[Gta04-owner] Status GTA04A5

H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Sat Mar 25 19:49:51 CET 2017


Hi,
this time I have some tiny pieces of good news...

1. The first 8 GTA04A5 boards are finished (foto) and finally ready
to be shipped. It did take much longer to fix add all the little
bits and pieces until everything is in place.

One thing was to have the NAND image finished and tested.
It should at least reliably boot with and without µSD installed,
it should load the correct device tree blob and finally the
kernel should be able to mount the NAND as rootfs.

And the rootfs in NAND should at least be some demo when booted.
Please do not expect too much from the NAND rootfs. It is not deeply
tested and configured. Don't expect a fully polished phone GUI...

But we as a community can contribute to improve this GUI if the
basics of the device are working. E.g. by a new Replicant 4.2
image or making Replicant 6 bootable.

Another thing was to make the stickers which indicate serial
number, IMEI, WLAN-MAC address etc. This meant booting and reading
out this information from each board and store it in a database.
And then really print the stickers and put them inside and on the
boxes.

So the next step I will do is to contact the first lucky 8 who have
preordered. To check if their address, contact data etc. is still ok.

Then I can really ship...

3 more GTA04A5 are on the testbench and 3 older GTA04A4 - but the latter
have minor issues. One has USB charging but no USB data. One does
boot but the kernel hangs. And the third one is almost fine except
that the WiFi/Bluetooth chip seems to be broken.

2. Regarding the remaining boards which need some repair, everything
is still stuck in the chewy negotiations about the production
failures. It is not yet completely agreed how much we have to
pay for not produced devices or how much we get back. Therefore,
I do not get the excess components for repair and also no help by
their machines (some repair steps are easier to do on their rework
place than my own).

So repairs are still blocked.

3. I have developed a new idea giving some small piece of hope to reduce
the total loss of money and still get enough devices. The idea is that
if we assume the claim that the production problem is because of
the components we have provided, we just throw those away. And ask
production to buy new replacements which exactly match. Especially
for the OpenPandora type of memory chip. This should solve the
production problem and it should run at the same yield as the
OpenPandora production.

This would have one visible effect on the GTA04A5: we would no longer
have 1GB RAM and 512MB NAND but 512MB RAM and 1GB NAND. This is
not really nice since 1GB is a major feature, but we must do it
the same way as the OpenPandora to get to the high production yield.

On the u-boot/kernel side this raises no problems, since we already
have multiple variants and some things like memory size are determined
automatically. So it is only visible in user-space RAM+NAND capacity.

I do not yet have any feedback on this proposal, so it might
be declined. But if it works out, the total financial loss can be
reduced very significantly. And all preorders could be easily
fulfilled, leaving even some more devices for newly interested
community members.

One snag must also be mentioned: I have no idea about the timing
of this approach. It might need several months to get the
components... Which was the reason to buy them ourselves in
advance.


So there is good news about shipping the first boards. And let's say,
some atoms of hope that we can rescue the full project.

BR,
Nikolaus





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