No time for a break after GamesCom


EvilDragon

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Finally, a new newspost!

I have to admit, it took a while since I posted some news - which was simply because GamesCom preparation, the GamesCom itself and catching up with my shop AFTER the GamesCom took quite some time.

Still, Pyra development has not halted, so here are some news.

But first of all, since I just mentioned GamesCom, I wish to send a big welcome to everyone who joined our boards or newsletter after visiting us there.

I hope you will have a lot of fun and excitement together with us.

Okay, on to the news...

1. GamesCom

The GamesCom was a huge success.

There were TONS of interested people and they were all amazed by the power the Pyra showed on our FullHD screen (well, we had multiple PSX and MegaDrive emulators running and still a responsive desktop at 1920x1080... - all fullspeed).

What most of the visitors found especially great is the replaceable CPU PCB. I was happy that most people love the idea having an upgradeable system instead of producing more and more electronical waste. These days companies tell you that you need at least one new smartphone each year... great that's not the common opinion :)

We had a few special guests there - LinuxSWAT was helping out again, but we also had ptitseb visiting during the weekend and notaz was even there the full time and was working there on the devboard.

They managed to get some games as well as Reicast and Mupen running, but those still need more optimization.

All in all, GamesCom was great - and the retro area was fun.

2. The LCD

We made various tests with the LCD from BOE, and we were really satisfied so far.

We tried Sonic 2 - famous on most mobile screens for flickering palmtrees and black ghosting of the rings in the sky.

Well, we couldn't see any ghosting and even the flickering was only visible if you knew what to look for.

We didn't have the rotator chip working with it yet and Nikolaus was on holidays (as you might remember), but he's now looking into it.

There are multiple devices out there using the rotator chip with exactly this one panel, so we know it'll work ;)

Additionally, we found the 720p resolution with 5" perfect for a Linux standard desktop.

While the default settings have small fonts and icons, they're still perfectly readable (I like it small), with the 1080p LCD, it was just unusably small.

We still have the Success panel to test, but the BOE one is already pretty good, and a LOT better than the Pandora LCD.

As soon as we have the rotator chip working, I'll make some nice videos for you.

I've already ordered a few samples together with touchscreens.

3. The software

notaz got the 3D driver to work together with fbturbo (which is a real fast, NEON-accelerated (read below) framebuffer driver for X).

The official TI driver uses DRM - which is okay for normal desktop usage, but with that, we can't use the framebuffer directly (which is where Pandoras SDL version gets the speed increase from).

So we definitely want to get an X driver working that offers framebuffer usage - and that's why we chose to use fbturbo.

As mentioned, the 3D driver is working already, but is still hardcoded to ask for DRM. This is something we'll try to fix, otherwise, all 3D games would need a patch.

Another (small) downside is that the 3D driver only works in fulsscreen mode.

No big thing, as even apps like Blender can also run in fullscreen mode and games are usually played in fullscreen mode anyways.

Still, we'll try to fix that as well.

If you really desperately need 3D with windows, you could theoretically switch to TIs DRM driver, as it works there.

We'll now concentrate on setting up standard Debian distribution with our own patches for the Pyra.

4. Batteries

I've received two different 6000mAh batteries from two different manufacturers.

One is thicker, one is wider. Both have been sent to the case design team. They'll check which one can be easier implemented into our current case design.

5. The Case

Not much has happened here, as the company in Greece is closed for summer holidays.

I took the time to write down a list with current issues and a to-do-list which they'll work on when they're back in September.

It's not that much left to do, to be honest.

I'll continue tweaking the shoulder buttons and I'll also try Fusion_Powers design.

6. The hardware

It's time for testing the main PCB thoroughly, we also still need to add a Wifi chip.

Then it's time for the CPU PCB.

I'll keep you updated with more news here.

That's it for todays post.

Now that I catched up with everything, I hope to have more regular newsposts again.

Feel free to ask any questions here :)

UPDATE:

Just some quick correction, as we just discussed about that in IRC:

fbturbo is NOT using NEON as accelleration.

I misread that.

From the description (which can be found here: https://github.com/ssvb/xf86-video-fbturbo

any ARM based system should see better

performance thanks to some additional optimizations (the elimination of

ShadowFB layer, ARM NEON/VFP code for dealing with uncached framebuffer

reads, automatic backing store management for faster window moves).
I misinterpreted that for: The ShadowFB layer had been eliminated and replaced with ARM NEON/VFP code.

But that's not the case, both are eliminated to speed up everything.

Sorry for the confusion.
 
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fusion_power

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Nice to see such good progress and the attention at the GamesCom is also good for the Pyra project. :)

I'll continue tweaking the shoulder buttons and I'll also try Fusion_Powers design.
 
Very Cool. ^^  I should mention that the design based onto some ASCII sketches from another Forum member. I just tried to bring this into 3D. Oh, I also forgot to suggest that the double trigger design should use an metal pin in general to hold both triggers, it's not only more durable but also easier to mold the actual case there imho.

Here, a inanimate metal rod saves the world again:

Metal Pin.png
 
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F_Slim

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The design looks reasonable ... I also like that the lower buttons go around the edge. Not sure if one will still press both buttons when trying to hit the upper ones, but it looks a lot more like what I would have expected.

Could turn out to be a vulnerable spot though, looks like the entire corners are basically a hole now, filled with the buttons. Still worth a try though.
 

Eight Bit

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Thanks for the update :)

I have a question in regards to the screen though... As no screen has been chosen yet. Would a 1280x800 screen be possible/available? If only just to make 1024x768 possible.
 

fusion_power

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The design looks reasonable ... I also like that the lower buttons go around the edge. Not sure if one will still press both buttons when trying to hit the upper ones, but it looks a lot more like what I would have expected.

Could turn out to be a vulnerable spot though, looks like the entire corners are basically a hole now, filled with the buttons. Still worth a try though.
It looks better from the outside. And It does not need to go that far around the lower edge, I just used the Pandora trigger as base but to get more stability, the Pyra lower trigger may be a little bit smaller there, whatever works better without weakening the case. Same for the distance in between the triggers, may be larger than here to have more case material in between and separate them more:

doubletrigger06.png
 
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Wrath Of Khan

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Yes. Fusion powers trigger idea looks like a good compromise. The current shoulder button setup, would mean that two of them were only partially usable.

Sounds like lots of attention is being payed to software, even at this early stage of development.

Ill be happy to purchase a Pyra when it is ready, in good time.
 

TrashyMG

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I hope Fusion_Power's idea pans out, using the Pandora as a mockup I can really see that button layout working well even when the LCD lid is fully open.
 

_wb_

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Thanks for the update :)

I have a question in regards to the screen though... As no screen has been chosen yet. Would a 1280x800 screen be possible/available? If only just to make 1024x768 possible.
Sadly 1280x800 screens don't seem to exist, at least not in the size we're looking for (~5"). Everything is 16:9, so 1280x720 (or full HD, but that's not really any better to display 1024x768).

I guess for most 1024x768 applications/games, losing a horizontal strip of 48 pixels high is probably not the end of the world -- and of course downscaling to 720p should be possible.
 
J

Juergen

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Hi there,

I am rather new to the discussion, so please excuse my lacking knowledge of previous discussions.

Have you ever considered standard battery sizes (e.g. AA or AAA)?

Ok, the battery lifetime would not be optimal, but batteries would be much easier to replace and it would be easier to find speed-chargers.
 

Saber

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I'll continue tweaking the shoulder buttons and I'll also try Fusion_Powers design.
Very Cool. ^^  I should mention that the design based onto some ASCII sketches from another Forum member. 
Thanks for the nod.

As long as they work. The metal bar a la the DS Lite for reinforcement is a nice touch.

Not saying they will but if L1 and R1 encompass the bottom corners, any thoughts on how to strengthen those areas from direct falls? I know we talked about rubberizing the triggers themselves, which could help a little, but is there any way(hypothetically) or room to add a second bar peg to each corner as a kind of inset stopper for the lower bumpers at full press? That way if a hard impact in that general area is sustained, something other than case plastics and switches will be there to prevent the internals from collateral damage.

Of course, with the shoulders as corner caps that may provide enough attributable by design protection already but people showed concern if L1 and R1 were similar to as they were on the Pandora. 
 
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Grench

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The design looks reasonable ... I also like that the lower buttons go around the edge. Not sure if one will still press both buttons when trying to hit the upper ones, but it looks a lot more like what I would have expected.

Could turn out to be a vulnerable spot though, looks like the entire corners are basically a hole now, filled with the buttons. Still worth a try though.
It looks better from the outside. And It does not need to go that far around the lower edge, I just used the Pandora trigger as base but to get more stability, the Pyra lower trigger may be a little bit smaller there, whatever works better without weakening the case. Same for the distance in between the triggers, may be larger than here to have more case material in between and separate them more:
NO no no ---  Bad idea.

Yes, wrap it around the side as ED did in his case - fine.

But NO, God no burn it with fire DO NOT wrap the trigger around the lower/back edge of the case and the exposed corner again!

That is the biggest issue I've had with either one of my Pandoras is that corner getting bumped and jamming and in one case breaking the shoulder button.

DO NOT PUT BUTTONS ON THE EXPOSED CORNERS OF THE DEVICE.

Yes, I'm yelling because I see a train wreck in progress - and everyone appears to be climbing on board and forgetting the last go 'round with the exact same issue.
 

TeDaDeS

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It was nice to see you again ED, the Pyra looked very promising.

Probably introduced myself to Notaz, but I guess I mentally didn't link him to the great stuff he does (I wanted to thank him for all his effort).

Also was side-tracked by all the Pandora-action at your booth.

Hi there,

I am rather new to the discussion, so please excuse my lacking knowledge of previous discussions.

Have you ever considered standard battery sizes (e.g. AA or AAA)?

Ok, the battery lifetime would not be optimal, but batteries would be much easier to replace and it would be easier to find speed-chargers.

I think it is probably considered with the pandora, but if I would have to guess it would be because of these reasons:

1. the batteries are to big

2. the batteries are to heavy

3. a build in battery is lighter and has more capacity (1 AAA is maybe 750mA@1,2v so 4 would only be 3000mA compared to the Pyra's 6000mA probably more than 1,2v)
 

mcobit

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Also it would be even more expensive if you buy quality rechargeables. Normal NiCd will e dead after some recharge cycles. If you recharge them every day you need to buy new ones quickly.


I charge my pandoras LiPo battery every day for the last years and it still works perfectly.


Also you need to deal with memory effect.
 
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Saber

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The design looks reasonable ... I also like that the lower buttons go around the edge. Not sure if one will still press both buttons when trying to hit the upper ones, but it looks a lot more like what I would have expected.

Could turn out to be a vulnerable spot though, looks like the entire corners are basically a hole now, filled with the buttons. Still worth a try though.
It looks better from the outside. And It does not need to go that far around the lower edge, I just used the Pandora trigger as base but to get more stability, the Pyra lower trigger may be a little bit smaller there, whatever works better without weakening the case. Same for the distance in between the triggers, may be larger than here to have more case material in between and separate them more:
NO no no ---  Bad idea.

Yes, wrap it around the side as ED did in his case - fine.

But NO, God no burn it with fire DO NOT wrap the trigger around the lower/back edge of the case and the exposed corner again!

That is the biggest issue I've had with either one of my Pandoras is that corner getting bumped and jamming and in one case breaking the shoulder button.

DO NOT PUT BUTTONS ON THE EXPOSED CORNERS OF THE DEVICE.

Yes, I'm yelling because I see a train wreck in progress - and everyone appears to be climbing on board and forgetting the last go 'round with the exact same issue.
Yes, the Pandora triggers were positively substandard but the issue could be how the Pandora triggers were designed. As several others here have reminded, how can Nintendo make shoulder buttons placed on the corners which appear without apparent negative consequence for the children who roughly play with them and likely drop them daily? A little informal inspiration can go a long way here.  
 

_wb_

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Typical AAA batteries have a capacity of 500-1000 mAh @ 1.25V.

The Pyra battery will have a capacity of 6000 mAh @ 3.7V.

That means you need about 18 AAA batteries to get the same capacity.
 

fusion_power

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Have you ever considered standard battery sizes (e.g. AA or AAA)?


Ok, the battery lifetime would not be optimal, but batteries would be much easier to replace and it would be easier to find speed-chargers.

I guess these standard Batteries would need to much space compared to one single battery bar.

NO no no ---  Bad idea.


Yes, wrap it around the side as ED did in his case - fine.


But NO, God no burn it with fire DO NOT wrap the trigger around the lower/back edge of the case and the exposed corner again!


That is the biggest issue I've had with either one of my Pandoras is that corner getting bumped and jamming and in one case breaking the shoulder button.


DO NOT PUT BUTTONS ON THE EXPOSED CORNERS OF THE DEVICE.


Yes, I'm yelling because I see a train wreck in progress - and everyone appears to be climbing on board and forgetting the last go 'round with the exact same issue.
Uh, OK... but you know that this is basicly an ordinary NDS design where millions and millions of devices exist without much problems. You may had bad luck with your Pandora but this does not mean it's an general design flaw. It's so or so bad if the Pandora falls to the ground. And if it falls onto that trigger (and the trigger is well designd) it may break the trigger itself but not much more (PCB etc.). Better a broken trigger than a broken case. ^^


I can imagine the bottom trigger does not wrap around like onto my sketches. but then the trigger loses size. This design was basicly to max out the size and separate both buttons as much as possible compared to ED's design.


But we will see. Again, ED will decide the final design, he can test it onto the actual prototypes.
 
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Hồng Thất Công

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...

1. GamesCom


... (well, we had multiple PSX and MegaDrive emulators running and still a responsive desktop at 1920x1080... - all fullspeed)...
Impressive!  Just impressive!

...


What most of the visitors found especially great is the replaceable CPU PCB. I was happy that most people love the idea having an upgradeable system instead of producing more and more electronical waste. These days companies tell you that you need at least one new smartphone each year... great that's not the common opinion :)
Maybe this replaceable CPU PCB idea will attract more extreme Environmentalists to purchase the Pyra and promote it for us ;)
 

Saber

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...


What most of the visitors found especially great is the replaceable CPU PCB. I was happy that most people love the idea having an upgradeable system instead of producing more and more electronical waste. These days companies tell you that you need at least one new smartphone each year... great that's not the common opinion :)
Maybe this replaceable CPU PCB idea will attract more extreme Environmentalists to purchase the Pyra and promote it for us ;)
Imagine the positive media buzz if we replaced the logo with a picture of a Sycamore
 
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