March 2019 Schematic Updates

In our last post we stated  “we hope to publish the initial schematic design before the end of February 2019”. Unfortunately a series of problems arise that we will try to explain in this status update.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sangudo/

As you may probably know, at the end of the first donation campaign we received four incremental releases of electrical schematics from the designer, the last one on the 11th of January 2019. We started a validation task at each release prior to their publication and each time we ended up sending back the schematics because we thought some design decisions had to be improved. These hardware reviews are quite complicated, and we would need additional volunteers, possibly hardware engineers able to properly address the task. Please, contact us or fill the collaboration survey if you can contribute.

At the same time, we were continuously evaluating various notebook chassis options, striving to find a suitable chassis that could fit our motherboard that has a MXM video card. The goal here was to identify an empty chassis that could be bought without a motherboard and with a life cycle of at least two or three years, which is the envisioned time-frame covering our laptop project.

The hardware designer that was paid thanks to donors is stuck waiting for the final notebook chassis as he requires the pinout specifications to finalize the design.

These are the reasons why the development of the electrical schematics is frozen since the 11th of January 2019. As a result, also our collaborators that have volunteered to validate the hardware schematics are stuck, as well as our selected product maker ACube Systems.

Identifying a suitable chassis is taking an unexpected amount of time and it is terribly delaying the second campaign aimed at the PCB design. Last year we had a meeting among both Power Progress Community associated members and the core group that is coordinating the project, and we all agreed to start the second donation campaign only after publishing the schematics resulting from first campaign. However, the amount of accumulated delay arise doubts among the participants on how to solve the current impasse, and we decided to ask the donors to give their opinion about whether to start now the second campaign (link) or keep waiting the publication of the result of the first campaign. If you are willing to actively support the project, feel free to express your opinion about the matter.

Our hardware volunteer team and ACube Systems are still reviewing the next round of documentation for selecting some key components that heavily depend on the selected chassis.

So far we have identified some potentially suitable chassis. However, some of them are designed to host a separated board to manage the batteries, a board that does not exists in our design, and some chassis have a dedicated space for a separated ethernet board, and again, others do not have a thermal design compatible with the heat generated by an MXM video card. The problem here is that the hired hardware designer stated very clearly that he is not willing to make an extra work to alter the initially agreed design features of the main board to accommodate it in a chassis requiring a very different internal layout. In other words, splitting functions in separated boards is out of question.

At this time the key question is: how much time is required to identify the correct notebook chassis?

Unfortunately, given our very limited spending resources and the experience we had so far, we are not able to make any speculation at this point. We strongly believe that it would be better to make a wise choice requiring more time, rather than an hasty solution now, because any wrong decision would risk to compromise the feasibility of the entire project.

We are not a private company aimed at making a profit out of this project in order to survive, in fact we don’t sell anything. We are a group of hardware enthusiasts more or less structured in a  non-for-profit association. We are doing our best to face strong limitations to achieve what we knew since the beginning was a very difficult and complex goal.

Taking all of this into account, we think that publishing to a wider audience now a very incomplete electrical schematics could impact way too negatively our project and the donors expectations. On the other hand, we are conscious that we are delaying for way too long the promised outcome of the first campaign and this fact too have a great impact to our credibility.

We are moving forward extremely slowly, that’s for sure. You know the requirements and the extremely limited actions that we can make, mostly due to extremely tight financial constraints.

After all what was said in this status update, we delivered to the donors the current version of the schematics, stressing on the fact that they should be considered only a draft not yet ready to be shared with a wider audience

In the end, we still strongly believe in the project, we are facing a contingent problem (the chassis) that it will be soon or later be solved. If you can help you are more than welcome.

Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.