Vienna is worth a trip!

Discussion in 'Pyra News' started by EvilDragon, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. EvilDragon

    EvilDragon Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm currently sitting in the train, on my way back from Vienna to Ingolstadt.
    It's a five hour trip, so I got the time to summarize everything that happened.

    Quick meeting up with torpor and the MetaLab team

    I arrived in Vienna yesterday at 9:20pm - so still plenty of time to meet up with long-time community member torpor and pay a visit to the local MetaLab (with a Pyra in my bag, of course).
    It was a fun meetup and everyone was impressed by the Pyra hardware (case, keymat, PCBs), as they know how hard hacking something together like this is.

    There were quite a few questions which I happily answered and I arrived back at the hotel at 1am and went to bed at about 3am.

    You can see some pictures torpor took here:
    https://pyra-handheld.com/boards/threads/travelling-to-vienna.78146/page-2#post-1393385

    The keymat-meeting

    10am, it was time for the meetup with the company taking care of the keymat.
    And it REALLY was good that I paid them a visit.

    It's a lot easier discussing issues and finding fixes when meeting up in real life, having samples with you and can test things.

    So there was quite some weirdness going on, but I think we now found out why it's not yes as good as I hoped it should.

    Here's a quick summary of what happened during the development of the keymat:

    • Pandoras keymat has a travel distance of 1mm. I wanted to improve that a bit, so we changed that to 0,7mm for the new keymat.
    • I also wanted to make it softer, so you need less force to press the keys.
    • Then the first samples of the keymats were made (the one with the flat keys). It felt good for a first try, but the travel distance still was too high in my opinion. The flat buttons were uncomfortable (because of the sharp corners) and the buttons were too recessed in the case, so we moved them up a bit. And the keymat also felt a bit too stiff in my opinion.
    • So we made the following changes: Round the keys, increase the height, decrease the travel distance by 0,1mm to 0,6mm. And try different softnesses of materials.
    • The new keymats arrived. The height and feel of the key caps was now perfect - but even the keymat which was made using a lot more soft material than before felt more stiff. And the tactile feedback got a lot worse.
    So... um... yeah. I was confused. What exactly went wrong and how can we fix that?
    A mixture of the old and new keymat would probably be best... and as I was confused, I decided to visit the company here and discuss it with them.

    Which was a fantastic idea!

    After a few tries, everyone was certain something is wrong here - something in the production of the samples went wrong. (The keymats are still being produced in China, btw. There are no companies doing something like that in Europe).
    But what exactly went wrong? That's what we needed to find out!

    We couldn't do exact measurements as the designers didn't have the machines for that yet (but they will get the machines soon, they're already ordered).
    But they had a sample keymat by the manufacturer which has multiple travel distances and softnesses to test out.
    0,8mm travel distance with 80gr force needed just feels PERFECT for the normal keyboard, whereas 1mm travel distance seems to be great for the action buttons and DPad.

    Hmm... but the first sample was supposed to have 0,7mm travel distance, so why did this feel like it was too far?
    Comparing the sample keymat with the Pyra keymat (just by pressing it with your fingers!) made something clear:

    It seems something went wrong with the production of the FIRST keymat.
    The travel distance CLEARLY was more than 0,7mm (more felt like 1 - 1,2mm). So something went wrong there!

    However, as I based the changes for the second keymat on the sample I got (lowering the travel distance as it still felt too far), we changed the travel distance from 0,7mm to 0,6mm.

    Well... the second keymat seems to have been produced properly: So the travel distance now was 0,6mm - which is WAY to little. Which is while the tactile feedback felt worse.

    Argh!
    This is another story of things that happen during a production which you don't expect!
    Welcome to real life :)
    Ah, and before you worry: No, the chinese company is not incompetent, they design company in Vienna has produced keymats with them for the last 5 years without any issues, but sometimes something simply goes wrong.
    (they're all humans, after all).

    However, it's not hard to fix that. Just something to remember for future projects :)

    The fix will not cost anything, as it was a manufacturers issue.

    The company in Vienna is paying the manufacturer a visit next week anyways, so they're taking the keymat samples with them, do proper measurements (the chinese company has the machines to do exact measurements) and will discuss the fixes and changes.
    As the stiffness and travel distance is the only thing that needs to be changed, it could very well be we've got final, fully nicely working keymats in about 4 - 6 weeks :D


    The touchscreen


    I think I already mentioned that I received a new touchscreen from Fatih a while ago (the same that's on the current Pandora models).
    BOE will visit me tomorrow with another new touchscreen-sample and I'll test both of them.

    However, if that STILL won't work: The keymat-design company is also specialized on touchscreens (I didn't know that...).
    They can also easily do custom designs - and they're not as expensive as I feared (500 - 600 EUR tooling costs, Minimum order quantity of 500).

    And yes, they DO know a lot about touchscreens.
    I always thought it's the thickness of the foil that defines the sensitivity - but that's not it: The grid size is what defines that.
    So yay, I learned something more about touchscreens as well here :D

    Well, let's see how the new touchscreens tomorrow will turn out. But it's good to know there's a company that's also specialized on that not too far away from me, sitting in Austria :)



    Stability issues with the EVM and the Pyra

    As I mentioned with my last post, there are some stability issues using the latest kernels when using the EVM (the OMAP5 development board) and the Pyra.
    Me, Nikolaus and some members from the community (who have an EVM at home) did some various tests.

    It seems the EVMs run stable when feeding them with 6V or higher. The reason for that: The EVM has a switch included that changes the power suppply at a certain level.
    And it seems that once that switch changes to the direct jack input, everything becomes unstable.
    Right now it looks like that it only happens when having HDMI connected (we're still working on that).

    The Pyra however uses a power circuit that's more similar to the one that runs stable on the EVM. So that probably isn't the issue.

    So I ran various tests with different setups and different Pyra PCB combinations.
    And found out some interesting things:

    • Without a display board attached, they always boot without any issues and run stable.
    • With a display board but only a 5V USB AC Adaptor connected, it either froze after about 21 seconds or didn't find the display. Sometimes it booted up fine.
    • With a display board and only a battery connected, it didn't freeze as often, but also often simply didn't find the display. Sometimes it booted up fine.
    • In both cases it worked without any issues once it booted up properly!
    • With a display board AND a battery as well as AC adaptor connected, it almost ALWAYS booted into the system.

    Both MIPI (the display connection) and HDMI are handled by the DSS subsystem of the OMAP5.
    So it points like something goes wrong there - and it seems to be connected to the power supply.
    Mabye there's a driver bug that causes a short peak which either leads to a freeze or a not-being-found display?
    Maybe it's a different driver bug where the power management chip and the DSS have some issue?

    As it runs stable once it's booted up, it can't really be an issue with the power supply. I can even do 200% CPU usage for a longer period of time once it has booted up, so the power supply is stable.

    But something seems to go wrong whenever DSS is being initialized.

    Are we on the right track? It's too early to say that, but these were just some thoughts I had.
    But we'll continue!
    We will squish that bug, you can be sure of that!

    Phew, that was quite a long newspost.
    Didn't think it would get that long!
    But I hope you enjoyed it.

    I'll arrive back in Ingolstadt in about 2 hours and will continue playing Dragon Quest VI now.
    See you later!
     
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  2. Caine

    Caine Hardcore Member

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    Hmmm... in general I am a fan of keyboards with higher key travel distance, not less. It is not a full-sized keyboard so I suspect the experience doesn't really carry over 1-to-1. I'm not really sure what to expect of the Pyra keyboard now. Just don't make it feel like those horrible scissor switches.

    Glad to hear you're making progress so quickly on the instability.

    Have a good trip home :)
     
  3. Arkay Firestar

    Arkay Firestar Member

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    I think for something you hold in your hands and primarily use your thumbs to type on, you want to find that balance that makes it easy for keys to be pressed despite the unusual torque angle and more limited range of motion. I'm glad to hear ED was trying to reduce the travel a bit, I thought pandora keys were way too tall and needed to be pushed way too far and hard to be comfortable long term.
     
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  4. Caine

    Caine Hardcore Member

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    I disagree, but it is not up to me. Regardless, it's better than a touchscreen.
     
  5. Yoyobuae

    Yoyobuae Very Active Member

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    This summarizes how I feel about Pandora's keyboard:
    pandora_keyboard.gif

    It never pressed straight down, it always wobbles to one side or another like that. It's not a huge deal but makes the tactile feedback feel weird/fuzzy (I'm not fully sure if key pressed right or not).

    I'm hoping the shorter travel distance helps prevent the above issue on the Pyra.
     
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  6. comradekingu

    comradekingu Glowing ember

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    A stop must be put to side-fumblage!

    Also, a black PCB would really sell the understated nature of having white lights.
     
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  7. Arkay Firestar

    Arkay Firestar Member

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    This, exactly!
     
  8. TeDaDeS

    TeDaDeS Very Active Member

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    Thanks ED, nice update.
    Good examples of doing stuff in person can make a lot of difference and probably the reason why there is a better experience with German companies then Chinese ones.

    My work laptop has backlit keys, since I've seen how clean the backlight is done on the Pyra the light bleeding on the laptop is annoying me. (see some Pyra backlight examples in the pictures Topor made)
     
  9. TheOldOne

    TheOldOne Fallen Paladin

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    The best way to spend 2 hours.
     
  10. matzesu

    matzesu Hardcore Member

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    Thanks for the Update
    I saw the pictures but I needed to use the Browser as Tapatalk on my IPhone 6s ditnt liked the thread whit the Pictures and crashed everytime..
     
  11. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    That's why you need a new iPhone ;)
     
  12. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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    Fixed it for you.
     
  13. matzesu

    matzesu Hardcore Member

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    This is allready my new iPhone
    After 5 years note 2
     
  14. fusion_power

    fusion_power Advanced Member

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    I have to visit Vienna som day. ^^

    Wow, so little? it felt more like 1 Meter! xD Pyra can have less, for sure.

    Why only goes something wrong when Pandora/Pyra is involved? Curse? :eek:

    It will cost time for sure. ;)
     
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  15. comradekingu

    comradekingu Glowing ember

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    Time is not a cost, it is an inevitability of passing.
     
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  16. rSl

    rSl **** COMMODORE 64 PYRA V2 **** 4GB RAM SYSTEM

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    thanks to our anchor-fieldreporter ed, for this indepth situation-report! :)
    good to know the rootcause of the keymat mystery, well done!
    fingeres crossed here to solve the bootup-crash mystery next!
    maybe the test-displayboards without the ssd-chip, using tiler, will boot up without crashing?
     
    ible likes this.
  17. benoitb

    benoitb Very Active Member

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    Seems like Pyra will not bless us with its birth in 2016.
     
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  18. torpor

    torpor hack hack hack, the little machines fight back

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    Was great to meet you ED, and of course get a chance to play with the Pyra prototype you assembled, even if only for a few minutes .. after having one in my hands I want two on my desk, immediately. :p I also think you've gotten a few new fans from the Metalab crowd, this visit seemed to have sparked quite a bit of interest in our little scene.

    My personal experience with the Pyra prototype makes me feel like the tweaking you are doing is very necessary - the travel distance between presses should be as tight as possible, in my opinion - but you also have the issue that once depressed, the keypad sinks in rather deeply into the Pyra casing, which made me worry a bit about stuck keys - especially when combined with the tilting phenomenon so well-described by Yoyobuae above with his animation.

    (Not to start another keypad design conversation, but I also found myself immediately unsatisfied with the layout of the Space bar and the fact that the Enter/Ctrl/Shift keys are indistinguishable from the other keys - i.e. they should be a little larger, imho. Anyway, too late for that now, but that was my first-impression of the Pyra prototype, anyway.. I'll definitely be able to live with it, however I think that anyone who argued against making the modifier/enter keys a half a mm larger, and for the position of the Spacebar, may have doomed us a little to forever getting the keys mis-pressed.. seriously!)

    Anyway, the tweaking you are doing is very impressive and I feel very confident that you're going to get it absolutely right, and I concur that its always better to be there in person.. if you ever need to come to Austria again for whatever reason, would be great to have a second beer or two! :)
     
  19. ThinkPad

    ThinkPad Very Active Member

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    Yeah, with 4-6 weeks leading time for the keyboard, and 2 mounts lead time for the mass production, most probably it will not be released in 2016 :(
     
  20. EvilDragon

    EvilDragon Administrator Staff Member

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    How do you know this only happens with the Pyra?
    Which other companies give you such insights into the development? :)
     
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