I understand that waiting is frustrating, but I'm really trying my best with everything. Currently I'm also working on a website dedicated for the VESC project where I'm putting all the information about the plans of the project:
If you don't log in it is empty, but there is a lot of content already including forums and other structure that will become visible once I enable registrations. The website is made with drupal and it was quite a learning curve to go through drupal 8, get stuck, go back to drupal 7, installing 170 modules and all drupal admin tools, making automatic backup scripts of the site and databases.
Regarding all the software, I'm trying to make the firmware as portable as possible to make it run on almost any hardware by creating a hardware configuration file so that more VESC-compatible hardware can be made. 99% if the work and value of the VESC really is the software, and the hardware just is a fraction of that work. Everyone who makes ESCs today could make VESC-compatible hardware, so there is huge potential for getting a big variety of power levels and form factors of the VESC if the software can manage it - and this is what I'm trying to achieve. Half a year ago my ambitions were far from this high, but that has changed.
VESC Tool has also been a huge amount of work, and last year when I said that I will release some the new firmware I had not even started working on VESC Tool. Now it has close to 200 files of source code, everything is modular so that development is easier and more people can get involved. Also, the core functionality with the configuration abstraction and communication interfaces can be built without widgets to make a mobile version from the same code base possible - which is the next plan. I have also set up build scripts to make a statically linked version that runs on every linux distro, and the same script also makes a windows build using mxe. The builds of VESC Tool include firmware for all the supported hardwares, and when connecting VESC Tool will figure out which hardware is connected to minimize the risk of mistakes. I have also made setup wizards for the motor and input in VESC Tool, and let friends try them while taking note where they get stuck and fixed that.
VESC 6 hardware and Trampaboards
As I have mentioned the software is really the big challenge, but I have also been working together with trampaboards to get the VESC6 hardware ready. I have been doing the PCB and Frank from trampa has made the case and a rubber seal for the case and cables. I have visited Frank in Berlin many times recently (and he has visited me) and we sat together and worked on the design. A week ago Frank visited Taiwan to talk with manufacturers, and soon when I can find a time to take a week off from my job we will try to visit them together for starting the production.
I must say that trampa have much more experience than me in general about how to manufacture products, bring them to market, deal with production, deal with regulations etc, and I have no idea about many of these things. We also tried to figure out how to make an income from the project while keeping it open and how to make solid foundation. The trademark is one of those things and helps people identifying me and my work (every major open project such as Linux, Mozilla, Gnome have trademarks), and I had no idea about that. My relation with trampa is that I run the VESC Project and trademarks in my name and they will make and sell the "original" hardware that we design together and share the profits. The VESC hardware will not generate a lot of profit after covering all costs (including some of the prototyping and trademark costs that tramps has taken for now since I don't have a lot of money), but hopefully it will be enough to buy some new equipment and parts for further development. I'm hoping that involving other manufacturers and getting a big variety of hardware to the market eventually will bring a bit of income though. How to structure this and how it will work is something that I'm putting together on the website, so I will not go into detail here.
Release of recent developments
I see many speculations, and I understand why. I do not have any contract with tramps or anything like that which prevents me from releasing things, I just want to polish things more and set up a structure because I cannot deal with the input from everyone at the same time. Releasing everything now or a few months ago would have caused more chaos than I already have, and I simply cannot handle that by myself right now. There are a couple of reasons for that:
* I haven't finished the structure with how to support all hardware yet. Many times I have gone through all hardware files and done refactoring as I'm adding new options such as DRV8301 support, DRV8313 support, support for all combinations of 2 and three low-side, phase and high-side shunts, permanent nrf support, support for sampling in V0 and V7 for phase shunts when running FOC etc. Having other people work on their hardware and brake things for them all the time would just give me more stress at this point, and it would frustrate them as well since I wouldn't be able to help them too much. That's why I want to have a lot more structure about coding style, hardware configs, how to contribute, development etc before releasing everything and diving into more chaos.
* There are already several people I'm working with regarding the new developments, and they give me feedback. There is also more hardware than just the VESC 6 hardware in development (for example, one of them is a custom small controller from danish aviation systems) which is very different from the VESC 6.
* The new firmware and VESC Tool had many regressions at first that broke things, and fixing them has also taken some effort. Several people with VESC 4 and VESC 6 help me test this already with the new firmware and VESC Tool.
* The structure in VESC Tool has also changed forth and back with refactoring before I was happy with it.
After this major restructuring of the project I plan to work with everything public on github so that others can contribute and not go and hide with the software for months, but for now I ask everyone to be patient. All of this work, all the emails and posts I haven't answered, my full time job and everything going on recently has given me a lot of stress. Please be patient. I promise, there will be huge updates for sure.
VESC6 Beta Program
I have promised things several times and not lived up to it, but that is mostly because my ambition changed and I wanted to take things further. Anyway, as I mentioned, trampaboards and me have made a lot of progress on the design and in around a week or two we want to order the first beta batch of VESC6. I will make a separate post about this and send some emails to people I know are interested, but now we are looking for people who are interested in giving the VESC6 a try. This beta batch will be more expensive to manufacture than the final version because of quantity, and we are selling them for a lower price, so there is no warranty and things will not be as polished as the final version, but it will be orders of magnitude better than everything that is around with the VESC4 today. In this batch you will get:
* A ready-assembled VESC6 in an aluminium case with cover and cables.
* VESC-Tool with the latest firmware and features.
* For now the VESCs will be shipped without a rubber seal for the cables and cover since the mold for it takes more time, but once it is ready we will ship it to you.
The price for this beta VESC is 175 GPB. If you are interested send me an email, and once we have set it up on the trampasite I will send you a link with a code where you can make the order and enter your shipping details. Please let me know as fast as possible, because we will try to place the order within one week. After that it should take around two weeks until the VESCs are manufactured and then we will ship them.
The final release
After making this beta order I will finish the vesc-project website and enter all information about the plans for the project, how to contribute and so on while getting feedback from the beta testers. Then the final release of the firmware source code, the VESC Tool source code, a new reference design similar to the VESC6, and a readily-compiled VESC Tool for Linux and Windows including support for the VESC4 will be made at the same time as the new VESC6 hardware becomes available for purchase. Then the VESC6 production will require much less attention by me since trampa handles that, and I can focus on helping others who are interested in making vesc-project-supported hardware in different form factors get started. This release will be around one month after everyone who has ordered beta VESCs has received them and has started testing them.
This is a long post, but I hope that it makes things a bit more clear. Thanks for supporting me, and sorry for being so bad at communication. When I have less stress I will do my best to interact more with the community, but for now I ask everyone to be patient.
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