Four months have passed since we started our donation campaign aimed at the PCB design and we are now at around €6500 (27%) of the goal €24000 for the entire phase 1 of the design, and we must admit that the rate of donations is slower than what we had hoped for.
Phase 1 is subdivided in two subtasks:
1A) PCB Project € 19000
1B) Fast SI bus simulations €5000
In other words, we reached an encouraging 34% of what is required for subtask 1A.
As we really want to speed up as much as possible the activity, we decided to formally split phase 1, and not to wait to reach €24000 to start the design of the PCB.
To do so, we signed a contract with ACube Systems (company we rely on for the design) just for subtask 1A. Doing so gives the chance to start right now the PCB design. At the time of signing the contract, we paid €6000, the amount required by the designer to start working.
One of the reasons forcing us to speed up the planned activities, is linked to the availability of the Slimbook model “Eclipse” that will not last forever, very much like any other commercially available products such as the electronic components we selected during the electrical schematics design phase. In fact, the electrical schematics are customized for the pinouts of that specific Slimbook model, and the PCB design will be specifically shaped to fit in the Slimbook Eclipse chassis. Because of these constraints, we have to finish the PCB design (phase 1A), the fast SI bus simulations (phase 1B) and the prototypes (phase 2) around this summer.
We fixed the end of April 2020 as the time-limit for phase 1A, so we have 3 months left to raise the remaining €12500. As you may well understand this goal is quite ambitious, but it is necessary if we don’t want to risk to fail.
At the end of August of 2019 we published the first version of the schematics in pdf format. Then, in October we uploaded the second version and after that the 13th of November we released the Orcad source, accomplishing what we promised.
Schematics Source in EDIF published and ready to be converted to KiCad
Now we have exported it even to EDIF format, to make easier for new volunteers to convert it to Kicad Format. To convert from EDIF to Kicad we have found edif2kicad tools https://github.com/svn2github/edif2kicad but we are sure you will find other tools or even you will be able to create a new one
Open Hardware release of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design for the motherboard of the GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook.
The initial 2,703 euro of donations of this campaign arrive most from recurring donations that continue to arrive from the old campaign after reached the old campaign goal.
Our hardware group identified in early 2017 a desirable list of components and a set of features of the laptop. In June 2017 we launched a first donation campaign that was aimed at paying ACube to design the electrical schematics and a year later, in June 2018 we reached the goal of collecting €12,600 and finally started finalizing the design. Here you may download the resulting schematics of the 1st donation campaign.
As of today, the notebook specifications are the following (subject to change):
Few days ago we announced that Slimbook will provide the enclosure we need for our Open Hardware PowerPC notebook. In addition to that, we have published in our repository the pdf containing the new version of the schematics. Further updates will arrive during the following days ( the Orcad source files will be available during October)
Bookmark the date of our PCB donation campaign (details below), now that the electrical schematics that came out of the first donation campaign are in our hands.
The schematics are now under review by our hardware volunteers and at the same time, during this month, we have been preparing the steps to certify our hardware design as Open Source Hardware following the OSWHA Certification procedure.
Open Hardware Compliance
OSHWA Certification Process
Through our OSWHA colleagues, we contacted the NYU Technology Law and Policy Clinic. They helped us for free to see how we could certify the motherboard project as Open Source Hardware. Students and Professors of the Clinic have analyzed how to find the best path to achieve OSHWA certification. In the meantime we have contacted the chips vendors to verify their agreement to distribute as Open Source Hardware our electrical schematics and the future PCB design. Among others, NXP has answered positively. With the Law and Policy Clinic we have extensively studied the practical implications of the requirements for the OSWHA Open Hardware certification, and cross-checked our approach with OSWHA personnel.
So most of the datasheets of the chips used in our schematics are freely downloadable as you can see below.
An important part of being considered Open Hardware compliant ( OSHWA Open Hardware certification), imply that everything that is under our control and that is useful to produce our motherboard, should be publicly disclosed, such schematics, PCB, Gerber-files and all their accompanying information. Still is Open Hardware If we have done what was in our power to use open components, but a third-party sources impose us restrictions to share some information related to their components used in our design.
Bookmark the date of our PCB donation campaign
Bookmark the starting date of the PCB donation campaign: mid-January 2019.
That is going to be the time when we will make publicly available the reviewed electrical schematics that we were able to obtain thanks to the previous campaign. If you have reserved some donations to our project for the Christmas you can donate using the old donation campaign, will be automatically transferred to the PCB campaign, or you can wait until mid-January when will start of the PCB donation campaign. Please if possible “alert” even other passionate people about the imminent campaign.
Finalized list of components
Having received the finalized version of the electrical schematics – we are currently revising them prior to publication- the list of components is now also finalized, even if the revision could imply few minor changes.
The laptop external connectors, that depends from the notebook chassis, are not final due to the interdependence with the laptop chassis, will be added later when the notebook chassis will be finally selected.
You will find the details related to a significant part of the selected components in the datasheets accompanying the electrical schematics that will be made publicly available in mid-January, despite sometimes a login could be required.
It’s with joy that the Power Progress Community proudly announce the complete funding of the Hardware Research and Design phase for the Electrical Schematics. This phase has achieved the identification and design of all aspects of the motherboard reducing uncertainties related to the hardware specifications and, consequently, the production costs.
After reaching the amount of 12600€, the electrical schematics will be delivered to us in a month by ACube Systems. The final design resulting from this phase will be made public as soon as possible.
We are now dealing with the Open Source Hardware Association, asking them if we can certify as “Open Source Hardware” the documentation produced in this phase or, instead, we should wait until the board design will be entirely finalized. What is more important, we now have to choose which Open Source Hardware license to adopt for distributing our Electrical Schematic. If you are an expert on this field, please join us!
We are so very grateful with all the 128 donors that trusted us and actively contributed in achieving this first goal! We also thank all the people that supported us in spreading our project letting us able reaching a much larger audience.
We remind you that this is a first step of a much larger funding campaign planned more than a year ago. We still need new donations, and to do so, we need reaching even more people, so please, do not hesitate spreading the word. We are fully aware on the importance in publishing soon the Electrical Schematics that came out of the first campaign, as we want to show that we are able to respect the promise of delivering a fully open hardware output, hoping that more people will feel confident in further supporting the project.
The list below contains the planned campaigns and their corresponding funding goals:
[Achieved!] Hardware components research, analysis of the architecture, and design of the electrical schematics [12.600 euro]
[Upcoming campaign] Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Gerber format delivery of the electrical schematics [11.950 euro]
Production and delivery of five working prototypes [8.800 euro]
Hardware testing using software provided by the producer (ACube) [14.400 euro]
Pre-certification CE certification [12.500 euro].
Please, do not stop donating, even if the next campaign is not officially launched yet. Any new donations will automatically be transferred to the phase 2 donation campaign called “Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Gerber”.
We will soon circulate the next issue of our newsletter among subscribers that will contain a very short questionnaire asking whether people are willing to donate to the PCB design donation campaign and their advice on how to carry out a better campaign. This will be necessary to evaluate how much we should “invest” on further publicizing our project for enlarging the involved community and will help us focusing on what we should change in order to reach the goal in a shorter period of time.
Three months have passed since the kick-off of our campaign, and it is now time to share a status update.
We reached the amount of €7100 thanks to more than one hundred donors that contributed, in some cases with more than one donation. We are thinking about how to boost the donations to achieve the €12600 final goal. We have seen that a good number of donors are new followers of the project, so it seems that our communication activities successfully attracted new people. We now want to go even further, so we kindly ask everyone to share more and more our project, for example supporting its advertisement in online tech magazines and forums, websites and other media. To promote these activities, the project was presented last week end at two Linux Day events in Italy, one in Milan by Roberto I. and one in Bolzano/Bozen by Diego M. The very same week-end ACube advertised the project at the very successful Amiga32 event in Neuss (Germany) and many people have shown their interest. On November 11th, Philippe F. will give a presentation at the Alchimie 12 event in Tain l’Hermitage (France).
Do you want the electrical schematics to be ready by Christmas? The solution is only one: prepare yourself for an active contribution, either by donating, and by involving more people!
PowerPC Notebook block diagram
Regarding the work in progress, ACube is working on the electrical schematics design and sent an early block diagram that was extensively discussed with our hardware core team of volunteers. After this discussion, in particular regarding an NDA component, we have arrived to a final version agreed by both sides: almost all components are identified. We are including PowerPC Notebook block diagram a block diagram of our PowerPC Notebook motherboard (without integrated circuit names). We will disclose all integrated circuit names when we will reach the required amount of donations to complete the electrical schematic, as agreed with ACube. Then, we will publish design files when a design phase is completely finished and tending to be error-free and fault-free. Before that, anyone wanting to actively collaborate in the design review can join and participate in our project and association.
In a nutshell, we are working hard to promote the campaign, and ACube is on track to accomplish phase one of the project. We see the light at the end of the tunnel! Keep it up!
Lastly we want to remember the importance of small recurrent donations. The possibility of having many people helping with a small amount of money monthly is very interesting for us as this will guarantee the constant work of the hardware designer.
Thanks to the already received donations ACube has received a payment to start the study of the components list. In relation with this, Power Progress Community has provided a possible component list based on non NDA chips to manage usb3, sata3, audio and others. Electrical Schematic engineering task started! Starting on Monday 7th August, ACube is analyzing that information and will produce feedback and suggestions.
Milano, 10th August 2017, Power Progress Community association is announcing the official collaboration of Acube Systems SRL through a contract signature to create the electrical schematics of the GNU Linux PowerPC Notebook. The project involving both organizations will create a PowerPC laptop featuring an MXM video card whereas the current phase is expected to produce the complete electrical schematics for this computer.
Power Progress Community wants to thank again for the big and passionate collaboration of all the volunteers and donors that made this happen. “As the expected period to complete the electrical schematics is 10 weeks, now it’s in our hands that means also in donors’ and collaborators’ hands to reach the 12600€ goal in less or equal time.” stated Roberto Innocenti, president of Power Progress Community association.
ACube Systems was already collaborating in the preliminary tasks and supporting the association. Enrico Vidale, CEO at ACube Systems said “Since a long time we wanted to build a PowerPC laptop. Thanks to the Power Progress Community, the dream will become true. We are excited about the future!”
Power Progress Community is a non-profit association composed by people contributing on a voluntary basis, and inspired by the Open Source Hardware and Software movement. The mission is not focused on selling products, and the contribution to the “PowerPC Notebook” is an example. The Power Progress Community is working to establish and consolidate a potential purchasing group big enough to motivate a manufacturer to start the building process. In addition, the Power Progress Community association is supporting a crowdfunding campaign for designing and prototyping the laptop, as well as encouraging the open source developers in supporting the PowerPC platform.
ACube Systems S.r.l., a world-renowned company, was established in January 2007. The main goal of ACube Systems is to create and promote innovative hardware and software products thanks to an in-house research and development team supported by collaborations with some well-known Italian and international teams.
The Power of making Progress is in the hand of our Community.
After reaching the 4000€ milestone we are ready to sign our first contract with ACube Systems. This will allow to start the engineering work and we want to thank all the donors for making this possible! All supporters are contributing to keep us moving enthusiastically forward. Of course, we still need to achieve the 12600€ goalto end up the analysis phase and to produce the complete electrical schematics and deliver an extensive documentation, but we feel confident in our long term success.
In the meantime we are making progress on our T2080 CPU based development boards. We are working on booting them with a Radeon graphic card, so please, if some uboot expert like to contribute, please contact us .
Regarding the Radeon card, a few days ago ACube confirmed the inclusion of an MXM connector in the notebook. This is a very good point, as it gives us the possibility to deliver the basis for an upgradeable laptop.
Finally, we would like to end this article reminding that any help is more than welcome. New members joined us to collaborate with the hardware team (i.e. the above mentioned boot process) and many people are contributing in spreading our campaign in the social networks. We need to reach more donors as they will help us reaching our goal and to release a truly Open Source PowerPC Notebook. So please, tell everybody about this project on forums, social networks, and why not, have a chat about it with your friends during these summer evenings.
This first campaign reached its goal! Thank you all!!
And now do not stop donating, even if the next campaign “Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Gerber” is not officially launched yet, any new donations made here will be automatically transferred to it.
The next campaign will be launched when we will publish the outcome of the first campaign that will be soon provided by the hardware designer ACube Systems. See here a dedicated post.
About the Linux PowerPC notebook project
We really want to make it happen: a PowerPC notebook released as Open Source.
To achieve this goal a series of tasks must be performed, such as designing a custom motherboard that would fit into an existing mainstream notebook chassis.
Since October 2014, when the project was launched, the number of people showing interest had been steadily increasing, and we are now quite a few experience volunteers, some of whom are able to contribute in reviewing and checking aspects of the required electronic design. Unfortunately, after all this years we are stuck, because of the lack of either spare time, or engineer capabilities and professional skills.
In order to solve the situation, in 2016 we approached the Italian firm ACube Systems a company that have some experience in designing PowerPC motherboards. We were lucky, as we found a group of passionate people that shared the long-term advantages of the Open Hardware philosophy, and their prior experience in designing a variety of PowerPC motherboards makes them an ideal choice as a partner. Together with ACube we will be able to get the electronic design done, but a professional electronic designer has to be paid.
At this point the group involved in the project decided to get serious and launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the required job.
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