TERES I Do It Yourself Open Source Hardware and Software Hacker’s friendly laptop is complete

teres

We are proud to announce that our TERES I laptop is complete. We have assembled units and now working on the software.

The building instructions are uploaded here and you can see that it’s pretty easy to build one yourself.

This weekend in Bruxell at FOSDEM we will have table in Hall AW where every one could touch and play with the very first built laptops.

All spare parts are uploaded at the web.

Hardware CAD files and Linux build scripts are on GitHub. TERES I is completely designed with KiCAD FOSS so everyone can download and learn, study, edit, modify.

Hardwarewise everything is OK and works, the software need some care to be completed, power supply management, Linux distribution, and few more details need attention, but we hope everything to be complete till Friday!

FOSDEM 2017 is approaching, are you ready for soldering workshops and playing with TERES-I DIY Hacker’s friendly OSHW laptop?

fosdem

FOSDEM is the biggest event in Europe about Open Source technologies.

Every year thousands of FOSS/OSHW enthusiasts and professionals meet in Brussels in ULB (Universite Libre de Bruxelles) in 41 Dev Rooms and talk about interesting problems they have faced during the year.

We just got e-mail that Olimex is approved for booth there!

So prepare for soldering workshop fun with the OSHW-GHOST and FOSDEM-85!

TERES-I Do It Yourself Hacker’s friendly modular Laptop designed completely with KiCAD will be also present at the booth.

KiCAD developers are in EDA room and as far I heard there will be very interesting tutorials and how-to’s examples how to implement simple new commands and extensions to KiCAD for people who want to contribute code.

So plan in advance your flight to Brussels, we looking forward to see you there 4th and 5th of February 2017!

Open Fest 2016 – Soldering of the Open Source Hardware GHOST

“A ghost is haunting Europe—the ghost of communism.” said Carl Marx in 1848

We can re-phrase “A Ghost is haunting OpenFest 2016 – the ghost of open source hardware” 😀

We created this Soldering Kit specially for Open Fest as third year in a row we do soldering workshops there:

oshw1

It’s a very simple board, specially made for novices with small PIC10F206 microcontroller which has only 512 words of Flash memory and 24 bytes of RAM, still enough to write C code like this.

In the good Olimex traditions being overwhelmed with work we totally forgot for the soldering workshop and started the project 3 weeks before OpenFest 🙂

The board was quickly routed with KiCAD and we sent to PCB manufacturer in China, who keep the promise to make the blank PCBs for 1 week and shipped on time but DHL late with the customs clearance and we got the board Friday morning! The workshop was Saturday and Sunday, right on time!

Then we had half Friday fun with Microchip’s MPLABX tools, which refused to re-program the PIC10F206 once it’s programmed.

After few hours we found that MPLABX version 3.35 can program and erase PIC10F206 just fine but MPLABX 3.45 don’t.

Still there was enough time till 20.00 o’clock and we managed to program 200 kits ready for soldering next day 🙂

The initial intention was to make LED breathe but after losing so much time with MPLABX we decided the first version to be simple 10 times blink!

Here you can see people assembling it on OpenFest:

openfest

Girls, Boys, Kids all were not afraid and took the soldering irons:

openfest2

openfest3

After OpenFest we continued to investigate why the newer MPLABX refused to program PIC10F206 more than once, the problem was trivial, to erase it the Vcc must be above 4.5V:

voltage-configuration

Still interesting why MPLABX 3.35 was erasing it even without this voltage settings 🙂

This is why working with embedded systems is such fun. You never know where you can step aside and you have to worry not just for the code but also for the hardware as source of mistakes.

Needless to say we had no any assembly instructions for the kit at OpenFest, but now proudly we put them on the web site of the kit.

 

TERES-I DIY Open Source Hardware hacker’s Laptop update

keyb

It’s have been long time since I blogged about our laptop project.

What is the status – we have first PCBs prototyped and most of parts works fine.

We had to make Matrix keyboard + I2C touchpad to USB converter board. We did this with small AVR.

For this project we couldn’t use any of our standard connectors – we had to source all new: mini HDMI connectors, USB host connectors, power jack, audio jack connectors all they had to be low profile and embedded inside the PCB, hence this off form of the main PCB:

PCB

The LCDs used in laptops are not as the normal LCDs, they are very thin only 3mm or less and as their cable is special as must have as low as possible number of thin wires knitted together in very thin round cable, is has to go through laptop plastic’s hinges and normal cable can’t fit there. This is why all laptop LCDs are not parallel RGB neither LVDS but use eDP interface.

For bad luck A64 do not support such interface so we start to search LVDS/HDMI/RGB to eDP converter ICs. What we found is that Western suppliers solutions (TI etc) are more expensive than A64 chip itself so no go. We found Chinese solution for $1 NCS8801 and we said – well this is our solution 🙂 we made PCBs prototype and sourced few chips then we struggled by the lack of documentation 🙂 The ‘datasheet’ is 30 pages and the only code which is on the net initializes registers at addresses not mentioned in the datasheet, after spending almost 4 weeks on this we gave up and start looking for another solution. We found ANX6345 which is a bit more expensive but has some code in Linux Kernel and seems used with Rockchip ICs, so we hope this to solve LCD issue. We designed new board and got the new prototypes few days ago so they wait open window on assembly line to be assembled, crossing fingers everything to work 🙂

The mechanical parts has their history too. In June we placed orders to several different suppliers for the plastic parts, speakers, touchpads, power adapters, screws, hinges, total 40 different parts which are inside the laptop. The orders were complete in July and consolidated as one shipment on August 6 they were expressed with TNT and 2 days later were at Sofia airport, but the troubles just began 🙂

To import something may seems very easy for outsiders, but has it’s tricks. Usually every component can be classified in several positions in customs tariff, for instance LCDs have at least 7-8 different codes at which they can be imported, like they can be classified as display for computing equipment, as display for TV, as display for signage, as display for metal processing machine, etc etc. The trouble is that all these positions had different import tax 🙂 and of course Bulgarian customs try to force you to pay on the highest tariff code unless you prove them other. Another issue is that there work mostly people with economic education and very few know electronics matter. Import tax starts from 0% for computer parts and go up to 4-5% for TVs and machines, not small amount when you talk for $200 laptop parts! So laptop parts were sitting on customs 3 weeks as customs officers were trying to tariff every hinge, screw, plastic etc part as different product to tariff it with the highest code. Fortunately after 3 weeks of thinking somebody with common sense allowed all laptop spare parts to be imported as such with 0% tax and we got them today, but the fight will continue as this was only 10% of the order which we wanted to receive promptly paying expensive air transport, remain 90% parts still travel by sea and will arrive end of September, so let’s see how they will tariff these when arrive 🙂

We get lot of request when the laptop will be done and we love all our impatient customers 🙂

Guys be sure that we do anything humanly possible to release it as soon as we can, but to design something from scratch which you had never did before is not easy, once we do this I’m sure we will easily make 10 other laptops, but first time is always more difficult, to arrange logistic of so many parts and produce is not less challenging.

 

P.S. I hope you like the “Super” key on our new keyboard above 🙂

OLIMEX KiCAD components libraries are uploaded on GitHub

logo

We uploaded all our KiCAD libraries on GitHub and going to maintain them there.

Why we do this?  Because many beginners who download our OSHW boards are confused by the messages from KiCAD for missing libraries 🙂 this is easy to solve by adding RELATIVE paths to search the libraries as  we always provide the library cache with the boards, i.e. all components used in the board are cached locally in the project directory, but again many beginners are confused.

Now they have all components we use in our daily work, uploaded and updated daily.

NOTE: These components are specific to OUR production, technology, limitations, way of work etc. They work optimally for us allowing us to achieve maximum yield during production. There is no guarantee of any kind that these same settings will be best for your own production, SO USE THEM ON YOUR OWN RISK!

There are tons of duplicated components which also are defined in original KiCAD libraries, again we did these as the KiCAD default libraries are made up to vendor datasheets and may not work well in our own production process.

To give you example: TQFP 0.5 mm step ICs per datasheet must have 0.3 mm width pads with 0.2 mm spaces between the pads, but using our process this yields in lot of shorts, so we made them with 0.25 mm pads width and 0.25 mm space, the 120 um thick stencils we use give best yield with 0.23 mm pad opening for solder paste – this may be not optimal for other manufacturer process who use other thickness stencils etc. BUT it works best for our technology and process based on our experience and tests.

Almost every components in our libraries have such considerations when it’s created. I hope you got the idea.

Note that almost none of our components have 3D draiwng, because our people still didn’t learn any 3D CAD tool well enough to make these, neither we use this KiCAD 3D drawing feature in our work. It may be improved in future, but for the moment if you need 3D drawing to some component you can do it by yourself and contribute back 🙂

 

 

A64-OLinuXino update, the Rev.B design will be possible to produce in industrial grade -40+85C, dual voltage eMMC 3.3/1.8V

А64-1cut

A64-OLinuXino first prototypes were made in March and lot of people wonder why we do not release for mass production this board yet 🙂 so we got lot of e-mails and I see there is need for blog post with update.

Here is the recap from the first prototypes:

  • RAM memory works at amazing 667Mhz clock much more than A20 and other boards and the board works stabile under stress tests for many hours
  • eMMC works fine, we didn’t test NAND Flash due to the missing Linux support probabbly this will stay just as option and we will assembly the boards with eMMC which is faster, better and in industrial temperature
  • Linux Kernel is 3.10.65 and works fine, we managed to run all peripherials
  • Audio In and Out is working
  • HDMI is working
  • USB host is working
  • USB-OTG is working
  • WiFi+BT is working
  • MIPI interface – no display which to use to test, any ideas?
  • HSIC interface – don’t know how to test, any ideas?
  • LiPo charger and step up works
  • LCD works
  • Ethernet Gigabit interface works just in master mode

While we worked on this board we found new PHY from Microchip which can be ordered in industrial temperature, we tested it with A20 and it works fine (we already have LIME2 version with it which is on prototype), so we decided to re-design the Ethernet part of A64-OLinuXino with it, this will allow us to produce A64-OLinuXino in industrial temperature grade -40+85C.

Another major upgrade for Rev.B is around eMMC interface, we re-designed it as per your feedback to be possible to work on programmable 3.3V and 1.8V thus to allow faster transfers.

Rev.B is routed at 90% we need 1 more week to complete it and run new prototypes. If everything goes smoothly we will be ready by end of the month.

 

Friday Free Board Quiz – the prize is ICE40HX1K-EVB Question: How preciese is KiCAD and what is the smallest unit in pcbnew?

ice40-1

iCE40HX1K-EVB is Open Source Hardware FPGA board made with KiCAD which is now at assembly line and will be for sale next week on our web. This board can be programmed with the first Free and Open Source FPGA toolchain – ICESTORM.

iCE40HX1K-EVB is designed with KiCAD and we continue our series of questions regarding this amazing tool.

You have chance to be among the first to have iCE40HZ1K-EVB!

To participate in the Quiz is enough to re-tweet the Twitter Quiz announcement message.

To double your chances  answer the quiz question.

You have time to re-tweet and/or answer until Monday 27th of June.

In Monday we will post the correct answer and ask random.org to generate random number in range then announce the winner and ship the board by post/airmail.

Good Luck!

Previous Older Entries