Earth-friendly EOMA68 Computing Devices

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Mar 27, 2017

Complexities of Hardware, Progress, and Travel

This update sheds some light on the complexities of this entire project, summarises the status of the main portions of the project, and announces our travel plans.

Question from a Backer

We got a great question from a backer, which summarised as, “what’s going on, I thought you had everything 100% ready to go straight into production?” to which the short answer is, in effect, “So I believed!”

The more comprehensive and more accurate answer is: there’s a very sensible cross-industry rule brought in about five years ago into tech-based crowdfunding which I bitched like mad about when it first came in, and it’s that tech projects really need to have a 100% working prototype before going ahead. I remember laughing (in horror) with one battery supplier about a successfully funded Indiegogo project of around $USD 1m where their head-wearable device had not been fully prototyped. They were asking the battery company to give them a battery that was 10 times smaller than the laws of physics and chemistry permit, given that they had chosen (and put into production already!) an ultra-powerful (i.e., power-hungry) 2 GHz quad-core Cortex A15 processor. The only way to fulfill the promised battery life would have been to ask backers to strap a small brick to the side of their heads. That or choose to put up with a five MINUTE battery-life. And this is a 100% successfully-funded $USD 1 million project! The point being: they didn’t do a 100% functional test prior to putting the campaign up on Indiegogo, and none of the backers questioned their technical expertise.

So that’s why I made damn sure I tested everything [in the one prototype of each product…] before saying to Crowd Supply, “OK, we can go ahead.” The key here is: one prototype Micro-desktop, Laptop, and EOMA68-A20 Card. In other words, it was just a coincidence the 3.3 V power lines from the A20 were just about properly matched with the Micro-desktop’s 3.3 V power line, enough to not cause a current-fight over who gets to drive the microSD card.

Getting a prototype out the door is just one of many, many tasks: now you have to make absolutely sure that absolutely every single one of the components is available, orderable, orderable by you, orderable in sample quantities, orderable in production quantities, orderable in a reasonable amount of time, fits into the case… the list just goes on and on. And it’s not like software: you can’t just make a single simple change and re-test within seconds: a single mistake can mean going back round an eight week redesign loop, and that’s basically what’s been happening for the past few months: I had no idea that the reverse mid-mount Amphenol HDMI connector had gone end-of-life.

Basically this is a huge logistics exercise more than it is actual development: active development of the items ended a long, long time ago. I was aware of what would be involved in getting into production: through these detailed updates you’re also seeing that process as well as getting some insights into what’s involved and what to expect if you ever wanted to do your own tech-based crowdfunding campaign.

Summary and Other News

Quick status summary of various sub-projects:

  • 2.7.2 EOMA68-A20 pre-production prototype PCBs have been ordered and some sample 128 MB TSOP-48 NAND ICs tracked down. The fact these ICs have been marked by Toshiba as not recommended for new designs drives home the point about the A20 running out of time.
  • The 1.7 Micro-Desktop PCB design with the new SD/MMC level-shifting has been sent for pre-production prototyping as well. This was necessary in order to resolve power-supply fight between the Micro-Desktop and the EOMA68-A20.
  • Once the Micro-desktop PCB is confirmed working, the circuits will be copied cut/paste style to the 15” Laptop PCB1 and that will be pre-production prototyped as well.

We’re now in Zhuhai again - long enough to pack up - and will be back in Taiwan around the beginning of April. As mentioned in a previous update, prototype PCBs were removed from our luggage at Hong Kong customs. We will be collecting them on the morning of March 29th on our return to Taiwan. We’ll be staying in Taiwan for at least a year, as it represents the best location in the world at the moment to complete the goals that have been set.

As always, if you would like to see what’s going on “as it happens,” rather than through these updates, and also would like the opportunity to engage (and help out), do join the arm-netbooks mailing list.

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Aug 26 2016

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Product Choices

$5

Support EOMA68


$65

Libre Tea Computer Card

An EOMA68-compatible computer card with an Allwinner A20 dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of NAND flash pre-installed with the Parabola GNU/Linux-libre operating system. We expect the Libre Tea Computer Card to receive the Free Software Foundation's Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification before the first units ship.


$65

Practically Perfect Computer Card

An EOMA68-compatible computer card with an Allwinner A20 dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of NAND flash pre-installed with the Debian GNU/Linux operating system.


$65

Numero Uno Computer Card

An EOMA68-compatible computer card with an Allwinner A20 dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of NAND flash pre-installed with the Devuan GNU/Linux operating system.


$65

Getting Ahead Computer Card

An EOMA68-compatible computer card with an Allwinner A20 dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of NAND flash pre-installed with the Fedora 24 GNU/Linux operating system.


$55

Micro Desktop Housing for Computer Card

This is a Micro Desktop base unit and power supply unit with a beautiful laser-cut stack of 3mm plywood panels that creates an aesthetically attractive tiny base unit for your Computer Cards. Excludes Computer Card, keyboard, mouse and VGA monitor.


$450

PIY Laptop Housing Kit for Computer Card

This Print-It-Yourself (PIY) kit includes all the parts, cabling and boards (main, power, and controller, assembled and tested), and battery, charger, keyboard, LCD, and CTP-LCD for trackpad that are needed to build a complete Libre Laptop once you 3D print the enclosure from the freely available GPLv3+ licensed plans. Excludes Computer Card.


$500

PFY Laptop Housing Kit for Computer Card

This Printed-For-You (PFY) kit has everything needed to create a full EOMA68 Laptop, including a 3D printed set of casework parts, bamboo plywood panels, tested and assembled PCBs, cables, battery, charger, keyboard, LCD, and CTP-LCD for trackpad. Available in a variety of colors and materials. Excludes Computer Card.


$1,200

Completely Assembled Laptop + Computer Card

A meticulously hand-assembled and fully-tested laptop. Includes your choice of EOMA68-A20 Computer Card and 3D-printed casework.


$10,000

On-site Consultation, Presentation, and Workshop + Laptop + Computer Card

For those people who would like the opportunity to meet the designers and have them personally go over the project's development, history, future direction and much more, a week's time can be made available to meet with you personally, to do a hands-on workshop to help you (and any number of additional attendees) through the process of putting together your own fully-functioning laptop and even take you through the process of building and installing the software. Also included will be one Laptop with a Computer Card which will be assembled on-site. You must provide travel, accommodation, tools and a suitable workshop and presentation space. Contact us directly for details.


$20

PCMCIA/EOMA68 Breakout Board

One PCMCIA/EOMA68 Breakout Board with one surface mount PCMCIA header, and tracks to some convenient 2.54-mm-spaced through-holes. Added by popular demand, for access, tinkering, development work, testing, etc.


$35

Pass-through Card

A simple card that takes in HDMI and USB and passes them on. Turns a Laptop Housing into a portable, battery-powered dock for your smartphone, USB-HDMI dongle computer, and tablet, or a second screen, keyboard, and mouse for your existing laptop or desktop PC.


$15

USB + HDMI Cable Set for Standalone Operation

Includes a Micro HDMI Type D cable and 3-way USB-OTG Host-Charger cable tested and known to work with EOMA68 Computer Cards. These are the cables you need to run a Computer Card as a standalone device without the need for a housing. Also useful with the Micro Desktop or Laptop Housing to add a second screen and extra USB port.

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Credits

EOMA68


Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton

Developer

Christopher Waid

Sponsor

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