Prospective Console Recruitment


Exophase

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MWeston said:
Well, I wouldn't screw over Craig and ED but new projects always put a gleam in my eye. :) I just love designing electronics. As usual, who knows if these folks really understand the difficulty if they are just researching and looking for people. It's been a long and scary ride that would take a book to explain.

This looks like more of a GPH style device than a Pandora one which is kinda nice.

I would say they don't really know the difficulty/struggles, and for that matter I don't personally really understand them in detail either - we all got a good glimpse of the pain Pandora went through, and while there are a few clear lessons learned to be observed a lot of it consists of things I'm sure will have to be revisited while hoping for the best.

If you do have anyone you can pass on they'd appreciate that.. or maybe you have any recommendations for contract work for electrical design/layout. I hope they can at least scrape people together to get the BOM and schematics done.
 
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EvilDragon

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Well, as usual, I will support any such new open device as well, if I can.
If there's any help needed, let me know.
 

Blimp

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Just another opinion from a forum lurker:

- Scrape everything that's not necessity: Wifi/BT (use usb dongle if people want it), motion control, extra usb ports...
- Keep it as portable/pocket-able as possible.
- Go for speed instead of outer functions (see first point)
- Working software, people not knowledgeable about open development only care for working software.
- Don't make a pandora without a keyboard and extra stuff added.
- in other words keep it simple enough...

If they want to make a handheld for a large group of people (and sell a lot) they need to do a lot of work/research about the people they want to target and what they want to accomplice in the end IMHO...

If they want to make a handheld for around 10,000 people, then keep it as it is, I'll probably buy one...
 

awoma

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Another lurker reply. :)

- Agreed with the last poster about scraping certain bells and whistles that people don't need. Only one USB port is necessary. Motion controls, if cheap, are nice for homebrew, but wouldn't actually be used for any emulators, so aren't really required. One thing that products these days like adding are microphones and cameras. Nobody uses those, so don't bother. Only point I disagree with is wifi. Wifi should be built in. Everything has wifi.
- Agreed with pocket-able as possible, but it doesn't have to be as thin as modern handhelds are. The 3DS is 2cm thick. My old gameboy is 50% thicker at 3cm, and is perfectly pocketable. I don't know if giving yourself extra room in the device would help with development, but don't sacrifice device capability for the sake of it being smaller.
- Prioritise CPU and RAM. Things like display and audio are totally fine on the devices that are already out (we're only emulating display and sounds from 15+ years ago) but all seem to be dragged back by less-than-impressive specs in these areas.
- That price point is very cheap. For someone in the UK like me, that's half the price of a Pandora, or an upcoming PSVita. This is a good thing, but don't be too strict with yourselves over the price. If $200 is possible, but if the design you really want would need a price of $240, then feel free to bump it up.
- Stay focussed on the aim for the console. A lot of consoles have things like radio or ebook reader. I don't know about other people, but I wouldn't in my life consider reading a whole book off a handheld console.
 

dnlgreenwood

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I kind of like the Genesis-style shape.

Do you know how the shoulder buttons would function? It would be nice if they function like Wii Classic Controller or GameCube controller shoulder buttons, so they function as an analog button and a digital button; two buttons at once. That way I guess you could have larger, more comfortable shoulder buttons. However, I doubt everyone likes these kinds of triggers.

I'd say it would be best to keep the built-in wifi. You don't have to have something hanging off the bottom of it that way.

I think one USB port should be enough, but more than one would be nice... I guess that way you could use a mouse and a keyboard at once, or a keyboard/mouse wireless combo and a usb stick or something.

Ubuntu! That's a surprise. Would it be able to run Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity? I hope so. I think it's well-suited for handheld devices.

About internal MicroSD storage... just to be clear, does that describe a card slot hidden behind a battery, or a built-in card that comes with the console? Could it be swapped with a larger-capacity card, like a high-capacity card, for example?

Would an IR port be too much to ask for? I know it's kind of out-dated technology, but still... in theory, I could control TVs, control my sound system, send files to or network with my Palm, and control various home-made electronic doodads that may or may not be equipped with ground transportation equipment and may or may not be programmed to fetch snacks. :lol: Now that I think about it, it could probably be used with those old IR Genesis controllers. However, an IR port would probably add to the expenses, and it would benefit few.

awoma said:
Another lurker reply. :)

- Agreed with the last poster about scraping certain bells and whistles that people don't need. Only one USB port is necessary. Motion controls, if cheap, are nice for homebrew, but wouldn't actually be used for any emulators, so aren't really required.
- Agreed with pocket-able as possible, but it doesn't have to be as thin as modern handhelds are. The 3DS is 2cm thick. My old gameboy is 50% thicker at 3cm, and is perfectly pocketable. I don't know if giving yourself extra room in the device would help with development, but don't sacrifice device capability for the sake of it being smaller.
- Prioritise CPU and RAM. Things like display and audio are totally fine on the devices that are already out (we're only emulating display and sounds from 15+ years ago) but all seem to be dragged back by less-than-impressive specs in these areas.
- That price point is very cheap. For someone in the UK like me, that's half the price of a Pandora, or an upcoming PSVita. This is a good thing, but don't be too strict with yourselves over the price. If $200 is possible, but the design you really want would need a price of $240, then feel free to bump it up.
I disagree about the motion controls not being used for emulation. Motion controls work fine on the Caanoo in Mame, for example. I just wish more emulators would implement motion controls. I play Outrun and Bubble Booble all the time with motion controls! It's quite nice, actually.
 
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Nova

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I just got my BA in Product Design, so I might have a little tinker with the aesthetics if thats ok? Maybe come up with a render or two.
 

fusion_power

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Exophase said:
Tegra 2 isn't much of an option - they require minimum orders of 100,000, it just isn't something you can dive into without a huge budget. This kind of device would really struggle to sell 100,000 and no one backing it will have that kind of money.
Whoops, 100K minimum is indeed to much, didn't knew this. :eek: 10K minimum would be an better option, I guess only a few companies do run such small batches for ordering.
 
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Exophase

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Hum, lots of new questions/suggestions, I'll give it a shot..

MacX said:
Just another opinion from a forum lurker:

- Scrape everything that's not necessity: Wifi/BT (use usb dongle if people want it), motion control, extra usb ports...
- Keep it as portable/pocket-able as possible.
- Go for speed instead of outer functions (see first point)
- Working software, people not knowledgeable about open development only care for working software.
- Don't make a pandora without a keyboard and extra stuff added.
- in other words keep it simple enough...

If they want to make a handheld for a large group of people (and sell a lot) they need to do a lot of work/research about the people they want to target and what they want to accomplice in the end IMHO...

If they want to make a handheld for around 10,000 people, then keep it as it is, I'll probably buy one...

- Wifi is important (although it's also important that the thing works decently, Pandora's module has been problematic), the situation with requiring an addon like for Caanoo is problematic, even if you standardize it. I would figure that a vast majority of users will want to use this with wifi, and dongles are awkward and use more power.
- A triaxial accelerometer is fairly cheap, and it helps for making this more Android compatible, which is too big software-wise to completely ignore the possibility of.
- USB host and OTG both serve useful separate purposes and aren't really something you want to consolidate. The SoC has PHYs for both, so it's not a big parts cost to have both. For something you can plug into a TV, the ability to add standard USB components (keyboard, mice, joysticks, harddrives) is very nice. While OTG would be useful for charging and USB device sort of stuff. The reason they want a USB port in the battery compartment is to add 3G dongles; otherwise a dongle would stick out awkwardly. The other reason is that this allows the host port to use micro or mini instead of full sized USB - if you're attaching dongles you want a full USB-B, but if you're attaching something that goes to a cable using an adapter isn't a big deal.
- As I said in the first post, the emphasis is on ergonomics/presentation over raw size. With everyone else emphasizing size it's nice to have something with a little more room for comfort, and I for one vastly appreciate this and figure there's at least some market for it.
- There's no possible tradeoff for speed involved, this is a function of part availability.
- I'm sure they'll do their best with software, given a limited team of course. One benefit of using the i.MX53 is that there is fairly mature Linux software support for it already, and it should benefit somewhat from software efforts on Pandora as well.
- The "no keyboard" part already makes things a lot simpler mechanically. Although, they would like to design it to accommodate an add-on keyboard like the one available for XBox 360 controllers.
- This isn't intended to sell to millions, 10-20k is probably a reasonable figure, although I wouldn't really know for sure. I don't think that something like this has that broad appeal.

awoma said:
Another lurker reply. :)

- Agreed with the last poster about scraping certain bells and whistles that people don't need. Only one USB port is necessary. Motion controls, if cheap, are nice for homebrew, but wouldn't actually be used for any emulators, so aren't really required. One thing that products these days like adding are microphones and cameras. Nobody uses those, so don't bother. Only point I disagree with is wifi. Wifi should be built in. Everything has wifi.
- Agreed with pocket-able as possible, but it doesn't have to be as thin as modern handhelds are. The 3DS is 2cm thick. My old gameboy is 50% thicker at 3cm, and is perfectly pocketable. I don't know if giving yourself extra room in the device would help with development, but don't sacrifice device capability for the sake of it being smaller.
- Prioritise CPU and RAM. Things like display and audio are totally fine on the devices that are already out (we're only emulating display and sounds from 15+ years ago) but all seem to be dragged back by less-than-impressive specs in these areas.
- That price point is very cheap. For someone in the UK like me, that's half the price of a Pandora, or an upcoming PSVita. This is a good thing, but don't be too strict with yourselves over the price. If $200 is possible, but if the design you really want would need a price of $240, then feel free to bump it up.
- Stay focussed on the aim for the console. A lot of consoles have things like radio or ebook reader. I don't know about other people, but I wouldn't in my life consider reading a whole book off a handheld console.

- I disagree that nobody uses cameras and they're pretty cheap, and they want one for this ;p (I didn't know at the time so didn't list it); I'd probably use it occasionally.. As said, motion is nice for the prospect of Android, but they wouldn't want to spend a bunch for gyros. A microphone would be good if anyone attempted DS emulation.. not saying that such a thing is at all feasible on this platform, but it'd be annoying if somehow it were and those gimmicky games didn't support it (it's another pretty cheap feature since the codecs all have it, but I don't know how much the part itself costs)
- Thickness probably only really gives you more battery. I agree it doesn't have to be as thin as handhelds and phones have gotten, but I think it should be thinner than Pandora (which it will be automatically by virtue of not being a clamshell) Length may be around PSP/PSVita level.
- CPU is restrained by the SoC, and RAM.. honestly I don't think 1GB over 512MB gives you a lot for something emulator-centric, and it can be very expensive (like +$20 or more).. so I completely disagree that emulators are being held back by not enough RAM. While we're emulating 15+ year old devices, it's also stuff that was meant to run on CRTs, and are hurt by LCDs with poor response for instance. Pandora's isn't too bad but it's not really what I'd call great and would prefer something better, although you pay for this in power consumption.
- $200 is an aggressive and maybe overly optimistic goal and if it has to go higher it'll go higher. The more expensive first batch will help determine appropriate pricing.
- Without a lot of people doing software for this first party the focus will be spread out to whatever outside devs want to do, really.

Com64 said:
I kind of like the Genesis-style shape.

Do you know how the shoulder buttons would function? It would be nice if they function like Wii Classic Controller or GameCube controller shoulder buttons, so they function as an analog button and a digital button; two buttons at once. That way I guess you could have larger, more comfortable shoulder buttons. However, I doubt everyone likes these kinds of triggers.

I'd say it would be best to keep the built-in wifi. You don't have to have something hanging off the bottom of it that way.

I think one USB port should be enough, but more than one would be nice... I guess that way you could use a mouse and a keyboard at once, or a keyboard/mouse wireless combo and a usb stick or something.

Ubuntu! That's a surprise. Would it be able to run Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity? I hope so. I think it's well-suited for handheld devices.

About internal MicroSD storage... just to be clear, does that describe a card slot hidden behind a battery, or a built-in card that comes with the console? Could it be swapped with a larger-capacity card, like a high-capacity card, for example?

Would an IR port be too much to ask for? I know it's kind of out-dated technology, but still... in theory, I could control TVs, control my sound system, send files to or network with my Palm, and control various home-made electronic doodads that may or may not be equipped with ground transportation equipment and may or may not be programmed to fetch snacks. :lol: Now that I think about it, it could probably be used with those old IR Genesis controllers. However, an IR port would probably add to the expenses, and it would benefit few.

All the buttons would probably be digital. It doesn't seem like pressure sensitive buttons get a lot of usage, especially for emulating older things. Bear in mind, we're still talking about one normally accessible USB host with one OTG, like on the Pandora. So you'd want to put the host stuff on a hub. The other USB would be behind the battery cover. Micro-SD is behind the battery cover and comes with the console, and could be swapped out for larger/faster - note that this is in addition to an external SD port (the micro-SD one is the one you'd boot from). Capacity limits would be whatever you can get for SDHC for both. IRDA seems pretty niche, and would require some amount of space on the edge for it, that's probably pushing the limits of having extras.

Nova said:
I just got my BA in Product Design, so I might have a little tinker with the aesthetics if thats ok? Maybe come up with a render or two.

Yes, please join the IRC channel ;)
 
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fusion_power

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Uh, I forgot 2 important points:
Do not produce the PCB at Circuit Co. and do not produce the case in China. ;)

And because of USB, will this handheld be able to directly power a small USB 1.1 Device like Mouse, Keyboard without Hub? A very annoying thing on the Pandora.
 

Nintendo

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Oh my gosh!!!

Some of the suggestions in here make me facepalm.
facepalm.gif
 

dnlgreenwood

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SONY said:
Oh my gosh!!!

Some of the suggestions in here make me facepalm.
facepalm.gif
You're one to talk. Your initial suggestions made me facepalm; you and your 64GB SSD...

More on topic: I carry around an original Atari Lynx, which is huge; the hugest manufactured handheld I've ever come across. If this console turns out to be almost as big, I won't mind; I have an extra pocket. :p
 
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awoma

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SONY said:
Oh my gosh!!!

Some of the suggestions in here make me facepalm.
facepalm.gif
Awww man. I'm guessing from that that my post was pretty damn stupid. In which case, sorry, I tried. I guess input from the "idiot consumer" demographic is useful for something though :p thanks for the point by point response.
 
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Blimp

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Exophase said:
Hum, lots of new questions/suggestions, I'll give it a shot..

- Wifi is important (although it's also important that the thing works decently, Pandora's module has been problematic), the situation with requiring an addon like for Caanoo is problematic, even if you standardize it. I would figure that a vast majority of users will want to use this with wifi, and dongles are awkward and use more power.
- A triaxial accelerometer is fairly cheap, and it helps for making this more Android compatible, which is too big software-wise to completely ignore the possibility of.
- USB host and OTG both serve useful separate purposes and aren't really something you want to consolidate. The SoC has PHYs for both, so it's not a big parts cost to have both. For something you can plug into a TV, the ability to add standard USB components (keyboard, mice, joysticks, harddrives) is very nice. While OTG would be useful for charging and USB device sort of stuff. The reason they want a USB port in the battery compartment is to add 3G dongles; otherwise a dongle would stick out awkwardly. The other reason is that this allows the host port to use micro or mini instead of full sized USB - if you're attaching dongles you want a full USB-B, but if you're attaching something that goes to a cable using an adapter isn't a big deal.
- As I said in the first post, the emphasis is on ergonomics/presentation over raw size. With everyone else emphasizing size it's nice to have something with a little more room for comfort, and I for one vastly appreciate this and figure there's at least some market for it.
- There's no possible tradeoff for speed involved, this is a function of part availability.
- I'm sure they'll do their best with software, given a limited team of course. One benefit of using the i.MX53 is that there is fairly mature Linux software support for it already, and it should benefit somewhat from software efforts on Pandora as well.
- The "no keyboard" part already makes things a lot simpler mechanically. Although, they would like to design it to accommodate an add-on keyboard like the one available for XBox 360 controllers.
- This isn't intended to sell to millions, 10-20k is probably a reasonable figure, although I wouldn't really know for sure. I don't think that something like this has that broad appeal.

Kind of missing the point I wanted to make, I'm not saying those components are expensive or not useful. But more in the line of: if you put in so many components you will get a bigger case (a stronger battery alone would take up a lot off space, or lose play time), you will make the board and case more complicated and harder to make, and you will have users (not you SONY :p ) that will have trouble using it (and will complain about it...) especially if you use software from the Pandora.

Since the targeted people are only people who know there way around the open handheld scene (or are willing to learn), then that's not a problem. Since there no interest to make it as portable as can be, it's also not important how many components you put in.

I still think it will be a Pandora without a keyboard stuck to it, a little computer with a full desktop and it's possibilities. I don't know if that's what people want (not including you SONY) but time will tell, I wish them lots of luck and none of the problems the Pandora team had.
 
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Exophase

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fusion_power said:
Uh, I forgot 2 important points:
Do not produce the PCB at Circuit Co. and do not produce the case in China. ;)

I think MWeston is going to personally skewer them if they go with CircuitCo. Going with a Chinese injection molding company is unfortunately pretty inevitable, naturally they'll try to avoid this same one.. and moreover get some help from someone who lives there and has experience with these companies and can oversee it. I imagine that the actual parts will be a lot simpler here, since it doesn't involve a clamshell or hinges.

fusion_power said:
And because of USB, will this handheld be able to directly power a small USB 1.1 Device like Mouse, Keyboard without Hub? A very annoying thing on the Pandora.

The PMIC I listed on the front page, that isn't in mass production yet but will be the preferred component for i.MX53, has a boost output of IIRC 280mA for USB 5V. This isn't enough to fit the whole spec of 500mA but it's enough to power less demanding devices. I don't know what keyboard or mice draw but I doubt it's anywhere close to the ~1W this would provide.

MacX said:
Kind of missing the point I wanted to make, I'm not saying those components are expensive or not useful. But more in the line of: if you put in so many components you will get a bigger case (a stronger battery alone would take up a lot off space, or lose play time), you will make the board and case more complicated and harder to make, and you will have users (not you SONY :p ) that will have trouble using it (and will complain about it...) especially if you use software from the Pandora.

You have to look at this at a really specific component by component basis and not generalize "more stuff is bad." Power consumption is dominated by SoC, RAM, and LCD, with the heavier things like wifi being optional - you don't gain anything by not having it over having it and not using it. Using a 4.8" screen and controls to the sides of it means there's plenty of board space available to fill up underneath it: compared to Pandora which has to house an entire keyboard and a second SD slot space will not be nearly as cramped. These components don't affect case layout, yes they affect case layout but it's meager to compare components that need a few dozen pins vs SoCs that need several hundred and the need to interface potentially 4 DDR3 chips which each have full address bus routed to them. I don't see why having these things makes it harder to use either, again if you don't understand why it's there you're probably just as well off ignoring it. But I really doubt people will complain about being confused by there being HDMI out or accelerometers or wifi, or whichever other features you may not like.

Since the targeted people are only people who know there way around the open handheld scene (or are willing to learn), then that's not a problem. Since there no interest to make it as portable as can be, it's also not important how many components you put in.

MacX said:
I still think it will be a Pandora without a keyboard stuck to it, a little computer with a full desktop and it's possibilities. I don't know if that's what people want (not including you SONY) but time will tell, I wish them lots of luck and none of the problems the Pandora team had.

I'd say there's a decent list of pros and cons between what this wants to be and what Pandora is but I'd also say you're largely correct. The person behind this originally wanted to do a tablet, and I told him that the market has lots of tablets and it's difficult to differentiate yourself. He asked me what I thought he should do instead and I recommended a gaming handheld that addresses some of the demand that Pandora has generated but can't quite supply (or is slowly); that said, there are definitely things that Pandora will do better, and if this plays out optimistically those things will come with a bit of a price premium. I heard that GPH is out of the hardware business and won't be making more handhelds; if this is true, a platform like this can rise to fill that sort of gap.
 
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dgame

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Exophase said:
...

- The "no keyboard" part already makes things a lot simpler mechanically. Although, they would like to design it to accommodate an add-on keyboard like the one available for XBox 360 controllers.

An attachable keyboard IMO would be a great feature as most of us are familiar with the woes of trying to emulate classic computers without having a proper keyboard.
It would also be lighter in gaming (keyboard removed) mode.

xboxkbrd_008-large.jpg



xbox360_chatpad.png


I'm not an EE but you have contacted the best one I know of (MWeston) so good luck with this project.

Okay, I can't resist:

When can I pre-order?
 
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DaveC

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Exophase said:
Hi everyone,

I've been talking with someone who is planning and funding a new handheld gaming platform. In order for this to get off the ground he is going to need some electrical and mechanical engineers for development and design work. So I figured that perhaps, in the same way Craig found his excellent electrical and mechanical design talent for the Pandora on these boards (MWeston and DaveC respectively) I might have some luck recruiting here on his behalf.
Looks like an interesting project.

You should have much better luck with it due to it not being clamshell, to expensive and complex. This will still be a huge undertaking though, hopefully that guy has a spare million or so to put into it.

My advice would be to not use CircuitCo. ;) I do think the speakers should have more separation or it will sound mono-ish.

The Chinese case company that did the Pandora case isn't that bad, it was just that it was a complex set of parts, this will be allot simpler.

I would even consider playing with the case design, but I am not sure you would want me to. The original Pandora had a detachable keyboard.

BTW will you actually port Temper to this? I won't buy it if you don't :p
 
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jimclarson

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first off i think this is a great idea, and i like the idea of a handheld based around confort and in-use ergonomics rather then how well well it fits in your pocket. i agree with what com64 said, i used to do the same thing with my 1st model atari lynx and game gear with atleast 3 games each. also i think its important that the caseing and controls be molded out of high quality abs plastic, and have the casing walls be relativly thick gauge and not flimsy flexing, i have that flexing creaking issue with my psp, whereas an original gameboy you dont see that, everythings nice and durable, and i loooove durability, infact i bought a ruggedized military laptop because im so obsessed wiuth durability, and i dont need this thing being molded from diecast magnesium alloy, but to have that same ruggedness of older consoles like the ones this system emulates seems apropriate, i dont want something that can break if i drop it, an old gba wouldnt break if i dropped it from a few feet onto a hard wood floor, also the specs and features seems right on to me, but i do very much urge you to make it able to charge while in use, because that automaticly made me not want the caanoo when i read about that. in my mind the way id like to see this thing built is to have all the ruggedness and build quality of a original gameboy advance or original gamepark 32, same plastic type and everything, also a linux build like ubuntu sems like a good idea to me cuz i dont know much about porting, but convertic an unbuntu snes9x to work on this thing doesnt seem like it would be a big issue. but yeah, what you said about no need for pressure sensative buutons feels correct as well, id prefer nice very high quality rubber contact pads underneath the buttons as far as how they work, for the sake of making it feel the most like older consoles. also for the anologue sticks, maybe keep them anologue but have their overal setup and shape be the same as the neo geo pocket's digital stick. also one thing im wondering, why isnt the screen a 4:3 ratio? is it to hhave a large screen while still maintaining the whole thing not being overly huge? or is it like you said an availability of parts? im very very interested in this and i have some grat dsign ideas in my head for the casing, controls etc, atleast they are to me, heres a link to a posting i made about what id hoped the next gph console would look like:

http://www.gp32x.de/board/index.php?/topic/58449-thoughts-on-the-next-hardware-upgrade-of-gph/page__p__936498&#entry936498

thankyou very much, and i'll continue to post more drawings and ideas for the casing, controls, etc

~jim~
 
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fusion_power

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DaveC said:
The Chinese case company that did the Pandora case isn't that bad, it was just that it was a complex set of parts, this will be allot simpler.
They had over 8 Months or so. ;) And the funny thing is, they managed the complex parts at the end but totaly failed in simple stuff like rounded edges and accurate, distortion free molding. My Pandora has some bad, "unclean" corners, very sharp and just "cheap" looking. This should be easily avoidable.
 
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DaveC

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fusion_power said:
DaveC said:
The Chinese case company that did the Pandora case isn't that bad, it was just that it was a complex set of parts, this will be allot simpler.
They had over 8 Months or so. ;) And the funny thing is, they managed the complex parts at the end but totaly failed in simple stuff like rounded edges and accurate, distortion free molding. My Pandora has some bad, "unclean" corners, very sharp and just "cheap" looking. This should be easily avoidable.
Yeah but now we kind of have a feel for what they can and can't do. In the future the design can be made to fit their production more like adding more drastic draft angles etc.
 
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monstercameron

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i think its a great move -the opensource gaming community has been lacking modern hardware- couple of things i.mx53, is it really cheap, what about ziilabs zms-20-40 pr ti omap 4460(like archos, omap has great linux support) why stick with single core (besides price). what about the formfactor...i know for us size doesnt really matter but what about other formfactors? slider/flip or bar.
 
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