snickerdoodle

A reconfigurable Linux computer that connects to the real world: ARM + FPGA + Wi-Fi + Bluetooth + 180 I/O

Jun 29, 2018

Important piSmasher Announcement - Action Required

Attention, snickerdoodlers! Two important updates. First, if you still want a piSmasher, you need to take action now. Second, we will soon have a new website for hosting documentation and other snickerdoodle resources.

Finally, piSmasher is going to production!

The time has come. The good news is we have the final, FINAL revision of piSmasher ready to go production. The bad news is we had to change the specs and increase the price to make it happen at all. As a result, if you’ve ordered a piSmasher, you’ll need to decide whether you want to receive a refund or pay the difference between the original price and the new price ($195). If you ordered a giggleBits (baseboard or sIO card), those purchases can be refunded or applied toward a piSmasher (or other krtkl product). The end of this update has the details of how we got to this point, but first things first:

piSmasher and giggleBits customers: fill out this form by July 31, 2018

Whether you want to upgrade or want a refund, if you have a piSmasher or giggleBits on order, you will need to fill out the form. The only way to do either is to fill out the form. It will only take two minutes. Responses are due July 31, 2018. If we don’t get a response from you by then, horrible things will happen. Some logistics:

Final piSmasher specs (v4.1)
piSmasher status

New snickerdoodle resources

The new krtkl site is going live on July 6. Aside from being a significantly more useful resource, the only immediate impact may be seen in the forum, as it will take a few days for us to migrate to the new system.

If you’re interested in putting together a blog post, we’d be happy to feature/host it on the new site. Just email marketing@krtkl.com.

We’re going to be featuring a number of commercial snickerdoodle-based products. Let us know if you’d like some publicity for any products you have launched by emailing marketing@krtkl.com.

Similarly, we are looking for projects to showcase on our Hackster.io project hub (also linked on the new site). If you’ve built something cool with snickerdoodle, don’t be shy and share it with your fellow snickerdoodlers! We’ll be adding our own projects there as well.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t already you should check out our HLS Data Mover repo on GitHub – it has a pretty handy parameterizable Vivado HLS project for implementing a master and slave AXI-Stream to AXI-Memory-Mapped data mover on snickerdoodle.

What the heck happened?

For some additional piSmasher background (if anyone is still reading this), you may notice this specification is largely in line with the most recent piSmasher (v4.0) specification, with the only notable difference being the elimination of the battery charger. And yes, this is basically the same product for which we had first articles around this time last year. So what gives? What’s with the 1+ year delay?

Well, we ran into some unexpected signal integrity issues while testing the first articles – specifically with the HDMI input/output, which did not meet the original 1080p spec. Unfortunately, at that point, we did not have the means to re-layout the PCB and run a new set of tooling, assemblies, etc. This was due to a combination of factors, including product underpricing based on actual vs. anticipated volumes, underestimated hard/soft manufacturing costs, serious supply chain constraints, a lack of resources, the unexpected general disinterest of outside capital in embedded systems, unforeseen technical challenges surrounding EMI/signal integrity, and significant complications involving the development and debugging of software for unsupported silicon.

As a result, we took on a number of consulting projects that allowed us to minimally keep the lights on while taking advantage of every opportunity to trickle out snickerdoodles and other backordered products. A few months ago, things were looking much rosier as a larger customer made it to market with a snickerdoodle-powered commercial product, which we seized upon as a chance to finally start moving the piSmasher forward again with a similar-but-revamped design to enable greater modularity and flexibility.

Unfortunately, our customer hit a brick wall and completely halted their production, which had major ripple effects on both snickerdoodle production and piSmasher development. At that point, we came to the realization that: 1) the only practical way to deliver the product we originally promised would be to bring the MSRP more in line with the actual production costs – costs which ultimately far exceeded the purchase price for the vast majority of piSmasher pre-orders, and 2) the only way we could possibly afford to deliver on the 700+ outstanding piSmashers and giggleBits orders would be to charge existing pre-order customers the difference.

This was not an easy decision and was never our original intent, nor was it born out of greed or any other nefarious objective. If there were any other way, we certainly would have opted for that route, but we simply and sadly didn’t have a choice.

Certainly, we’ve learned a lot of things the hard way, but lessons learned are no substitute for shipping a product and we’re not giving up. To all of our backers, thank you for your support and patience so far. To those who, for whatever reason, just want a refund, we completely understand. As always, should you have any questions or comments, you can always email us at orders@krtkl.com.

Sincerely,
the krtkl crew


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