EOMA68 Computing Devices

An Earth-friendly way to easily upgrade and fix your own computer

Oct 03, 2016

Project update 37 of 75

End of September Update

by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton

Summary of the past ten days:

Libre 15.6in Laptop PCB3 Power Board

This board needs a complete redesign: see this report including a link to a video. Jakub from mlab.ch has been extraordinarily helpful behind the scenes in doing component research and providing comprehensive technical advice over the past eight months. Initially, he intended to provide a GPLv3+ KiCAD variant of PCB3 which would be suitable for sale as an independent product through his company, as well as for use in the Libre 15.6in Laptop. Here is an example of the KiCAD designs and research documents for one of his company’s products.

However, PCB3’s requirements are pretty different, as they’re a hybrid of a stable 5.0v power line at around 2.0A and an OTG (reversible) 5.0 v 1.5 A power provision. The charger IC required is therefore one of the TI bq2419x series. The reason for the OTG Reversible power is because EOMA68 Cards require reversible power: they can be powered or they can provide power (usually through having an OTG charger plugged into a user-facing USB OTG port).

With the amount of current going through this board (4 A) quite a bit of care and attention has to be paid to the design. There’s actually not a lot of components, but battery charging circuitry is not something that can be done without a proper review. To that end, if anyone has any experience in electronics and could help carry out a review please do get in touch on the arm-netbooks mailing list.

Holiday in China, and Traveling to Shenzen and Zhuhai

It’s currently a national holiday in China, which ends around the 7th. We were hoping that Mike’s uncle’s factory would have time to make the 2.6 revision EOMA68-A20 before the 30th, however with the number of other people also wanting PCBs done before the holiday, this turned out not to be possible. That’s ok, we’ll wait until afterwards. In the meantime, I’m going over (tomorrow) to Shenzen and will be applying for a five day visa. Then I will come back to Hong Kong and take the ferry over to Zhuhai, using the dual-entry visa I applied for, and will be going to visit Allwinner. The reason for going to Shenzen is to meet Mike and to do some scouting of locations so that when I return to visit suppliers (Litkconn, etc.) I’ll know exactly where they are.

One complication is luggage. I have a 20 kg bag with the 3D printer, a 30 kg bag stuffed with components, PLA and PETG filament and tools, and that’s just the equipment. There are an additional seven bags of varying sizes for clothes, electronics equipment, two pairs of skates, three tennis rackets, and other bits and pieces. Travel on the MTR in both HK and China with lots of bags is not really practical but it is so prevalent that both countries are fining people taking over excessive amounts of space on the trains. This is the reason why I’m leaving the luggage in HK for now, coming back to HK and will be taking it over on the ferry to Zhuhai. If we can find a solution to getting such complex luggage through customs (such as using a shipping service that doesn’t cost a fortune), we will. Advice appreciated here if anyone has experience in dealing with this!

The EOMA68 Wikipedia Page

… has been deleted, thank goodness. More specifically it’s been "userified", which means that the work has moved out of the "authoritative limelight" without losing the good bits that have already gone into it. The ratio of actual text to "meta-discussion,” however, continues to increase, indicating a severe failing in Wikipedia’s collective ability to cope with the situation… without any one single individual being "at fault". It’s basically a systemic failure of Wikipedia. The situation is ongoing and being monitored. The abusive administrator appears to be leaving the page alone.

Mailing List Conversations Regarding "Codes of Conduct" and the EOMA68 Specification.

Someone very kindly initiated an enquiry as to whether, in the future, EOMA68 would have a "Code of Conduct". Off-list I was contacted by someone who warned me privately quite how toxic such documents really are: I reassured them I was already aware of this and would handle it diplomatically.

Now, normally, interactions on mailing lists where there is a “team leader" who is hosting the list and is in charge of the project, and where others are guests of those resources, would be expected to go like this:

What actually happened went something like this:

This is an approximate summary of a conversation that’s spanned over forty messages and showed no signs of abating until I simply stopped participating. The key here is that the Guest has broken some of the implicit and normally well-understood rules associated with mailing lists run by Project "Team Leaders". The conversation has, however, served an extremely useful purpose: it has prompted me to do a thorough evaluation of the Bill of Ethics as a potential foundation for an EOMA68 Charter Document. So far it’s held up to scrutiny.

Conclusion: whilst the Bill of Ethics cautions against making statements with "certainty", it can fairly certainly be said that it will be a cold day in hell when EOMA68 has a "Code of Conduct". The Bill of Ethics serves the purpose intended by such documents, without having any of the limitations or lack of flexibility of the same. Still not sure what to do about the fact that I had to stop responding on this thread. I’m aware this may leave some issues unresolved and make some people on the list uncomfortable, but I genuinely don’t have time or energy to deal with it (am still recovering from two severe colds in succession and a severe upset stomach).

Evaluating and Clarifying the EOMA68 Specification

At the same time, another complex conversation came up where the quite reasonable question was asked: "what are the rules for developing EOMA68 hardware, and what expectations are there for such developers with respect to software?" This turned out to be an extremely comprehensive topic that in turn required an extensive expansion of the EOMA68 Specification, as well as a considerable amount of clarification of its scope. This clarification, bear in mind, took place (is taking place) in light of the earlier Wikipedia "witch-hunt” (which stemmed partly from a lack of clarity of the EOMA68 specification), and in light of the earlier comprehensive review of the Bill of Ethics as a suitable Charter Document.

Thanks to the prompting of Joseph’s questions, where I explained he was not alone in wishing to develop EOMA68-compliant hardware but he is one of the first to actually ask about what’s involved, I spent two days thinking and writing, mostly writing from memory all the things that I had been collecting in my mind over the past five years. After stopping to reflect, I was stunned to have become consciously aware of not only the sheer overwhelming scope of the EOMA68 project that began to take shape through the process of writing it down, but also of the enormous responsibility of the role of "Certifier" I have taken on as the copyright holder of the EOMA68 concept.

In effect, the role of "Certifier" is similar to that of the FCC, or, more specifically, the UK’s DVLA (MOT Certificate and Vehicle Registration) as applied obviously to EOMA68 Cards and Housings not vehicles, or the FAA when it comes to Certifying newly-manufactured aircraft for flightworthiness. The contrast between this role and that of the OSHWA could not be more stark (OSHWA assumes that individuals may self-certify, without regard for the consequences and implications of the same) and the difference is down to the scope and the goals of the project. EOMA68 is intended as a mass-volume computing appliance standard. It is designed to solve a wide range of endemic and systemic problems in the mass-volume manufacturing industry, the result of which (GPL violations, throw-away culture, misleading recycling practices) we are stuck with by way of having absolutely zero alternatives. Most importantly, creating hardware with the Four Freedoms as a guide does not mean "freedom to ignore the safety of its end-users."

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