Survey 2023 Results!

MEGA65 Projects

Survey 2023 Results. Dan’s MEGA65 Digest for September 2023.

The MEGA65 Community Survey 2023.
MEGA65 Community Survey 2023 banner
Survey 2023 Results

The MEGA65 Community Survey 2023 is now complete! It opened on August 14, ran for three weeks, and received 509 submissions. A HUGE thank you to everyone who submitted!

Let’s do a quick update, then onto the results!

Release testing update

We do not yet have a formal release candidate for the upcoming v0.96 release, which is intended to be the factory installed release for the next delivery batch. We are still waiting on test hardware for the revision 5 main board to arrive. Once it does, we will clean up the changes and document a formal test process that you can try on your own computer.

In the meantime, we’re sharing out early test plans for some major features. Before I get you all excited about early availability, please know that what’s currently available is not the release candidate. By definition, development versions are riskier than release candidates, and do not necessarily represent what will be in the release candidate.

In particular, do not attempt to flash a development core to slot 0 unless you own a JTAG adapter and know how to use it to recover from a broken state. Keep a stable core in slot 0, and use any other slot for the development core. We’re working on making it safer to upgrade slot 0 without a JTAG adapter, but this is not yet ready for testing by people that don’t actually have one.

While it is possible to have multiple MEGA65 cores installed and switch between them, this is not the case for system software files (.M65 files) on the SD card. We haven’t noticed any issues using newer system software with the earlier stable core, but keep this in mind while troubleshooting issues.

Here are the development builds of the platform components:

Available to test: Ethernet file transfer

You are invited to help test Ethernet file transfer, a feature in the development version of the core and tools. See these instructions for testing Ethernet-based file transfer. You’ll want to be familiar with your PC’s command line interface, as the file transfer tools are currently only available in command line form.

A few things to notice:

The core download includes a new system software file, ETHLOAD.M65, so be sure to copy that file to the SD card.

This feature exposes the MEGA65 to be controlled remotely by another computer over a network. As a safety measure, the feature is locked by a DIP switch on the main board. You will need to open the case to set DIP switch #2 to the “on” position.

You can connect your MEGA65 to your local network router, or directly to a PC using an Ethernet cable. You provide the file transfer tool with an available IP address on your local network, so you will need to know how your local network or PC networking settings are configured. Typically, the IP address of your computer’s network interface and the subnet mask together indicate the IP address range for the local network. When using a router, you will need to configure your router to reserve an IP address for the MEGA65, so that it doesn’t assign it to another device. (The MEGA65 doesn’t support DHCP directly.)

You enable a remote control session on the MEGA65 by pressing the Shift + Pound key combination. The power light will blink to indicate that it is listening to the network. You can then run the mega65_ftp command-line tool to transfer files.

Give it a go, and ask questions in the Ethernet Tools Testing thread on Discord.

Available for review: User’s Guide, 2nd edition

The next delivery batch will include a fresh printing of the User’s Guide. We’ve taken this opportunity to overhaul the Guide, update it with new information for the v0.96 release and R5 main board, and do a cover-to-cover editing pass over the whole thing including the BASIC reference. The BASIC quick reference card has also been updated, and there’s a snazzy new cover image. There are a few remaining to-do items related to features that are still in progress.

Download the latest User’s Guide PDF, file documentation issues on Github, and discuss in the #manual channel on the Discord.

MEGA65 Community Survey 2023 Results

The following report attempts to summarize results while preserving the anonymity of respondents. Free text responses will be kept private and will not be quoted verbatim in this report. I will be summarizing based on my own judgement, and I will withhold outliers to preserve privacy. Please know that even if your opinion doesn’t seem represented in the report, your free text responses will still be read by the MEGA65 team.

I will attempt to base conclusions on numerical data where possible. Interpretation of free text responses will inevitably be biased. This bias reflects on me and not the opinions of the MEGA65 team. Similarly, I designed the survey and am solely responsible for flaws and biases in the way questions were structured and worded. This will be pretty casual.

Owners and non-owners

Owner / Preordered / Considering / No interest

The survey asked respondents whether they currently own a MEGA65, have one on preorder, are still considering placing an order, are not considering an order, or may have previously owned a MEGA65 and no longer do. Owners were shown additional questions about the configuration of their machine. Non-owners were given additional opportunities to explain their interests and concerns.

This is a control question for interpreting other responses, and is not a useful indicator of a single population on its own. The relative sizes of the categories only describe the response pool, not the MEGA65 community at large. The survey was promoted in various channels that tend to skew variously towards owners (such as the Digest, Discord) or non-owners (such as Commodore user groups), and non-owners were encouraged to reply, with the rough guidance that anyone who has heard about the MEGA65 is invited.

When the survey was sent, approximately 900 MEGA65s had been delivered. This helps extrapolate potential population counts from a sample of the owner category. 218 respondents said they own a MEGA65, which is 24% of all owners. In contrast, there is no good way to extrapolate answers from a sample of non-owners to a larger population.

For some questions asked of all respondents, ownership status has a natural influence on responses. Someone is more likely to engage with community resources after they have received their computer. For example, 86% of current owners said they are aware of the Xemu emulator, compared to 58% of respondents who have not yet placed an order.

I will try to separate results by ownership status where there appears to be significant difference. This does not intend to imply that responses from any particular group are more or less important. There are many non-owners that make major contributions to the community, as well as owners that have not yet engaged with the project. Grouping is merely a crude way to control for differences in sampling.

What’s interesting about the MEGA65

What about the MEGA65 interests you?

The survey offered a list of possible reasons why someone might be interested in the MEGA65 project, and asked for zero or more selections. Raw data from multi-select questions can be difficult to interpret, especially when the question is phrased like a buffet of ideas or desires. The survey could have asked respondents to rank these, or pick a primary reason, but that felt too limiting.

Many respondents are interested in collecting vintage computers, reproducing the experience of the Commodore 65 prototype, and leveraging the MEGA65’s FPGA to reproduce the experiences of other Commodore 8-bit computers. The MEGA65 project’s goal of staying connected to history has always been a balancing act between recreating an incomplete, unreleased, and ultimately canceled design, and completing and extending that design to be practical and fun to use in the 21st century. As invigorating as it is to see the MEGA65 as an opportunity to design a new 8-bit computer, it is important to the community that the MEGA65 project values historical preservation.

Several of the options discuss programming, which is also repeated later in the survey. Many respondents want to run MEGA65 software written by others, write programs for their own enjoyment, and/or write programs for others to use. I’m personally gratified to see 19% said they want to use the MEGA65 as a platform for learning how to program computers in general. I’m also excited to see 19% said they want to learn FPGA programming. There’s a lot of potential for the MEGA65 to be an all-in-one FPGA learning platform, especially with the MiSTer2MEGA65 template as a starting point.

We can try to relate interest in recreating Commodore computers and interest in programming. 68% selected at least one of the Commodore recreation options. 72% selected at least one programming-related option. 50% of all respondents selected at least one option in both of the re-creation and programming categories.

This section included a free-text prompt for mentioning other interests and motivations. Many took this opportunity to elaborate on their interest in using the MEGA65 as a Commodore 64, and potentially other Commodore computers, with several people appreciating that new hardware is more available and less likely to fail than vintage hardware. Others gave details about their interests in programming, with some specifically interested in FPGA development. Quite a few people praised the project for its nostalgic feel, and called out wanting to participate in the MEGA65 community.

The survey asked follow-up questions to people who said they don’t use their MEGA65 or are not interested in ordering. The most common concerns are the price being too high and software being too scarce. (The survey phrased this as “Not enough software,” which was intended as “Not enough new third-party MEGA65-platform software.”) I won’t share specifics on these questions publicly due to low response rates in these categories, but all individual concerns will be seen by the team.

Platform versions

The survey asked owners to identify when they received their computers, to determine which delivery batch they received. We know that batch 1 (from mid-2022) and batch 2 (from early 2023) each delivered 400 units. Of these, 35% of batch 1 owners and 16% of batch 2 owners responded to the survey. This might indicate that batch 2 recipients are less engaged with our communication channels than batch 1 recipients.

(This is not to be confused with the proportions within the responses. Among respondents who said they owned a MEGA65, 64% said batch 1, and 29% said batch 2.)

I asked owners how often they use their MEGA65s. Batch 2 owners are slightly more likely to be using their computers more frequently than batch 1 owners, which would make sense if batch 1 owners have had more time to move on to other projects.

  • “More than once per week:” 19% of batch 1, 23% of batch 2
  • “A few times per month:” 37% of batch 1, 32% of batch 2
  • “Less often than once per month, but occasionally:” 29% of batch 1, 37% of batch 2
  • “I used it some when I first got it, but I don’t use it any more:” 13% of batch 1, 6% of batch 2

How often do you use your MEGA65?

The MEGA65 platform (core, ROM, and system software) is upgradable, and the MEGA65 team continues to improve the platform and issue new releases to be installed at the factory for each delivery batch, and made available to everyone as upgrades. Batch 1 owners started out with Release v0.9 and were invited to upgrade to Release v0.95, which was the default for batch 2. We’ve tried to make upgrading as easy a process as possible, but it’s not clear how easy it is to learn that new versions are available, or learn how to upgrade.

I’m pleased to see that 72% of owners have upgraded their MEGA65 at least once. Naturally, more batch 1 owners upgraded than batch 2 owners, because batch 2 owners started with the current stable release. Quite a few batch 2 owners reported having upgraded, likely to help beta test new features. Excellent!

Have you upgraded your MEGA65?

17% of batch 1 owners report having not upgraded. The survey didn’t ask why they did not upgrade, but given the benefits of upgrading, it’s worth taking this as an indication that these owners may not know about the newer releases, or may not know how to upgrade.

Everyone who said they have upgraded was asked what they have for their default core and MEGA65 ROM. Options included the MEGA65 stable release cores and ROMs, newer test versions of each, non-MEGA65 cores, and MEGA65-compatible ROMs such as the C65 prototype ROMs or the MEGA65 Open ROM project. In the following charts, I have included people who said they did not upgrade (and so were not asked which core or ROM they are running) in the results for the stable releases based on their reported delivery batch.

What core is your default?

What ROM is your default?

21% of owners admitted that they do not know which core or ROM (or both) that they have installed. I would guess many of these might be people who were not in a position to check their version numbers when they took the survey. This could also suggest that we can do a better job making this information easier to find. While it’s an authentic retro experience to not know or care about the chipset and ROM version of a vintage Commodore, it’s important that we help everyone keep up with updates so that they get the most out of their machines.

The survey also asked which cores everyone has installed, regardless of slot. 54% of owners have the C64 for MEGA65 core installed. Once again aggregating responses from people who said they have never upgraded:

What cores do you have installed, in any slot?

Video and audio configuration

Owners were asked several questions about their video and audio configuration, and peripherals they are using.

81% reported using the PAL video mode as their primary mode. Of these, 17% reported that their display only supports PAL.

Similarly, 18% reported using the NTSC video mode as their primary mode. Of these, 24% reported that their display only supports NTSC.

Which video mode do you use, primarily?

56% of owners reported that their display supports both PAL and NTSC display modes, so they can run software that switches to either mode. 24% reported that they do not know whether their display supports both modes.

The survey asked which video and audio outputs you used primarily. Some displays support more than one input. (I actually keep both DVI and VGA connected so I can switch between them as needed.)

Which video output do you use?

Which audio output do you use?

I asked everyone to name the make and model of their display, as free-text. Not everyone knew their make or model, but many attempted to answer. I was hoping to compile a list of recommendations of displays that support both PAL and NTSC. Not surprisingly, almost everyone was using a different model of display.

The most reported single model was the Dell P1917S, a 19" 5:4 flat panel LCD display that has both DVI and VGA inputs and supports both PAL and NTSC, and you can still buy it new. It doesn’t have built-in sound, so get a pair of powered computer speakers with a 3.5 mm audio input. Note that the Dell soundbar for this model is USB audio only and won’t work with the MEGA65. I have used this model, as well as a vintage Dell 2001FP with an older soundbar with a 3.5 mm audio jack. I can report that the P1917S handles the VGA signal much better than the 2001FP, and the P1917S doesn’t freak out about sound over HDMI either the way the 2001FP does for DVI video.

I also asked about video capture equipment. Only a few people said they use it, primarily for making or streaming video of their MEGA65. Generic HDMI-to-USB capture devices seem to work just fine. I use an Elgato Cam Link for this purpose, and I got a ClonerAlliance Box Pro based on a recommendation from retroCombs which I also like a lot.

Peripherals and supplies

I asked everybody (not just owners) about what’s in their closet, in an attempt to survey what people can be expected to own that would extend their MEGA65 experience.

Which controller peripherals do you own?

In general, lots of respondents have joysticks, and quite a few have mice and paddles. 11% reported not having any of these.

Of the paddle owners, 57% have Commodore paddles, and 41% have Atari paddles. Great job knowing what paddles you have! It was only last year that I learned there was a difference. As a kid I used Atari paddles with my Commodore and didn’t understand why my paddles had about half a turn of dead space.

Which IEC devices do you own?

Many respondents, 68%, own a vintage 5-1/4" Commodore disk drive. I included a free-text field for other IEC devices, and plenty of people reminded me that SD2IEC devices are popular. Zero respondents reported owning a vintage dual drive unit, such as the Commodore 4040.

I asked how many floppy disks you own, of any type and for any purpose. 62% said they have more than 20. 14% have none. I intended this as a rough measure of how many people might use the built-in floppy drive. Of course, the drive could still be used with a future purchase of MEGA65 software distributed on 3-1/2" floppy.

Connectivity and development hardware

88% of overall respondents said they could connect a MEGA65 to their local network via Ethernet from where they use a MEGA65, or from where would use one if they had one. Those new networking features of the MEGA65 will be a game changer for transferring files without extracting the SD card, and for doing cross-development. Anyone without convenient access to an Ethernet connection might be able to use a Wifi-ethernet bridge.

29% of owners have a JTAG adapter for their MEGA65. 11% of owners have a UART serial adapter. JTAG and UART serial are powerful tools for programmers doing cross development and contributing to the MEGA65 platform, and some have used them just to transfer files back and forth between their PC and their MEGA65. The new Ethernet-based tools can move files and programs at much faster speeds, and are likely to eliminate the need to buy extra hardware for most people. JTAG is still needed for testing bitstreams, and JTAG/UART are still useful for remote debugging tasks, at least until someone makes a similar feature that works over Ethernet.

Small but non-zero percentages of respondents own a MEGA65 DevKit, and/or a Nexys or Wukong FPGA development board, all of which are alternative ways of running the MEGA65 platform.


The survey asked how many MEGA65 software titles have you downloaded off of the Internet. It asked this of all respondents, not just MEGA65 owners, because some people use the Xemu MEGA65 emulator as a temporary or permanent substitute for MEGA65 hardware.

12% of owners say they have never downloaded MEGA65 software. 71% of non-owners have never downloaded software, which makes sense. The non-owner sub-categories break down as you would expect, with greater degrees of interest in the project correlating with more software downloaded.

Retro software publisher currently prints two commercial titles for the MEGA65: Hibernated 1 by Stefan Vogt, and Showdown by Badger Punch Games. 14% of respondents have purchased at least one of these. 6% of respondents have purchased both titles. 40% knew about them but did not purchase either, and 45% did not know about one or both.


The Xemu MEGA65 emulator by Gábor Lénárt (LGB) is the definitive PC emulator for the MEGA65 platform. 74% of respondents knew there was an emulator before taking the survey. Of the people who said they knew about Xemu, 48% said they use it.

There are several reasons people use Xemu, so the survey asked about them.

How do you use Xemu?

Selecting just for people who already own a MEGA65, the proportions of uses don’t actually change much except, of course, for respondents stating they use Xemu because they don’t own hardware.

How do owners use Xemu?

The survey gave everyone an opportunity to provide feedback on Xemu. We collected dozens of excellent suggestions and feedback in a wide variety of categories. Xemu is a well-loved tool and a cornerstone of the MEGA65 project, and we’re all grateful to LGB for working on it!


Every MEGA65 ships with a first edition printed User’s Guide. 28% of owners use it regularly, 44% refer to it occasionally, and 26% rarely or never use it.

The User’s Guide is just one of a set of books in progress that form the complete documentation for the project. The latest versions are available as PDF files, free for anyone to download. The survey asked all respondents how often they use the PDFs.

How often do you use the PDF manuals?

When I first got my MEGA65 in May of 2022, I wrote Dan’s MEGA65 Welcome Guide as a supplement to the official documentation, intending to patch over the gaps between the intended experience and the first delivery batch that I knew would be fixed in later versions. It ended up being a generally useful resource for many. 62% of respondents were aware of the Welcome Guide.

How do you prefer to read?

The survey asked about what medium you prefer your documentation. My personal preference would be professionally printed manuals, and the MEGA65 documentation was set up to maybe someday become a multi-volume printed set, similar to the printed User’s Guide. I wanted to gauge interest in crowdfunding a professional print run. Crowdfunding can be tricky with a small population, especially one that’s difficult to reach. Print-on-demand services are easy to use with no up-front or on-going monetary investment, and they have significant advantages for global fulfillment, but they’re lower quality than what I have in mind. My favored option for printing would require a minimum print run.

In the survey, I proposed a hypothetical version of this project where an “entire set” (with the actual content to be determined) might cost $150 USD, and individual volumes might cost $35 USD. I asked everyone their preference: the entire set, a couple of volumes, print-on-demand, or digital only.

Purchasing printed manuals

If the responses are representative of the preferences of everyone who will own a MEGA65 by the end of 2023 and enough of them could be reached to announce a crowdfunding campaign and at least half of them backed the project, we could make fancy books a reality. It’d be a limited print run, followed up by a secondary print-on-demand version available in perpetuity. I like these odds well enough. Even if the crowdfunding campaign never happens, investing in content will improve the digital versions and we can easily do an official print-on-demand offering when we feel they’re in a state worth printing.

I’m also going to try to get a web version of the documentation working. No promises—it’ll be a chunk of work to clear up the LaTeX for web export—but it’s a worthy goal.

Dan’s MEGA65 Digest

If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of my monthly email newsletter, Dan’s MEGA65 Digest. I initially announced the survey in the Digest, so it’s not surprising that 60% of respondents were aware of the Digest before the survey. I’m delighted to see that 39% of respondents were unaware, because that means two things: 1) there are more people out there who might be interested, and 2) our efforts to promote the survey reached beyond people already aware of the Digest.

Of the people aware of the Digest, 67% read the text version by email. 15% go to my website directly, and a few use RSS or the Substack website. It’s good to see that I could migrate the Digest to another newsletter provider if needed and probably nobody would miss it.

Did you know that there’s an audio podcast version of the Digest? 42% of people familiar with the Digest did not know. 18% listen to at least some issues by audio. 51% of listeners use the Substack service to do so (because clicking on the email takes you there), and 37% of listeners use a podcast app. I enjoy making the audio version and I’m grateful that some find it entertaining.

Thank you all for the generous comments in the free-text field! Some people asked for more advanced technical topics, and others asked for less advanced technical topics. 😊 Several people mentioned interest in a print anthology, or just a printed zine. I’m not sure I could fill a print zine each month—at least not without collaborators.

Community resources

62% of all respondents are aware of the MEGA65 Filehost, an essential community resource. 91% of owners who responded to the survey know about it.

Of those who are aware, almost everyone has used the Files section to browse and download files. 47% of respondents who own a MEGA65 have redeemed their owner code, which is surprisingly low! You need to redeem your owner code to access release packages containing the closed ROM (though there are other ways to get the closed ROM). The survey asks about other features of Filehost, and it generally looks like people use them proportional to the amount of material posted in those categories. No surprises here.

83% of all respondents are aware of the MEGA65 Discord, and 54% have an account. Of those that have an account, 29% visit it daily.

76% of all respondents are aware of the MEGA65 section of, and 33% have an account. Of those that have an account, 18% visit it daily.

25% of all respondents have both a Discord account and a Forum64 account. 75% of them visit the Discord at least once a month. 28% of them (7% of all respondents) visit the Discord daily.


What is your level of experience with writing computer programs?

The majority of respondents have more than 10 years of experience writing computer programs. The survey purposefully did not make a distinction between professional vs. hobbyist programming: the survey used phrases like “writing computer programs” to be inclusive of both.

79% of all respondents said they are interested in writing their own programs for the MEGA65. Those that expressed interest were presented additional questions about programming tools.

Of those that want to program, 75% are interested in assembly language, and 75% are interested in BASIC 65.

Programming languages of interest

The survey offered a free-text box to express interest in other programming languages. Python was mentioned multiple times. In my experiences with Python and with retro computing, I’ve seen many people wonder aloud if MicroPython could be ported to a vintage computer. In those discussions, the quality of C compilers that target retro platforms has been mentioned as an issue, so I wonder if it’s a topic worth revisiting in the context of llvm-mos. Pascal also got multiple mentions, which is more likely to be built from scratch for the MEGA65 by an enterprising hobbyist.

The survey listed a bunch of popular cross-development tools and let everyone pick their favorites. Visual Studio Code, CBM prg Studio, Kick Assembler, and cc65 were top of mind for most people. Several people mentioned C64 Studio in the free-text responses.

I know people that love cross development, writing programs for the MEGA65 using a modern computer. I also know people that love on-device development, preferring to shut off the modern computer and use the MEGA65 as its own programming environment. The survey asked for your preference, and results were split three ways: on-device development, cross development, and “depends on the project” all got roughly the same proportion of responses.


65% of respondents are between 45 and 54 years old. Remaining respondents are roughly split between 35-44 years old and 55 years or older, with only a few respondents in other age groups.

Heat map of survey respondents by country

Heat map of survey respondents by country in Europe

The MEGA65 community is international, with strong contingents in Germany and the United States.

Discussion about the MEGA65 on is almost entirely in the German language, and making MEGA65 programming resources available in the German language is a frequent topic of discussion. For the survey, I asked two questions about spoken language: in what language(s) do you prefer to socialize online, and in what language(s) do you prefer to consume technical information?

86% of everyone who answered these questions answered both questions with the same language or languages. 80% of these said English. 7% said they preferred German exclusively for both. 10% offered both English and German as their answer in both categories.

14% of respondents gave different answers for preferred languages for socializing vs. technical information. Of those that gave different answers, 85% said English was preferable or at least acceptable for consuming technical information. 13% preferred technical information in German.

Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, Spanish, and Swedish were all mentioned at least once. I won’t draw any conclusions due to sample size, but it’s exciting to list them all out!

The survey asked for everyone’s preferred social media service. This is a bad question. Outside of the Digest, the survey was promoted almost exclusively on social media, and so response rates are most likely to correspond to visibility of the survey announcements on those platforms. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that Facebook and (née Twitter) are still important ways to reach people.

Despite how the survey was promoted, 22% of respondents say they do not use a social networking service. There was some ambiguity in the question about whether Discord qualifies as social media. The survey did not include it in the list, but it included a free-text prompt for other services and many used it to mention Discord. Combining social media non-users and users of services the survey did not list, that’s 28% of respondents.

Other vintage and modern-retro computers

Commodore ownership, then and now

Nearly every respondent has owned or used a Commodore 64 in their lifetime. 76% of respondents currently own a Commodore 64. Only 2% of respondents have never owned or used a Commodore computer.

45% of respondents own an SD2IEC device. 35% own an Ultimate 1541 (any model). Of potential interest to future MEGA65 cartridge authors, 21% of respondents own an EasyFlash 3, and 10% own an EasyFlash 1 or 1CR (purchase link).

34% own, have preordered, or intend to order at least one of several retro-style modern computers that the survey listed. The breakdown between the models isn’t interesting, mostly corresponding to the current availability of those machines.

Modern computers

53% of respondents use a Windows computer. 22% use an Apple laptop or desktop. 20% use a Linux laptop or desktop.

Of the Windows users, 44% are using Windows 11, and 52% are using Windows 10. Several people are using Windows 7.

Of the Apple users, 73% have an Apple Silicon (M1 or M2) processor, and 26% have an Intel processor. 53% are using macOS 13 Ventura, the latest stable release. 31% are on the macOS 14 Sonoma public beta. 13% are using older versions of macOS.

I did not ask about Linux distributions or variants, nor did I ask about Intel vs. ARM for Linux or Windows. Tablets (iOS, Android), BSD variants, Windows Subsystem for Linux, AmigaOS 4.1, and MorphOS were represented in the minority replies.

MEGA65 project feedback

The survey concluded with an invitation to provide free-text feedback to the MEGA65 project. I will try to summarize common themes and provide my own commentary based on my experiences with the project in the last year. This will naturally reflect my own biases.

Enthusiasm. Nearly everyone took this opportunity to express words of encouragement and praise for the project. Thank you all for your kindness and generosity! It is gratifying to know there are so many people out there who believe in the MEGA65 project and are enthusiastic about the community and what everyone has accomplished so far.

Price and shipping cost. As of this writing, the MEGA65 production model, with the mechanical keyboard, injection molded plastic case, and built-in 3.5" floppy disk drive, has a retail price of 666.66 € ($722.38 USD), not including taxes or shipping costs. The total cost to buy one delivered to where I am in the United States is 790.20 € ($856.79 USD). This price alienates some people who are interested in the project, due either to the value proposition or the ability to pay. Less expensive options include running the MEGA65 core on a Nexys Artix A7 FPGA development board, or running the MEGA65 ROM in the Xemu emulator. The central FPGA chip dominates the price, and burning the chipset design into cheaper ASICs would require several orders of magnitude more people interested. (And of course, ASIC-based computers would not be upgradeable.) Counterintuitively, eliminating the floppy drive does not meaningfully reduce the cost, and new plastic case shapes would require an up-front investment in new moulds.

Shipping delays and shipping updates. Many who have preordered a MEGA65 have experienced shipping waits longer than one year. Estimating shipping dates has been nearly impossible over the past two years due to the unavailability of essential components, and a reliable estimate is only possible after all parts have been acquired by our assembly and distribution partner Trenz Electronic. Trenz has been great about responding to customer service inquiries with rough guesses, but it is not currently a regular practice to send periodic emails to pre-order customers during the process. Some survey respondents expressed concern about the lack of proactive order status communication. Due to privacy laws in Germany, Trenz Electronic is not allowed to share their list of pre-order customers with the project team. The best we’ve been able to offer so far is to use other communication channels to encourage everyone to subscribe to the newsletter or follow project announcement channels on the Discord, YouTube, or Paul’s developer blog. It has been a challenge to make sure pre-order customers are aware of these resources.

Sources of technical information. The MEGA65 has a substantial amount of technical documentation available, but this can be difficult to notice given how that information is stored and disseminated. Survey respondents pointed out that having information spread over PDF manuals, a Confluence Wiki, and Filehost articles is inconvenient, and it’s unclear where to find each kind of information. Sometimes the easiest way to get an answer to a technical question is to ask the Discord chat, but answers to questions previously asked are difficult to find, and both the community and its discussion archives are only available to Discord users. Discord is an ephemeral medium and does not function as a technical resource, at least not a passive one, and it’s unreasonable to expect all users to read every discussion. Moreover, none of these resources are reliably indexed by search engines, either by design (Discord cannot be crawled; Confluence blocks crawlers) or by unintended technical limitations. Multiple survey respondents wished for a more traditional open-access web forum, and some are disappointed that only a subset of the community participates on

Better software. Many MEGA65 owners want to use their computer to run games and applications written by others. Without a large library of quality titles (for some relative definition of “quality”), the MEGA65 is mostly useful for learning to program, writing programs from scratch, or running C64 software via the C64 core (or GO64 mode). Some respondents emphasized that they would be willing to pay for quality MEGA65 software. Some respondents said they are waiting for the software library to grow before investing in a purchase.

German-language technical resources. Multiple respondents used the free-text feedback field to emphasize the need for German-language technical information. There is a German MEGA65 handbook that is highly valued. The topic of German-language video tutorials, livestreams, and classes comes up occasionally on

Technical issues. Several respondents mentioned some of the common technical issues we have experienced in the first year, both in the electrical hardware and in the core and ROM. The new main board revision will help with some of these, and the core and ROM are active projects that welcome contributors. Many respondents expressed gratitude for everyone who is contributing fixes, and are excited to see the work continue.

Feature areas. Many respondents were excited about the potential for new features, including networking applications, D64 disk image support, more alternate cores, and more on-device programming environments and tools. Several respondents wished for more programming tutorials and recipes. Several respondents expressed an interest in a more compact version of the keyboard case without the floppy drive. Others reminded us that some owners of R3A boards would be interested in buying a bare R5 board as an upgrade. (I considered asking about interest in an R5 upgrade as a survey question, but we don’t know how much such an upgrade would cost. We don’t realize economies of scale in the hundreds of units, so it doesn’t help to forecast sales.)

More community events and publications. Respondents expressed an interest in more live streams like the MEGAVISION live stream that took place earlier this year. Conferences were also mentioned. There were multiple suggestions for a print magazine.


One of the biggest questions I wanted to answer with the survey was, how effective have we been at connecting the MEGA65 community with the project, and how can we improve? Communities around projects tend to form layers of engagement, and we want to foster the growth of all of those layers and reach as many people as possible that would benefit from the project. We have known issues with making resources available in search engines and providing information to pre-order customers. We can only hope that as people get more interested, they look for community resources more aggressively.

The first test was simply, how many people can we get to take the survey? 509 respondents feels downright miraculous considering that only 900 people currently own a MEGA65 (DevKit or production model). We aren’t privy to the number of pending pre-orders but we believe it is over 1,000. The survey promotion reached quite a few people who are interested enough in the project to take the survey but have not yet pre-ordered, but it’s impossible to guess the size of that population from the survey alone.

Our limited ability to reach out to the community makes it difficult to promote resources like Dan’s MEGA65 Digest, and difficult to promote community projects that require financial support. A small number of free-text responses in the survey ask for things that already exist, which suggests that we could be doing more to promote the resources we already have.

The survey asked about several specific community resources, projects, and concepts, and made a distinction between “I know about that resource but don’t use it” vs. “I didn’t know about that resource.” These replies are a useful indicator of how well information about the project has disseminated. The following numbers are shown as percentages of owners. Owners are more likely to be familiar with resources, and have a known population size as a basis for the sample. This is not meant to exclude non-owners from consideration, only to have a basis for comparison.

  • 10% of owners replied that they did not know about the JTAG or UART serial adapter.
  • 4% did not know about the DevKit.
  • 13% did not know about the Nexys FPGA dev board.
  • 34% did not know abut the Wukong FPGA dev board.
  • 20% did not know about Hibernated 1 by Stefan Vogt. The numbers were similar for Showdown by Badger Punch Games.
  • 13% were unaware of the Xemu emulator.
  • 5% were unaware of the PDF manuals.
  • 16% were unaware of the MEGA65 Welcome Guide.
  • 22% were unaware of Dan’s MEGA65 Digest.
  • 8% were unaware of Filehost.
  • 7% were unaware of the MEGA65 Discord.
  • 14% were unaware of

Conclusions and next steps

The MEGA65 is an open source volunteer-run project. It doesn’t have development resources so much as interested parties. Nevertheless, many people who work on the project want the project as a whole to succeed, and want to work on important things, so seeing which tasks can have the most impact can influence contributors.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally, I’m more motivated to work on information visibility. This was already my area of focus with the Digest. I have ideas for making our information easier to find in search engines, and I hope to use my web development background to improve our web-based resources and community tools. I also want to evolve the Digest to make it more visible and interesting to a larger audience. The Digest is our primary tool for disseminating news and project status—including best available information on shipping updates—and I want everyone who is interested in the project (at any level) to at least be aware of it.

I’m excited to see that we might be able to afford a high-quality print run of the manuals, if we can finish them. Print books are a fun addition to the retro experience, and they’re one of my favorite things to make. It’s good to be reminded by the data that many people would prefer browser and e-reader-friendly resources, and hopefully we can produce both print and web resources using the same content.

There’s an opportunity for German content creators to fill a need. Bloggers, YouTubers, and live streamers capable of producing tutorials and walkthroughs in German—at any level of technical complexity or production value—could have a big impact. I’ve seen people ask for German-language BASIC programming introductions on You don’t need to know a ton about the internals of the machine to help others with their first steps, and simply blogging your own learning adventure can attract a grateful audience. We can also consider crowdfunding a professional German translation of the manuals once they are reasonably complete.

There’s no shortage of interest in improving the platform or the hardware, just a shortage of time. I believe our open source processes are in decent shape, so if anyone is interested in helping out, please reach out on the Discord. Bug reports are always welcome, even if you are unable to submit bug fixes.

As for growing the software library, the number of owners is expected to more than double by the end of the year. It’ll be exciting to see what everyone comes up with!

That’s it for this year’s survey! Thanks again to everyone who responded. Let me know if you have any feedback on the survey itself or this report. We might do this again next year.

— Dan