The rain came back to Portland today, and we are wrapping up the week closing out some production projects. Here’s an overview of what has happened over the past few weeks:
Restocks of Stairs, Matte, Contour, Proc and Sum/Dist were added to webstore inventory this week. Lots of DSG3 (and all pending orders) will be ready soon. A larger restock of ESG3 is happening in mid November. Production has been smooth, with the workshop team knocking out a steady stream of projects. We will plan to outsource some of our SMT assembly before the end of the year, which will increase our capacity to keep all projects in stock.
A firmware update was issued for ESG3 that resolves some user reported compatibility issues with some devices. All ESG3s shipped in October have had this new firmware installed. This update was hard won – we had to expand our testing capabilities and the complexity of our hardware tests to find the solutions. This ate most of mine and Jonah’s time throughout September. This is also why there have been no updates on TBC2, and shipping on ESG3 was on pause for a few weeks. I’m happy to report that despite delaying all development projects, we’ve been able to set the project to rest, and are more confident than ever in the Gen3 firmware architecture.
Despite the distractions, we were able to finish board revisions for DWO3 that address it’s remaining design issues. We are waiting on a new set of boards to arrive, to see if it is finally ready for production.
We’ve been working on transitioning from 3D printed to injection molded knobs for several months now, and were finally able to close that project this week when our production parts arrived. This was a big project in the end, involving multiple rounds of test samples and some micro adjustments to the mold before production. The new knobs are cast in PC/ABS with pad printed indicators. As far as what to expect, each project will transition over to using the new knob parts only once. Currently (as of October 21st, 2022), the only module shipping from stock with the new knobs installed is Matte. The other Gen3 modules will be added to that list over time.
TBC2 development has been ongoing and my primary focus for a week or two again. Every time there’s a big context switch in projects, it takes me about a week to get readjusted. So I’m past that phase and have had a good week reviewing and doing some small refactors before the release. I’ll get into more detail about the architecture on the other side of the pending release date.
What to expect from us next on the development side:
TBC2 firmware launch, then TBC2 shipment day
Verification of some new Chromagnon digital platform hardware (a big project that’s been ongoing since early Summer, that we haven’t spoke on much)
Modular releases for a colorspace converter and colorspace modulator (Color Wheel)
More documentation for our new docs website related to patching the core Gen3 system
So, we’ll be getting into the continuation of the Chromagnon arc soon. Thank you very much for your support of our efforts. We know that it has required patience beyond initial expectations to engage with us in the past couple years. We hope you are enjoying the new modules, and we are looking forward to checking more items off the project list as the year continues.
I could document update instructions, but a special cable and programmer are required that are spendy. Only 3 or 4 lines of code changed. The update fixes 1080i60 genlock issue, and median coasting frequency issue (PAL subcarrier on CRT issues, BMD Analog to SDI compatibility issues.) So if you are not effected by any of these issues, then the firmware update is optional. Contact support if you’d like to send it in to flash the new firmware.
I did get the ESG3 firmware update, but it didn’t 100% solve all problems. Chad knows about this. I have one piece of gear, Roland VC-300HD, that doesn’t like ESG3 no matter what. But it’s kind of an antique, and I do have a workaround.
Beyond that, I am still seeing intermittent jitter in ESG3 when genlocked to Syntonie VU003B. This is happening even when I am 99% sure the sync source is rock solid (color bars from a Roland V-1600HD switcher). But I am not going to panic. If there are still issues with TBC2 as the decoder, I’ll let you know.
Do you have any other HD format sources that you can use to test this and can you link footage of the type of jitter you’re seeing?
I’m assuming you’re taking the YPbPr out of the Roland V-1600HD into the front panel inputs of VU003B and its rear Y output is routed directly to ESG’s rear Sync Input. Are you finding its different if you skip VU003B entirely and output the Y from V-1600HD into ESG’s rear Sync input? Since you can just bump ESG’s Brightness controls up to get a visible matte color, I don’t think it’s critical that you have the color bars from V-1600HD visible on the encoder to do this test. It might help eliminate some other routing issues if you have an HD distribution amplifier that can route the V-1600HD color bars separately to VU003B’s YPbPr input and ESG’s Sync input.
From what I’m reading in the schematics of VU003B, there is very minimal processing of the original sync sources outside of how it extracts them from a valid video signal. It uses the same sync separator chip as the Gen3 modules, LMH1980. I’d suspect there’s something about the compatibility of V-1600HD’s timing vs. ESG’s tolerance before VU003B but curious to see footage.
It’s looking like we’ll be ready for the elves this year.
A few updates from the past couple weeks:
– We have all of the Gen3 modules now in stock, thanks to the diligence of the workshop.
– Verified and resolved all pending issues with DWO3 hardware. This one was a very long project, but we’re happy with it. It resets beautifully in all the SD/HD video modes, and output wave shapers are prettier than any of our previous VCO designs. It took a couple more iterations than we though it would, mainly because we changed our strategy for multiplexers/switching about halfway through.
– We verified hardware for Swatch, our 8HP bidirectional RGB/YIQ converter design today and are having fun with it. Analog design efforts have moved back to the shared assembly we’ll be using for Chromagnon and Color Wheel / ART3. The implementation for the two modules may shift a bit – the main priority right now is getting Chromagnon to completion sooner rather than later, so we’re focusing on whatever helps us make that process go more smoothly as the big priority.
– I was planning on Thanksgiving for TBC2’s launch, but I’m still wrapping up. About a week ago, I finished a refactor of the software library to include some missing pieces I felt it was important to include in the final app. Mostly this relates to streamlining my approach to GUI prompt workflows for processing user tasks such as firmware update and media loading. So I’ve been on application wrap up since, which is going much faster. I wish there were some way to have forced a project like this out the door faster. I know it’s madness inducing for everyone to be waiting so long. But at least the module is awesome, and in your hands soon.
Can we get a more detailed update on chromagnon? Whats the News from r&d mentioned in the Update from july? And what about the mentioned digital Platform Hardware? There has been so Iittle information. And i guess q4 is of the table for chromag…
Based on these comments about DWO3 and some by Nick, sounds like we are looking at an awesome module! Also I love to see that even while racing to the finish line on TBC the UI is getting love. I’d have to guess that it would be a tempting phase to rush if one wanted to take that icky path. Golf clap for the LZX team!
You have all the details. There are 2 people working full time in LZX R&D, myself and Jonah. After TBC2’s release, Chromagnon becomes our only focus again. This year has been about getting our modular product catalog restored so that we can continue existing to finish the Chromagnon job. This plan is going well.
Whats the News from r&d mentioned in the Update from july?
We’re about 8-12 weeks behind where I thought we’d be at that point, due to issues with the ESG3 launch that needed resolution, and time lost between switching back and forth between that and TBC2. But this relates to the digital platform, and shift in focus (explained better below.)
And what about the mentioned digital Platform Hardware?
2 out of 3 boards for our development assembly were built last week, so that should be ready to start testing by the TBC2 launch. We’re approaching the final Chromagnon board very cautiously, because we have no resources to burn. The analog boards mentioned in my post and this digital test platform are part of that.
And i guess q4 is of the table for chromag…
For shipment? Yes, definitely. We’re just about to get back to that side of the room. What will change before the end of the year is our focus will be entirely back on the project, and we’re going to try to get some better demo content of the instrument out for you to see.
Thanks an awful lot for the detailed reply @creatorlars & on a saturday morning
I can’t ask for anything more than that & except for the delay, it’s all good if not great news. I’m super happy to know TBC2 will be launched really soon & that there’ll also be more Gen3 modules coming, really interesting ones at that
This is a very generous comment and I appreciate it. It’s hard for me to divorce the UI from everything else: as a hardware designer I tend to see it as holistic piece of the instrumentation, just like the front panel of an analog module. This is all being developed (all UI and graphics code) without any external framework on a bare metal platform, so it’s been laborious to say the least, with dozens of iterations. I’m very excited to get back to actually writing code for more video generators and media decoding next year, now that it all has a strong foundation to grow on.
Nothing to say or ask, just immense gratitude & huge props for all the LZX team effort. Such an insane undertaking way to go! Badass yall are so impressive, can’t wait to see what you’ve been cooking up!