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ME16 8DQ
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10th of April, 2005

I cannot avoid noticing interesting events in the world of ATMEGA cards.

It is the case that during the past week or so, then some people have been wanting to buy these cards by the hundreds or thousands from me. The big Out of Stock message on these cards has not been discouraging them either. That notice I put on these cards late last year, due to these cards being a problem all the way back then.

So in all there seems to be some new firmware around that is proving very popular, when this is the only reason to explain this large demand increase.

The problem with this large demand increase is that the sick and very unhealthy ATMEGA card market is in no state to be able to handle it. As if you ask me what is was the most problem card type around, then I would say these ATMEGA cards, when I do not put cards on an "Out of Stock" message for months without a good reason.

Some people may have thought that I would say the now extinct TITANIUM cards. Not so, when the TITANIUM cards like fell off a cliff and did a nice "I am sure it is dead" splattering impact within a short space of time.

These ATMEGA cards, on the other hand, are like poor sick dying grandpa. What I mean is that it is like you are unsure if he will soon to kick the bucket, or to make a recovery in order to live on for many more years.

When these ATMEGA cards first came out they were not very popular at all, which helped to maintain a high price. Then due to some short lived firmware last year, then the demand on these cards suddenly increased. All the other more popular cards during this same time suffered a slow and healthy price reduction, but the price on these ATMEGA cards declined so quickly that this meant serious trouble.

That is why during the last quarter of last year I could no longer buy my usual ATMEGA cards. This manufacturer had obviously started questioning why he bothered making these cards for peanuts. So he simply decided that it was no longer worth the effort and therefore gave up.

However, it is the case that there was a more expensive version of the ATMEGA card around, which meant that this ATMEGA card market could now stabilize on an acceptable price. So I deleted all my lower prices and prepared to soon stock this new higher priced type.

Grandpa would have lived on in other words.

The problem here is that one foolish manufacturer, and his local direct rival supply, was still supplying these cards at the lower price. So while wafer card suppliers tried to adjust to this new higher price, then so was this one source preventing them from competing. That is why I did not stock these higher priced cards, as I had first planned.

This is a serious situation, when suppliers who cannot compete won't stock or sell many cards. Less card outlets means less end demand, which means that Grandpa's outcome is just a matter of time. Due to the former and very unhealthy price competition these ATMEGA cards were being sold at a price lower than what they should have been. Therefore, it just becomes a matter of time before the slow demand catches up with the low price, where Grandpa's supporting organs will fail one by one.

And so the current situation appears to be that a vital source (I suspect Atmel) has now decided that it is not worth their time and effort and have now given up. I am currently trying to verify this situation, but it appears like ATMEGA cards are indeed no more, when Grandpa, following a long and painful illness, has very recently kicked the bucket.

Anyway, I will soon confirm if ATMEGA cards really are no more. No supplier will certainly have them, when I have seen every possible source, even higher priced cards, stripped out in record time. That is why all kinds of traders are currently bugging me for hundreds and thousands of these cards, despite the fact that I have stocked none since last year.

The second thing I have to mention is that there is one very unusual wafer card supplier out there, who still advertises blue Titanium and ATMega cards, despite the fact that he has not got any. Although I will keep this supplier nameless for now, but I am already thinking "buyer beware", when this supplier's business structure is extremely unhealthy. Low profit, supply problems, expensive overheads and all that. Accepting orders for cards he does not have provides short term income, but it would be just a matter of time before things catch up with him.

Not to mention that he is borrowing my FUN5 card scan, without asking first.

On the 7th of this month the Royal Mail updated all their UK postal prices, which means that my Order Forms were adjusted a few days ago to this new pricing. My company makes no profit on the postage, when it is fully accurate and simply rounded up, or sometimes even down.

As you can see I have some new item scans on-line, including the latest FUN2 and FUN4 cards. In fact I am quite proud of that FUN2 card scan, when it is not often that I can get near perfect colour and lighting. Compare these four Funcard scans to see what I mean.

The thing I have been doing this weekend is to sort out another one of those 1001 problems that cropped up during 2002, which I have been slowly fixing over the past three years. Still recovering from FACT's raid on my company in late 2001 in other words. As during this problem time my moving message board ceased working, where until now I could not figure out why.

I did believe that I had caused a disconnection in the power cable, when it has been stretching further than what it should. Getting a power extension cable is another delayed task that I will soon complete, when then I won't have to rest the power supply on the current chair.

Anyway, during the past couple of years I have spent some time simply trying to obtain a replacement power supply. However, not even my large wholesaler stocks a 9v model to all of 5 Amps. Such a model would not be exactly cheap either.

I did fear for a while that I had killed my tri-colour moving message board sign. That would be bad news, when this one time desired item set me back like 400 GBP. This sign I should mention is used to greet my personal callers, just in case it flashes up something that they desire to buy.

Not that I doubt that it has ever repaid it's cost, but being able to do Black (off), Green (one on), Red (one on) and Yellow (both on), from these new (at the time) tri-colour LEDs looks really cool.

Well this weekend I tried finally sorting out what was wrong, even if I had to cut up the cable to bridge the disconnection. Rule number one, in such cases, is to locate the exact problem, before fixing problems that do not exist. And soon enough I had narrowed the problem down to the expensive power supply, and not the even more expensive moving message board sign. That was good news at least.

Now, to locate the exact problem with this power supply, I had to open up the power supply itself. Removing the screws was easy enough, but I soon remembered that the last time I tried this I could not get the lid off. This time however I was a lot more forceful, which soon overcame the sticky tab that was preventing it from opening.

The first thing I notice, once the lid had been removed, was that this power supply contained an internal 5 Amp fuse. This meant that the possible failure of this power supply could be a fairly minor problem. To test to see if the fuse was to blame I had to sacrifice one of my brand new MPACK power adapters in order to obtain the end power connection.

Connecting this to a alternate 9v device highlighted that the fuse had indeed blown, when by-passing the fuse allowed it to work. I guess that I did not need to kill an MPACK to find that out, but the fuse looked fine to begin with, where I had assumed that a disconnection in the cable was to blame.

I can also wire the MPACK back together and to use it myself.

Since I had no 5 Amp internal fuses to hand, then I just soldered in a wire to bypass this faulty fuse. This should be fine, when the plug also has a 3 Amp fuse on it, but I will soon get in some 5 Amp internal fuses to correct it correctly. Also the fuse may have gone, due to simply dropping the power supply. This used to happen, once in a while, due to the power supply often being left hanging in the air, before the connector fell out and the power supply went thud on to the hard floor.

Anyway, the end result is that my moving message board now works once more. Alas, I see that it failed to store all my original programming during all these years of down time, but then due to all the new items it would have needed a serious update anyway. So it is going take me a few days to advertise most of my 120 odd items on it, even though I have yet to figure out how much description for each item I should add.

This is a very nice sign that can move text left, right, up, down, snow in and out, fold and unfold, then some additional graphics. I have yet to see how I can do the three colour rainbow letters though. Well I am pleased that this item is now working once again at least, where I will keep it on a timer plug to run between 12:00 and 20:00 daily.

Some customers may wish to arrange order collection, just so that they can see what cool effects I have managed to create. :-]

Well since it will soon be noon (where this sign will turn on in a ball of flames ;-]), then I will upload this latest news and to get busy plugging in all my items and prices. I only added the wafer cards and power items yesterday, when I want to make sure that it can store the programming for the 16 hours of daily down time, before spending what will be days of work on it. Tapping in hundreds of control codes through this device's remote control that is.

Anyway, more news whenever something interesting happens.