On the upgradability of the Pyra


Kev2442

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Basically, the Pyra is meant to have replaceable components, close to what a desktop computer would have. We already know how you can change the LCD cable, the screen itself, the CPU board etc.
The latter being intended for upgraded replacements further down the line, I'm getting somewhat concerned :

1) Are the current ports forward-compatible ? As in, do the current USB Type A ports support USB 3 and upwards with a different SoC ? Could the current HDMI Out port later support higher resolutions and such ?

2) How is the CPU board wired ? Are there enough motherboard lines available for future expansion, as in possible cross-compatibility with later motherboards with different/additional ports without making a CPU board for each revision ?

3) Is it feasible to modify the cases (by hacking the current ones and changing the molds) to enable different port layouts, maybe with something like the I/O shields currently seen on PCs ?

Is there anything I missed about the future-proofing of the Pyra hardware that you'd like to add ?

Additional questions :
a) Could the Pyra become ruggedized or waterproof with different parts ?
b) Is there enough room in the case and around the boards for later improvements or hacks, like front and back cameras or buttons and switches ?
 

levi

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1) None of the USB-type A ports on the system at launch support USB3. But there's nothing stopping the blue USB port from supporting USB3 if a future CPU supports multiple USB3 connections, although you'd lose the SATA connection then. But I'd expect future CPUs not to have SATA connections.

2) The schematics have already been released, and they document all of the lines passing between the CPU board and the other board.

3) That's not currently envisioned. The idea I guess is just to make entirely new plastics when the ports need to change.

a) It's tricky to make something with so many ports and other holes in it waterproof. You could conceivably make it more rugged than it already is.

b) Yes, the current case isn't quite optionally sized for it's current application, and one of ED's plans is to make it thinner for the next revision. There's a little space in the lid which might fit a basic camera in there.
 

Letalis Sonus

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Could the current HDMI out port later support higher resolutions and such ?
Theoretically yes, but I doubt that it would work. HDMI 2.0 uses some insanely high frequencies, which requires some pretty simulation-heavy PCB design adjustments to avoid interference from nearby traces. The higher the frequency, the lower the wavelength, and the lower the wavelength the shorter a trace needs to be to act as an antenna for that frequency. Trying to configure a resolution and frequency that requires HDMI 2.0 will therefore likely fail to produce a usable signal.

The big issue with this is that HDMI - in contrast to DisplayPort - does not use just a selection of a few fixed frequencies, so you'd need to simulate the interference for the whole bandwidth.
 

λ the β-Redex Reducer Jr.

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b) Yes, the current case isn't quite optionally sized for it's current application, and one of ED's plans is to make it thinner for the next revision. There's a little space in the lid which might fit a basic camera in there.
I remember seeing many people state that there is no room for a camera. But if there is still room, then maybe there is still hope.
 

levi

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Yes, I said if might fit a camera in there, but I haven't gone looking yet for a sort of camera module that would fit in there. Perhaps with the style for having a camera that bulges out of the back of your phone, having a camera in a bulge isn't so bad any more.
 

Kev2442

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Thanks for your answers folks. @levi, where are those schematics ? What I meant was that if there is a new CPU board (and we all hope there will), how can we be sure we won't be short on pins on the connector side ?

On 3), is it expected of I/O shields to be as expensive to manufacture as updated case molds ? What would be the turning point where it gets both easier and cheaper ?
 

λ the β-Redex Reducer Jr.

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Yes, I said if might fit a camera in there, but I haven't gone looking yet for a sort of camera module that would fit in there. Perhaps with the style for having a camera that bulges out of the back of your phone, having a camera in a bulge isn't so bad any more.
I would have taken a bulge with camera over being cameraless without bulge since the beginning. But maybe I'm just ahead of the curve bulge.
 

daveshah

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If you don't care about resolution (and high res video is going to be tricky with only one MIPI lane broken out on the CPU board), Omnivision have some pretty impressive tiny cameras like https://www.ovt.com/sensors/OVM9724

Some mobile phone front cameras are also pretty tiny yet more decent resolution, though finding one with both decent availability and documentation would take a bit of searching.

Routing the flex cable would probably be the harder part.
 

Djoga'Ro

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I just want a cam so I can scan codes or take pictures of broken products or accidents I'm involved in or some print as a note. So some resolution would be needed, but not high end, neither real time nor video. But that's just me.
 

Kev2442

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Well it's not just about resolution; the smaller the sensor, the less light coming in, thus worse image quality gets. But for simple webcam work, it should do the job just fine.

Opening the PDFs, I have no idea what I'm looking at :D, but it seems there are no "reserved for future use" pins on the connector.
I'm a bit worried that when/if a new CPU comes out, it will mean a new mainboard and a new lower case to go along with it. Kinda defeats the "upgrade it don't replace it" approach of the Pyra if you have to change half of it anyway.
 

Legodude522

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Well it's not just about resolution; the smaller the sensor, the less light coming in, thus worse image quality gets. But for simple webcam work, it should do the job just fine.

Opening the PDFs, I have no idea what I'm looking at :D, but it seems there are no "reserved for future use" pins on the connector.
I'm a bit worried that when/if a new CPU comes out, it will mean a new mainboard and a new lower case to go along with it. Kinda defeats the "upgrade it don't replace it" approach of the Pyra if you have to change half of it anyway.
We'll have to run our own traces! I just picked up a new TS80P USB-C soldering iron for when I don't want to use my old Weller WES51.
 

Grench

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Always back to the camera thing.

I suspect that this is a USB one. If so, a plug adapter could be made to a male Type A?
https://www.digikey.com/product-det...CqVS7whV5vi7vv-yaBxaosfgaWlNzrUxoCYK0QAvD_BwE

Or, something like this - though you would likely want a shorter cable:
https://www.alibaba.com/product-det...pm=a2700.7724857.normalList.38.135e4b3btwbTcG

Or, this would fit on a key chain and has a TransFlash (microSD?) slot on it:
https://www.alibaba.com/product-det...pm=a2700.7724857.normalList.49.135e4b3btwbTcG

But - if you want to connect a camera to a Pyra, the shortest route is through the USB 2.0 ports. You could even do two cameras on them.
 

levi

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What I meant was that if there is a new CPU board (and we all hope there will), how can we be sure we won't be short on pins on the connector side ?
Most new functionality of new CPUs can be handled on the CPU board itself, just as the RAM is currently. You only need to pass signals to the peripheral board that are associated with devices on that board, such as all of the ports and the wifi. At present that's not envisaged to change significantly in the lifespan of this product.

I've had a look at the schematics now, thanks especially to Daveshah's post of the latest ones. The connectors are on the first page of the CPU pdf, and have a grand total of 200 contacts. There's also a 20 point connector labelled P2013 that I don't recognise. You could probably reuse one of those ground lines for occasional data, if that's what you need, or mutliplex something like the vibrational motor controls, if you were to replace the peripheral board at the same time as the CPU board.
 

hns

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As far as I know that isn't being used on the Pyra; it has some extra audio interfaces and a camera interface so looks like it @hns might have planned to use it for a phone?
Yes :)
It was discussed as the "Pyra Phone" (GTA15) and even reached some early prototype stage.
But there was not enough demand from the Community. And to be honest self-critical, it would be as expensive and bulky as the Librem 5 and only slightly more open and powerful than the PinePhone.
 
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