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JNIOR: Unprecedented access to internals

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Has anyone heard of the JNIOR? You know there are 10s of thousands of them all over the globe but it is still pretty much a secret. We don't actually market it. I mean that we do not employ marketing people nor have any budget for that. No hype, spin or really any effort to spam anyone. Not at all interested in that. Business grows by word of mouth (I guess). We are just a small group of engineers and computer science types focused on making something great and making every customer happy.

I am the creator of the product. The first versions of my making shipped in 2005. Some of those are still running today. I selected the components (the Series 4 is Renesas RX63N based); Designed the circuits and laid out the PCBs; We buy components and run our own stencil machine, pick and place, reflow, selective solder, etc.; I wrote the operating system called JANOS. It is not an RTOS and closer to Linux on that spectrum. There is not one byte of third party code in that OS. I wrote every byte. I even wrote my own set of standard C library routines so as to not integrate code forced upon you by the Renesas IDE. I guess you would say that we are extreme DIY. The goal is to not be dependent on any other companies and be completely in control of our own destiny. No overnight surprises slipped in by third parties. You can't completely do that of course. But we make a serious run at it.

I am just looking for a place to chat should anyone have an interest. We are considering a Series 5 version of the product. Perhaps moving to Renesas RX72N at higher clock speeds for fun. ST Micro and others have been in here trying to move us in another direction.

The JNIOR can actually generate the attached document. We print it, bind it and call it the Book of JANOS for fun. Not an RTOS? What do you think?

I had absolutely never heard of it. What are these typically used for?
I like the idea of 0% third-party code.
Never actually seen (myself) a product using those Renesas MCUs. What was your experience with them? Looking at specs, I would indeed consider possibly going a different, less vendor-tied direction for future products.

About 70% of the JNIORs go into movie theatres where they are used with maybe 1 of every 3 screens worldwide (seriously everywhere). There they basically work to integrate media server, projectors, sound systems with local systems like lighting, screen masking, curtains. Been shipping to that market since 2005.

They are also used in energy monitoring, environmental monitoring, security and transportation. And since there is no cost (or need for our involvement) in customizing them we find them used in all kinds of odd-ball applications like monitoring lightning detection systems and sirens on golf courses (Canada). Oh, and also in public transportation where they control the doors on people movers in airports, monitor track-side equipment, etc. I actually do not have an exhaustive list. It would be something a marketing person might want to do if we had one.

The company early on developed controls software for AB PLCs basically for the newspaper industry. Not everything that had to be controlled/monitored justified the cost (or load on) the main PLCs. So they conceived of a low-end controller. Around 2004 Kodak discovered JNIOR online and started to utilize it with a pre-show system they were developing for cinemas. You know, those slide shows between features. So I got involved creating a version of JNIOR for them that could be mass-produced. That started out with the Dallas DS80C400 processors programmed as Java JVMs. Those were 8-bit 8051 derivatives I believe.They worked albeit slowly. We called those Series 3 JNIORs. There are many shipped in 2005 still running out there.

Around 2011 the Dallas part went EOL. So we looked at ARM and other 32-bit options. ARM processors just seemed like a moving target to me. There were too many flavors and it was difficult to decide which to lock into. I needed a processor that would be stable and available for 10 years. I do not like having to support multiple levels of things. I was attracted to the RX MCU because it not only had the MIPS but also the variable length instruction set for a smaller code footprint. Renesas also committed to 10 year (and more) availability of the part. I prototyped with the RX62N and moved to RX63N before production.

My operating system (called JANOS) comes very close to Linux in functionality. It is actually an amalgamation of CP/M, the Dallas TINI shell, and Linux command set and syntax. The whole thing is distributed in around 700KB. That includes fully featured web server with PHP-like server side (compiled) scripting including TLS v1.2. Application programs are written in Java (a managed language) so there is a complete JVM executing JAR files directly (built against our runtime). I developed our own OS both so we can make a new version of the product (Series 4) to continue the JNIOR experience but also to be completely in control of it. I am sick of dealing with code written by masses or unknown hacks. When something isn't working it needs to be my fault so I can fix it. Can't point fingers hoping to get someone else to fix their own mess. It is hard enough to prove their stuff is broken let alone get it changed in a timely fashion. We generally fix an issue in less than 24 hours and get the customer an update.

I exposed the PHP-like scripting at the command line for batch use leveraging the code. Most of us try to program scripts at the command line to do all kinds of things. I thought it would be fun to bring the C-like world that PHP has to that. It works and is interesting to play with.

Anyway, marketing for 2023 came to $128 according to IRS filings. Can't think of what that was? We are just completely dedicated to supporting our existing customer base. It is not about pushing inferior product out into as many hands as possible whether they want it or not. Business grows by word of mouth. It is actually fun for us.

But... we work in our own self-created vacuum (extreme DIY). I was hoping to share experiences, you know, before I retire.

After your long write up what that thing is used for I still do not understand what that thing is. Can you give a one line description of what the product *is* ?

It is a single board network-enabled programmable logic controller.

Never needed an elevator pitch... no investors. I posted the user's manual above. Even our website likely doesn't explain itself well-enough ( or

I made this. um, a while ago...

Not trying to sell it here. Just looking to chat with peers. You know, I don't want to fall in the woods and not make some sound.


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