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Topic: Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free) (Read 5871 times) previous topic - next topic

Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free)

Hi everyone.

As I posted on my blog I'm going to shift teho Labs away from development boards. When I started teho Labs there were no ARM development boards for M3 that $$$ particularly using Ti's line. Now we have STM32 discovery and M4 Launchpad.

Procyon remains in a useful space but with Raspberry Pi there is less room to use it as well.

Basically there isn't a lot of room for a small volume company in this space anymore I don't think.

Anyway the point of this post is I want to clear the stock of boards I have. And I want to do this before I move to take my new job.

I have a hand full of Eridani's that need rework. I don't however have the time to do the rework, basically if you have the ability to desolder a LQFP64 and resolder it you should have no issue making them work. You'll also need an ARM JTAG (Bus Pirate should work with openOCD).

If you want a board PM me with an offer. It can be money or a cool project. US is strongly preferred both for cost of postage and also the customs form overhead.

Eridani documentation is here:
http://teholabs.com/docs/eridani:overview

Re: Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free)

Reply #1
Sorry to hear it didn't work out, Brian.  With the big guys basically giving away dev boards in massive quantities now, the small guys definitely need to find a niche (exactly what you're planning on doing with teho).

best of luck (I'm curious to see what comes of your function generator).

Re: Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free)

Reply #2
Thanks bearmos. When Ti gives away two uC that cost 4 dollars in 1000 quantity on a 5 dollar board that might seem fun but it means there is no way anyone else can do anything, particularly given there are many dollars of PCB, Xtals and other stuff on that board also in modest quantity.

I'm glad that people get low cost things to play with electronics but it does pretty much end the need for the development board line I produced. In parts what is on a M4 Launchpad is at least at complex as a Bus Pirate. Since I believe that remains the life blood of this site its worth considering what would happen if there were 5 dollar ones available from every major distributor...  If your target market is big enough you can easily be crushed (unless you achieve mass scale before anyone else realizes). Though, Bus Pirate also being a good amount of software is a bit less vulnerable though in my view. 

At the time I started teho Labs people said, well why would I want yours given I can get this thing on eBay for nothing, I argued that it was good English documentation and that you could write me if you had a question. I'm not sure that is enough in the hyper competitive development board market. There are places that a very high level of customer service could be important though.

Re: Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free)

Reply #3
[quote author="brian"]I'm glad that people get low cost things to play with electronics but it does pretty much end the need for the development board line I produced[/quote]
I was floored when I started looking at BOM on an STM32F4 discovery board  - at around $15, this has well over $30 in parts (single quan).  I think the overarching goal of the MCU vendors is to get people using their products earlier, so breaking even (or even taking a hit) on some dev boards is worth the cost if they can push more IC's later.

I'm curious to see how long the silicon vendors continue down this path - basically whether it's sustainable.  They've been giving out sample chips forever, but these generally went to engineers who were likely to design them into a product.  I think the super-cheap dev boards are usually destined for software hackers or DIY tinkers, which will just result in more dev board sales.  On the other hand, they might just get enough people to be brand-loyal early enough in their careers to make this worth while (this, IMHO would be sad for the EE profession).  This effect won't be seen for years, though, so I'm not sure how the marketing department (presumably driving these super-cheap dev boards) would immediately gauge the success.

[quote author="brian"]At the time I started teho Labs people said, well why would I want yours given I can get this thing on eBay for nothing, I argued that it was good English documentation and that you could write me if you had a question. I'm not sure that is enough in the hyper competitive development board market.[/quote]
This is pretty much the angle I suspected you were taking.  Being small and not having tons of examples and loads of supporting libraries probably didn't help either (this is just an assumption, I don't know much about the teho line, just a suspicion based on the amount of free time of the masters/phd student:) ).

[quote author="brian"] In parts what is on a M4 Launchpad is at least at complex as a Bus Pirate. Since I believe that remains the life blood of this site its worth considering what would happen if there were 5 dollar ones available from every major distributor... [/quote]
I get the impression that DP has branched out a bit from the bus pirate (keep in mind I have no real information), just based n the quantities of the various projects I see available at seeed.  I think that although the bus pirate isn't super-specialized in terms of the hardware required, it does have a decent eco-system now (and certainly brand-recognition).  It fits a niche pretty well - even better if starts coming standard in a packaged variant with required cabling.  I'm not sure how many people would trade the overall convenience of something purpose built in exchange for the money saved on going with a general purpose dev board.

Re: Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free)

Reply #4
Well I think you can view these boards the same way as sample programs. Ti or Analog or Linear or ... they will send multiple chips worth 4-8 dollars and pay the postage to get you to do the design with their stuff. If they get even 1 design win that leads to a mass market hit from the hobby folks they will more than make up for their loss. Plus they get to fab a steady stream of one flavor of processor which lets them lower the channel price also. Ti's hand was forced by ST. It will be interesting if Atmel, and Microchip follow as they are smaller companies.

There were a fair number of examples for the boards. I was able to be pretty active in year 4 of my thesis, this is when people generally seem to most frustrated with PhD research. Mostly the examples were shown on how to port the huge list of examples Ti had to the specific boards.

My KiCAD tutorial remains the most visited page by far, followed by the toolchain setups for M3 using free tools. So it is clear my documentation was of value and understandable to people. However you can argue that if you give the docs away some people will just read them and buy from a cheaper source if they can...

Its fine. I have a ton of neat ideas I want to just try out for myself, and I should have some resources (money wise) to do it finally.

Re: Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free)

Reply #5
Too bad this is happening, however it seems to me that the war isn't won on the toolchain side of things.  None of the free to cheap devboards have been very satisfying on the toolchain side of things yet in my opinion.  Maybe there is some room for someone to capture the market with a more userfriendly package.

Re: Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free)

Reply #6
[quote author="brian"]Well I think you can view these boards the same way as sample programs. Ti or Analog or Linear or ... they will send multiple chips worth 4-8 dollars and pay the postage to get you to do the design with their stuff.[/quote]

I guess the main differentiator here (in my mind) was that instead of simply fabbing a single chip, they now have to go to the trouble of sourcing many chips, getting PCB's made, assembling, testing the assemblies,etc, etc.  It seems like more of an investment on many levels.

Quote
Plus they get to fab a steady stream of one flavor of processor which lets them lower the channel price also.
This certainly seems like it would simplify things for them... Being able to push cheap dev boards through distribution might be more attractive than dealing with customers more directly with samples.

Quote
Ti's hand was forced by ST. It will be interesting if Atmel, and Microchip follow as they are smaller companies.
Never really though about it like that.  MC's tools generally do seem pretty expensive (maybe because of the difference in volume).  MC was doing a special on their PIC24 series a while back (I  think it was $10 for a mini-dev kit that normally sold for $25 or so), but it wasn't super widely publicized (and I think it was only available through Digikey).

Quote
My KiCAD tutorial remains the most visited page by far, followed by the toolchain setups for M3 using free tools. So it is clear my documentation was of value and understandable to people. However you can argue that if you give the docs away some people will just read them and buy from a cheaper source if they can...
The good part about that is you still have a steady stream of traffic, so making sure the users can see the projects while they're visiting the docs pages should help out here.  I imagine this is the strategy DP is using on the wiki - and one of the reasons ian developed the 'promo' extension for the wiki.

[quote author="dolabra"]Too bad this is happening, however it seems to me that the war isn't won on the toolchain side of things.  None of the free to cheap devboards have been very satisfying on the toolchain side of things yet in my opinion.  Maybe there is some room for someone to capture the market with a more userfriendly package.[/quote]
I haven't used it extensively, but so far I really like CooCox for hobby ARM development.  It's been mentioned a few times here in the forum.

Re: Eridani, rework special (ARM dev board cheap to free)

Reply #7
Yeah CooCox just had come out when I released the first board. It has matured but I think is just windows still...

Getting the word out is the biggest struggle for new stuff. Ian and DP the most help with this of any site. Electronics Lab also occasional posted stuff about what I was releasing. Ian keeps traffic up by the news blog, with DP and Hack-a-day I didn't feel there was a need for a third, so I opted to just post news about what was going on in the lab. That makes it harder to maintain traffic that results in people buying things.

Oddly Hack-a-day consistently seemed to ignore me. Even though they would post things like this:
http://hackaday.com/2012/06/27/quick-lo ... dev-board/

Procyon used the same chip only it had 16 MB of SDRAM on top of the features of this board and cost 15 dollars less, but for whatever reason Hack-a-day didn't post anything about my stuff (I did send in data on launches). Its a mystery to me. They have posted projects I made but none of the board releases.

Oh well. BTW folks still plenty of boards left to claim. Ideas are just as welcome as money, but I would appreciate if you can at least help me with the postage to show if nothing else that you really want the board.