade one backer tier without offering something to all the other tiers so here is a breakdown of the upgrades/special offers for all the tiers:

  • RetroCade MegaWing ($40) - Backers at this tier are getting a smoking deal on the RetroCade MegaWing. I pretty badly estimated the costs to manufacture the RetroCade MegaWing and the final retail price will be $55. Even so, we are grateful for your support and will trade your Papilio One 500K for a Papilio Pro. If you cover the shipping costs to send your Papilio One 500K to us we will cover the costs to send a Papilio Pro back. (We do need to wait for there to be Papilio Pro stock in the Gadget Factory store before we can do the trade. We expect to have stock between Jan 1-15th.)
  • RetroCade MegaWing + Papilio One 500K - Backers at this level will automatically be upgraded to a Papilio Pro.
  • RetroCade MegaWing + Papilio One 500K + Arcade MegaWing - Backers at this level will automatically be upgraded to the Papilio Pro.
  • All levels that already included a Papilio Pro - All backers that are already slated to get a Papilio Pro will receive a coupon code for a free VGA Wing. We will be adding a VGA core that is patterned after the Sinclair ZX Spectrum computers video adapter to the RetroCade Synth bit file. Using the VGA library we will be able to add some tracker/sequencer functionality that will output to a VGA monitor. Backers at this level will have the VGA hardware on hand to start adding GUI interfaces now and use the tracker functionality when it is completed.

Once again, I'm very sorry for the delays, at this point the shipping is in the hands of the capable staff at Seeed Studio and they will be getting the boards out starting tomorrow. I hope the upgrades make the delays a little more tolerable and I thank you for your understanding and support.

Sincerely,

Jack Gassett


Update #18

RetroCade starts shipping in the next couple days!

6 comments

Hello RetroCade Backers,

Great news, the RetroCade hardware will start shipping in the next couple days. While you are waiting I recorded a quick video of the 1.0 Software in action:

Please be understanding with the video, I'm just trying to quickly show the features on the LCD interface and how the hardware can handle multiple things at once. I know it sounds like a train wreck when a mod file, ym file, and keyboard is playing all at once. I wasn't trying to make it sound good, just showing that all work at the same time.

The RetroCade website is up at retrocade.gadgetfactory.net so take some time and check it out!

Take a look a the documentation:

The first 1.0 release of the software has come together nicely, for more information checkout the download page:

RetroCade Synth Installer


Update #17

Estimated Delivery Date and Version 0.3 of the RetroCade Software.

4 comments

Hello RetroCade Backers,

I just got great news from Seeed Studio, they expect to have the first batch of RetroCade MegaWings and Papilio Pro boards completed by November 24th! If we factor in a couple weeks for testing and packaging that means, if all goes as planned, we can start shipping the RetroCade out to all backers in the first half of December! I will keep you posted if I hear any news on the manufacturing front.

Next on the to do list is a stable 1.0 release of the software and the RetroCade website. I've been making great strides towards a stable 1.0 release and just uploaded a new version of the software with lots of cool improvements, more details to follow. Next week I am going to dig in and get the website up and going, watch for another update soon.

Version 0.3 of the software was just uploaded to the Gadget Factory Download section.

The biggest new features are:

  • A USB MIDI adapter is no longer needed for the computer Dashboard. The Dashboard can control the RetroCade over the USB port.
  • Mod and YM files can be played from the SD card now.
  • The Dashboard runs as a standalone Windows executable now. Flowstone/Synthmaker is only needed if you want to modify the Dashboard.

Here is the full ChangeLog:

ChangeLog:
11/1/2012 Version .3
-FlowStone Dashboard
-Changed from SynthMaker to FlowStone
   -Added the ability to control the RetroCade without a MIDI output, can control over a Com Port instead.
   -Generated an EXE version of the Dashboard. VST will be generated when FlowStone 3.0 is released in November.
   -Zoom Controls added to Dashboard
   -Pressing "w" toggles full screen.
   -While in full screen pressing "z" fills the screen.
   -Pressing "x" returns to normal size.
-RetroCade Sketch
   -Control the RetroCade from a COM port or MIDI In
   -Play YMdat and Mod files from SD card or SmallFS filesystem.
   -Place a file name track[1-3].mod or track[1-3].ymd onto the SD card to override the files found in smallFS. Must power cycle the board for the files to be found.
   -YM files must be converted to ymd files using the process and tools detailed here: (http://audio.gadgetfactory.net/index.php?n=Main.YM2149Flash)
   -Mod files play out of RamFS filesystem which is located entirely in the 8MB SDRAM.
 -Merged RetroCade Bit File: Shortcut to load RetroCade-.01d-zpuino-1.0-PapilioPro-S6LX9-RetroCade-1.04.bit with the Papilio Loader
   -Changes from RetroCade Sketch are merged into this bit file.
   -Smallfs version of MOD and YM files are merged into this bit file.

10/8/2012 Version .2
-SynthMaker Dashboard
-Added Midi In and Midi Out Selectors to the front panel.
-Added SID Volume
-Fixed CC#'s for all Presets
-Renamed Presets from Hoppa to User

9/26/2012 Version .1
-ZPUino IDE: Shortcut to open RetroCade Sketch with the ZPUino IDE.
-Merged RetroCade Bit File: Shortcut to load RetroCade-.01b-zpuino-1.0-PapilioPro-S6LX9-RetroCade-1.04.bit with the Papilio Loader
-MOD files, YM2149, SID chips play on both left and right channel now.
-Code runs from SDRAM providing 8MB of code space!
-RetroCade Sketch is merged into this bit file.
-Smallfs version of MOD and YM files are merged into this bit file.
-Papilio Loader
-SynthMaker Dashboard: The dashboard requires that Synthmaker be installed. MIDI selections are not moved to the main page yet.


Update #16

First RetroCade Windows Installer ready for download!

4 comments

The first version of the Windows installer for RetroCade Synth is now available in the download area. This new installer groups all RetroCade resources together and makes them easily accessible from the Start menu.

Requirements:
*You must have SynthMaker installed to run the Dashboard. The free version can be downloaded from: http://www.synthmaker.co.uk/

ChangeLog:
9/26/2012 Version .1
-ZPUino IDE: Shortcut to open RetroCade Sketch with the ZPUino IDE.
-Merged RetroCade Bit File: Shortcut to load RetroCade-.01b-zpuino-1.0-PapilioPro-S6LX9-RetroCade-1.04.bit with the Papilio Loader
-MOD files, YM2149, SID chips play on both left and right channel now.
-Code runs from SDRAM providing 8MB of code space!
-RetroCade Sketch is merged into this bit file.
-Smallfs version of MOD and YM files are merged into this bit file.
-Papilio Loader
-SynthMaker Dashboard: The dashboard requires that Synthmaker be installed. MIDI selections are not moved to the main page yet.


Update #15

Manufacturing updates, Papilio Pro SDRAM, RetroCade libraries!

3 comments

Hello RetroCade backers, there's a lot of great news about the RetroCade project, so here we go!

RetroCade MegaWing Manufacturing

Seeed Studio just finished the verification and part sourcing of the RetroCade MegaWing design and have provided a per unit cost. This is one of the most time consuming parts of the process and they are now ready to kick off the first batch of RetroCade MegaWing's!

RetroCade Sketch

I made a huge push over the last week and a half to rework the RetroCade sketch into something that is much easier to understand and use. All SID, YM2149, MOD player, and YM player functionality has been reworked into Arduino style libraries. The RetroCade sketch is now what you would expect to see from an Arduino sketch, instantiation of a couple objects and interacting with them in a couple hundred lines of code! There is still plenty of work to be done but this important step lays an easy to use framework that we can keep building on.

Papilio Pro and SDRAM

Alvaro Lopes has done some amazing work adding SDRAM support to the ZPUino soft processor. The result is that we can now run our RetroCade sketches out of SDRAM on the Papilio Pro board which gives us an amazing 64Mbit (8MByte) of code space! Compare that to the 32KByte of code space we've been working with until now and you can see how revolutionary this is. It shatters the code space limit and allows us to use full SD FAT libraries, full MOD file support, and will allow us to integrate many other libraries.

Papilio Pro Manufacturing

This last week saw us running the newly rewritten RetroCade software completely out of SDRAM on the Papilio Pro. This was the last piece of the puzzle to verify that the Papilio Pro hardware works as expected and we will be submitting the final design files to Seeed Studio next week. The sourcing and verification stage should not take as long as the RetroCade MegaWing did since this is a derivative of an existing design.

Next Steps

Installer:
The next step is to get a first release out for the prototype backers. We've started work on a Windows Installer, cleaning up the Dashboard, and a new bit file for the Papilio Pro hardware. The goal is to get the installer in place so we can start making regular releases as we add new features to the sketch and bit file. Updates will be as simple as running the new installer and clicking on an updated bit file.

Website:
Once the Installer is in place we will start work on the web site. The first priority for the website will be a Quick Start guide and documentation of the newly created libraries.


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