MNT Pocket Reform

A newer, smaller, lighter, more-affordable, seven-inch mini Reform laptop that remains fully open source

Limited items in stock

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Dec 21, 2023

Project update 9 of 11

Production Progress and Some New Features

by MNT Research

Hi everyone,

The end of 2023 is approaching and we’d like to take this opportunity to give you an update on the long-awaited Pocket Reform shipment.

Thank you again for backing our Pocket Reform campaign here on Crowd Supply! We know you’re eager to receive your device. We can tell you that production and sourcing have come a long way and are nearing completion. We have even added a headphone jack (Yay!). It supports headsets with integrated microphones.

The motherboard has gained some new features, including the aforementioned headset port (equivalent to MNT Reform) on the left side of the device, which was previously unused. Additionally, we’ve added a small QWIIC connector. This allows you to connect your own sensors, e.g. I2C signals to RP2040.

We have improved the weight of the aluminum CNC case parts, as we deemed them too heavy. These parts are now lighter than before (which means that Pocket Reform itself will be lighter as well) and the samples we received look great, so we placed the order a few weeks ago.

The case is closed with a total of four big plate parts, one of which is a bezel that covers the top of the keyboard, trackball and status OLED. All the plates were supposed to be made using a standard PCB manufacturing process, but Lukas wasn’t happy with the haptics around the edge of the keyboard and trackball buttons. These had a relatively sharp feel on the fingers when typing close to the edge of the keyboard. This was because the PCB material was 2D milled and had hard 90-degree edges. Lukas decided to remodel the bezel as a 3D aluminum milled part with smooth, chamfered edges, which fortunately still fit into the budget. The test part feels (and looks) great, so we’re happy that this will go into production.

Regarding fit & finish of the case plates, we have ordered final prototype samples and if these are satisfactory we will order them in bulk. Pocket Reform sleeve production is currently being organized, and we are awaiting the first samples.

We 3D printed the battery holders as they are no longer integrated into the metal, which makes it possible to insert different or larger batteries later on. There will be a physical switch on the headphone PCB that allows you to switch the power off/on. We’ll be shipping in off-position, but you can switch it to on as soon as you have unboxed your device. This way, it is unlikely that the batteries will become discharged during the shipping process.

Speaking of power supply: Lukas has integrated a latch IC that memorizes the state of power supply when the RP2040 (system controller) is resetting. This way you can make a live update of the system controller’s firmware without opening the device.

The Quectel EM06 cellular module has been validated—it can even make and receive calls (we have tested this feature with Vodafone Germany/CallYa), but the audio is not working yet. We hope we’ll get it to work for the final version, but we also don’t want to delay fulfillment because of it. Lukas is doing their best and we will keep you posted on this. Side note: our main focus with cellular is internet connectivity, not voice.

There was an issue regarding the TUSB8040 hub (that has since been resolved): during the chip crisis we had 500 of them in stock. In 2023, we used them on the Reform motherboard 2.5 and found that 10% of the chips on the boards didn’t work—so we had to rework them. This cost us a lot of time (and energy), so we wanted to update the hub chip to a new version (TUSB8041). The new version is more energy-efficient and less likely to have yield issues. We have since tested this new version and it worked perfectly!

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of MNT Pocket Reform parts that are ordered (or already received) in production quality:

And these are the parts that are in final validation/polishing:

There are still some things to do before for us. These include:

There really are more parts in a mini laptop than one thinks, right?

We are making good progress, but it will still be some time before we can ship the first units of Pocket Reform. Our estimate is the first quarter of 2024 (which we are approaching rapidly!).

We hope you’re as excited as we are! We wish you a great end to the year and look forward to sending you another update soon—this time with exact shipment dates.

So, read you in 2024 or daily on the Fediverse!

Your MNT Research team

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