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  1. #21
    Senior Member JJZolx's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm missing something, but I see little reason to build a displayless SB replacement without an internal DAC and analog out. Otherwise, the only thing it such a device might have over the current DIY solutions built on PCs with USB output is a high quality S/PDIF out.

    I would see the necessary I/O as:

    - analog L/R
    - optical S/PDIF
    - coax S/PDIF
    - USB
    - ethernet
    - wifi

    Plus (ideally):

    - IR input for basic playback control: volume, skip, play, pause, repeat, shuffle

    Then I'd say leave open the possibility of some kind of USB display by adding an additional USB port. With this, there could possibly be a full UI developed at some point, as long as support existed at the server.

    Which brings up the issue of... branching the server.

  2. #22
    Senior Member JJZolx's Avatar
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    Almost forgot:

    If there's no IR input then there must be a reset switch of some kind that can perform a factory reset.

    With IR input, you could resort to the awkward SB method of resetting by pulling the power plug and holding some random button on the remote while you plug the power back in. Or, maybe just build the first SB with a real power switch. Even with one, the reset switch would still be welcome.

  3. #23
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJZolx View Post
    Otherwise, the only thing it such a device might have over the current DIY solutions built on PCs with USB output is a high quality S/PDIF out.
    I suspect we are still talking about a DIY solution or possibly a pre-packaged DIY solution, so far I haven't seen any indication in this thread that makes me think it will reach the masses. To reach the masses you really need multiple type of devices, at minimum one optimized for connection to an external amplifier and one with built-in speakers suitable for kitchen/bedroom/bathroom kind of environment.

    To reach the masses you also need to reach the shelf in the stores, but that's a different topic so let's not bring that into the discussion yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by JJZolx View Post
    Which brings up the issue of... branching the server.
    Which would be a much bigger task, especially if we want to do it the right way and not violate license/copyrights from Logitech and other companies which own the redistribution rights. It's easy to do it if you ignore the legal problems which violating the license/copyright can cause and ignore Windows users which want the exe binaries, but doing so doesn't seem like a long term solution to me. However, having said that, it's certainly doable, the question is just if it's worth the trouble and I'm skeptical if there are enough people in the community who would be willing to do the necessary development/maintenance work for free on longer terms.

    As I posted earlier in the thread:
    http://forums.slimdevices.com/showth...l=1#post733887
    I personally still believe something that relies on LMS or even mysqueezebox.com is a temporary solution, which works for DIY hardware, but for long term survival we really need something else. So to base the box on Linux and not tie too much of it towards Logitech and LMS/mysqueezebox.com is probably a good idea to make it easier to change it to work with something else in the future.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Lead platform developer of ickStream Music Platform - A world of music at your fingertips

    (Also developer of many plugins/applets)

  4. #24
    Senior Member JJZolx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erland View Post
    I suspect we are still talking about a DIY solution or possibly a pre-packaged DIY solution, so far I haven't seen any indication in this thread that makes me think it will reach the masses. To reach the masses you really need multiple type of devices, at minimum one optimized for connection to an external amplifier and one with built-in speakers suitable for kitchen/bedroom/bathroom kind of environment.

    To reach the masses you also need to reach the shelf in the stores, but that's a different topic so let's not bring that into the discussion yet.

    (etc.)
    You've lost me... Who's talking about "masses" or selling anything in stores?

    As I posted earlier in the thread:

    I personally still believe something that relies on LMS or even mysqueezebox.com is a temporary solution, which works for DIY hardware, but for long term survival we really need something else. So to base the box on Linux and not tie too much of it towards Logitech and LMS/mysqueezebox.com is probably a good idea to make it easier to change it to work with something else in the future.
    I haven't addressed mysb.com functionality, but how can a Squeezebox replacement NOT rely on LMS or another server that implements SlimProto? If it doesn't, then it's not a Squeezebox.

    John's post talks of circuit boards an IR input, so I presume that he's talking about building something that resembles and operates like a Squeezebox. We're no longer talking about taking a Raspberry Pi or other off-the-shelf computer and making it work like a Squeezebox to feed a USB DAC. For the most part, that's been done. My post above simply tries to outline what I feel would be the minimum required I/O of an SB replacement. Apart from the USB, it's not much different than the old Receiver.

  5. #25
    Senior Member pippin's Avatar
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    Adding audio beyond USB audio for me mainly brings up the question of drivers and codecs.
    Since you'd not be able to afford commercial codecs and patent licenses for a DIY activity you'd need to be able to go with something that fits into a standard open-source architecture, with other words, you need ALSA drivers.
    Would a custom audio solution use a chipset that comes with ALSA drivers?

    On the server side the main point is that you probably need to branch to be able to supply your own firmware which in turn means you need to de-brand LMS but I might be wrong here.

    The one thing where I don't see an issue is the USB display. That's IMHO unrelated to the server and purely a client-side activity since you can drive the thing through the server-side SqueezePlay menus.
    You can get around a lot of the software license issues with open source codecs but not around the patent problem. Also, some of the open source codecs violate patents in some legislations which means you can't always re-distribute them, even if you whole own software was under GPL, which it isn't if you want to use any of the Logitech code (which is open source but not GPL'ed). GPL can be pretty much of a nuisance if you go into re-distribution.
    Last edited by pippin; 2013-01-23 at 11:21.
    ---
    learn more about iPeng, the iPhone and iPad remote for the Squeezebox and
    Logitech UE Smart Radio as well as iPeng Party, the free Party-App,
    at penguinlovesmusic.com
    New: iPeng 9, the Universal App for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnSwenson View Post
    Hi guys,
    I want in on this! I have been thinking a lot about it over the last few months. I am well accomplished at the hardware design part of this. I'm not sure most of you are aware of this but I do part time consulting for high end hiFi companies wanting to get into digitaal audio, I have lots of hardware experience doing just what this project is about and making it into products for low volume production.

    There seems to be an assumption that you need very high volumes to get low prices, this is not really the case. You need high volumes to get REALLY low price, but medium range prices is can be had for fairly low volumes. For example something along the complexity of the Touch main board, can be manufactured for around $125 in 25 quantity, thats board, parts and assembly. That does NOT include the case, full assembly etc, just the board. At 50 quantity you can get down to $100 a board.

    I have done designs using off the shelf boards and ones that I have done the whole thing from scratch, my current thinking is that for more than a couple systems it actually winds up being cheaper to do the whole thing from scratch, that way you get EXACTLY what you want. When using an off the shelf board you have to try and shoehorn your design into sombody elses vision, which rarely matches yours exactly.

    For example, some people around here have mentioned things like IR remotes, if your chosen existing board doesn't have the capability, you either live without it or you have to add a board that does it, and figure out how to connect that into some port on the existing board. When you do the whole thing yourself it is MUCH easier to add things like that directly to the main board.

    When doing it yourself you have a wide range of options available for including in the device, that would be very difficult to add to an existing board. For example as has been mentioned having FPGA based filters is something that is easy to add to our own board, and adds very little cost. I can easily put in a VERY high quality S/PDIF interface that will be better than just about anything out there, or even a USB output optimized for audio use.

    I have been doing systems like these for many years now and the biggest time sinc has always been the UI. Since the SB line already has good external UI options, I think it makes more sense to design a product to be a black box (but with a web server for configuration etc so you get away from the Duet problems). Having a display and interface along the lines of the Touch seems to me to double or tripple the complexity of the project.

    I'm a little torn on one aspect of this, my passion is for very high quality DACs, having done systems similar to this several times I CAN say that I can do a better job for less money building very good DACs into the project than you can get by buying external DACs. It doesn't HAVE to be an either or. I can do a two board system, one board has the main guts and digital audio interfaces (S/PDIF USB) and another board that plugs in which has the DACs (it does NOT connect to the S/PDIF or USB). So if you want to spend the extra $400 you can get audio quality that will out perform external DACs costing many thousands. It is just so much easier to do a really good job of a DAC if you can build it into the architecture of the main system.

    Things I am NOT good at: industrial design, please don't ask me to design a really good looking case for this!

    John S.

    Hello John,
    This is VERY exciting news. I am not 100% sure where to go with this and the next steps. My overall feeling is that there are many users that want a device.... but still questions if there is a "market" for it. I feel that if we assemble a small group, put together the design and implement a "kickstarter" type project, we will get the interest from this community. I would assume we could easily get over 50 - 100 orders on the first batch if the price was right based on this thread already having 31 pages (http://forums.slimdevices.com/showth...And-why/page31).

    This leads to a much larger question of legalities with Logitech, creation of an LLC or other company structure, how we further market, etc. Erland has already created the developers group. I am wondering if we should take this entire discussion to that group and the parties that have real interest can join.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks!
    --Dustin
    Last edited by dustinsterk; 2013-01-23 at 09:52.

  7. #27
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJZolx View Post
    You've lost me... Who's talking about "masses" or selling anything in stores?
    Sorry, I think my mind went a bit ahead of the thread :-)
    When reading John's post again it's pretty clear that he is talking about a low volume solution which doesn't have to be sold through local stores.

    Quote Originally Posted by JJZolx View Post
    I haven't addressed mysb.com functionality, but how can a Squeezebox replacement NOT rely on LMS or another server that implements SlimProto? If it doesn't, then it's not a Squeezebox.

    John's post talks of circuit boards an IR input, so I presume that he's talking about building something that resembles and operates like a Squeezebox. We're no longer talking about taking a Raspberry Pi or other off-the-shelf computer and making it work like a Squeezebox to feed a USB DAC. For the most part, that's been done. My post above simply tries to outline what I feel would be the minimum required I/O of an SB replacement. Apart from the USB, it's not much different than the old Receiver.
    In my mind:
    Squeezebox replancement = A music streaming device that provides similar features as the Squeezebox (preferably but not necessarily compatible with existing Squeezeboxes)

    However, I think a DIY solution could make sense to some existing Squeezebox enthusiasts who have a desperate need to enhance their existing system, relying on LMS makes sense if you want to do something simple that works as a temporary solution until the market catches up with the needs we have. In my mind it doesn't really make sense to even package software and hardware together for this kind of system, just let each user buy the parts, load the software on it and assemble the device themselves. It would avoid the codec licensing issue pippin mentions, since you are just selling a circuit board and not a music streaming device.

    Still, if you just want a temporary solution, why not just get a used Squeezebox from eBay ?
    Surely there will be people selling their old Squeezeboxes on eBay during the years to come if people are still willing to buy it for the same price as a new one.
    I guess it could make sense if you like to experiment with DIY solutions, just because it's fun, but if not I can't really see the need unless you also handle the long term issues.

    If you want to do something more long term, you really need to handle LMS and mysqueezebox.com maintenance and then it will become a much bigger thing and in this case it might even be better to start over and build something with similar functionality instead of relying on LMS which have 10 years of architectural inheritance. Reusing someone elses code in a new system isn't always the easiest way to do things, in my experience you really earn most time by reusing functional specifications and possibly architecture/design and protocols if it's good, reusing code only really makes sense if you don't plan to change it or you already understand the code in detail. Of course, for LMS there isn't really any functional specifications to reuse and the protocols are barely documented, so the question is if it's really worth the trouble to try to branch and re-brand it.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Lead platform developer of ickStream Music Platform - A world of music at your fingertips

    (Also developer of many plugins/applets)

  8. #28
    Senior Member erland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pippin View Post
    Adding audio beyond USB audio for me mainly brings up the question of drivers and codecs.
    Don't you have codec/patent licensing issues also with USB audio ?
    Isn't the issue related to MP3 codecs and similar ? Won't those be needed also if you use USB audio ?

    However, as I said in my previous post a few minutes ago, I think it's best to just do a real DIY solution where each user buys the parts and assembles it themselves and load the necessary software on it, then you could probably avoid the codec/patent issues as you are just selling a circuit board without any software, or am I missing something ?

    You would of course still need drivers, but hopefully those are already available if you select hardware components which already have Linux drivers.

    Quote Originally Posted by pippin View Post
    On the server side the main point is that you probably need to branch to be able to supply your own firmware which in turn means you need to de-brand LMS but I might be wrong here.
    For a DIY solution you would probably not load firmware through LMS. The real Logitech Squeezebox devices in the system would get firmware from LMS, the DIY devices would get their firmware through a SDHC card, USB stick or some other way. We aren't talking mass market convenience, we are talking DIY solution for enthusiasts as I've understood it.

    One reason to re-brand LMS is if you want to ensure long term survival and not risk that Logitech will stop maintaining it in a year or two.
    Another reason could be that you want to add new features to the core parts of LMS since this won't happen as long as Logitech maintains it. Most things can probably be added as plugins and won't need a community maintained LMS, but if you want to really revolutionize it, you would probably need to branch it since new features would be needed in the core parts.
    Erland Isaksson (My homepage)
    Lead platform developer of ickStream Music Platform - A world of music at your fingertips

    (Also developer of many plugins/applets)

  9. #29
    Senior Member pippin's Avatar
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    The advantage of using USB audio is that it usually comes with ALSA driver support so you can use standard open source codec distributions.
    Still doesn't help you if you want to sell the thing as a working unit but for a DIY platform that just needs a software distribution to be added to it it gets you around having to develop drivers, which isn't the most convenient thing to do.

    I have no idea whether the same result can also be achieved by using a standard chipset, hence my question.
    ---
    learn more about iPeng, the iPhone and iPad remote for the Squeezebox and
    Logitech UE Smart Radio as well as iPeng Party, the free Party-App,
    at penguinlovesmusic.com
    New: iPeng 9, the Universal App for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch

  10. #30
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    Well, this solution worked for me. USB DAC and control via iPad and I'm rocking.

    http://vortexbox.org/content/149-Log...t-for-under-30

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