Steve Mosher steve at
Tue Apr 7 01:36:36 CEST 2009

Gerald A wrote:
> Hi all,
> I originally wrote Lothar in private, and asked for his permission to repost
> to the list. There have been a few replies in the meantime, but there were
> some good points here.
> Now, I'm not a hardware guy, so take my input with a grain of salt, but I
> have been watching the project for a while, and as a software person I hope
> we can make it work.
> Lothar -- new comments are inline.
> On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 10:47 AM, Lothar Behrens <lothar.behrens at
>> wrote:
>>> On Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 7:08 AM, Lothar Behrens <
>>> lothar.behrens at> wrote:
>>> Ok I cannot buy expensive equipment to test hardware that I may have
>>> developed, but I virtually could
>>> develop hardware. But many developers at one subject could spend money for
>>> a rent to let one of the
>>> team do outstanding tests.
>>> Isn't it possible to also develop hardware collaboratively?
>> I have to say -- at this point, I don't think so. It's not that the concept
>>> is impossible, or as you mention above, that testing can't be done. But
>>> based on what OM and FIC before them have reported, it would be very hard.
>> Yes, it would be hard, but FIC and OM have made a great job. We have a
>> fully functioning phone, but we couldn't easy create our own prototypes to
>> play with. Good ideas are published as the robotics project. If having a
>> really open schematics and even the board design. one could change the
>> formfactor and add his/her needed stuff to play with. If you have to worry
>> about how to enter a completely new schematics from the PDF, the fence is
>> higher to think about jumping over and just DO it.
> Steve has commented a bit about this, as far as a packaging and final
> production are concerned. There might be a possibility to build "modular
> kits" so different hardware (and software) combos could be tried out, but
> translating that into a widget that can be sold as a phone is also a
> consideration. We could put together an awesome phone as a kit that is about
> the size of a CD drive, but then find out that some parts we used aren't
> available in quantities or timelines that make sense to produce a phone. The
> concept is awesome, but I'm not sure it can feed into a real product -- but
> it's something to think about.

  Werner and I are discussing various possibilities. I rule nothing out.

>> Principally, this is due to a moving target. Since everything is obsolete
>>> in a few months, the shelf life of products in the embedded space is very
>>> small. The next big hurdle is in getting specs. OM/FIC were producing
>>> thousands of devices and possibly more, so had better quantities then a
>>> hobby group might muster -- and still had poor access to hardware specs,
>>> when they got them. Now, of course, some of their decisions might have been
>>> practical too (we can get >1000 more closed pieces from company X, while we
>>> can only get ~100 more open pieces from company Y), we don't know.
>> Yes, the technique is moving forward fast - for the real phone, not for a
>> GSM module for sample :-)
>> Today I have searched for a GSM module and indeed found one with a complete
>> ARM based Linux stack. It would be much too expensive, but when having only
>> the next planned GSM module that will appear in the phone, one could test it
>> on a standard pc. Or even participate in GSM related development only.
> I love the idea of being able to mock up hardware, as it lets the software
> move forward too. But if our test platform can't be translated into a
> suitable form factor, it might be a waste.
YUP. Just to review the GTA03. At one stage the WIFI and GPS had to be 
removed because it didnt fit in the case. If "thin" is in, then using
a module is out, for the most part. How thin is thin? Typical marketing 
answer would be "thinner than the iPhone" but obviously some fat phones ship
>> I had an idea about my car radio. The idea came because I use my Neo to
>> transmit music over bluetooth, then over a FM transmitter to the radio. This
>> is bad quality.
>> There are really much entusiasts building their own carPC in double DIN
>> factor or similar - even small PC barebones. Why not equip it with a GSM
>> module to become a real handsfree carPC + phone. They will benefit from such
>> a module and propably participate in development.
  On of our early partners, in fact, was designing such a carPC and 
wanted to use FR as a dev platform. Alas they demanded a different 
processor ( Intel) so that deal didnt go through.
>> Open the development by also selling parts of a phone for the hobby
>> electronics would increase the audience and the feedback.
>> I don't know how this component has to be deliverded, but I think it must
>> be compilant to some law.
> The current phone stuff already passes those laws. Would it be possible to
> adapt them, on the electronic side? I have no doubt. Steve or someone on the
> OM side might be able to speak to the regulations issue.
  You change the RFs ( antenna/circuits etc) and you have to recert.
  I'll have to take a closer look. I know this, I could not sell the
  STREAKER ( a freerunner with no case) without a recertification.
  Antenna and case are a system.
> Now, there are many people who like the idea of an "open source" phone, but
>>> I think that a lot of them assume it will be polished to the level that
>>> modern Linux distros are up to nowadays. And the truth is, the open linux
>>> phone isn't there yet.
>>> Now, these aren't impossible hurdles to climb, but they aren't going to be
>>> simple either.
>>> What I also think about, is why are there only PDF schematics available?
>>> I think there were other formats too, but that might have only been case
>>> design. My feeling is that OM isn't trying to be closed about hardware --
>>> but rather make some money selling it and be able to subsidize software
>>> development.
>> Selling a mobile phone lab with components and the full schematics would
>> propably taken from other companies to participate. They may be able to pay
>> for the kit and inturn
>> help development and give feedback. Think about opencores or the other
>> projects and sites. The open hardware movement is at the way.
>> With such a kit OM could get money, but also feedback - maybe in schematics
>> and board design parts. I am not sure if a board could be divided in
>> subdesigned subboards
>> as schematics could (KICAD). But at least a part could be developed or the
>> design could be overtaken.
>> Small companies could jump onto that train, if such a kit is available. And
>> it eases the jump, if Schematics would be based on open source software like
>> KICAD :-)
>> Dont always think about selling ready usable phones. Think about kits that
>> help driving the idea behind an open phone in general (car PC for sample).
>> The carPC hobby entusiast propably won't buy a not 'ready' phone, but think
>> about adding the hands free phone option in his/her project. This is because
>> he/she is acting in building the carPC.
> If it is possible to delegate hardware development tasks to the
>>> comunity why isn't it done yet?
>>> I think this is a good idea. Maybe the community could launch a proposal
>>> for what should go into an "GTA0X, X >2". The only problem here is that you
>>> get everyone coming out of the woodwork to add their dream widget to a
>>> phone. And if that got built, we'd need wheels on it to truck it around. :)
>>> What we really need then is a way to get community involvement, but also a
>>> realistic "put your money where your mouth is" way to solicit $$ from people
>>> who are willing to buy the things. Something like, but stronger then, "if
>>> the phone had features (x, y, z), would you pony up $AAA bucks for it?"
>> Therefore a site with adding votes would be valuable. This eliminates these
>> ideas only few have and push ideas many have.
>> Then propably membership could be enabled to help in that idea...
> Votes are nice, but even with voting you'll end up with lots of good ideas
> and perhaps not so many marketable ones. My thought above there was to put
> your money on the table with a "vote". "My company will by 10 GTA0X.Ys if
> they have sexy widget Z in them, for $500 a pop". Now, that quantity is too
> small to mean anything, but if you get 100 people like that, it might be
> more interesting.
>> Then if there are some results that have a chance to become a real
>>> 'next' phone, a company like openmoko could
>>> think about producing some prototypes. So the company has a reduced cost.
>>> That's a good question -- what would producing prototypes cost? Maybe
>>> that's the line to take with OM -- we can do the hardware specs, you produce
>>> a few prototypes to see if they work, and then we go to production?
>> The strength behind the comunity would propably reducing cost of
>> prototyping. Here is a cost sample:
>> I know of another printed circuit manufacturer my mother was visiting with
>> her friend. I'll ask him about such prototyping issues. Maybe he could offer
>> cheaper.
>> The comunity is big and some came to quite good hardware ideas, so why not
>> push the comunity be selling parts as premanufactured elements and let them
>> have fun.
>> Good ideas could be communicated (by voting), cost could be saved when an
>> idea finds more attract and the chances of usable ideas for the next phone
>> could be taken, because the hardware is open source.
>> Swapping prototypes in the comunity would also be an option. Not always a
>> new prototype is nessesary. One may build a wirewrap circuit and an engineer
>> could catch up
>> the prototype to work for a first layout that needs some HF knowledge to
>> get properly working. Others that are interested in a first prototype
>> printed circuit could be served by voting to add room for their ideas needed
>> space on the board as breadboard.
>> It's always the comunity that drive good ideas and thus cost is saved. More
>> boards are cheaper :-)
>  Would a prototype with GSM stuff be ok to be shuffled around? Would the
> cost to produce such boards really be in the affordable range?
> There is one really good electronics project: The internal debug board.
>>> I'm not sure about that. The debug board(s) are one tact, but there are
>>> lots of different neat knobs in the FR. Early on, someone was using the FR
>>> for a small remote boat. Some of that stuff needs a creative mind, and it
>>> might be external to the FR, but it can show what can be done with it.
>> I know about the boat, I have watched his video :-)
>> A hardware project site and using open source software for board design,
>> such as KICAD would help to enlarge the comunity. Not all must be inside a
>> phone, something could
>> be at a Eurocard sized board. Say the remote boat or in general a device
>> that supports remote appliances would find more attraction if it would be
>> 'pluggable' on a stacked board. I am not sure how much electronics the
>> remote boat needs, but at least controlling servos.
>> BTW, I had developed a train station clock driven by a Microchip PIC 16F84,
>> a stepup DC/DC converter and a simple H bridge to drive the 'motor' of the
>> clock.
>> Good ideas must be publisched open sourced (I think about that now :-)
>> The project died, because it stuck at soldered wirewrap level board
>> prototype, it was not communicated, therefore no interest came back thus no
>> printed circuits were developed at a next development step. It would have a
>> chance to grow and improve, when it were open sourced and other hobbyists
>> get knowledge about it - the comunity.
>> The project is more than 10 years ago :-(
>> My current hobby is software development and I follow a movement that other
>> argue to be unusable, or only at university level, (so it will be called
>> 'arsed around'), but I don't agree to them. It's great stuff about code
>> generation, MDA / MDSD and the like. It's a movement to a new methology how
>> to develop software. It's not always understood by a mortal developer. They
>> must see that new methologies work.
>> Even a stupid idea like distributed hardware engineering may be a way to
>> earn money. Services like board layout could be payd for. So it will
>> propably not always
>> at a hobby level. Another area is distributed music making - as reported at
>> one of our local TV broadcaster. Things seem not realizeable but must
>> thought twice.
>> Link:
>> That isn't really related to this thread, but points out, that things are
>> possible.
>> Developing on a board design could also done that way. We have Skype, could
>> share the project files and even could keep versions of design ideas in the
>> CVS
>> or SVN repository. There is only the question if an open source board
>> design could easily converted in a format that - for sample is required for
>> electromagnetic compatibility
>> tests (
>> Renting equipment or swapping parts would save money, who better could
>> spend in a good layout. Using colaboration like the music sample could also
>> save money.
>> An electromagnetic compatibility specialized firm could inspect a layout,
>> before it will go to a real hardware test.
>> (If the format conversion from open source SW to expensive ECAD SW is
>> possible)
>> Many ideas when sitting at home :-)
> I've been to installathons and other software type events, where the idea is
> to fiddle around with stuff. Would it make sense to do something like this
> in the community? A hack-a-moko day, whether it was sponsored by OM or not?
> While it might not lead to a design that translates 100% into something
> mass-produceable, could that inspire something that is, or it it too far
> away?
> (I apologize for the quoting -- something seems a bit off there)
> Gerald

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