Posted on

Freedom of Thought

Deep thinking often requires writing. The writing down of thoughts can be affected by perceived privacy. Thus, the erosion of perceived privacy may reduce the capacity for deep thought.

I’ve always been interested in writing. I believe that in order to write interesting things, you can’t censor yourself, you have to write the first thought that pops into your mind. For me at least, this process requires privacy, because you’re putting down drafts of personal, unpolished thoughts, some of which you disagree with, and some you might find embarrassing, offensive or ridiculous and wouldn’t want others reading.

Over the years my perception of privacy while writing has diminished as computers have become more complex. I had essentially given up on the belief that any privacy existed when using a computer. Today, even the most advanced and security conscious users can’t be completely certain that they have total privacy.

This is a big part of what set me on the mission of creating computers that I could understand and trust at all levels. The computers that we’re making are simple enough to understand and even their CPUs can be audited. My hope is that these computers can help to restore, at least, perceived privacy, and potentially unleash more freedom of thought.

The computer itself isn’t the only threat vector, there is also the input and output devices. These are also difficult challenges but we hope to eventually offer solutions for them as well.

You can follow us on X and GitHub for the latest updates.

Posted on

FPGA Computing

Machdyne makes open-source FPGA computers. In this post we’ll explain what an FPGA computer is, what they can be used for, and why we’re bothering to make them.

An FPGA (field-programmable gate array) is chip that contains an array of programmable logic blocks. Together, these logic blocks can be configured to act as various digital circuits. FPGAs often have thousands of logic blocks that allow them to act as complex circuits, such as a CPU and a chipset, also known as a System-on-a-Chip (SoC).

FPGA computers can become completely different systems by simply updating their configuration memory with different “gateware”. For example, an FPGA computer could be configured as a 64-bit RISC-V SoC running Linux one minute, and a NES with an 8-bit 6502 CPU running Super Mario Bros the next minute.

Some use cases for FPGA computers include:

  • General purpose computing.
  • Timeless computing.
  • Retro computing and retro gaming.
  • Custom CPU and SoC development.

You might say – hey I can already do all of that on my regular computer. It’s true, and you can do general purpose computing much faster on your everyday computer than with an FPGA computer.

So why are we bothering to make FPGA computers? While we are interested in advancing all of the above use cases, our primary focus is on what we call timeless computing – the use of computers to run timeless applications. Our vision is to create a stable, secure, responsive computing environment for the most important timeless applications (reading, writing, math, education, organization, communication, automation, etc.)

You can think of this as a supplemental computer that you would only use for certain tasks, like writing a book or learning something new, but probably not for paying your taxes or browsing the web.

These computers will not replace your “daily driver” but they will provide a simple environment without many of the distractions and annoyances found with modern computers. And because they are simple, understandable and completely open-source, they have the potential to provide a level of privacy and security not possible with most modern computers.

In order to create such an environment we’re pursuing two simultaneous approaches for the gateware and software:

  1. Kakao Linux – This is a Linux distribution that runs on top of a RISC-V SoC that is optimized for running Linux on our hardware. This works today and you can read about what’s already possible in our post on practical timeless computing.
  2. Zucker SoC – This is a custom RISC-V SoC designed for our hardware. Over the coming years we intend to create a completely new computing experience, with a new graphical operating system and new applications developed in tandem with our SoC and specifically for our hardware. The result will be something like what computing might look like in a parallel universe where everything progressed in a slightly different, and maybe better way.

While our computer hardware is still evolving, it was all created with our long-term goals in mind, and we intend to support all of our hardware into the future. You can confidently buy any of our computers today knowing that they have the ability to gain new and improved functionality in the future. And because our hardware, software and the toolchains they use are open-source, you can modify our computers however you want and even create your own CPU, SoC and software.

Thanks for reading. We want the FPGA computer to be an elegant tool for a more civilized age that’s yet to come, and you’re invited to join us on the journey to bring them into existence. You can follow us on X and GitHub for the latest updates.

Posted on

The Zeitreise Cyberdeck

Zeitreise Cyberdeck

Zeitreise is a minimalist slabtop cyberdeck with a chorded keyboard designed as a test platform and demo for some of our upcoming cyberdeck components:

Zeitreise is based on the Kaugummi FPGA computer, which is capable of running Kakao Linux on a RISC-V SOC built with LiteX.

Typing on the Akkord Acht keyboard requires pressing the binary equivalent of an ASCII code, for example to type an ‘a’ you would press 01100001 and for backspace you would press 00001000.

Part of the fun of building a cyberdeck is choosing the components and customizing the design, so we don’t currently plan to sell complete cyberdecks, but rather to offer components that make it easier and more fun to build them.

Inside the Zeitreise Cyberdeck

We intend to open-source the Zeitreise design after some additional testing and refinement so that it can be used as a starting point for your own design.

We also plan to release additional cyberdeck components, including a LiFePO4 power supply and a more traditional keyboard.

Posted on

Announcing Mozart

Mozart Motherboard

Mozart Prototype

Mozart is the first of our next-generation computers. Mozart is a motherboard that requires a “Sechzig” compute module to operate.

Moving to a motherboard + module design was an obvious next step for us. Our computers were getting more complicated and we wanted to support FPGAs from multiple vendors. We also believe that we now know what functionality is necessary for useful “timeless” computers.

We will likely develop additional Single Board Computers as well. If you’ve already purchased one of our FPGA computers or plan to, don’t worry. Not only will we continue to support them, but they will likely gain improvements from the development of our next-generation computers.


Sechzig ML1 Prototype

Sechzig is a work-in-progress compute module specification that takes the physical form of a 60-pin 2.54mm pitch edge card.

A lot of people are probably screaming at the screen “why didn’t you use <some other> connector?”

This is a good criticism and the connector will be a limitation of Sechzig. However, the mission of Machdyne is not to provide high-speed or cutting-edge features, but instead to support timeless applications with simple, reliable, understandable hardware.

We hope to offer FPGA modules, with a variety of memory configurations, from multiple vendors. We are also considering developing modules for various RISC-V ASIC SOCs in the future.

In the coming days you will be able to find additional details in the Sechzig GitHub repo.

Going Fully Open-Source

Mozart and the Sechzig modules will be our first fully open-source designs, including all schematic diagrams and PCB layouts.

We are also planning to begin open-sourcing the majority of our previous FPGA computer PCB designs, in addition to the schematics that we provide now.

This has always been our plan, but we’ve hesitated for two main reasons: (1) it will expose all of our ignorance and mistakes; of which there are plenty (2) it will be time-consuming to determine the redistribution licensing requirements of all symbols and footprints that we’ve at times haphazardly pulled into the various projects.

Despite the potential anguish, we feel obligated to fully open-source our designs in order to meet one of the stated goals of our mission:

Open; open-sourced software and hardware provide confidence about security, repairability and longevity

As with our other computers, we will also provide an open-source 3D-printable case design for Mozart.

Notice to Developers & Early Adopters

This is our most ambitious project yet and there is a possibility that the Sechzig specification will need to change during early revisions. As with our other computers, these boards should be considered as prototypes. If you’re still interested in buying one you can reserve a Mozart.

Posted on

Practical timeless computing.


Timeless (adj.) not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion

We make computers designed for timeless applications. We have previously written about timeless computing in a theoretical way, this post is about using our computers to create a practical environment for timeless applications.

While modern computers are very fast and useful for a wide variety of tasks, some use cases may benefit from a separate environment that fosters simplicity, clarity, focus, patience, security, privacy and low power consumption.

Our computers, when combined with our Kakao Linux distribution, can be used to create such an environment.


Use Cases

The reasons that people may want to use our computers will vary widely, but here are some possible use cases:

Writing. Kakao includes nano, a “small and friendly” text editor. Combined with automated backups to a secondary storage device (for example a USB drive) a writer can be productive in a secure, private and distraction-free environment.



Math & Coding. Kakao includes the vi text editor, MicroPython and TinyScheme. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert you could easily spend hundreds of hours experimenting with algorithms and improving your skills using these three programs alone.



Automation. When combined with a Werkzeug or a similar device, these computers can be used to control and automate external devices such as motors, relays, solenoids, actuators, etc.




Survivalism. Our computers are built to last, simple enough to understand and repairable with common inexpensive electronics equipment. The extremely low power requirements make it feasible to run them off battery or solar power and our Ark information distribution provides useful information even when offline.



Education. Our computers are perfect for learning and teaching about computing, programming, SOCs, CPUs, FPGAs, digital logic and a lot more. The Ark information distribution provides access to hundreds of books and thousands of articles. While the interface you will use is mostly text-based, it is also possible to view images, maps and diagrams.



Expertism. The nature of our computers allows them to be examined and understood from the lowest to the highest levels. Some of the most useful programs and languages available on our computers are over 50 years old, and will likely still be useful 50 years from now. Some may prefer to master these instead of constantly learning the latest programs, IDEs and languages.



Choosing a Computer

For most users interested in timeless computing, we recommend either Konfekt or Noir. These computers are intended for all types of users.

Building your System

In order to use Konfekt or Noir you will need the following items:

  • Monitor (HDMI or VGA/DVI with an HDMI adapter)
  • Keyboard (USB)
  • Power source (such as a generic USB-C charger and cable)
  • MicroSD card (8GB+ name brand such as SanDisk recommended for LiteX compatibility)
  • Optional: USB hub (we currently only recommend the Anker AK-A7516011)
  • Optional: 3D-printed enclosure

All of our computers are designed to be placed inside of an enclosure. Our case designs are open-source and can be printed with most 3D printers. We highly recommend using a case in order to increase the lifespan of your computer.


Our computers ship with a removable MMOD that contains the FPGA gateware. This gateware defines a Linux capable system, including the CPU. All of the gateware, firmware, software and tools used to build the system are open-source and can be audited or tailored to fit your needs.

You can install Kakao Linux on your MicroSD card by following these instructions.

You can install Ark on your MicroSD card by following these instructions.