Thank you everyone for being so patient while waiting for us to ship Pocket P.C. We want to ship a well-tested well-built product to you. This means that we have iterated through multiple prototypes and revisions before deciding to enter mass production.
It’s October and everything is coming together for final assembly next month in November. We have begun to purchase all the components with lead-times of 4 weeks or more. This includes the battery and LCD Display Modules. The plastic injection molding is being machined and we are awaiting initial injected plastic samples.
We are working with a new factory for SMT and final assembly. We are really looking forward to working with this new partner because based on what we’ve seen first-hand, they take quality control very seriously. They will be making twenty five (25) D.V.T. Pocket P.C.s next week. We’ll share pictures of those as soon as we receive them.
September was a month of extensive testing and design for manufacturing (DFM).
We had a production run of Original Popcorn at the end of August. Original Popcorn has an almost identical USB-C Power Delivery circuit as Pocket P.C. During September, we became intimately familiar with the TPS65988 IC which is a Texas Instruments fully integrated dual-port USB-C Power Delivery IC and it’s companion circuit protection ICs.
- We learned that controlling the General Purpose IO (GPIO) from a host processor is not as straightforward as we initially thought it to be. The IC requires a series of commands before being able to toggle the GPIO state. Extending the existing kernel driver to allow for control of the GPIO would be an unexpected large expense so we decided to use the available GPIO on the SoC to perform the same function.
- We learned that the customization application, provided by TI for the USB PD IC, cannot program the external flash IC over I2C which is what we initially believed to be possible due to TI providing an application note demonstrating so. The programming functionality in the application that TI provided was simply not there. This means we have to program the external flash before assembly or write the software to program the memory after PCB assembly. For future production runs, in the near term, we will program the memory before assembly. In the future, we will hire a software contractor to write this software and upstream it to the Linux Kernel.
During September, we also verified that the mechanical design is going to be able to be successfully manufactured by keeping in mind the limitations of injection molding. Below are screenshots of a draft angle analysis and wall thickness analysis for what we call the surface shell which is the top piece of the plastic enclosure for Pocket P.C.
Draft Angle Analysis
Draft angles for injection molding are a design consideration that makes it much easier for a part to release cleanly from a mold. A draft angle is calculated as a degree measurement from the vertical axis of a mold. It is critically important to have a draft angle to ensure a uniform and unscratched finish and to reduce wear and tear or damage to the mold.
Wall Thickness Analysis
Wall thickness is another design consideration that must be made early on otherwise improperly designed walls can lead to many costly problems and production setbacks. You don’t want the walls to be either too thick or too thin for the material you have selected. We chose ABS with Polycarbonate for the enclosure material. Thicker walls will take longer to cool than thinner walls which will mean that that part must stay in the mold longer before it can be ejected. This limits the amount of plastics you can make in one day. If the wall is too thin then the part will be too brittle which may cause it to break during ejection from the mold. Thin walls may also cause flow rate issues which is how fast a material can flow into the mold cavity. If the material cannot fill all the features before it cools, you can be left with voids in the plastic.
The following image is part of an initial discussion of where to place the injector pins and the additional part for the slide switch. Generally, you want to place the injector pins where they won’t be seen or, what’s left behind, felt. In the surface shell, we placed them beneath the LCD Display.
Our plastics factory has informed us that initial samples will be available by October 20th. It will take approximately a week to confirm the samples and an additional week or two to make changes to the mold if necessary. Usually the first samples have a looser fit when snapped together and are tightened up in subsequent iterations by removing material from the molds.
We are working with Bootlin, an engineering company that specializes in embedded Linux, to develop a Linux Kernel driver for the custom LCD Display used in Pocket P.C. We will be upstreaming the driver to the Linux Kernel.
More news specifically about the software coming in the next few weeks.
Originally when we launched Pocket P.C., we had a custom ordering process that was based on Stripe Payment processing. A few months after launch, we switched over to Shopify which is the website seen at https://shop.popcorncomputer.com. Our logistics provider, who will be shipping to you, is tightly integrated with Shopify. Therefore, we are currently working on importing all the Stripe orders into Shopify. Those who placed an order through our custom ordering process will have seen a note stating that shipping would be charged at a later date. As orders are imported into Shopify, we will be sending invoices for the shipping fee to everyone who placed an order through our custom ordering process.
If your shipping information has changed since you placed an order, please email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so that we have the correct information for you on file.
While we are aiming to ship in November anything can happen between now and then. You can expect more frequent updates over the next few weeks as things progress. We will immediately let you know if something will impact our schedule.
Our initial manufacturing run will be enough units to be able to ship to everyone who has already ordered to date and an additional amount of units for orders received within the next week or so. Once we have reached the limit of orders we will ship the next production run after Chinese New Years in sometime in March of next year. If you have yet to place an order or would like to buy additional units and would like to receive them this year then please order now.
I’m really excited to get Pocket P.C. into your hands. Thank you again for your patience and support, without you Pocket P.C. would not be a reality.