In this update:
- Lock-down & Pre-orders Halted
- Voltage Supervisor
- Assembling Pocket PC
- Software Development
- Pocket PC Datasheets
- New Parts and Modules
- Final Thoughts
We just had a month of Covid-19 outbreak and two weeks of lock-down here in Shenzhen. You may have heard in the news of the difficulty in getting food deliveries, of the food shortages and of the daily testing requirement. That was our reality. As a result, we were unable to start production last month. The local government mandated that everyone who is “non-essential” work at home. In fact, we are still waiting for news from our manufacturer on whether we can visit the factory for production and, if so, how soon.
Shenzhen is made up of local districts. Each district has its own local government and rules. Our factory is located in Guangming, Shenzhen. This district is to the north of the city of Shenzhen and our office is located in south Futian. South Futian saw an extra week of lock-down compared with the rest of the city.
We did not let the lock-down completely stop development and testing. In fact, because of the additional testing, we added an additional safety feature to the device, i.e., a voltage supervisor circuit.
[Notice: In order to ensure we produce enough for everyone who has already ordered with no one left out, all pre-orders have been halted until we have shipped all existing pre-orders and have inventory in stock at our warehouses and Amazon’s warehouses. Yes, that’s right, Pocket P.C. will be available later to order on Amazon but at a higher price.]
Voltage Supervisor Circuit
Pocket P.C. has a system management controller (SMC) that regulates the power on/off functionality and also controls the Keyboard and RGB backlight. The default firmware is a modified version of QMK. [https://qmk.fm] Through extensive testing we found that if this firmware is overwritten with something custom or is flashed incorrectly, then the controller will continuously draw power from the battery. We built a Black Magic Probe into Pocket PC so that you can flash your own custom firmware if you so choose and never brick the SMC.
A simple inexpensive 3-pin IC will ensure that if the power dips below a certain level (3.08V), then it will hold the system controller into reset thus disabling it. This means that the main battery will not over-discharge which could eventually result in damage to the battery.
Assembling Pocket P.C.
If you would like to see what goes into assembling a Pocket P.C., make sure not to miss out on this Twitter thread where we show step-by-step how a Pocket P.C. is put together. [https://twitter.com/SourceParts/status/1514119405025710080]
Akash Gajjar has been a part of our software team since 2018. In recent days, Akash was able to build an image with Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) with Linux Kernel version 5.18-rc2. He has also added the Open Source GPU drivers (Lima Gallium) to this image. It is increasingly likely that this image will be the one we ship with Pocket PC.
As a test, he tried running Quake 3, a popular game released in the late 90s. Below is a screenshot of Quake 3 running on Pocket P.C. Some images and videos have been posted on his Twitter account and retweeted on ours. [https://twitter.com/SourceParts/status/1510250499513102345]
Here Akash demonstrates smooth 1080p video playback.
Pocket PC Datasheets
Our goal with Popcorn Computer is to not only sell computers but to provide extensive support so that you can accomplish what you may have thought to be impossible. As such, we have begun making datasheets for our computers.
For example, you can view a datasheet for Kettlepop here:
We are working on an extensive datasheet for Pocket P.C. Included will be a breakdown of the individual components on the main circuit board as well as a description on how they interact. We also aim to include information on how to use the various components, where to learn more about them and provide recommendations on what the best software is to work with those components. We really want everyone who wants to to have a complete understanding of their device and we are looking forward to sharing those with you.
New Parts and Modules
Due to the lack of supply of the GR8 SiP (system-in-package), we will be unable to continue making Kettlepop. A SiP is a type of IC that combines two or more silicon dies in a single IC. In the case of the GR8, an Allwinner R8 SoC is combined with 256MB of DDR3 memory.
During the past few years we have been working with our partners to create new SiPs which will act as a GR8 replacement on a new series of system-on-modules (SoMs). These SiPs will be known as POPCAM, POP32 and POP64. Over the course of the next few months, we will be introducing three new modules, Airpop, Micropop and Butterpop.
Here is a video we released a short time ago on our YouTube channel that shows a completed design for Micropop with our POP32 SiP.
Due to the long lead-times for components, we won’t have inventory of these products for at least 3 to 6 months. We will not be accepting pre-orders for these SiPs or SoMs. If you have a product and are in the early stages of development, we may have 1-2 samples to be used for testing purposes that we can provide. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you would like to learn more about POP32 and POP64, the datasheets are linked below.
POP32 Datasheet: https://bit.ly/POP32_Datasheet
POP64 Datasheet: https://bit.ly/POP64
As it is critical that we ship as soon as possible, last week, we on-boarded an independent design house (IDH) to do a complete top to bottom review of Pocket PC. We expect a report by the end of this week. This IDH specializes in designing products with Allwinner processors and is the best resource to know if we got everything right in order to prevent any further delay.
After speaking with our factory, they have provided us with a schedule that will enable us to start production towards the end of May and ship in early June.
The lock-down has caused ripple effects in the supply chain. Our factory’s customers have increased their order quantities so that they can have more inventory on hand in case of another outbreak that causes further delays.
Due to mandatory city-wide testing every 48 hours, we foresee that any future outbreak will be quickly controlled and will not lead to a city-wide lock-down as we saw in March.
Lastly, a great “thank you” to all our loyal supporters and followers for hanging in there with us during the many difficulties we have encountered and have overcome. We will report on the latest developments as soon as they happen. We can’t wait to get a Pocket PC in your hands.