[Community] Releasing GTA04 hardware source files (was: community Digest, Vol 353, Issue 3)

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Sat Aug 24 11:21:40 CEST 2013


Hi Bob,

Am 24.08.2013 um 02:10 schrieb Bob Ham:

> On Sat, 2013-08-24 at 00:20 +0200, joerg Reisenweber wrote:
> 
>> Can't you finally come up with some *suggestions* or - even 
>> better - real actions that would help?
> 
> At present the community is beholden to a particular company which
> produces something the community depends on.  

No, the community does not "depend" on it. There is a company that feels
itself a member of this community and has developed an offer everyone can
accept or decline.

> That company has a
> monopoly on production within the community.

No.

>  It does not share the
> source files for its work and does not allow others to contribute to
> designs.

Yes. This is no difference to Openmoko, Inc. did since 2007.

> This is the same situation as a community that is beholden to a company
> producing proprietary software.

No.

>  The GTA04 is like proprietary hardware.

No.

For proprietary hardware you have no schematics, no clear identification of
the components, some custom made components without any information,
and no documentation which GPIO is doing what.

> We have schematics in a .pdf file but nothing else.  

Yes. And the PDF is the source. You can run OCR and convert it into any
format you like. And modify it as you like. What else do you expect? More
convenience?

The Schematics and the component placement chart of the GTA02 - both
as a printable PDF - were sufficient to design the GTA04 board... So it is not
lack of information if nobody is picking up the GTA04 design...

> There is no shared
> repository containing the source files for the schematics or the PCB
> designs.  Nobody can commit design fixes.  

Is this a requirement for FLOSS that you can commit anything directly to the
original repository? Do you have commit access to the master branch of
kernel.org?

Anyways, you can make change proposals and there are others who
"sign off" and accept your patches into the master if they fit into the
project goal and fit to some design style and rules.

So if you want something to be changed, please write me an e-mail (in
natural language) with your patches. Or propose it here on this list.

> The community is not
> iterating the GTA04 design.  The community is not working together to
> create a free phone.  Instead, all we do is discuss and argue about one
> company's product.

The community can help much better in other areas, e.g. marketing, spreading
the word, software, etc. because high density PCB design needs a very specific
type of knowledge that isn't widely available. And, the PCB must be 100% correct
or even 100.000000%. so it is better to have a very small team.

> A lot of people have come up with various ideas for modifications to the
> GTA04.  Some of them simply require some soldering which is no problem.
> However, some require a redesign of the board.  To my recollection,
> nobody has ever pointed out that this isn't possible unless Golden
> Delicious do it.  The fact that only Golden Delicious can do it is bad.

No. Because you can do it as well.

You can start to learn how to design PCBs, aquire some PCB design tool,
capture or convert the schematics, and make your own layout. Then, find
someone who does production for you.

> 
> Despite describing the GTA04 as "Open Hardware"¹ and stating that the
> aims of the community are for DIY hardware², Golden Delicious does not
> release any source files for the hardware it produces.  There is no
> community of hardware hackers contributing to shared PCB designs.

Because designing such a difficile and miniaturized device is more challenging
than the average hardware hacker is capable to do.

> I suggest that the community changes from consuming hardware designed
> and built by a single controlling entity to producing one or more Open
> Source Hardware³ phone designs which can be taken as a base, modified
> and manufactured by any party.  For example, a board design could be
> used in the same fashion as the GTA04, as a replacement for GTA01/02
> boards but could also be modified by the N900 community to provide an
> updated board for their phone.

It is possible to design a board for that by the procedure descibed above.

> I suggest that Golden Delicious release the source files for the GTA04
> board in order to assist this effort and act as a base for the first
> community phone design.

Essentially you are mixing openness and modifiability of source and
compiled binary.

The source in such a hardware project is the schematics (which is
open for the GTA04) and the compiled result is the PCB (which is
not easily modifiable, even with proper tools).

It is like you are asking an open source project to publish compiled
binaries, before you call it "open source". IMHO this is only convenience.

Finally some more technical aspect: it is not easy to just modify the
PCB to fit into an N900 case. You more or less have to redo the whole
PCB layout process (i.e. the compilation), although the Schematics can
be almost the same. So you virtually want to change

	boardc -mgta02 gta04.source

to

	boardc -mn900 gta04.source

But unfortunately there is no automatic boardc available... It is manual work
eating up several days or even weeks of work...

So everything appears to be available that you can start (including a
community that you can ask for suggestions and help):

What is stopping you from taking the GTA04 schematics and
documentation and run your n900-revival project as described above? 
Money? Courage? Disbelief in the existence of a "market"?

-- hns


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