[Gta04-owner] Development sicknesses

Christoph Mair christoph.mair at gmail.com
Sat Jan 14 20:31:26 CET 2012

On Sat, Jan 14, 2012 at 6:59 PM, David Lanzendörfer
<david.lanzendoerfer at o2s.ch> wrote:
> And why FOSS doesn't get this:
> http://geekandpoke.typepad.com/geekandpoke/2011/03/architectural-best-practices.html
> We have time.
> So let's just NOT do this.
> If for instance the old display interface is outdated, let's take the time to replace it...
> Last time I checked, FOSS projects didn't have deadlines ;-)

Well, Free Open Source *Software* can do this. If you start developing
hardware you have to invest money for components and prototype
production in addition to your free time. As long as the amounts are
small you can handle the project like software: if it doesn't work
like expected start again (or fix it). That's what I did with the
first Freerunner Navigation Board. It didn't work very well and during
the development newer, better chips became available. So I dropped
everything and started from scratch.

If your project is big enough and costs you a lot of money, you need a
business plan on how to recover that money somehow. Or you will be out
of the big projects business pretty soon. Therefore we can't just
throw away everything we've got now and start from scratch. Even
"small" changes (such as the display interface) means (from a cost
perpective, engineering time is needed first):
- ordering a new batch of PCBs
- ordering a new stencil mask to be able to apply solder paste to the PCBs
- write (or adapt) the program for the pick and place machine
- buy new components (thats probably the cheapest item in the list)
- assemble everything
- test the board (and if you find a bug repeat these steps again)

While the new interface connector may costs 5€/piece in small
quantities, the stencil mask adds at least 200€ to that. And for the
PCBs you need to calculate at least 500€ per piece (if you order 10).
That sums up to about 6k€ for every iteration.

Because of these high costs open hardware projects can't change as
fast as software projects often do :(
And if you'd like to recover the money needed for the development, at
some point you will need a "stable" product which you can sell. If you
don't then either you're a millionaire or it was one of you last

I hope that explains why the GTA04Ax won't have new display interface
soon. But you are free to design your own display interface based on
the GTA04 module variant! All relevant signal lines are available at
the b2b connectors.

Best regards,

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