TERES I assembly workshop this Saturday!

workshop

This Saturday 21st of October we will have TERES I assembly workshop!

Customers from Bulgaria who placed orders for TERES I DIY Open Source laptop will have their laptop kits ready and are invited to come and we assembly them together!

The assembly workshop will be in OLIMEX Training Buildingย and will start at 14.00 o’clock.

No need to have Laptop kit to participate, everyone is welcome to join us.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ we made PCBs prototype and sourced few chips then we struggled by the lack of documentation ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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%ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

We get lot of request when the laptop will be done and we love all our impatient customers ๐Ÿ™‚

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 likeย the “Super” key on our new keyboard above ๐Ÿ™‚

Help Day recap

HELP1

On 28 November we had Help Day at our training building, we got dozen of visitors!

Radoslav Kolev and Leon Anavi made talk about OpenEmbedded, Yocto, Poky:

HELP2

HELP3

They had the same talk at OpenFest but due to the limited time there they couldn’t show all demos, here they had plenty of time to show how core-minimal distribution is made, and how you can add your own programs to the distro.

What are the good practices when you build Linux with Yocto and why it’s choosen de-facto for Industry standard by all big players working for industrial and automotive applications.

We show H3-OLinuXino and A33-OLinuXino and of course the new DIY Laptop plastic parts:

HELP4

Everyone was able to touch and feel the different parts and plastics and to see the quality.

HELP5

The LCD is special laptop edition very thin and light with just 2.8 mm thickness.

HELP6

The battery is 8000mAh also very thin.

HELP7

you can see the laptop size compared with A20-OLinuXino-MICRO

HELP8

Total dimensions are 29 x 20 x 1 cm with final weight less 1 kg – a bit less the size of A4 paper.

A64 OLinuXino OSHW Linux Laptop idea becomes more real :)

laptop-kit

Few weeks ago I blogged about the idea to make OSHW Laptop based on Allwinner A64 64-bit SoC.

Today we received the first samples of the laptop plastic body.

The quality of the plastic parts is very good!

As you can see we have already sourced the plastic body, the battery, LCD display, keyboard, touchpad, speakers, camera, microphone and all fittings.

What’s left is to design the motherboard to fit inside the plastic body.

The feeling of building your very own laptop by yourself is incredible.

Every one can go to the shop and buy laptop, but to build one with your hands, and to know every component inside is different experience.

Weย start seriously thinking to make Do-It-Yourself kit version where you get all components and instructions and can build your laptop.

Why not choose different boards with different SOCs and configurations which you put up to your choice.

These who come to the Help Day this Saturday will be able to touch for first kits, we have one in White and one in Black.

Crossing fingers to may complete the mother boards to show at FOSDEM in January ๐Ÿ™‚

A64-OLinuXino OSHW 64-bit ARM DIY Laptop idea update

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A64-OLinuXino Laptop idea becomes with better shape, we managed to find supplier for the laptop plastic ABS body with 11.6″, 1366*768 LCD and keyboard where we can embed our A64-OLinuXino motherboard.

7

the body have power supply jack, 2x USB hosts, HDMI, SD card connector, headphones 3.5 mm jack, four speakers,camera, touchpad, power button

1

8

needless to mention this window button will become Tux ๐Ÿ˜€

 

We work on A64-OLinuXino the first Open Source Hardware 64-bit development board

A64

A64 was announced January this year by Allwinner. It’s a quad core 64 bit Cortex-A53 processor targeting tablets.

Some features are:

  • H.265/H.264 video decoding in hardware
  • HDMI 4K display support
  • DDR3L memory with lower consumption is supported
  • eMMC 5.0 support

Last week we got notice that Allwinner have already A64 in production and we will get some chips with the software SDK for Android 5.1 based on Linux Kernel 3.10 by the end of the month (yes they finally escaped from Kernel 3.4 ๐Ÿ™‚ ), so we started to work on our A64-OLinuXino.

This chip is with humble peripherials, as Allwinner target and announcement is to sell it for $5 in volume (obviously not for mortals as we have to buy the first chips at higher than this price).

  • LCD parallel RGB, LCD LVDS, MIPI and HDMI video output
  • Camera interface
  • One USB Host
  • One USB-OTG
  • Two SPI
  • Four I2C
  • Six UARTs

As you can see no Ethernet, no SATA, no PCIe, but this is what you get for $5 right ?

What we found is also that although being 64-bit ARM the A64 memory bus is just 32-bit wide, we guess to make BOM smaller.

This will hurt the performance, so we have to see how it will behave compared to A20 and H3 for instance.

A64-OLinuXino initial specs will be:

  • A64 4 core Cortex-A53
  • AXP803 PMU + Audio support
  • 1GB or 2GB DDR RAM
  • 4GB NAND Flash oe eMMC
  • micro SD card connector
  • micro USB-OTG
  • 2Mpix Camera on board
  • USB-HOST
  • HDMI 4K output
  • Audio Output, Input
  • LCD connector to connect with all our LCD-OLinuXino 4.3″ 7.0″ 10.1″ 15.6″
  • RTL8723BS WiFi + BT4.0 on board for connectivity
  • GPIO connector with access to all processor resources
  • 5V power input

This will be our first 64 bit ARM board and also the first OLinuXino we make completely with KiCAD.

If everything goes smoothly we will have first prototypes by end of November and depend on how fast we can test the software we may have these run in production for Christmas ๐Ÿ™‚ the goal is to make 64-bit ARM with EUR 64 retail price!

As I expect A64 with 4 cores Cortex-A53 will behave well running Desktop Linux so we are evaluating the option to find some Chinese laptop manufacturer and ask them to supply us just with some light laptop body with decent 10.1-11.6″ LCD display, camera and keyboard with touch-pad. We can re-design A64 board to fit inside this laptop body and to make light under 1 kg laptop running Linux.

One of the problem is that A64 is quite new and no any Linux-Sunxi support, as nobody have seen A64 development boards yet. SO it may pass several months until A64-OLinuXino run anything else than Android 5.1

Open Source Hardware wooden Laptop

scaled_full_7afa4ff13e51bd9a4da0

via Twitter

While waiting Novena to be released some people made their own OSHW Laptops based on A20-OLinuXino-MICRO + LCD-OLinuXino-15.6FHDย 1980x1080p Full HD LCD display.

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