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$1,353
pledged of $4,000pledged of $4,000 goal
16
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, April 14 2016 8:35 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated April 14, 2016

Gem-8 Retro 8-bit Computer and Chiptune Synthesizer

Gem-8 is an 8-bit, WiFi-enabled personal computer and chiptune music synthesizer inspired by the home computers of the 1980s.

Gem-8 Retro 8-bit Computer and Chiptune Synthesizer

Gem-8 is an 8-bit, WiFi-enabled personal computer and chiptune music synthesizer inspired by the home computers of the 1980s.

$1,353
pledged of $4,000pledged of $4,000 goal
16
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, April 14 2016 8:35 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated April 14, 2016

About

Gem-8 is an 8-bit, WiFi-enabled personal computer and chiptune music synthesizer inspired by the home computers of the 1980s like the Commodore 64, the Apple IIe, and the ZX Spectrum. This 8-bit AVR-based personal computer features 256-color VGA video output, PS/2 keyboard input, audio line output with 8-bit quantization, 8 digital input/output pins, and a serial expansion port to connect peripheral devices.  
Gem-8 PCB
Gem-8 PCB

Specifications:

Processor: Atmel Atmega1284

RAM: 16 kB

Video: 256-color VGA

Keyboard: PS/2 (compatible with IBM PC AT scancode set 2)

Audio: 8-bit-quantized line out (standard stereo connector with same signal in both channels)

Peripheral Interfaces: serial expansion port + 8-pin female GPIO pin header

Two peripherals have already been created for Gem-8: a WiFi card and a MIDI interface. The WiFi card allows Gem-8 to connect to the internet using the preloaded serial terminal application. Gem-8 is particularly well suited to accessing online multi-user domains, text-based multiplayer online games, and bulletin board services that use the Telnet protocol. The MIDI interface peripheral connects a MIDI keyboard or other MIDI musical instrument to the Gem-8 computer, allowing users to create their own C64 and NES-video-game-style chiptune music using the preloaded chiptune synthesizer application. The Gem-8 chiptune synthesizer application also features video synth visualization capabilities. Currently, the Gem-8 synthesizer software features 8 waveforms and 4 effects settings for a total of 32 unique patches.

Gem-8 MIDI interface and Gem-8 WiFi card (based on the ESP8266-12 WiFi module)
Gem-8 MIDI interface and Gem-8 WiFi card (based on the ESP8266-12 WiFi module)

Using additional applications included in Gem-8 OS, users can set the digital states of 8 output pins, which can interface with external components like LEDs and relay modules. Gem-8 users are also able to set the duty cycles of up to 8 pulse-width-modulation signals, which can be used to control servos or to vary the intensity of external LEDs.

Kickstarter backers will join the exclusive inner circle of Gem-8 computer users. Feedback from Kickstarter backers will also be used to shape future versions of Gem-8 OS. Gem-8-reward-level backers will get a sneak preview of the Gem-8 Programming Language Interpreter, which is still in development. Please note that the Gem-8 interpreter preview included with Gem-8 OS is just a demo version and can only execute the hard-coded example program, not user-written code.

Each Gem-8 computer includes a socketed microcontroller to make software upgrades easy. Arcano Systems LLC plans to distribute future versions of Gem-8 OS via preprogrammed replacement microcontrollers.

first perfboard prototype
first perfboard prototype

The Gem-8 design has been refined through two perfboard prototypes and three PCB prototypes. In the latest PCB iteration, code-named Gohar 8 rev 3, the hardware was reconfigured to double the horizontal pixel resolution and to eliminate all electrolytic capacitors on the motherboard for extra longevity and reliability.

Arcano Systems LLC has successfully launched two projects through Kickstarter: the Arcano MIDI NES Chiptune Synthesizer and the Obscura MIDI 8-bit NES & C64 Chiptune Synthesizer.

Risks and challenges

The greatest potential risk to timely shipment of rewards is the availability of electronic components from suppliers; however, like both previous Arcano Systems projects, these risks have been minimized in the design of Gem-8, which is comprised of common components available from multiple suppliers.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list.

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    Pledge $140 or more About $140

    One assembled and tested Gem-8 Computer for early backers and your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list. Does not include wooden base, cables, MIDI interface, or WiFi card.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $145 or more About $145

    One Gem-8 Computer soldering kit and your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list. Soldering skills required. Does not include wooden base, cables, MIDI interface, or WiFi card.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    One assembled and tested Gem-8 Computer and your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list. Does not include wooden base, cables, MIDI interface, or WiFi card.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $160 or more About $160

    One assembled and tested Gem-8 Computer, one Gem-8 MIDI Interface, and your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list. Does not include wooden base, cables, or WiFi card.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $170 or more About $170

    One assembled and tested Gem-8 Computer, one Gem-8 WiFi Card and your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list. Does not include wooden base, cables, or MIDI interface.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $180 or more About $180

    One assembled and tested Gem-8 Computer, one Gem-8 MIDI Interface, one Gem-8 WiFi Card and your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list. Does not include wooden base or cables.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $195 or more About $195

    One assembled and tested Gem-8 Computer mounted to a square wooden base, one Gem-8 MIDI Interface, one Gem-8 WiFi Card, and your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list. Does not include cables.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $235 or more About $235

    One assembled and tested Gem-8 Computer mounted to a round wooden base, one Gem-8 MIDI Interface, one Gem-8 WiFi Card, PS/2 keyboard, VGA cable, stereo audio cable, DC power adapter with US-style plug, and your name or initials listed in the Gem-8 OS backers list.

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Funding period

- (30 days)