It could be we're there!


EvilDragon

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Update time!

Seriously, I didn't think I'd find time before christmas to post an update... I'm currently in pre-christmas hell (normal for an online shop, I guess) and had about 3 - 4 hours sleep per day last week.

Yesterday, my body felt like it needed to grab some of the sleep back... I was tired the full day and decided to mostly relax.

Today, I'm at work again (fully revitalized) and I will now summarize Pyras' status :)



The case

According to FormAction, all fixes and tweaks I reported them last time have been implemented.

That means that the moulds should finally be 100% finished.

I would NOT vouch for them until I receive some samples, but then again, it wasn't that much that had to be fixed, so this really could be the end of the case odyssey.

They're in christmas holidays next week, but have already planned to produce samples as soon as christmas is over, so I should have them early 2018.

If they're good... well, then I'll place the order for the 500 cases right away.

These will be used for all Pyra Prototype orders (finally, yes, should get something as well!) and I'll sell the sets in my shop as well.

Right after the production of the transparent cases has happened, the molds will move to the new company so they can produce the cases used for the normal mass production.

Can you believe it...? The case might finally be finished :)


The Mainboard

As mentioned last time, Nikolaus received new prototype PCBs which he populated himself to test if all fixes are working as they should.

One of the PCBs went to the Wifi expert who will use his tools to make exact measurements of the antenna connection to make sure Wifi is working as good as possible.

The other PCBs are being used by Nikolaus to check if the reported issues by the developers have now been fixed.

So far, it's looking good. Not all of the topic on the issues list have been tested, but the ones tested so far are indeed fixed now.

This includes OTG mode, improved power supply for Hispeed-SD Cards, booting when the Lid is closed (yep, that wasn't working), force-boot from the Micro-SD Card works fine as well.

What still is a bit annoying is that the whirring noise that a capacitor makes is still there.

There would be a very easy solution by replacing it with a Tantalum Capacitor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tantalum_capacitor), which is probably while almost any smaertp

However, Tantalum is considered a conflict material (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_resource) which is a good reason why we would like to avoid using it.

So we'll still play around with different capacitors. As no layout change would help here, we can do that while the Mainboards for the mass production are being manufactured.

Another solution would be to try a source for clean tantalum, which might be possible as well.

Worst case scenario would be we'd have to use a few tantalum capacitors. It would still be A LOT less than used in any smartphone, but I'd still like to find a conflict free solution.

What's your opinion on this?

Nikolaus will continue with the remaining tests, but so far it's looking good.


So, what happens next?
Well, if the tests show that everything known is fixed now, we'll order the PCBs for the mainboard.
While they're being produced, we're trying to find a better solution for the Tantalum capacitors, or a conflict free source.

Then we're ready here as well.


The CPU Board

The memory issue should be fixed (according to the simulation Juliano ran), so everything should be 100% working now.

And while we didn't have any power issues with the OMAP5, the simulation showed that there is one area that could still be improved, if we can squeeze a couple more capacitors in there.

As Nikolaus was busy with testing the mainboard right now, he couldn't take a look at that - but will do that soon.
However, if it can't be easily done, we'll keep it as it is, as no one reported issues with the OMAP5 power supply so far.

We can't tweak everything forever, we need to get the Pyras out in the wild (I hope you agree :))



Passive cooling

While our current passive cooling works okay, I've decided to make a simple improvement:

I have designed a custom cutout for the heatpipes so we can use two heatsinks (one below each USB port).

That won't increase the costs, doesn't need any preparation time (as laser-cutting the material out of the sheets is nothing special) and should vastly improve the cooling as well.

As Juliano did a thermal simulation with the current solution we had (which proved that his simulation has the same results as our real-life FLIR camera image), he can also simulate that upfront.

I'll post the pretty pictures once we got them.


Here's a summary of what's left to do:

  1. Finish the tests of the mainboards and order them (PCB production takes 4 weeks)
  2. Check if the CPU boards can be further improved and if not, order prototypes for them (PCB production takes 6 weeks).
  3. Check that the cases are fine and if they are, order them (production shouldn't take longer than 2 weeks)
  4. Use the current prototypes for CE / FCC testing (planned for January 2018)
  5. WHILE the bare PCBs are being produced: Check for a whirring noise fix that does not involve using conflict material
  6. WHILE the bare PCBs are being produced: Design the packaging and material
  7. Do a test run with the newly produced PCBs and the transparent cases to produce prototypes for the prototype preorders.
  8. Recheck that everything works fine - then setup the mass production (I'm planning at least 2 - 3 weeks to recheck all of that).
  9. While that final check happens (or directly after the production of the transparent cases), move the molds to the new company to produce the cases for the mass production.
Aaand that's it.

Well, I really had hoped to be able to ship all your Pyras before christmas... (believe me: There's not a single person worldwide that's more eager to finish and deliver the Pyras than myself!)

Who'd have thought that modern tech is SO fiddly with memory traces, etc. that so much time was needed to find and fix that issue... the OMAP3 was a lot more relaxed here.

Anyways, Nikolaus is still continuing the tests - so I hope I'll have a christmas post ready that tells you that the Pyra should be 100% finished now!

Thanks again for your patience, your awesome support... and now I'm back to work.
 

Bibifuret

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Goooood news, I hope you have enough time for fixing everything... Keep gettin' well.
Relax and all will end well.

Have all a nice Christmas , you little nerds!
 
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FBnil

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The idealist in me says to not use Tantalium. The audioblogger in me wishes a quiet machine to use it as a audio recording gadget (so no extra hiss in the speaker while recording). As a gamer/music listener I don't mind the buzzz, as long as it does not bleed into the audio channel of the headphones.
 

___

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Cool! Good progress so far. I am excited to see some cooling optimization and it's very good to know that the memory issues have been solved.
 

JonnyH

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Morally there's nothing wrong with using tantalum *if* you can verify the supply source. It may be more expensive, and it may be more work, but I don't see why you should avoid a component just because some components are manufactured using materials with questionable sources.

And generally looking great! I can't wait to get my pyra in my hands!
 

second exodous

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Great news, hope the whine gets fixed, I have my fingers crossed.

Probably don't want to get too off topic but after the clear cases is the new company going to do the rest in black?
 

jonny:Dumb

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I think their goal is not just to sell fair phones, but to show how things can be done differently:

https://www.fairphone.com/en/project/responsible-sourcing/

I feel that the completely avoiding approach is a somewhat hopeless one. Kinda like saying "I give up". I would very much guess that they would offer good advice (be it for a nominal fee or not, i think it is worth asking). Maybe they would even be interrested in the processor module of the Pyra, for a future version of their phone. That would create the option of a more powerful device and cost sharing. I think the fairphone 1 has been sold over 60 thousand times. There is no shame in trying to reuse parts, modules or even knowledge.

As a side note, they will certainly have good advice for sourcing recycled plastic (and everything else) as well. I have the indigo coloured fairphone and for me the material is more important than the color. For people as myself, you may be able to sell a case of any color as long as some thought was put into the human and environmental economy of it.

Next to tantalum, there is also gold, tin and tungsten:
https://www.fairphone.com/en/2016/06/20/fairphone-2-good-vibrations-with-conflict-free-tungsten-2/

As a side note, NXP states the following:
https://www.nxp.com/about/about-nxp/about-nxp/corporate-responsibility:CORP_SOCIAL_RESP

Things are done, and it is (in my humble opinion) better to take part in the positive momentum rather than bailing out.

-- Edits: typos and clarifications
 
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elvissteinjr

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How about the 4GB RAM situation ED? :)
The memory issue should be fixed (according to the simulation Juliano ran), so everything should be 100% working now.
Unless there was another memory issue.

As a gamer/music listener I don't mind the buzzz, as long as it does not bleed into the audio channel of the headphones.
The USB whirring noise is actually pretty bad (source: me sticking stuff into a Pyra). You don't want it in the finished product, trust me.
 

ClockworkCoder

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This kind of news is the perfect Christmas present in its own. Thanks so much for sparing a few precious moments to write this update @EvilDragon

As for the tantalum quandary, I wouldn't have even been aware of it unless I had read it here in one of the previous updates. However, it's attention to details like this that allowed me to fall in love with Pyra in the first place, so I think it's worth a _little_ more investigation.
 

Caine

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Hmmm... I still count four to five issues that are currently being checked and might require another iteration.
I am cautiously optimistic, but until it is final it is not done.

The conflict material is a difficult one. I really hope an alternative can be found.

And ED, I have said it before, but please take care of your health.
Make sure you plan plenty of time to relax over the holidays and catch up on lack of sleep.
Depriving yourself of so much sleep over an extended period of time is dangerous.
 

levi

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How about the 4GB RAM situation ED? :)
The memory issue should be fixed (according to the simulation Juliano ran), so everything should be 100% working now.
Unless there was another memory issue.
Yeah, but that's just the simulation. It's the same as it was the last update basically. But ED hints at why that might be the case in a following paragraph:
As Nikolaus was busy with testing the mainboard right now
Interesting to hear about the whirring/sirring noise too. You mention sticking stuff in there, does this affect the intensity of the noise? I had a feeling it only happened when on charge, but that may be me getting mixed up with a USB power supply of mine which starts whirring squeakily when it is asked to deliver a trickle current.

I've grown up through having tungsten in my light bulbs, lead in my solder, and there's still tin in batteries and lead-free solder anyway. I was concerned about the lifetime of tanalum capactors, but apparently that's been alleviated these days, and not really any worse than any other type of component these days.

Also, building nested replied that maintain some context is much more fiddly than older systems where you had to remove cruft to keep the history brief.
 

Elw3

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Is it wise to worry about that bit of tantalum? Has it any effect on the marked?
And if we worry here, where do we draw the line? Have you checked if there is no questinable gold inside the chips? Are the batterys made of fully recycled material?
I just think its cool that you care and try to find other solutions but at one point you just put a lot of time into something that gives very little in return.
Of course if you can find alternative sources quickly, i have no problem if that increases the price a bit.
After all i buy pestizide free food too...
 

Djhg2000

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The tantalum capacitor situation is difficult.

On the one hand there will inevitably be some source contamination down the line even if we only order the non-conflict sourced ones. On the other hand the non-conflict sources need to be rewarded to offset the additional effort and expenses of avoiding conflict sources.

Either way I feel like it's wrong to avoid tantalum altogether because of the sourcing dilemma. I know people will disagree with me on this, but if tantalum capacitors solve the noise issue then I say it's a supply chain problem rather than a design problem.

Some people will just stop reading and ring the alarm bell as soon as they read tantalum on the parts bill no matter how it's sourced, but personally I care more about having a device as close to perfection as possible rather than satisfying alarmists. As long as we know beyond reasonable doubt that the parts come from a good source then I'm fine with it.
 

Dark Pulse

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I would prefer a tantalum capacitor, but as there was a good source that says it is ethically sourcing that tantalum, I also see no reason why that shouldn't be pursued. And I'm sure it's not the only one, either.

Not all tantalum capacitors are made from conflict materials, and we do have to have some basic trust in our fellow man (it'd be amazing how much more peaceful the world would get if everyone would agree to that...) and give them the benefit of the doubt if they say they're ethically sourced (although if you can find any stories to back up and verify it, that helps too of course!).

Otherwise, we kind of have to come down to a choice of finding other materials or just living with the whine. The latter is probably not really workable, and the former might add onto the costs excessively.

So in short - if there's an ethical source for sourcing the tantalum capacitors, I see no reason why we shouldn't have them. If anything, it's projects like these that help keep those guys in business.

Let's keep the alternatives as "we have no choice."
 
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