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Thread: Pangolin

  1. #11
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    >Of course, if you are on a tight budget, we will soon have something else for you ........

    TEASE !
    In the beginning there was none. Then came the light - #1 UKLEM - 2007
    BUY UK LEGAL LASER POINTER :: NEW - Blue 460nm Laser Pointers

  2. #12
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    Gotta be the hobbyist product we've been hearing about.

    Wonder if we got Bill drunk one night, if he'd spill the beans to us about what it's going to come with?

    Adam

  3. #13
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    Lightbulb

    Sounds like a goal for FLEM 2 or SALEM...

  4. #14
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    I guess I'm kinda split on the whole hobbiest Pangolin thing. I guess the problem is I find myself sitting on the wrong side of the fence. I am now a Pangolin owner, so I kinda see this one way now. I am without question a hobbiest, I have never made a dime with my lasers, yet I have been doing this for many years. My first RGB was a 60x/Spectra 124 tandem, using mechanical blanking with beamsplitters (never could afford that darn pcaom). My setup has come a long way since. For all these years, I have always looked at pangolin and drooled over it, and "made do" with much less (much much less in fact), but is something I have always aspired to have, and only recently was able to afford it (after wishing I could for years). I always wished for Pangolin to have some type of deal for hobbiests, their pricing structure was always OBVIOUSLY centered around the commercial lasershow market, I can't blame them, thats what drives this industry forward. I always hoped they would have a deal that would allow a hobbiest to buy a "pro" system for an "intro" price, with the stipulation that it can only be used noncomercially. Since this never happened, and it was really the best solution, I "found" the money to buy a setup, luckily I got a basic setup for a slightly higher than intro price. One thing here is that hobbiests seem to be able to "find" money for the right stuff (Hardware), people here buy expensive lasers all the time, very few question it, same goes for galvos, servos, etc. But most hobbiests seem to have something against buying expensive software to drive their units, sure there is a lot of good freeware out there, but it does not compare to Pangolin. You don't see everyone here begging CTI to come up with a "hobbiest scanner", or CNI to come up with a "Hobbiest Laser", when it comes to hardware, most of the hobbiests accept it at face value, and pay the price for quality stuff. Now as far as the "hobbiest pangolin" setup goes, here are my feelings, I know I am not the ONLY one here who as a hobbiest has bought a real full pangolin setup, a lot of people here who enjoy this hobby have invested in this package, or are currently working on putting together money for one, or holding out for the hobbiest setup, I will be the first to admit how hard it is to put together that kind of money for a hobby that will most likely yield no financial return on investment, in fact will probably be on its way to obsolesence in the near future (as with most hitech toys). Now if Pangolin releases a product with "similar" functionality and performance based on a newer (and cheaper to manufacture) hardware platform, and includes all the shows that the real setup does, and offers it at a price that is a fraction of the real setup, I feel kind of let down in a sense that I paid the price for LD2000, and then a product with simlar functionality and reliability from the same manufactuer replaces it at a fraction of the cost. If this product was released by a competitor to Pangolin, I probably wouldn't care, as competition would be good in this industry, but essentially pangolin is competing with themselves for the hobbiest market. My main complant against LD2000 is for multiple scanner support, I believe this is out of the hobbiest budget as most of us can only afford ONE pangolin setup (If we are really really lucky), and to add a second scanner would require a second setup (cheapest way is $1500 for intro). My idea was (two options) #1 for pangolin to release a card/firmware that was niether Intro/Basic/Pro, kind of like the CD firmware, but call it "slave", sell it at like $500, and LD2000 will not run with it as an only board in the system, but it would be able to run as a second scanner, or third, etc, I know the LD2000 hardware can be sold at this price level (granted that is based on Hardware price, not counting Intellectual Property) option #2, would yield higher profit for pangolin is to allow the flashback hardware to function as a slave to LD2000, and support the second scanner on that platform. Now I guess the problem is I am speaking as a LD2000 owner, so therefore I am expressing my needs to expand LD2000 (multiple projectors) as a hobbiest and unable to afford another setup (intro), before I was an LD2000 owner, I would probably be on the other side of the fence on this issue, fighting for a cheaper product. I wonder if the money that they would gain from the hobbiest market through releasing this product will be greater than what they would lose in potential LD2000 sales.

    My main question is targeted against EXISTING LD2000 owners, how do you guys feel about the release of the hobbiest system knowing what you paid for LD2000 as hobbiests???

  5. #15
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    If you have an LD2k Basic, there's a large list of features which are
    not natively supported on the flashback and accompanying software.
    I suppose whether or not a FB3 will suffice for your hobbies depends
    on what you plan on doing with it, for a living room system, even
    homebrew is just as good as anything. If you scan on mountains, then
    the extra few bits will come in useful. As the new hobby system currently
    has a non-commercial license I'd imagine that it does not depreciate the
    worth of any existing LD2k system (far less in any event than the $500 price
    drop from LD2k list prices) I would also posit that since pangolin systems
    retain value, if there is a legitimate concern with this and you're not planning
    on "going pro" you can sell your basic, buy the hobby system and have
    enough money left over to get a nice laser or an extra scansystem or two.

    P.S. I may be mistaken as I haven't tried a FB3 myself, but I recall several
    shows where people were slaving it off the LD2k boards.

  6. #16
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    Hi illuzion,

    Your posting was long and mono-paragraph so I might have missed a few of your points. But I did want to respond directly to a few of your points.

    Quote Originally Posted by illuzion View Post
    ...with simlar functionality and reliability from the same manufactuer...
    Well, we are still figuring out exactly what the "functionality" will be. As for "reliability", well, frankly, that remains to be seen!! In terms of hardware, both the LD2000 systems and Flashback systems are designed with industrial components. System reliability is very high on our list of priorities, and that is one of the things people comment about when talking about our systems over competitors.

    As for software reliability itself, one reason why there are relatively few LD2000 software releases per year is because the software is vigorously reviewed by us and by key clients, and we don't release software until we know it is really solid. For the hobbyist software, I would be willing to bet that people would want software features just as quickly as we develop them, so testing and ultimate reliability is of lower importance.



    Quote Originally Posted by illuzion View Post
    pangolin is competing with themselves for the hobbiest market
    Ahh, but we're not!! As I was telling Adam (Buffo) on the phone, and as you can see by the poll of "Lets see what people are using", Pangolin is only used by the most sophisticated users in this group. But what about everyone else?

    One of the things that I was mentioning to Adam is that I started out as a hobbyist. As far as I can tell, most people have... So I was in the very shoes as many of you guys. For years, I tried to figure out how we can lower our prices, or introduce a product that would work for people on a budget, but our QM2000 hardware is quite expensive for us to build, so this really isn't workable.

    This latest idea from us, to give low-cost hardware at a low-cost price is to try to give something back to the group of people in the crowd where I started myself. We want to do something for you guys, but it has to work for us too...



    Quote Originally Posted by illuzion View Post
    My idea was (two options) #1 for pangolin to release a card/firmware that was niether Intro/Basic/Pro, kind of like the CD firmware, but call it "slave", sell it at like $500
    Well, unfortunately we can't do that. $500 is less than our cost for the QM2000 board... Also, the way our software and hardware work together, your proposal just wouldn't work. And lastly, the vast majority of our clients are professionals who appreciate the utility and flexibility of being able to use an LD2000 Intro system as a slave today, and as a separate controller tomorrow. Since LD2000 is a professional product, we need to do what will satisfy our professional users.


    Quote Originally Posted by illuzion View Post
    option #2, would yield higher profit for pangolin is to allow the flashback hardware to function as a slave to LD2000
    Intuitively I don't think your option #2 would yield higher profit for Pangolin, but I might be mistaken. If you have formal business experience, we might consider hiring you After all, we are actually actively seeking employees at Pangolin right now... In any event, the way the LD2000 system works is that there is a separate computer (the QM2000) that handles each projector. This has numerous benefits which are beyond the scope of this discussion. The drawback is that... it is a separate computer that runs each projector, which means that there is an expense associated with this "separate computer".

    The real key for hobbyist level people is a completely different system, which does not have the numerous benefits of the QM2000, but that's OK because hobbyist level people don't necessarily need those numerous benefits.

    One thing to keep in mind is that we are not releasing the same exact product at a lower price for a certain group of people who qualify. It is a completely different product with different hardware and software. The hardware is an even further cost-reduced version of our Flashback 3. The software is something we have already largely paid for and amortized. It is only this combination which allows us to offer something to hobbyists and LaserFreaks at a low cost.

    As for people who already have the LD2000 system, well they should take solace in the fact that they have one of the most capable systems in the world, with more frames and shows than any other system, numerous ways to expand that system (add-ons and SDK) and one which holds its value very well on the resale market. We canít say any of this for the new hobbyist system!!

    Best regards,

    William Benner

  7. #17
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    Cool RE: LA-Freak vs LD-2000...

    Thanks for the extra info Bill. Great post. (I see you figured out how to get the quoting feature to work!)

    I'd like to address a few other points that illuzion made...
    people here buy expensive lasers all the time, very few question it, same goes for galvos, servos, etc. But most hobbiests seem to have something against buying expensive software to drive their units
    I'd have to disagree with this. I have not bought expensive lasers. Wait - let me clarify. I have not spent a lot of money on my lasers, regardless of how expensive they may or may not have been in the retail market. Like many hobbyists, I look for deals on E-bay, and when I find one, I grab it. If I had to pay retail prices all the time, I'd be broke by now!

    Here: let's do a quick experiment. Let's see a show of hands for all those hobbyists that bought their lasers out of the Edmund Optics catalog...

    Yep - that's what I thought. Not very many. And for good reason too! Case in point: page 207 of the 2007 Edmund Optics catalog lists a 110V air-cooled 150 mw multiline argon laser w/ PSU for $7,800. You can get one for 1/10th that price on E-bay! Or how about $1,760 for a 15 mw HeNe? (Page 205) Any takers?

    It's been my experience that laser hobbyists have always complained about the price of the hardware. In fact, I'd say that the vast majority of us spend a *lot* of time trying to get a better deal on our equipment. (I know there are several people here, myself included, that have purchased DVD burner modules off E-bay and ripped them apart for the 670nm diode inside, because it was a *cheap* way to get a 100 mw + red laser.)

    So, having gotten used to being able to save a bundle on equipment by buying from the used/surplus market, is it any wonder why most hobbyists suddenly balk at the prospect of spending 4 figures on the software and the controller?

    The problem is that there just isn't much of a used lasershow software market on E-bay. Deals on a Pangolin QM-2000 board w/ software are a lot harder to find. So we look for cheaper solutions. (Like Mamba Black, Alphalite, etc...) Or even freeware solutions. (Poplescan, LaserBoy, Uclunux Laser, etc...) And we settle for "less", both in terms of features and in terms of output quality.

    Don't get me wrong, the QM-2000 board is, without question, the cat's meow. And there is a reason why it's so expensive - it's really that good! It's just that for the average hobbyist, it's more than we need. For example, we don't need an independent "computer on a board" that will keep the show running even if our host computer crashes. Sure, it's a great feature, but I think most hobbyists would gladly forfeit that feature if they could save some $$$.

    Bill recognized that there was a gap in the Pangolin line when he noticed that the members of the LaserFreak forums were turning more and more to lower-cost solutions like Mamba Black instead of saving up for the LD-2000 package. A new product was needed for the hobbyist market, and in my opinion the FB3 controller coupled with the LA-Freak software is a very good match. Sure, the FB3 may not be a cadillac controller like the QM-2000, but it will get the job done for the majority of hobbyists. Likewise, the LA-Freak software may not be as polished or intuitive as LaserShow Designer 2000 or LivePro, but it *does* offer a lot of cool features - including all the common effects, the ability to sync shows to music, a live player, a 3D editor, a text effects generator, an abstract generator, etc....

    Remember that this package isn't designed to compete with a QM-2000. (And by all descriptions, it really couldn't, since the QM-2000 has so many other features that set it apart from nearly every other controller out there.) Rather, this package is designed to compete with the likes of a Mamba Black/Easylase USB combination, or the Alphalite XC Pro software and controller combination. And believe me, in that market segment, this LA-Freak product is *very* competitive. (How can you beat the $500 price?)
    Now if Pangolin releases a product with "similar" functionality and performance based on a newer (and cheaper to manufacture) hardware platform, and includes all the shows that the real setup does, and offers it at a price that is a fraction of the real setup, I feel kind of let down in a sense that I paid the price for LD2000, and then a product with simlar functionality and reliability from the same manufactuer replaces it at a fraction of the cost.
    Well, for one thing this new product will not include all the shows that your LD-2000 package did. Why? Simple. The LA-Freak software uses a different (and incompatible ) file format to save the shows. Oh sure, it will read Pangolin frame files, as well as ILDA frame files, but it can't read an entire show file. So you're not going to get the ~100 shows with this package like you did with your LD-2000. In fact, you might not get any shows at all...

    Bill was talking about including some of the Pangolin frame files with the final release version of the software. He hoped that a few of the early adopters would be willing to splice those frames back together to re-create some of the original shows that the LD-2000 comes with. (They would need to be recreated and saved in the LA-Freak file format before they could be distributed.) But that's all up in the air right now.

    Then too, the FB3 controller is hardly "similar" hardware when compared to the QM-2000 board. Sure, at the basic level they both can display laser frames, but that's where the similarity ends. The QM-2000 is a huge leap forward when compared to the FB3. (Which is why it costs more.) But maybe you don't need all that extra functionality. (I have a feeling many hobbyists don't; or at least, they'd be willing to give it up in order to save some money, which is why Pangolin is releasing this new hobbyist product in the first place...)

    If you truely have buyers remorse about buying your QM-2000 board, Bill's suggestion is a good one. Sell it on E-bay and purchase the new hobbyist product instead. (I can promise that you'll have plenty of people interested in buying it from you!) Your board is still worth a lot of $$$ - believe me!

    But before you do that, you might want to download a copy of the new software that will be used for the hobbyist product and give it a try. (It will work with your QM-2000 board just fine. Just call Pangolin and have them e-mail you a license file, then download the software for free.) And maybe after you've played around with the software, you might decide that you like the interface, or the added features, of your LD-2000 setup better.

    Adam

  8. #18
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    As far as buyer's remorse goes, I wouldn't trade my LD2k setup for ANYTHING (except the pro version). I didn't buy it as an investment, or for resale value, I bought it to use it, I certainly do, and it does everything it is supposed to (and more), I don't regret buying it for a second, my only regret is I waited this long. I was just wondering how all the people that took the plunge and already bought a QM2000 felt about the Pangolin hobbiest package. As far as what it can and can't do, that is currently unknown, as it is unreleased. What we do know is the level of performance of the Flashback3 hardware, and what it is capable of, and yes it too is a "computer on a board", instead of PC100 SDRAM, it uses Smartmedia (IMHO a poor choice of flash memory given everything thats out there, but works fine). So theoretically given the right firmware/software setup, it has similar capability (even if not currently fully utilized) to the QM2000 in a cost reduced package.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by illuzion View Post
    As far as buyer's remorse goes, I wouldn't trade my LD2k setup for ANYTHING (except the pro version). I didn't buy it as an investment, or for resale value, I bought it to use it, I certainly do, and it does everything it is supposed to (and more), I don't regret buying it for a second, my only regret is I waited this long. I was just wondering how all the people that took the plunge and already bought a QM2000 felt about the Pangolin hobbiest package. As far as what it can and can't do, that is currently unknown, as it is unreleased. What we do know is the level of performance of the Flashback3 hardware, and what it is capable of, and yes it too is a "computer on a board", instead of PC100 SDRAM, it uses Smartmedia (IMHO a poor choice of flash memory given everything thats out there, but works fine). So theoretically given the right firmware/software setup, it has similar capability (even if not currently fully utilized) to the QM2000 in a cost reduced package.
    I was a bit miffed when I found out they dropped the intro price $500. Especially since I had just picked up an intro card a few months prior. I got over it though. Its worth every penny I spent on it. I had a QM32 Basic and a LD2K Pro prior and they were worth every penny as well.

    David

  10. #20
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by illuzion View Post
    As far as buyer's remorse goes, I wouldn't trade my LD2k setup for ANYTHING (except the pro version).
    Sorry about that... Maybe "buyers remorse" was too harsh a term. I didn't mean to imply that you weren't pleased with your LD-2000. (I don't know that I've ever met anyone that wasn't thrilled when they got one.)
    As far as what it can and can't do, that is currently unknown, as it is unreleased.
    Not really. The software is available for download right now, so you can check it out for yourself and compare it to your LD-2000 setup to see exactly what it can and can not do. (see my post above for the link) Bill said that all he's going to do is clean up the interface; he's not going to add new tools. In fact, if anything it's likely that the feature set will actually DECREASE after he's finished with the edits. Here's why:

    One of the problems Bill had with the old LA Studio software was the fact that there were 3 or 4 different ways to accomplish a given task, and some of the ways worked better than others. His plan is to pare down the interface to make it easier to understand, even if that means removing some of the features.

    He also wanted the user interface to look more standardized, with typical menus and window gadgets, etc. But this means that some of the special purpose buttons and settings may need to be removed or changed.

    So if you check it out now, you'll see it with as many features as it's ever going to have. (Bill also hinted that he might remove the 3D editor and some of the other tool modules when it is finaly released as LA-Freak.)
    What we do know is the level of performance of the Flashback3 hardware, and what it is capable of, and yes it too is a "computer on a board" <snip> So theoretically given the right firmware/software setup, it has similar capability (even if not currently fully utilized) to the QM2000 in a cost reduced package.
    I confess that I don't know enough about the QM-2000 and FB3 hardware to list specifics, but I believe your claim that they are fundamentally equivalent is incorrect nonetheless. Why? For the simple reason that if the FB3 could do *everything* that QM-2000 board can, why is Pangolin still selling the QM-2000's? We already know that their cost on the FB3 is a *lot* lower than it is for the QM-2000. So why not switch to the new hardware and make more profit on each system sold? (They could drop the price and *still* make more money...)

    While the FB3 is certainly a neat piece of hardware, I don't think it even comes close to the capabilities of the QM-2000 board. (Perhaps Bill will chime in here with the details.)

    Adam

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