Open... and close... and open...

Discussion in 'Pyra News' started by EvilDragon, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. EvilDragon

    EvilDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Finally, I found a few hours for a news update!

    Sorry (once again) for the delay. I haven't had a free day for the last two weeks... and it won't happen until after GamesCom as well.

    You might've also noticed I wasn't visiting the boards or IRC a lot - I'm not hiding, I'm just overwhelmed with things to do.

    I even tried to do a newspost multiple times last week but literally fell asleep on top of the keyboard.

    Anyways, you all deserve an update!
    I'll also try to answer some questions I've seen here at the boards, but if I missed some or you have some more, let me know here at the thread and I'll try to answer them ASAP.

    Okay, let's get started with some annoying news...

    The cases

    You probably guessed it: I didn't receive any final cases yet. If I did, I would've posted pics right away, you could be sure of that.

    That would've been awesome!

    According to FormAction, the material from the company in France hasn't arrived. Which sounds a bit like an excuse - they could've at least received enough for samples in that case.

    Sadly, there's not much i can do right now (as August is the hottest month in Greece and no one is working there right now), but at least I'm planning the next steps with my contact.

    We're currently evaluating to move the molds to a different production company. It's just round the corner, so the molds could be transported there within a day or two.

    The company is Uniqueplast, and we've worked with them already (they're producing my SNES, N64, MegaDrive and NES shells).
    They would've been the first choice of my contact as well, but they're more production based, they don't really do designs (except for simple ones, but the Pyra is anything but simple!)

    Productionwise, they're a lot more advanced though, they've got 14 modern mold-injection machines (which means they could produce all cases easily within one day!).
    Whenever I ordered 1000 of the above mentioned shells, I received them within 1 - 2 weeks.

    So, we've already given them a Pyra case and are waiting for a quotation. If nothing really happens at FormAction within the first 1 - 2 weeks in September, then it's very probable we move.

    This is REALLY annoying (why is it always the case? It was the same issue with the Pandora... and here we thought moving to a European company would make things easier...)
    I'll keep you informed, but nothing will happen here until September.

    So let's continue with better news, shall we?

    The PCBs

    I know it always seems nothing is happening here - mainly because there's nothing here that can be shown or seen.

    But the last series of prototypes had still had a few issues and quirks left (nothing major though, thank god).

    And all known majoe issues except for three have already been eliminated.
    And one of those is not really an issue but needs some measurement with professional tools.

    Those three are:

    1. 4GB RAM units freezing
    2. Really bad Wifi reception (which is what needs the measurements)
    3. Whirring noises when you connect something to USB or switch off the screen

    Let's start with 1.:

    Nikolaus tried a few things, but he can mostly do hardware design checks and these seem to be fine.
    So it's time for an expert to step in - and luckily, there's someone who really knows everything OMAP: Tony Lindgren (the maintainer of the OMAP kernel).
    He mentioned he already helped out with memory issues with other projects (and they even had a faulty memory chip design on one project - let's hope that's not our issue) and he just received a prototype last week.
    Besides the memory issue, he'll also work on some other patches (like the OMAP5 hanging when we're doing a warm reboot).
    So let's all hope that issue will be solved as well!

    Once the 4GB works... we can already produce the CPU boards (they're waiting to be populated at GC!)

    And Nr. 2.:
    It's not an issue, but we're lacking the tools to professionally measure the trace from the Wifi chip to the antenna.
    HF is a very complex and delicate issue - if it's not 100% correct, you lose reception quite a lot.

    Luckily, Nikolaus knows an expert in that area who also has the tools needed available.
    He didn't have the time until now, but will have a timeslot ready end of August.
    Nikolaus prepared a special PCB for the measurements. Once they've been done, another PCB will be made with the suggested changes and to confirm them.

    Production time for those is only about a week, as these are simple PCBs with only the stuff needed for testing the reception onto them.

    Nr. 3:
    This is a bit tricky. Whenever you connect something to the USB Host port, you can hear the Pyra make sirring noises.
    Everything works fine, but this is a bit annoying.
    This often can be a coil, but we've replaced the one responsible for the USB port with different ones (all with the same value though), but that didn't help.
    It's pretty hard locating the part that sirrs... once we managed to do that, a fix would probably be easy. But locating is isn't.

    If there's any hardware expert here (or if you know one) who has some additional ideas how to locate the part: Please let me know :)

    When that has been done... well, I guess there's nothing left to do here, so we can produce the mainboards as well!

    Let's move to...

    The Prototypes - who received them and why?

    I've seen that question somewhere on the boards, here's an answer for you.

    First of, unlike planned, I have NOT contacted any of the Protoype orderers yet. Sorry for that.
    There are two reasons for that: I first wanted to make sure that enough prototypes are there for devs and second: I simply didn't have the time to write the needed informations for the preorderers.
    I hope to find some time for that during GamesCom. But right now, only mainboards with bad wifi reception are available - so that's something you'd need to cope with.
    But, as promised when you ordered, I will send you a fixed mainboard once they're available in case you still want one of those prototypes.

    Now on to the devs.
    The following members have a prototype:

    • aTc: Working on the OS. He packages everything together and provides us the Debian packages as well as the rootfs. He also adds some fixes himself.
    • notaz: He doesn't have as much time as with the Pandora, but he still tries to help out with some low-level fixes as well.
    • zmatt: You probably know him best for getting the rotation on the Pyra to work without the rotator chip. He knows quite a bit about the OMAP and has also discovered most of the hardware issues with ideas how to fix them.
    • ptitSeb: Who doesn't know him here? :) He's working on various ports for the Pyra.
    • sebt3: Also a well-known member here. He is working on things like a proper touchscreen calibrator, the volume wheel daemon and similar helpers.
    • Tony Lindgren: Introduced above, an expert with OMAP-things. Currently working on analyzing the 4GB RAM issue, but he's also helping fixing other small quirks we still have with our setup.
    • Askarus: He's working on a proper default setup for the desktop environment suited for Pyras screen as well as on scripts that are being binded to keyboard shortcuts (to increase or decrease brightness, etc.)
    • SneHebNor: He has only been lent a prototype for a short period of time, as he was visiting the DebConf in Montreal. So yes, we had a Pyra prototype over at the DebConf (Debian Conference) this year :)

    Quite a nice setup of developers here :)

    That state will the OS be when we deliver it?

    I've seen this or a similar question on the boards somewhere.

    Well, the answer is simple: Whatever state it will be in!
    That's similar to how it worked with the Pandora.

    We won't wait for some OS state when the hardware is finished and can be delivered.
    Sure, it might not be polished, but since we're using an almost vanilla Debian, you'll have all the software you need.
    Optimizing and improving the OS will still happen when we delivered the units - the same as it was with the Pandora.

    Open and close... open and close... open... and...

    While the LCD cables are finished and waiting for production, I haven't placed the order yet.
    Why? Well, production time is 15 days whereas the mainboards will take 5 weeks.
    So we're not that much in a hurry to order the LCD cables right away.

    Instead, I'm using the additional time to stress the LCD Cable.
    That means: Whenever I'm at home, watching a movie with my wife or similar, I'm opening... and closing... and opening... the lid. Over and over again.
    Right now, I've opened and closed it about 8000 - 10000 times and it still is working fine.
    I will continue doing this - until the time has come to order the cables!

    GamesCom 2017

    In about 1,5 weeks, GamesCom will start in Germany!
    Of course we'll be there with a Pyra - and ptitSeb will be there as well (I think from Thursday on).

    So if you're there, come over to hall 10.2 to our booth, play around with the nigh-finished Pyra, have some coffee, chat with me.

    And as mentioned: If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask them here!
    szr, Kolbász, rSl and 44 others like this.
  2. codifies

    codifies Very Active Member

    Sep 29, 2014
    okay this will sound mad, but it has worked for me....

    take a pencil and chop the ends of so both are flat

    press one end against the bone just above your ear, press the other end against coils and even capacitors until the sound feels loudest...
    szr, Alperoot, FBnil and 5 others like this.
  3. EvilDragon

    EvilDragon Administrator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Yeah... I tried something similar already, but I still couldn't find it out :(
    I'll retry that though.
  4. fusion_power

    fusion_power Advanced Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    If I would be in charge of any kind, I would set companies like the greek case company on a black list whenever they fail to deliver promised things within a certain amount of time, worldwide. Soon only good companies would be left for sure.
    This or make better contacts in advance the next time. ;) Including penalties for every day they do not deliver after deadline.

    This WiFi issue also reminds me onto the Pandora. I hope it will be better than that on the Pyra.
    I also have the feeling that the "little" 4GB issue is some kind of big problem like the never working screen rotation over the rotator chip. Be prepared for WORST.
    Kev2442 likes this.
  5. ClockworkCoder

    ClockworkCoder Chaotic Neutral

    Jan 21, 2016
    Fantastic update! Shame about the cases, and the few remaining issues, but I'm glad to hear an update finally about the 4GB issue, and am optimistic that a solution can be found.

    The other issues sound not so serious to me and it's reassuringly like it's finally the last few problems that are being looked into, rather than the next in a bigger list.

    Anyway, thanks as always for all the hard work @ED, and thanks to the prototype devs who are now doing fantastic work :)
  6. TheOldOne

    TheOldOne Fallen Paladin

    Jul 22, 2015
    Sounds like things are moving along. Remember to take some time to relax, we want a healthy Evil Dragon even if that means the Pyra is finished a few months later than it could have been.
    szr, jorlinn, sandstein and 5 others like this.
  7. PowerGod

    PowerGod Advanced Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    Maybe it's just a case !!
    FBnil likes this.
  8. sebt3

    sebt3 homebrew player (P. & C.)

    Sep 9, 2008
    Gosh. Where is the guy that used to need less than 4h a night of sleep :D

    There's a major typo in here :p

    I do have a large annoyance for the volumwheel deamon as you know. But other projects in mind ;)
  9. second exodous

    second exodous Advanced Member

    Sep 27, 2005
    Utah, USA
    Well, I still think this has moved along faster than the Pandora, which was worth the wait. Isn't there a company to do the cases in Germany?
  10. Djhg2000

    Djhg2000 Very Active Member

    Jul 22, 2014
    I feel so out of the loop now. I'm guessing it's a daemon that listens for pin changes on some I/O expander chip and fakes volume button presses?
    ClockworkCoder and AVahne like this.
  11. Plex

    Plex Still Fresh

    Aug 13, 2017
    I haven't preordered a Pyra but I'm actually interested in how the progress is going and how much effort is put into it.
    I own a GPD Win but I really like the concept of the Pyra the amount of ports it has and how modular it is, like the opportunities it gives you to upgrade stuff.
    with the 3 SD Slots it has you can technically have up to 1.3 TB storage, or even more if you add USB drives, which is pretty damn neat.
    With it running Linux, I don't see it as a bad thing, it just targets the people who play homebrew games/ports or emulators rather than commercial games.
    Or just use it as a Linux UMPC if you like to mess around with Linux, with just that there is no real need for an X86 CPU.
    I like to do both, I'd really like to own a small portable Linux device which isn't so easy to achieve with the GPD Win because most distributions are not really optimized for the latest Atom platforms.
    Maybe some day I might order a Pyra but at the moment I just like to follow the project and also like to test it out again on Gamescom next week.
  12. benoitb

    benoitb Very Active Member

    Jan 13, 2011
    I actually plan to also play commercial games with Moonlight, streaming from my Windows gaming PC.
    The Pyra has L2/R2/L3/R3 and both Wifi (5GHz) and LTE, making it a potentialy very good device for that purpose.
  13. Zink

    Zink Member

    Mar 8, 2012
    Finding the noisy coil.
    I'm not a hardware expert (I merely designed some hardware), but I have two ideas:
    1. Sirring coil is often indication of unstable DC-DC converter, or converter working in burst mode. Since it happens after connecting a USB device, the burst mode is not likely the case. I would check all coils input waveforms with an oscilloscope and look for oscillations.
    2. Try to cover the coils with play-doh one by one - it should muffle the sound and you will know it's the one when the sound is stiller :)
    xrandr, Link, error and 5 others like this.
  14. ashcloud

    ashcloud Lactose Intolerant Volcano

    Oct 5, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
    jorlinn, levi, FBnil and 1 other person like this.
  15. Djhg2000

    Djhg2000 Very Active Member

    Jul 22, 2014
    What sealed the deal for me is that it's a pocketable device running a full Debian desktop without having to deal with Intel Management Engine. These days Intel ME is a surprisingly hard thing to get away from.

    As an added bonus it looks like it will have excellent battery life and, more importantly, ED cares about quality. The odds of it having those hardware quirks that makes it practically unusable is pretty much zero.

    The device it will be replacing for me is a UMPC called Wibrain B1, which aside from being very old and obsolete has a massive cooling issue (VIA C7-M CPU with a very small heatsink and an even smaller fan) that makes it difficult to use for more than about half an hour at a time. The Pyra is a very welcome upgrade and in contrast to my B1 it has an entire community behind it.

    Emulation is nice to have as well since many large game studios have apparently forgotten how to make innovative and intriguing game mechanics. Having the games I grew up with in my pocket and playable with real buttons (I absolutely detest virtual buttons on a touchscreen) would be awesome.

    All of those reasons are why I preordered on the opening day. This post got a lot longer than I intended but it's hard to convey in a short post how perfect the Pyra is for me.
  16. sebt3

    sebt3 homebrew player (P. & C.)

    Sep 9, 2008
    It's already a bit better than the pandora... Bandwidth is OK for me. The most annoying part is that it disconnect every 2mn or so.

    That's one less to go :

    more or less. My issue is not the code but my hardware : my volumwheel always report 0 (actually the raw value is a bit bellow 0) no matter where the wheel is (my board is from an old revision with some not working hardware, like i've no sensors working). So developing that deamon is going to be painfull for me. I'm setting this as low priority for that reason.
    Kolbász, FBnil, Kippykip and 4 others like this.
  17. Caine

    Caine Hardcore Member

    Jun 5, 2008
    Perhaps because you fail to plan for delays? It is never the optimistic case.
    Each time you make these posts you seem to assume the optimistic scenario. E.g.:
    If you have not done the measurement, how can you tell it is not an issue?
    I read this as another serious delay (which is ok, take the time you need).
    I suspect that you would end up with very few companies if you do that.
    ED is very transparent, that is not the norm. Usually all this happens out of public view.
    Same here. I am a pessimist, but my gut feeling is that we will be prototyping for another quarter to half a year.

    Oh? That was quick. I love it when I am wrong :D
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
    Lightkey likes this.
  18. Bernd

    Bernd Very Active Member

    May 4, 2016
    Good to hear some news.

    Ceramic capacitors have nice microphonic features.
    When AC or PWM signals are applied, they produce more or less hearable noice.

    But it works the other way around too.
    If you have them in loud or vibrating areas, they are able to produce small voltages which disturbes analoge measurements.

    (The microphonic part starts at 2:28)

    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
    jorlinn, tarator, spud42 and 4 others like this.
  19. TeDaDeS

    TeDaDeS Very Active Member

    Jan 15, 2004
    The Netherlands
    I know a hardware designer, I'll ask if he has any tips (on top of the already suggested ones).

    See you at the Gamescom!
  20. Eight Bit

    Eight Bit Hardcore Member

    Nov 16, 2008
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Thanks for the news, it was due for a while already ;)
    Great to learn that by increasing the voltage to 1.39v the 4GB unit works now. Yay! That feels like a big step towards the finish line.
    One more question,
    Has the mobile network been tested yet?
    Kippykip likes this.

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