New Life in Openmoko Phones

Nils Faerber nils.faerber at
Wed May 20 14:39:57 CEST 2009

Werner Almesberger schrieb:
> Nils Faerber wrote:
>> I also know from experience that some parts are really nasty to get -
>> either you do not get them at all or you have to buy large quantaties of
>> them.
> Oh yes. You wouldn't believe just how often we had that sort of thing
> happen to Openmoko. I've learned to treat sourcing with a healthy dose
> of paranoia.

A very healthy feature!

>> I know at least three such companies, one beeing in my home town. For
>> such a large number of different components 10-20 units will be
>> *extremely* expensive.
> Seems to be about EUR 200-300 for 10 units. With the PCBs costing
> around EUR 200 apiece, that would be around EUR 500 for the production.
> Okay, that's about what I would have guessed. Limited editions are
> always a bit pricy :-)

Take those numbers with the necessary grain of salt. I wouldn't be too
surprised if this doubles due to the high number of different parts and
high density.

>> 0402 is OK - we can do this in our work-shop, but that's smallest we can
>> do ;) Density is indeed another critical issue. And pitily we cannot do
>> any BGA at all. What we have is the "Expert" from Essemtec:
> Very nice equipment :-)

Thanks ;)
I wish I could afford the Microplacer and a small table-top full
convection oven. This is basically what prevents us from building 32-bit
designs since most Linux capable 32-bit CPUs nowadays come as BGA.

Concerning hardware building I am always kind of shizophren. My one side
is very interested in hardware, designs, ironing together your own
hardware, etc. This is fun and very interesting. But the other side
knows that the whole process is so much hassle and cost intensive. I am
really unsure for myself what I would like ;)
And then I am so annoyed, frustrated and almost angry when I see all
this nice hardware on the shelves in the stores but not beeing able to
get software access to it. In the end the whole discussion of building
own hardware simply results from the lack of hardware, doesn't it? I
don't want to talk it bad but there is much nicer existing hardware on
the market than the GTA02 - think of a slick Nokia E71 for example.
Wouldn't that be a great device?
But no access to - full stop :(

While thinking about it this brings me to an alternative idea... we have
skilled hardware engineers at hand, as it seems. We have skilled
software people at hand, for lowest level, bootloaders and kernel.
Wouldn't it be more fruitful to create a project that is only concerned
about providing the best possible tools, hardware and software, for
braking into and reverse engineering existing devices?
Hardware is needed in the form of good debug adapters. Those would be
much easier to have made than a complete phone device. Good software is
needed for the hardware debuggers and also for disassembly analysis,
protocol analysis etc.
This way we could probably save the hassle of making an own design (and
having to update it or make variants) and always have the latest
handsets at hand for our open source hacking?

This would even pretty realistic since we already have OpenOCD providing
a very good base. But this needs to be extended and made more user
friendly and better integrated. In some countries such an enterprise
might be illegal though ;) But at least in Germany it is not...

> - Werner
  nils faerber

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