The big update (shipping timeline update; please read me)
Albert here with a new update.
Shipping timeline update
Long story short, MAKERphone’s development took us more time than we thought it would and we won’t be able to deliver all 2G phones in March as we estimated when the campaign started.
All phones will be shipped in May (both 2G and 4G models).
Why did this happen?
Well, estimating the development time of a project of this scale is a bit tricky.
During the development of the phone, we’ve figured out that there are just so many things we can do to make the initial idea even better.
Our main goal is to develop and deliver a product that will truly live up to your expectations and we decided that we won’t cut the development of those extra features for the sake of earlier delivery.
What are these extra features that you’re talking about?
Read along, I’ve compiled a detailed report of what we’ve been working on the past few months.
Is this a bad sign?
No, it’s not.
We are confident about delivering an amazing product to our amazing backers (you) and we think that delivering an unfinished product on time is much worse than delivering a really amazing one two months later than initially estimated.
Will you run away with our money and not give us our phones?
I know what people think when they read an update like this, but we’re not scammers.
We had a Kickstarter campaign before (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/albertgajsak/makerbuino-a-diy-game-console) and we’ve delivered all of our rewards.
Moreover, we want to build a real business, create amazing products and deliver what we promise to our amazing customers (again you).
I’ve “lost” my money several times when I personally supported campaigns on and off Kickstarter that were successfully funded and then disappeared without delivering their rewards and the feeling is definitely not pleasant.
Well... you’re not getting that from us… in fact, the only thing that you’re going to get is a really amazing phone with an amazing set of features and an amazing set of tutorials created by the amazing team of ours :)
Did you start manufacturing the phones?
Not yet, we plan to start with the manufacturing process by the end of this month.
Did you order the components yet?
We are still finalizing the hardware design so we've sourced most of the components that we're sure are going to be in the final version of the phone.
We've also already ordered a small part of components that we're completely sure are going to be used in the final design and all the material required for the tools packs. The components should be at our warehouse by the end of the month.
We’ve decided to create our own modules with the tiny SMT components presoldered on them, instead of buying them from 3rd party suppliers because of the following reasons:
- It’s cheaper
- We can customize them in order to add some extra features to the modules
- By not relying on 3rd party modules, we won’t be affected if a module stops being produced
The Sound module
We’ve reimagined the MAKERphone’s sound board and combined the following features all in one circuit board:
1) DAC (digital to analog converter)
2) 3.4W class-D audio amplifier
3) 3.5mm headphone jack
5) Microphone amplifier with noise reduction
The most significant part is that we switched to this amazing little chip that has a DAC and an amplifier integrated in a single BGA package the size of a dust particle:
The new sound board
New sound library
This new library is a part of the main MAKERphone library that you can already check out here:
The library is already 147 commits strong and we’ll keep pushing! :)
Most importantly, the new sound library allows you to:
- Play two audio files from the SD card simultaneously while refreshing your screen at max. 35 FPS (i.e. you can now have background music and sound effects play simultaneously in your super-duper MAKERphone app/game)
- Individually control the volume of both sound channels.
- Rewind, change the playback speed, generate simple tones and notes with the library’s commands.
New main microcomputer module
We’ve engineered our own custom microcomputer module and have added some neat new features:
- It has an integrated micro SD card slot now
- We’ve switched to a new, more reliable USB-TTL converter (CP2104)
- The board now has a power on/off circuit that can be triggered by the microcontroller (you can make the phone shut down by a software command)
- New battery protection circuit - it will cut the power if the voltage of the battery goes below the critical threshold
- The microcomputer board now comes with a built-in RTC for timekeeping
New TFT LCD module
The specs remain the same, but the module is now produced by us.
It also has a new circuit for adjusting the backlight on-board.
A real analog joystick
We’ve ditched the old clicky mechanical joystick and decided to go with a real analog joystick.
The model that we’re using is really similar to the one used on the original PlayStation Portable.
The 2G/4G modules have an interchangeable socket!
Which means that you’ll be able to easily change your mobile communication module and upgrade from 2G to 4G in no-time.
New set of preloaded apps
We’ve expanded our repository of default apps that will come preloaded on your MAKERphone!
Flashlight - Use your MAKERphone’s RGB LEDs on the back as a flashlight.
Calendar - Pretty self-explanatory.
Pong - A well known classic with slightly updated graphics. Can save high-scores!
Time and Alarms - Stopwatch, timers, alarms.
Space Invaders - A classic game you all know and love, now colorized and with bleepy sound-effects.
The main apps menu now looks more smartphone-ish
Remember the apps icon that we’ve showed you folks at the initial kickstarter listing?
You were able to select and load apps and games from the sd card in a menu.
The old apps menu
We’ve ditched this menu-like system and now all SD card located apps and games you make will be displayed in the main app menu.
New apps menu
MAKERphone now reads the apps located on the SD card and displays them using the corresponding thumbnails.
New SD card file and folder structure
This is the what the new SD card structure will look like.
It consists of four main system-used folders and app-specific folders:
- Core - has database files used by the MAKERphone for storing data such as settings, sms messages, Wi-Fi passwords etc.
- Music - you’ll put your mp3 ringtones and music in there .
- Images - you’ll put your backgrounds and other JPEG images here
- Videos - MAKERphone will be able to play videos! (This is still in development and we’ll let you know more soon :))
- Apps - every app will have a dedicated folder where you’ll put your compiled binary file along with sprites and sound effects. Save.json will be automatically generated if you use MAKERphone’s save functions in your app.
Remember that poll for a unique game of choice that you folks would like us to code?
Turns out the most popular game genres are:
- I want a space shooter! (12.3%)
- 2D platformer (10.3%)
- Logic game (8.7%)
- RPG of some sort (8%)
- RTS (6%)
Turns out you really like space shooters, that’s why we started working on one.
We named it “SPACE ROCKS” (creative, I know).
So far, you’re a spaceship that shoots at rocks (fairly similar to the original Asteroids game) but we’ll see where it goes.
If you have ideas or would like to help us with the game design, let us know in the comments below!
New logos and new looks
We’re working on revamping our company’s whole visual identity. These are all early prototypes, but something like this will end on your MAKERphones’ boxes.
What do you think?
New MAKERphone and tools pack box concepts.
These are all concepts, but you’ll see some of the elements on the final boxes.
Which ones do you like the best?
To sum this massive post up - we’ll be a little bit late, but we’re confident about delivering a truly amazing product.
We’re hyped about this more than you can comprehend and we care about delivering something special to our amazing backers.
We’ll update you as often as we can.
Thank you for your patience and if you have any questions, tell me via a private message or write in the comments section.
Love and hugs
- Albert and the rest of the CircuitMess team