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#338476 The day the Pandora goes even more open

Posted by EvilDragon on 31 May 2014 - 11:12 PM

As promised, it's the Day of the Pandora today!


Why? Well, some guessed it - because the Pandora becomes more open today.


Thanks to the designers Michael Weston (PCB) and Dave Cancilier (Case), the case and full hardware design files and documentation (schematics, gerber, BoM, etc.) have been opened up for non-commercial use.


Whether you want to use it to repair your unit, modify it, create your own 3D printed case or are just interested to find out what's needed to create such a device, that's totally up to you.

Be sure to read the licenses and contact me or the designers directly if you want to use it for commercial purpose.


You can find all files here.

(feel free to direct-link them on the Wiki or other sites, but please include the licenses there as well)


And to celebrate the only OpenSource handheld with opened hardware (until the Pyra is out), I've made some limited Mega packages as well!


You can either get a Rebirth or 1GHz Pandora package with the following contents for a really awesome price:

  • Pandora 1GHz or Rebirth handheld, incl. AC Adaptor (incl. EU, AU, UK and US plug) and battery
  • Official Carry Case
  • TV Out Cable
  • Replacement battery (2009)
  • 2x XStylus
  • Fully populated (except for the nubs), but broken PCB, signed by EvilDragon (collectors item)
  • Fast 32GB SDHC Class 10 card (EMTEC)

Available at the DragonBox shop, only in June.

Don't worry about the stock - more units are coming this week.

Additionally, we've added cheap batteries from the first batch to the shop. They might have a bit less capacity, but are fully tested and working.


This is a nice preparation for the Pyra, which will also have an opened up case design and schematics available from the very beginning.


Spread the word, let everyone know the difference between your normal commercial device and a community-powered, opened handheld :)

#300770 Christmas, the past and the future (2013-12-24)

Posted by EvilDragon on 24 December 2013 - 05:11 AM

Well, it's christmas time and most of you here will probably spending some quiet days with their family.

I wish you all a very merry christmas - and as the end of the year is approaching, I'd like to look back into the past year and also a bit into the future.


1. Pandora - it was still a rollercoaster ride - with a happy ending


The first few months were awesome. Production was swiftly moving, everyone could get a Pandora from stock, I finally delivered the units to all my remaining preorder customers and even all 1GHz customers from Craig got their unit.


You think it's weird that Pandora production works flawlessly?

Sure, that's probably why we had issues with the LCDs for the next batch that was delivered in June.

440 LCDs, where half of them had dust below the touchscreen and a lot of those had calibration issues.

So 400 of those had to go back to be fixed... and that sure took a while, as the manufacturer needed to find out what went wrong.


So in August, we were running out of Pandoras because of that. We had a few older screens left, but you really couldn't call that "mass production" at all.

In September, we got 60 LCDs for testing - they were working fine on a quick test and all assembled into Pandoras and shipped...

Only to find out shortly after that those touchscreens autodestruct when you move the stylus at the edge of the screen.

Well, another two months until that issue is fixed...


And finally, in December, production has resumed and I've got 400 fully working screens!


So Pandoras are now back in stock, production is back to normal. Finally :)



2. Craig and his customers


That really was the saddest part of the whole Pandora story so far.

I can fully understand that Craig had a huge load of stress on his back, and it's sad to see where everything has gone.

But he really caused a mess, with the 1GHz preorders 2012 and also with the amount of remaining customers in 2013.


After I finally got the results of the survey Craig created for all remaining customers, it turned out that there are A LOT more customers left than there should. I still have no idea where that huge number comes from, but i don't even want to think about it.

It's more important to moved forward and help everyone here.


Wow, and it's really really awesome how helpful you all are!


While I can only offer Pandoras at production costs, you, the community, help out with donations as well.


So here is a little statistic:


  • Customers who used the upgrade possibility so far: 92
  • Number of Pandoras funded with the help of donations: 50 (36 have not used that voucher yet, they were probably waiting for the Pandoras to get back in stock)
  • Total numbers of remaining customers from Craig (according to the survey): 445


So we're getting somewhere - let's continue to help everyone. Thanks for all your donations :)



3. Awesome software releases


2013 was a REALLY good year softwarewise.

Not only have huge quantities of new software been released for the Pandora, there also were some high quality releases - from all points of views.


Little but useful programs like MasterControl or the recent SixPair-Controller daemon, unique and useful applications like Streak's WIP PIM Manager, awesome emulator releases and updates (who would've thought we could get a fullspeed AGA Amiga, most-of-the time fullspeed Nintendo DS, and a very playable PSP emulator?) and also a lot of games, from ports for classic games like the Jedi Knight saga, to ports of Indie games and also completely new releases.


There's so much to do on the Pandora it won't get boring... I can barely keep up with playing everything I'd like to!




4. A peek into the Future


The Pandora sure still has a lot of potential. I'm pretty sure we'll still see a lot of new releases and updates.


But still, most of you already know I am working on a successor. More details will be revealed overtime.

I cannot tell when it will be finished - based on the whole Pandora story, you know how long that could take...

But let's hope it will be smoother run :)


In case you're wondering how this will be financed:

Well, you know I got money from investors for the remaining Pandora orders, right? That money will be back when all remaining Pandoras have been sold - and will then be used for the development of the successor.


I can fully fund the full design and production for both the unit and the case up to the final prototyping.

Only the mass production itself will need a lot more money than I have - but there are various possibilities to get that as well.

Maybe Kickstarter, maybe Preorders with part-payment, maybe something completely different.


Well, we'll see, but I'm sure we'll find a way to produce it once the prototype is running... but this could still be far, far away in the future.




5. Some special thanks


Well, finally, I'd like to give some special thanks.

Of course, a huge thanks to all the community and developers, as you keep everything going!


Special thanks goes to notaz - he helps both with low-level stuff and the OS. And he'll also be helping with the Pyra :) Also to skeezix and DJWillis - they might not have much time recently, but they're available when I really need them. And c4a is simply awesome :D


More special thanks go to Fatih. Many might've forgotten about him already, some have never heard of him. He's also one of the guys behind the Pandora - and he's still helping out a lot (e.g., he's the one sourcing stuff like the AC Adaptors or LCDs, and he's also the one who dealt with the chinese manufacturer to fix our LCDs). Yep, he's still helping out, even though most of you don't know this.


Of course, MWeston is not to be forgotten. He's the one who designed the Pandora PCB, and he still helps out each time I have some technical or manufacturing questions. Thanks - and I hope you really have a real awesome christmas time with your family!


Not to forget: Linux-SWAT, fantomid and p'tiSeb for taking care of the Tolouse Game Show and of course Link and ekianjo for distributing Pandoras in US and Japan as well.


There are many many more which I didn't mention by name here... my investors, the moderators, all the devs.


Well - we sure don't have to space here to mention them all. But I'm really happy to have such an awesome community backing me, helping as good as they can.

With guys like you, I KNOW the Pyra will be awesome, and even though it might be a hard way once again, I'm totally sure it'll be worth it!


Thanks - and all of you, have a very merry christmas, and a happy new year!

#367167 The Pyra Puzzle

Posted by EvilDragon on 14 December 2014 - 10:15 AM

Whew, I can't understand so much time has passed again already since I did any newspost - time sure flies when you got a lot of work to do!


So, anyways, here's today's update... I hope I don't forget anything, as there's plenty to tell you.



1. The Nubs


Well, as mentioned last time:

We'll order a bit more than 10,000 of the current Nubs so we got enough for the first 5000 Pyras.

After that, we can either use the smaller ones, have high enough order quantities that the current nubs are being produced again or find someone else to produce them (as mentioned, it's basically just a magnet that moves around - no electronics inside).


If the first 5000 Pyras sell fast, we can easily order high enough quantities of the nubs to continue their production.

If they sell slower, we've got plenty of time to find a replacement


So either way, we'll find a solution after that.


One good thing: The smaller nub would fit out of the box - the height form of the pin is EXACTLY the same - so the case wouldn't need to be modified if we'd use that.

(You can see that in the following pictures):


Attached File  Nubs1.JPG   94.16KB   99 downloadsAttached File  Nubs2.JPG   143.6KB   101 downloads


I'll test the small one myself on Tuesday, but I don't think we'd want that - the travel distance really is too small.



2. A puzzling experience


The PCB layout was actually more work than Nikolaus expected.

A LOT more work. Keeping the PCB down to four layers and fitting everything into the small space of the PCB is a complex puzzle.

Nevertheless, each day, less issues are left. And he's still positive that we can get finished, unpopulated PCB just before christmas.

This means though that we won't get a populated one before christmas (unless GC wants to work on December 24th, but I doubt that), but shortly after christmas.

Still a huge step - and still the most complicated thing in the whole Pyra-Creation process.


After that, it's time to layout the CPU PCB - but that's easy compared to the mainboard, as there's more space (and layers), so that should work out a lot faster.


Want an example of the puzzles Nikolaus has to work on each day?

Here you go:


Attached File  pcb.jpg   282.46KB   104 downloads


Inside of that picture are at least 3 major and 8 small rule infringements. If we keep it like that, the PCB could not be produced reliably, would get shortcircuits or similar issues.

Moving traces around could lead to other rule infringements - so this is quite a puzzle (high-level Sokoban, eh?)

Each issue needs about 5 - 30 minutes to solve, so it's possible, just takes a loooot of time.

And the more you solve, the more complicated it gets for the remaining ones... fun.


Someone should create a puzzle game on the Pandora based on that :D



3. The case


According to the case designer, I should receive the case design files with all requested changes tomorrow.

I won't believe it until I get it (as it usually ALWAYS takes longer than expected), but it shouldn't take much longer.


The battery we'll use will probably be a bit wider than the Pandora one, so the case needs a bit of a change here.

The Stylus will probably get a tiny bit thinner and all four screws will be hidden inside the battery compartment (which is nice).


With a small adapter you can also use a Pandora battery, which is great as well.


I should get two different versions of the case with different shoulder button designs.

I'll let you know and show you renderings once I get the design files, that's for sure :)



4. AC Adaptor and LCD Cables


Fatih is looking for various AC Adaptors. Basically, it's a normal USB plug (with 2A) with replaceable plug, similar to the Pandora (so it works with EU, UK, US and AU plugs).

There are various manufacturers for that and we'll get different samples for testing.


The LCD Cable design has been finished as well and Fatih is getting a quotation for it.

Each trace is wider than on Pandora's cable, the traces are redundant and there's a bit more space to the edge. Also, all edges are rounded - which prevents tears directly at the edges (which was an issue with a lot of broken Pandora cables as well).


The cable also doesn't have any electronics on, so it will be a LOT cheaper (Pandora's cable was 10 EUR production cost each).


These enhancements should reduce the risk of breaking LCD cables to a minimum (of course, you can never reduce that to 0 - everything can break in the world).



5. Software


We now added key signing to our repository, tweaked the scripts a bit more and are now able to create working rootfs to our likings.


If anyone got an OMAP5 devboard: I'll post a link and instructions on how to install it soon, so anyone with a devboard can try it out and help us improving the default setup and tools.



I THINK that's all for now - but as mentioned, so much happened, so I might've forgotten something - but feel free to ask me if you have any other questions.


#353236 No time for a break after GamesCom

Posted by EvilDragon on 26 August 2014 - 03:40 PM

Finally, a new newspost!

I have to admit, it took a while since I posted some news - which was simply because GamesCom preparation, the GamesCom itself and catching up with my shop AFTER the GamesCom took quite some time.

Still, Pyra development has not halted, so here are some news.

But first of all, since I just mentioned GamesCom, I wish to send a big welcome to everyone who joined our boards or newsletter after visiting us there.
I hope you will have a lot of fun and excitement together with us.

Okay, on to the news...

1. GamesCom

The GamesCom was a huge success.
There were TONS of interested people and they were all amazed by the power the Pyra showed on our FullHD screen (well, we had multiple PSX and MegaDrive emulators running and still a responsive desktop at 1920x1080... - all fullspeed).

What most of the visitors found especially great is the replaceable CPU PCB. I was happy that most people love the idea having an upgradeable system instead of producing more and more electronical waste. These days companies tell you that you need at least one new smartphone each year... great that's not the common opinion :)

We had a few special guests there - LinuxSWAT was helping out again, but we also had ptitseb visiting during the weekend and notaz was even there the full time and was working there on the devboard.
They managed to get some games as well as Reicast and Mupen running, but those still need more optimization.

All in all, GamesCom was great - and the retro area was fun.

2. The LCD

We made various tests with the LCD from BOE, and we were really satisfied so far.
We tried Sonic 2 - famous on most mobile screens for flickering palmtrees and black ghosting of the rings in the sky.
Well, we couldn't see any ghosting and even the flickering was only visible if you knew what to look for.

We didn't have the rotator chip working with it yet and Nikolaus was on holidays (as you might remember), but he's now looking into it.
There are multiple devices out there using the rotator chip with exactly this one panel, so we know it'll work ;)

Additionally, we found the 720p resolution with 5" perfect for a Linux standard desktop.
While the default settings have small fonts and icons, they're still perfectly readable (I like it small), with the 1080p LCD, it was just unusably small.

We still have the Success panel to test, but the BOE one is already pretty good, and a LOT better than the Pandora LCD.
As soon as we have the rotator chip working, I'll make some nice videos for you.

I've already ordered a few samples together with touchscreens.

3. The software

notaz got the 3D driver to work together with fbturbo (which is a real fast, NEON-accelerated (read below) framebuffer driver for X).
The official TI driver uses DRM - which is okay for normal desktop usage, but with that, we can't use the framebuffer directly (which is where Pandoras SDL version gets the speed increase from).
So we definitely want to get an X driver working that offers framebuffer usage - and that's why we chose to use fbturbo.

As mentioned, the 3D driver is working already, but is still hardcoded to ask for DRM. This is something we'll try to fix, otherwise, all 3D games would need a patch.
Another (small) downside is that the 3D driver only works in fulsscreen mode.

No big thing, as even apps like Blender can also run in fullscreen mode and games are usually played in fullscreen mode anyways.
Still, we'll try to fix that as well.
If you really desperately need 3D with windows, you could theoretically switch to TIs DRM driver, as it works there.

We'll now concentrate on setting up standard Debian distribution with our own patches for the Pyra.

4. Batteries

I've received two different 6000mAh batteries from two different manufacturers.
One is thicker, one is wider. Both have been sent to the case design team. They'll check which one can be easier implemented into our current case design.

5. The Case

Not much has happened here, as the company in Greece is closed for summer holidays.
I took the time to write down a list with current issues and a to-do-list which they'll work on when they're back in September.
It's not that much left to do, to be honest.

I'll continue tweaking the shoulder buttons and I'll also try Fusion_Powers design.

6. The hardware

It's time for testing the main PCB thoroughly, we also still need to add a Wifi chip.
Then it's time for the CPU PCB.
I'll keep you updated with more news here.

That's it for todays post.
Now that I catched up with everything, I hope to have more regular newsposts again.

Feel free to ask any questions here :)

Just some quick correction, as we just discussed about that in IRC:

fbturbo is NOT using NEON as accelleration.
I misread that.

From the description (which can be found here: https://github.com/s...6-video-fbturbo

any ARM based system should see better
performance thanks to some additional optimizations (the elimination of
ShadowFB layer, ARM NEON/VFP code for dealing with uncached framebuffer
reads, automatic backing store management for faster window moves).

I misinterpreted that for: The ShadowFB layer had been eliminated and replaced with ARM NEON/VFP code.
But that's not the case, both are eliminated to speed up everything.

Sorry for the confusion.

#351496 Aluminium cases are being made!

Posted by EvilDragon on 15 August 2014 - 09:23 PM

I just wanted to let you know that I gave the green light for the aluminium case production.


I've got about 60 orders now and i wanted to order 20 myself to use them for brand new Pandoras.

Well, and I'm sure that the remaining 20 will easily be sold once the cases are available.


So work has already started on them :)

#344819 Main PCB V3 is finished!

Posted by EvilDragon on 13 July 2014 - 09:08 PM

After spending hours and hours and hours of time, Nikolaus finished V3 of the main PCB.

That PCB will be produced during this week and it will be ready for the Gamescom :)


It's almost the final main PCB revision and will be used to test all functions and find any remaining bugs.

If all goes well, V4 will be the one that is going to be used for the main production!


If you want to see the amount of traces needed to create that PCB... go ahead :)

(of course, when you are working on it, you don't need to see all traces at once ;))


Attached File  MainPCBV3.jpg   339.21KB   190 downloads


And if you want to see what's taking so long to design such a PCB... how to puzzle a PCB together, so that no traces get in the way of others.

Here is a small video. It's running at 10x speed - so you can imagine how much exhausting work this is!



Next for Nikolaus is to continue to work on the LCD drivers, so we can finally choose the LCD as well.


And what have I been doing?

After I got back from Montpellier, I started to work on multiple things at once.

T-Shirts and other merchandisings, soon to be available from my shop (probably sometimes August).

Preparing Gamescom, upgrading the server (yep, we moved to a completely new server - with only 30 minutes downtime).

And next up is setting up some GIT / Bugtracker-combined system so we can actively work on the OS and Kernel.


I need more time :D


Well, I hope I'll see as many of you on the GamesCom as possible!

And as usual: As soon as I've got more to post, I'll do that :)

#364023 Finished! (Well... the schematics, that is)

Posted by EvilDragon on 16 November 2014 - 10:18 AM

Still no time to slow down - so here's a summary of what happened lately :)
The PCBs
Finally, the full schematics for the Pyra have been finished by Nikolaus early last week!
Which means, that the hardware is basically done - the only thing left to do is to translate the schematics into the layout of the PCB.
It's very time consuming work, but Nikolaus will try to finish that in December, so that we can produce the first prototypes before the end of the year!
December 23rd would be a cool date for the prototype production run - as December 23rd, 2011 was the day we made the test production run of the Pandora at Global Components in Germany.
The OMAPs have already been ordered, we plan to produce 15 prototpe PCBs.
Will we be able to keep that schedule? It's a short timeframe for the remaining work to be done (we know that), but we'll try our best.
These prototypes need to be thoroughly tested then. Quite a few won't work at all (as such a test run is used to setup the machine properly). Some of the working ones will go to devs like notaz and maybe one or two will be auctioned off.
And after that? Well, all bugs we still find need to be eliminated, a new test run needs to be done.
And once the hardware fully works, it's time to setup the mass production and the preordering.
Hopefully, we won't need to many revisions before we have all bugs fixed.
The cases
Of course, a fully working PCB is nothing without a finished case!
Now that all specifications are fixed, the designer has resumed work on the case to do the final tweaks (and offer me two different solutions for the shoulder buttons).
I hope the final case will be ready for a 3D print in December as well.
The nubs
We took the chance to meet the designer and engineer of our current nubs at the Electronica exhibition in Munich. Basically, the part is end of life (EOL), because there weren't enough orders to keep the production alive.
All other nubs we tried won't fit, sadly (the 3DS one is twice as thick, so that won't work).
The only EOL part of the nub is the mechanical one which is basically a disc with springs that move a magnet.
The electrical part (which is simply a hall sensor) is available without any issues.
Our current solution is this one:
The deadline for placing the order is the current nub is end of December. We'll order 10,000 of those, which will be enough for 5,000 Pyras.
If these Pyras sell really fast, we can probably resume the production with a high enough order.
If these Pyras sell slow, we have enough time (and money) to find a solution, i.e. a company that can create a compatible mechanical frame.
I sure hope though we can get enough orders to make them resume the production though! The first order of 10,000 will be a first step to that!
3G / 4G
More good news from the Electronica:
We found a Tetra-Band Antenna that fits onto the reserved space of our PCB, which means that the Pyra will be able to do 3G/4G.
I've also paid AMD a visit to ask them about their upcoming ARM SoC for tablets.
Nothing to get excited yet, but I've got some contacts now to discuss with.
We know they'll release a 64bit ARM SoC which uses the Radeon GPU (which has working open source drivers), so that surely would be an interesting chip for a first Pyra upgrade.
IF (in capitals) we will be able to use it, it will still be a long time away. And if not enough people buy the Pyra or we we can't get it from AMD, it won't even be made.
The first release will be the OMAP5 Pyra - and the more people buy it, the more likely a future CPU Board upgrade will be :)
You probably know about the 'What would you like to see?'-thread (http://boards.openpa...ou-like-to-see/)
Well, I got the devboard prepared at work and will hopefully be able to produce regular videos of those requests from this week on - this just depends on the amount of spare time I have.
These will only be very short videos, just showing one thing at a time.
And we won't be able to show all of those requests yet, as our current OS still has some things like the 3D driver missing. But those videos will follow once we have it working as well.
Well.... as the design is basically finished, it's time to soon start for me to work on the keyboard layout. I know we've got hundreds of posts about that already, which I all need to browse and check and find the best suitable keyboard layout.
I'll probably make a few different layouts and put them up to discussions, so we can tweak them.
I plan to do this end of November / early December.
Phew, that was quite a lenghty post - but we certainly had (and have) a lot going on :)
See you at the boards!

#321168 Starcraft

Posted by notaz on 04 March 2014 - 08:31 PM

Awaken my child, and embrace the glory that is your birthright. Know that I am the Overmind; the eternal will of the Swarm, and that you have been created to serve me.

It's on the repo.
You'll need full installation of Brood War from PC with latest 1.16.1 patch applied. It also needs to have required files copied from CD (1.16.1 removed CD checks, but doesn't automatically install all required files):
- copy "INSTALL.EXE" from the StarCraft CD to your StarCraft folder and rename it to "StarCraft.mpq
- copy "INSTALL.EXE" from the StarCraft: Brood War CD to your StarCraft folder and rename it to "BroodWar.mpq"

You should try the game on PC without CD first, if that works, you're ready to copy the game's folder to pandora/appdata , the folder should be named "starcraft".

So a Starcraft port? Sort of..

The "no source, no port" rule is not completely true, you can get something similar (but not the same) as a port through static recompilation. Similar stuff was done several times by M-HT for some DOS games. The game was also converted for Android with somewhat similar approach.

So how does it work? The game was fully disassembled with IDA, then converted from x86 disassembly to C with my custom tools that I wrote as the project progressed, then compiled as a normal program and linked against ARM winelib (so the Win32 API is provided by ARM port of wine). Sounds easy? The hell not! I've started it sometime in autumn and was hoping to have something after a month or so, but it was far from working at the time of New Year. Then tried to target the Alive compo, but that slipped too. There were way too many problems and things that I did not expect.. Maybe I'll write about it someday. Would I do it with another game? Maybe not, let's just say "no source, no port" rule is always true and Windows games should be handled through emulation, static recompilation is possible but way too problematic in practice.

However in the end I think it works quite well, give it a try. It should be close to how "real" port would work, there is no emulation anywhere. There is a bit of overhead in 8bpp -> 16bpp conversion, but it's not too bad. The game likes to eat CPU even when it doesn't really need it, so it might make sense to underclock sometimes.

Known bugs in b6:



old bugs:
- custom scenarios are broken
- when playing as terran, attempting to land a building will crash the game
- first protoss mission (from expansion) crashes

Edit: wine is hacked a bit, I've pushed out the changes to github:

#290765 Some more of my ideas

Posted by EvilDragon on 19 November 2013 - 02:53 AM

Well, since you know I'm actively working on the successor yet, I think I can share some of my ideas.


Basically, it's to keep what's good and fix what can be fixed :)


What's good:


Size: Similar. If we have to increase it, it will not be much (maybe 1 - 2 mm to one side)

Clamshell design: Of course!

Full sized SD Card slots: I would like to keep these as well.

USB Ports: Sure thing!

Gaming Controls: Ummm... :)

Replaceable battery: Yep. I want to keep the exact same battery for various reasons.:

  • It will ensure that batteries for the Pandora will be available for a longer period of time.
  • We know it works properly (less risk)
  • Whoever owns the successor AND the Pandora can the batteries for both devices.
  • The battery compartment will be changed though, so that the battery will fit much better


What needs to be fixed:


Nubs: Completely new ones. We already have some samples that are working so much better (best nubs I've ever seen).

LCD-Cable: While the current ones are good, they still fail too often in my opinion. With MIPI displays, we don't need LCD Cables anymore.

Case: The case will be completely designed and produced by one company in Europe. This will ensure a higher quality.



What could be improved:


LCD: Better refresh rate, higher resolution (ideally 720p, but that's hard to get), size increased to 5"

Keyboard: Slightly improved layout, better feel, probably backlight

Wireless: Improved Wifi, but maybe also optional 3G/4G would be neat.

Speakers: We already have samples of much better speakers. :)

SoC: A more recent one, of course. And yes... we have the confirmation for one now, but I won't tell you :)



So, that's my basic idea - what do you think about that? :)

#376449 Test Drive

Posted by EvilDragon on 22 March 2015 - 10:41 AM

No pretty pictures today, but a lot of results.
Nikolaus has been busy testing all the features the mainboard offers, takes quite some time (seriously).

A quick summary upfront:
The main PCB only had TWO layout mistakes - and that can be manually fixed within a few minutes and fixed in the layout file (for the production version) within 1 - 2 hours.
So yes, the main PCB should be ready for production now - and the display PCB as well.
Only missing thing now is the CPU PCB (which is more than halfway done already).

Here's a nice list of what has been done:

Note: As Nikolaus is currently working on the tests, it could be that some stuff that I put in the untested list has been tested by him already :)
Not much left to test anyways :)

Tested and working fine:

* Display (without using the ssd2858)
* Backlight
* Nub-Buttons
* Keyboard Backlight
* BMP180 (Barometric Sensor)
* Nubs
* FTDI (RS232 over USB)
* Power-LEDs
* LID-Detect
* BMC150 - accelerometer works with hacked bma150 input driver
* Panel-I2C
* TSC2007 + touch screen
* Charging Bypass
* Charger
* Fuel Gauge
* Keyboard
* Logo LEDs
* Shoulder Buttons
* USB-Host Currency Converter
* Cinterion Modem (both phone part and GPS)
* Modem Ignite

Issues found

* Sometimes, I2C hangs (Reset issue)

Not yet tested

* CRTOUCH - we don't have a driver yet
* INA231 (Current Shunt and Power Monitor)
* Force-Reset-Logic
* Over-Current-Indicator
* BMG160 (Gyroscope)
* BMC150 (Compass)
* BNO055 (9-Axis Sensor)
* Mic-Detect
* FM
* ssd2858

Stuff we need the finished CPU PCB to test them:

* Microphone
* Bluetooth
* Audio (PCM1773 and TWL6040)
* Headset
* Vibra
* (u)SD-Slots

We're getting there - full speed ahead!

BTW: Beware - I'll start an official keyboard layout thread later tonight... I guess there'll be a hot discussion after that...

#355166 The long road to a final unit

Posted by EvilDragon on 07 September 2014 - 10:43 AM

The road from a first PCB version to a fully working prototype is a long one.

Moving to Kernel 3.17

Nikolaus is working at two things at the same time: Getting kernel 3.17 to work with all hardware AND testing the hardware itself.

There are two reasons to switch to 3.17:
1. It's the latest one (which we also want to use on the final unit)
2. He's also working with 3.17 on the GTA04, and quite a bit of hardware is similar, so it saves some work.

Mostly, Kernel 3.17 is now working fine without major issues.
What's nice is that the CPU temperature is even lower than with the 3.8 kernel (about 10 degrees less on idle state).


The mainboard tests


Now, onto testing the features of the mainboard.


First, let's start with what has already been tested and is working fine:


  • Keyboard-Backlight LEDs
  • Shoulder Buttons
  • Nub buttons
  • Nubs (Position etc.)
  • Keyboard
  • Sensor: BMP180 (digital barometric pressure sensor)
  • DC/DC-Converter for the USB-Hosts ports

Not yet tested:


  • RGB-LEDs
  • Stresstest VBUS
  • Mikrofon-Detect-Switch
  • CPU-Reset-Logic (LSH-BOTTOM + Poweron)
  • Charger-Bypass
  • FTDI232 (Linux console)
  • Charger
  • Vibration motor, Microfone, Speakers
  • Modem-USB, Modem-Ignite, GPS
  • INA231 (for checking modem status)
  • Fuel Gauge(s)
  • Other sensors


Can't be tested yet (as we need the CPU-Board or the next revision of the motherboard:

  • HDMI
  • eSATA
  • USB-OTG 2/3
  • Audio
  • Display connected to the mainboard

Quite a lot of things to test, but we're moving forward.



Case design


FormAction (the case design company) is back from summer holidays, so we resumed the work there as well.

I'm working on giving detailed explanations how the shoulder buttons should work internally and externally, and we also want to try out Fusion_Powers design as well as optimized the one I suggested.



The OS


Things are moving along, slow, but sure.

We've setup various gits (http://dev.pyra-handheld.com/) and will soon populate them.

The basic creation of a rootfs using debootstrap is already working, now we need work out how to do automatic package creation from sourcecodes and scripts and maybe move to multistrap (so we can create the image directly on the server, not using the EVM).



Other stuff


Two batteries from two different companies have been sent to FormAction. One is thicker, one is wider than Pandoras one, both have 6000mAh.

They will let me know which one would fit better into our case.


We'll most probably use the BOE display, as the quality is great and we already got it to work.

We still want to test the success and maybe a Sharp one.


Oh, and as someone requested it:

The Blog now has an RSS feed as well.

#347505 A bunch of pictures

Posted by EvilDragon on 27 July 2014 - 04:54 PM

Well, not that much to report this week.

Nikolaus has populated some PCBs (so I've got something to show at the GamesCom) and got the BOE display to work (without the Solomon Chip yet).


As you might be interested to see some pictures of the populated PCB, here you are:


Attached File  DSC01983.jpeg   129.54KB   140 downloadsAttached File  DSC01984.jpeg   138.78KB   135 downloadsAttached File  DSC01985.jpeg   106.62KB   135 downloads

Attached File  DSC01986.jpeg   87.09KB   135 downloadsAttached File  DSC01987.jpeg   123.69KB   138 downloadsAttached File  DSC01989.jpeg   130.12KB   135 downloads


I mostly took care of the T-Shirt and merchandising stuff that will be ready to order for GamesCom (or shortly after).


aTc, lunixbochs and TrashyMG are fiddling around with devboards right now (well, lunixbochs uses Trashys via SSH) and they got the SGX to work (with quite a few issues still, but it does work).

Maybe I'll be able to show some 3D stuff at the GamesCom as well - but we'll see that.


Right now it seems Ubuntu ARM is better supporting the OMAP5 than Debian - so maybe we'll steal some packages from Ubuntu for our OS or maybe even use a minimized version of Ubuntu (without all the bloat).

It's too early to tell something right now, it's mostly playing around to see that things are working. Ubuntu and Debian are very close together, so some exchange between both might be a good idea.


Oh, before I forgot:

It seems subscribing to the newsletter had some certification issues - so in case you didn't receive your confirmation mail when trying to subscribe, you should now be able to do that.

#324835 Silent progress

Posted by EvilDragon on 19 March 2014 - 11:49 PM

It's been quite a while since the last blog post, but of course that doesn't mean nothing has happened here.


A lot of what has happened for me was organizing (looking for companies that are able to produce the keymat, etc.) while Nikolaus was working on the base PCB most of the time.

Here's a quick summary of stuff that happened :)


1. Base PCB design


Nikolaus is now about 95% finished with the design of the base PCB.

All of the parts have already been placed and will be wired up.

If everything works out, then the base PCB does not need another revision - but you never know.

We'll know when it's finished and tested :)


As for the ports on the backside, it seems we can include the following ones:


  • 1x Micro USB 3.0 OTG
  • 1x USB-A 2.0 Host Port
  • 1x USB-A 2.0 Host + eSATA Comboport
  • 1x MicroHDMI Port
  • 1x Headset (an internal switch ensures you can both use Apple and normal headsets)
  • 1x Micro USB Debug and charging port

Plenty of ports. We cannot tell 100% that these will all be included though.

They fit on the PCB, but we need to wait for feedback from the case designers if that works out well.


In case you wonder what the Micro USB Debug port is:

It's basically the serial out port. You can connect it to a PC and it will register as USBtty device.

No more hardware needed - so if you want to do some low-level kernel development, it will certainly be useful.


The port can also be used to charge the unit. This makes it possible to use a USB3.0 device (i.e. harddisk) while the Pyra is connected to the charger.



2. The case


The case designers were mostly working on the keymat, where I should get a first design this week.

This is important, as the keymat is the only part of the case that cannot be produced by FormAction, so I need to get quotations from other companies, and find a suitable one.

And as you can imagine, the keymat needs a lot of testing, as it has the buttons and the DPad included - and those need to be perfect :)

Therefore, the faster we get it, the faster I can test and confirm it.


After they finished the keymat, they will work on the keyboard part of the case and make sure, the PCB fits without any issues. This is also the time to work on the hinge and finalize the keymat design and PCB design.


When that is done, the lid will be designed, and finally, the lower part wit the battery compartment.



3. The touchscreen


The technical design of the touchscreen has been finished and is approved by me, now the production will begin.

We should get samples soon (I don't have a date yet, probably in about 4 - 5 weeks).


I've ordered the highest resolution and sensivity, anti-glare. So we should hopefully get the best resistive touchscreen as possible.




4. New (or old?) help


Some more helpers joined our internal development mailing list.

Two TI employees who are helping us in their spare time (they know a lot more about the OMAP5 than we do, so this will certainly be helpful) and Michael Weston (yep, the one who designed the Pandora) :)

It's always good to have various experienced designers.

There are often multiple solutions for one problem, and different ideas often help to find the best solution.


And proof-reading a schematics before the PCB goes into production is really helpful as well.


I'm really happy and thankful for all the help :)

It helps us to improve the final product and move forward a bit faster.



That's all there is for today. See you soon :)

#318507 News from the embedded world

Posted by EvilDragon on 25 February 2014 - 07:52 PM

As mentioned a few days ago, Nikolaus and me have been visiting the embedded world exhibition in Nuremburg today.


We mainly focussed on different storage solutions (eMMC, nanoSSD, MicroSD Cards), but also discussed various other things and learned quite a few new things.

Here is a small blog post about the results :)



1. What storage is best?


We followed all your discussions, concerns and wished here at the boards and spoke to various manufacturers about pros and cons.


A nice solution would've been nanoSSD together with an internal MicroSD slot, both bootable.

nanoSSD is pretty fast - however, it's also very powerhungry.

While MicroSD Cards / eMMC usually use about 0,3W, the nanoSSD can use up to 0,9W

Therefore, it's not really an option.


Next was to compare the MicroSD with an eMMC.

Power consumption is similar, speed mostly depends on the eMMC/SD Card used, but the latency of a MicroSD Card will always a bit worse than for the eMMC.

The eMMC is directly connected to the MMC line of the SoC, whereas a MicroSD Card always needs to have a converter inbetween.

That converter adds a bit of latency - probably not much, but a bit.


However, I can understand that a MicroSD card is appealing, since you can change it and still use the unit easily in case the eMMC breaks sometime in the future.


Therefore, we thought of a solution here - and I think we found the perfect one.


As mentioned, we're planning to put the CPU together with the memory and storage on a pluggable daughterboard.

This saves money in production (since the mainboard will be two-layer and only the small CPU board needs to be more complex), and it adds the possibility to upgrade the Pyra in the future with whatever SoC / memory / storage will become available in the future.


Additionally, we will try to add the MicroSD/SIM-Card Combo-slot below the battery - and include a small chip that will be able to either connect the eMMC or the MicroSD Slot to the SoC.


If we use the OMAP5, you can then either use the eMMC together with both full sized SD Card slots or the MicroSD Slot with both full sized SD Card slots.

If a future SoC supports more MMC devices, you will be able to use all the devices at the same time.


This should be a solution perfect for everyone. You can either boot from eMMC, the internal MicroSD Card or the Full Sized SD Card slot (like on the Pandora).


And in case your eMMC breaks (never seen that on the Pandora, but you never know), then simply put a MicroSD Card in and switch to that slot.


I hope you're happy with that solution :)



2. UMTS and a hardware switch


Some of you here at the boards had a bit of a concern with the (optional) UMTS module:

A modified firmware or software could be created to misuse the UMTS module and send data somewhere without the user knowing it - so they asked for a hardware switch to completely turn off the module physically.


Well, we thought about that - but adding a switch would increase the costs quite a bit (mold would be more complicated, switch would be needed, etc).

However, we found another, pretty cheap but effective solution:

We plan to include a small power measurement chip into the hardware, that is hardwired to a small LED.

Whenever the UMTS module needs power (which it does when it will be activated), the LED will light up.

This hardwiring cannot be changed in software, so you will KNOW when your UMTS module will be active!



3. Intel and everything else


While you all know that we won't start with an x86 right away, it could be that we'll release a CPU module with one sometime in the future.

And as Intel had a booth there, we thought it doesn't hurt talking to them and get some more information.


Right now, the latest BayTrail does NOT have a development board available, as we already thought.

While it's possible to buy the latest BayTrail without any NDAs and in low numbers, Intel suggests to not buy it directly but get it on a module from one of their partners.

Getting the SoC directly to work is a bit more complicated than an ARM SoC, since it will also need a BIOS...


We checked some of their partners, but their modules usually are way too big for us (and not yet available with the most recent SoC anyways).


So right now, the x86 is too risky for us, but that doesn't mean we won't do an x86 module sometime in the future (though please don't bet on it!)


I also visited Qualcomm and got another contact for getting the Snapdragon. The 805 will be too power hungry for mobile devices though (it's mostly aimed at tablets), so it won't be usable for us.

But I'll keep you informed about any further updates.



That's it from the show - keep on discussing about things.

As you could see with the storage, we'll follow your ideas and try to find the best solution for everyone :)


#361517 Schematics and packages

Posted by EvilDragon on 27 October 2014 - 01:59 AM

Just in case you wondered why you haven't heard many updates from Nikolaus lately:

He was busy. Busy creating the schematics... that's a LOT of work.


But now he's almost finished with it! About 98% are done.

The only thing left is the power circuit for the OMAP5 (about 50 condensators) and some other small things.


So in theory, the Pyra is almost finished... the next step is layouting the full schematics.

This will be quite a bit of work - but after that, we're ready for a real Pyra prototype PCB!


While working on the schematics, he was also working on the latest kernel (3.18 RC1) and almost the full hardware of the OMAP5 EVM works now as well.


Quite a bit of progress, I'd say :)


In the meantime, aTc, Vagrant and me have been working setting up the package build system for the OS on my server.

We now got a neat script that grabs our own packages from the GIT, builds Debian packages from it and sorts it into the repo.


The next step will be building our own rootfs with a preinstalled package list on our server.

aTc has already done that - but I need to do that on my own server as well. Shouldn't be too hard now, though, as he already figured everything out.


That will be quite a bit of progress as well - as then we can start to shape the default PyraOS setup.


Now, I wish to say hello to all our newcomers who arrived here after my talk at the Hackover2014 in Hannover on Saturday.

It was fun, and I was happy to see so many interested people there.


I hope you enjoy your stay here, join our community and have fun as well :)

#340681 Some PCBs, holidays, a new case revision and a theme

Posted by EvilDragon on 17 June 2014 - 07:52 PM

Some PCBs


Nikolaus grabbed some partly-populated PCBs last week (we had an automatic assembly for the parts that couldn't have been hand-soldererd easily):


Attached File  DSC01929.jpeg   96.29KB   126 downloads


This is a PCB which can be connected to the OMAP5 EVM. It has a connector for a touchscreen and two different displays (the two 720p ones I have here for testing). It also has the Rotator chip from Solomon Technologies installed.


Attached File  DSC01932.jpeg   69.1KB   122 downloads


This is a display PCB which connects the LG FullHD LCD to the OMAP5 EVM. This is basically just for testing that the PCB works (as we got the driver for the FullHD one already).


Attached File  DSC01931.jpeg   66.51KB   125 downloads


This is how it looks like when everything is connected to the Display testing PCB :)


Attached File  DSC01928.jpeg   70.05KB   124 downloads


This is a very very very first version of the CPU PCB. You can see the two connectors for the main PCB already and also pads where the parts will be later. Additionally, there's a third connector (on the right side) where we can connect the OMAP5 EVM to.

So with that board, we can already test that we got enough space and that the connectors basically work and are reliable, even though it's not yet populated but used the OMAP5 EVM as CPU :)


Once that PCB is fully finished... well, then the hardware part of the Pyra will be mostly done :)


Nikolaus already finished populating the PCBs and made some quick hardware checks.

The hardware seems to be fine, now he needs to code the drivers.

As he is on a (well-deserved) holiday until next Saturday, nothing will happen this week, but hopefully we've got the LCDs working next week.



A new case revision


The designers finished a new case revision.

They added the transparent Pyra logo to the back of the lid and also a first version of four shoulder buttons (which I'd probably like to tweak a bit).


I've already ordered new 3D prints which I should receive within the next 10 days.



A new theme


Not sure if anyone already found out - but if you'd like the boards with a nice Pyra-themed look, you can use "Change Theme" on the bottom of the page and change it to "Pyra".


If you find any errors or have ideas for improved colors on the boards, let me know here :)



What's next?


Well, Nikolaus will work on the displays so I can test them and finally choose the best one.

After that, Nikolaus needs to finish the main PCB and work on the CPU and LCD PCB.


The display we choose needs to get a touchscreen as well, so I'll have to take care of that.

Testing the shoulder buttons and improving them will be another thing I have to do, as well as discuss the keymat with the two companies I narrowed down.

And I need to figure out where to best fit the LCD Cable.

Of course, the new battery is something we need to evaluate as well...


A lot of things happening at the same time, but slowly coming together.

Exciting times :)

#372074 Of boards and displays

Posted by EvilDragon on 02 February 2015 - 03:08 AM

Sorry for the loooooong time without an official blog update - it's not the case that so little happened that there was nothing to post... the problem was, that I had so much work to do because so many things moved forward, that I didn't find the time to actually post an update.
Additionally, end of the year always means you need to do your bookings and stocktaking... so that needed quite a bit of time as well.

Well, as so many things have happened, I'll spread those over multiple blog posts once again.

Let's start with...

1. The PCBs

As mentioned last time, the layout for the main PCB has been finished and the PCBs and all parts except for one coil are already here with us.
Yep, it's a simple coil that's out of stock right now, but it's ordered and will arrive early February, which means it's prototype time!

Nikolaus is working on the CPU PCB right now and about half-way through, which means he should be finished roughly middle to late February.
The ordered OMAP5 are already on the way to us, so it looks like CPU PCBs we'll see a prototype release in February as well (except one other part will get a delay, which is something you never know when doing prototypes).

Well - these PCBs will most probably be the last revisions before the mass production (unless there are some serious errors), so we're moving forward here.

2. The display and the rotator

Thanks to the awesome help of the BOE team, we were able to include the correct initialization sequence in our driver and the display is now working perfectly.
We need a bit more work to use the rotator chip though.
It should be easy - but once again we are able to proof that Murphys Law is always true!

Now things get a bit technical - if you want to know what exactly is going on, read the spoiler :)


In order to use the Solomon chip, we need to flash the driver IC of the LCD.
This is no problem in mass production, as BOE will do it for us - however, for our prototype panels, we need to do that ourselves.
It's not that complicated, but we need to modify one of our display PCBs for that.

We decided to do that AFTER the CPU PCB is finished, so we can't test the rotation chip before end of February (probably).

Both BOE and Solomon are giving us GREAT support here, that's awesome :)

3. The touchscreen

Upon testing, we found that the first touchscreen we received for our displays was not responsive enough.
It's similar to a batch of Pandora touchscreens we had: It works fine with the stylus, but doesn't really react to your fingers (unless you press really hard).

It took about only two weeks to get new samples of a different touchscreen - and it works a lot better.
Nikolaus tested it and according to him, it works a LOT better (and reacts to your finger gestures as well).
I'll pay him a visit this week to check it out myself and make sure it works fine.

So, today's newspost gave you the current information about the PCBs, the display including the rotator chip and the touchscreen.

Coming soon: The case, the battery and the LCD Cable.

Feel free to ask any questions here, as usual :)

#368446 PCSX ReARMed r22 - now using the DSP

Posted by notaz on 25 December 2014 - 09:23 PM

Edit: latest release is r22, a bugfix release after r21 that added pandora's DSP support, r21 release notes here:

r20 announcement:

As it's 4 year anniversary since first release and more than a year since previous release of PCSX ReARMed, I thought it might be good time for a new version. There isn't too much new things related to emulation itself besides sound (haven't gone through any time consuming game-specific game debugging), it's mostly general tuning all over the place.

Probably the main change is SPU emulation, there were issues in some games where effects were wrong, mostly Final Fantasy series, it should be better now. There were also sound sync issues where game would occasionally lock up (like Valkyrie Profile), it should be stable now.

Changed sync has a side effect however - if the emulator is not fast enough (may happen with double resolution mode or while underclocking), sound will stutter more instead of slowing down the music itself. There is a new option in SPU plugin config to restore old inaccurate behavior if anyone wants it.

Remaining changelog:
* savestates now save small parts of dynarec state to reduce dynarec related slowdowns after savestate load
* menu: fixed file browser issues with filesystems like exfat-fuse
* menu: memcard manager: selected card is saved in config now
* added some basic scanline efect
* some CD image loading fixes
* some other minor fixes

As usual, get it from the repo:

#324969 Silent progress

Posted by EvilDragon on 20 March 2014 - 03:01 PM


this is amazing! progress seems to fly now. the only thing that worries me is the keyboard layout.

Don't worry I'm sure after 100 polls we will find a scheme that at least a small majority would like.



We'll use latin letters as action buttons, weird symbols on the DPad and greek letters on the keyboard.


Or we just leave it blank and include a waterproof pen for your own layout.

#302322 2014 - a Sneak Peek! (2014-01-02)

Posted by EvilDragon on 02 January 2014 - 11:35 AM

The new year has started - and I hope it did start well for you.


A fresh new year, new plans, new possibilities.

What will happen in Pandora and Pyra-Land?


I can at least give you some information.



1. FOSDEM 2014


Yes, we'll be at the FOSDEM again this year (taking place 1st and 2nd February in Brussels)

We'll have a table and I'll have a small talk in the gaming dev room - Saturday evening, 6 - 7pm.

Of course, we'll have some Pandoras there and I'll also talk about the Pandora in the devroom.

However, we might also have some information or even previews of the Pyra there.

Askarus will be there Saturday and Sunday the full days, while I will be there Saturday 2pm to 7pm and the full Sunday.


You're very welcome to visit us and get more information about the Pandora / Pyra.

I'm also open for any interviews, in case some of you are bloggers or even writing for magazines.




2. Alive and Kicking Coding Competition


Looking at the current list of entries, we'll see some awesome releases for the Pandora!

Thanks a lot to all devs participiating - it shows how lively the Pandora scene is.

A bright future :)




3. Pandoras and Craigs remaining customers


Hopefully, we'll be able to fulfill many more of Craigs remaining orders, but we have no idea how many that'll be.

We're trying to do our best, but Pandora stock is limited now due to some parts needed for Pandora production that have seen the end of life quite a while ago.

However, any customer who still remains after the last Pandora has been sold will be able to get the Pyra for production costs - whenever it might be ready.

I don't want to forget anyone, so I'm trying to offer whatever I can.




4. More partly defective Classic Pandoras


We still got over 100 defective boards from CC and will now focus on finding out if they are still usable in some way.

They will all be at the Pandora-Section at the DragonBox Shop, so be sure to check it out every once in a while to see if there's one that is of interest to you.

They're all units with brand new cases (most of them had some small scratches from the very beginning though) and PCBs which have one or more issues.



5. The DragonBox Pyra

With the Pandora reaching the end of production, when will the Pyra be available?

We have no idea. And looking back at the Pandora developments, I will NOT give any estimations.

But we'll work on it. And you will be able to follow us with videos and pictures I'll post.

We'll probably start with that after the FOSDEM.


Thanks to all of you - quite a few good ideas from the community will find their ways into the Pyra.

And with a capable production company from the very beginning as well as a case company in Europe, things are looking a lot better.


It'll most probably still be a while until it's finished. So in case you're thinking about getting a Pandora or wait for the successor, I'd get a Pandora now - as stock is limited.



So much for a peek into 2014. If you have any further questions, let me know :)