Fwd: [Milkymist-devel] $99 Minimist?

Sébastien Bourdeauducq sebastien at milkymist.org
Wed Oct 26 12:27:56 EDT 2011

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Milkymist-devel] $99 Minimist?
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 18:25:09 +0200
From: Sébastien Bourdeauducq <sebastien at milkymist.org>
Reply-To: Milkymist One, Milkymist SoC and Flickernoise developers' list 
<devel at lists.milkymist.org>
To: Milkymist One, Milkymist SoC and Flickernoise developers' list 
<devel at lists.milkymist.org>


I can see a need for a very cheap Milkymist device. Right now, selling
the Milkymist One is difficult to two groups of people:
1) open source enthusiasts and developers, who do not want to spend much
money on a tech product (unless there is a Apple logo on it).
2) VJs. While the Milkymist One sure is competitive when taking into
account the cost of the proprietary software they use at the moment,
they have a strong culture of using this software - which they sometimes
jump into using a pirated copy. The Apple logo also seems to help here.

I think we should keep promoting and improving the Milkymist One (more
media exposure, development of RC4 hardware features such as DVI/HDMI
compatibility, better software). But I also believe we should work on
lowering one of the main barriers to entry into our project.

How about trying to make a $99 minimal version? Here is how I see it:

* Artix-7 XC7A30T FPGA - most probably cheaper than the one we have at
the moment, and even a tad faster.
* HDMI only video output. Direct (read "cheaper") connection to the FPGA
without DAC and people keep asking for it (even though their projectors
are generally VGA, go figure). So that would kill two birds with one stone.
* SDRAM/Flash: to avoid development and maintainance headaches, let's
try to stay compatible with what we have on the current board, unless
big savings can be made. Software would be the same except the FPGA
design which would only undergo minor modifications to target the
Artix-7 instead of the Spartan-6.
* Memory card. Updates are via files on the memory card.
* Video-in based on the ADV7181C (like in M1 RC4). Only composite input
accessible with an external connector.
* Audio: the Artix-7 FPGAs now include ADCs, so we can get away with at
most an op-amp on the board. Only internal microphone.
* Two USB ports. If the transceivers are expensive, consider using
resistors instead. (This hack worked for me, even though I'm pretty sure
it's not USB compliant)
* Power supply: right now we use a foolproof design whose main goal was
to reduce development time and probability of verification of the Murphy
laws. It can certainly be made cheaper by using a power management IC
(like TPS75003 or such).
* That's all for the PCB! No Ethernet, DMX, etc. Hopefully we'll have
MIDI over USB support.
* Case: injection molding? Seems aluminum molds (usable up to a few
thousand pieces) can cost only a couple of thousand dollars.
* Accessories: only a power supply transformer. No camera, cables, etc.
* Packaging: the cheapest we can find. I think this device will be
pretty small so we could even look at things like


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