[gta02-core] components: a game of "what if"

Werner Almesberger werner at openmoko.org
Thu Mar 25 19:30:04 CET 2010

We all know gta02-core hasn't made much progress lately. The main
reason was that the next steps depend on what components we will be
able to use, which is still uncertain.

I also have to admit that some of the delays weren't entirely
unwelcome for me personally, because I had all the reconstruction
work going on at my new home/office/lab and wouldn't have been able
to get much done anyway. This ordeal still isn't finished, but
interferences have decreased to a tolerable level.

To bring life to the project again, how about a little game of "what
if" ? Specifically, "what if we can source the components we need on
our own ?"

If we try to do this, what would change ?

- we'll need to buy a larger varietey of components, costing money
  for the purchase and for shipping, (*)

- we'll need to find ways to obtain components the usual
  distributors don't have or that require a large minimum order,

- the logistics for shipping and customs get more complicated, due
  to an increased number of shipments and sources,

- for those parts that are custom designs made for Openmoko, we'll
  either have to find substitutes, or we'll be limited to what is
  already in our possession,

(*) Component donations may be an option as well, but the overhead
    of getting a large number of suppliers to make such donations
    may be in no useful proportion to the actual values involved.

When the gta02-core project started, I didn't expect this approach to
be viable. A few things have changed since then, which make me more
optimistic. Among them:

- parts of the projected cost have disappeared, e.g., SMT, and there
  may be more. This allows money to be spent on other items, without
  driving the cost for the prototypes through the roof.

- for various suppliers from whom we probably need direct assistance,
  I wouldn't even have known where to start asking for help.
  Meanwhile, people I know have developed contacts there that may be

- the search for replacements for parts already gone from FIC's
  stock went better than I had expected. In particular, we were able
  to find very close substitutes for various electromechanical
  components I had been doubtful about.

So I'm not promising this will work, but it's at least worth a try.

- Werner

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