Joseph Reeves iknowjoseph at
Tue Apr 7 01:46:47 CEST 2009

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

Steve, at the OpenExpo Sean refered to the Dash navigator as a
"dashtraction" from the serious business of Openmoko. How will "Plan
B" (which is presumably not a distraction but a means of improving ROI
for FIC) avoid becoming thought of as Dash2?

Thanks for your emails on the subject so far,


2009/4/7 Steve Mosher <steve at>:
> 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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