About recent events
Date: Friday, September 16 2016 @ 16:04:45 UTC
Topic: Amiga FPGA accelerator
As you probably know participation in Apollo-team project was 90Eur, later on price went to 120Eur because design change. For that price you were getting Vampire 600 V2 accelerator card and opportunity to have fastest and most compatible Amiga accelerator ever produced, Apollo-core ported to Vampire card with unique features and with more than 100MIPS with latest published cores. From initial core release we went up for more than 20MIPS with adding more and more instructions, more compatible video output drivers and support for MicroSD. Everyone got opportunity to participate in this amazing project seeing it as a next best thing after minimig. Lot of people realized that we inside Apollo-team could bring something to the market, beyond wildest dreams of Amiga enthusiasts who waited for over 20 years for something like this to happen. As a person who worked on hardware design for last 6 years I was under constant pressure helping the team best I could in various areas with my modest knowledge. At the time when money was needed Amiga community recognized potential of this project and placed first pre-orders helping a lot financially. Without those people none of this would happen and that's the truth. They were helping me also in other things, getting parts, equipment. There was so many energy in the air send by them. That gave me the strength to work constantly more than 10 hours per day, every single day. For two years I didn't go to fishing properly or did something else like spending some time with the family.Don't know, just go somewhere with them. I didn't find time to do any other things, this project took it all. Project was frustrating, from the point that design needed change, five times, to the fact that in process of testings I had to buy parts who are now forgotten in those changes.
When you solder by hand about 3200 0402 capacitors and loads of other parts sacrificing in front of everything my health and then when you see that someone else is making money from your hard work then you start to wonder what are you doing wrong. From the start money wasn't my motivation. If that was the case I could sell this design number of times or I could increase the price more. Why solder by hand you may wonder. Because that was the only option to keep prices low and affordable to everyone, at least it was me who was talking constantly that no one should benefit from nostalgic feelings of retro computers enthusiasts. That's why I have opensourced first version of the Vampire 600 so anyone can continue work on it. If this was about the money then I wouldn't end up in the situation where I need to find money for future projects. I was forcing kipper2k to keep prices of the accelerators low with minimum profit or close to zero and each time one FPGA dies he is left with loses. And yes those things happen, I have loads of overheated or ESD damaged parts.
Lot of questions are in my mind lately, could we get even better results if we had money to pay someone for the drivers, demos, for the test cases, instead everyone inside team was working for free. With recent Intel purchases prices of the parts went even higher, yet we kept prices down because we had stock of the parts ordered before those Intel's takeovers. Same time people started to put their Vampire 600V2 cards on eBay selling it for anywhere between 300-800Eur. You may say that's not illegal and they can do whatever they want with their cards but please be in my position to work on this so hard and still don't have money for tooling fees needed for card edge connectors. Some people are adding themselves to our waiting list because pure profit they can make by selling the card five times more than they paid for. I was at the edge to block those cards from future core uploads but I didn't do it and I won't.
Since I have enough parts only to cover initial pre-orders placed on Amibay without need for more funds and because of recent eBay events I m forced to increase the price anywhere between 230-250Eur for various models. Without this decision we are dead in the water and we will hardly find money to finance Vampire 1200. I was idealist, thinking that I should play fair and give anyone opportunity to get this piece of hardware not respecting my time or energy and knowledge rest of the team put into this. I was an idiot thinking that everyone will keep their cards and follow our progress, they didn't even bother to try latest cores, instead they went for quick money. In the darkest corner of my mind I couldn't predict that someone will sell the card instantly when he gets it... Thank you eBay sellers for opening my eyes. World turns when money talks. Finally I learned that.
My bitterness will pass, sadness never!