We are building an open laptop, with some wacky features in it for hackers like me.
This is a lengthy project. Fortunately, ARM CPUs are getting fast enough, and Moore’s Law is slowing down, so that even if it took a year or so to complete, I won’t be left with a woefully useless design. Today’s state of the art ARM CPUs — quad-core with GHz+ performance levels — is good enough for most day-to-day code development, email checking, browsing etc.
We started the design in June, and last week I got my first prototype motherboards, hot off the SMT line. It’s booting linux, and I’m currently grinding through the validation of all the sub-components. I thought I’d share the design progress with my readers.
Of course, a feature of a build-it-yourself laptop is that all the design documentation is open, so others of sufficient skill and resources can also build it. The hardware and its sub-components are picked so as to make this the most practically open hardware laptop I could create using state of the art technology. You can download, without NDA, the datasheets for all the components, and key peripheral options are available so it’s possible to build a complete firmware from source with no opaque blobs.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
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TAKE MY MONEY!!
Yeah, more ARM with MMU stuff… I fight with Android (Java and VM abstraction) daily. Intel really lost focus by not bringing out IAx86 chips into this space earlier. If they did, we would all be benefiting from the decades of ready to run code out there without cross compile, and driver nightmares (just to name two).
But back to the topic at-hand. Let’s see if “Bunnie” follows through with his development through fulfillment. Bunnie IMHO has ABANDONED the Huge number of now essentially useless Chumby devices he had a strong hand in spawning. Shame on him. (Yeah I know about Turk’s stuff. Good on him).
Second post attempt – fighting with stupid resistor color code nonsense… sorry if dups.
brian, you get my vote best blog comment of the year!