From the September 2019 Newsletter:

Revision Cxx Struggles

As you can see, the migration from a very stable version like the Rev B2 to the Rev C0, then the RevC1s and soon the RevC1x has been very painful. I knew going in that the fact that the change from TQFP144 to 256FBGA would be a somewhat of a challenge in terms of solder joints quality because BGAs are tricky and without the right equipment to solder them, they can be quite perilous when it comes to having a quality solder joint. Compounding the struggle by the fact that those little buggers come in Lead-Free package and it is a nightmare to solder at those temperatures. it really makes me regret going from the TQFP144 to BGA and there is not a day go by where I don’t think about it. Now, was it the right decision or not? Considering that half of the probleme I have been having are being about solder joints? I still don’t know… Besides, those single boards are built by hand and they are meant to be prototypes only and in normal circumstances, they would be assembled with the right equipment which in a way nullify the whole solder joints issues I have right now.

So let’s put aside these pesky issues for a moment and let’s look into the other issues I have been having. To make a long story short, the RevC0 was rapidly modified and transformed into a RevC1S because of major schematic errors on each BGAs and I revert back to the way I was doing things in RevB2 in terms of system architecture. Apparently, I don’t learn from my mistakes… Please, somebody, smack me in the back of the head if I try to do that again…
While at it, I also reshuffled the right part of the board to allow a better installation of the Hard Drive that I am looking forward to use in the near future. One PCB manufacturer in China was quoting a lot of time to make the RevC1S, so I decided to improve on the RevC1S and to commission a second Chinese PCB vendor to do the RevC1X so I could be sure to have boards for the long week-end. I ended up receiving both before the long week-end. So on Thursday, I set out to assemble the first RevC1S thinking that it would be better. Ho, I was so wrong, apparently, my luck hit when I ended up assembly a board that has shorts on it (on the internal layers). So I guess the RevC1S is out and so its manufacturer. When I finally got to the audio part, the CODEC output was atrocious, one side had some intense noise. However, I didn’t get that problem with RevC0… go figure… So, I am back to square one, again… I need to assemble a new board, Rev C1X and I have to be honest here, if RevC1X end up being a dud as well, I will certainly begin to think about going back to the way things were before… And that might be the end of the FMX version or at least in its actual form.

Stay tuned for more info.


C256 FOENIX Firmware Update

Not much to report at this point. 

Suffice to say that till the Rev C board issues are resolved, I can’t move on to finalize the tests for the Rev C and make a final board to be released. This whole rev C has crippled me beyond anything I had imagined. For the few advancements, I made on the CODEC to sample and to playback, I haven’t made significant progress on the firmware.
However, it doesn’t mean that there was no advancement on other fronts, like the BASIC interpreter or the workbench or the Music Tracker, these obviously are work being done by the small rev B2 group.
I sure hope I will have better or more news to offer in the next update. Let’s cross our fingers.

Stay tuned for more info.


Update on the C256 Tracker software that Dan Tremblay has been working on. I think things are improving a lot. I am looking forward to see it work on the Rev C.


The Last Word

Still taking orders for C256 FMX:
Delivery Jan 2020

You can still purchase a C256 FMX, the next batch will be delivered Dec2019/2020. Unless you are lucky and you might get it before… 😉

C256 Foenix Dev Platform ETA:
Nov 2019

When all the orders of the pre-sales are fulfilled, I will put some time into creating the smaller/compact and more affordable version of the C256 Foenix, I hope to be able to release it in Nov 2019.