It’s been a hell of a summer with loads of work at my dull dayjob so that I’ve almost forgotten about everything including this very blog. However once the hell cooled down a little bit I found myself with a few spare days and my usual itch to tinker for a little bit with something. It happened I also needed another linux single-board computer to do some dull geeky stuff. Instead of ordering one from aliexpress once again I dived into the junk and found this little dead piece of hardware:
These are the guts of some cheap tablet PC based on Allwinner A23 SoC that died long ago. I got it from a friend when we decided to poke around A23 if it would be of any good for one of our projects (And we settled for Allwinner H3 in the end). Anyways this dead piece of hardware was sitting in my closet for over a year and I thought it was just about time to dust it off and make it into something useful. As it happened I also needed a small project to get familiar with Solvespace, a awesome free and opensource parametric 2d/3d CAD that was on my TODO list for learning for over a few months.
This process is somewhat automatic for me, since I’ve done it for hell knows how many times. I started by compiling mainline u-boot and making a bootable SD card. Stock android that was still somewhere in NAND, but didn’t output anything on those UART pads. Nevertheless, once booted it provided me adb over usb with *SURPRISE* root access, so that I could pull the contents of the boot partition, including script.bin. That saved me the effort of brute forcing in search for relevant pads that get things done.
Once I got the serial terminal working I verified that I could boot mainline linux kernel and that everything works more or less reliably and the root filesystem created with skyforge works. This was the part when I put the code aside and fired up solvespace. The good thing about this CAD is that it’s:
- Simple as hell (took me less than 30 minutes to find my way around, an hour to start designing happily)
- It’s parametric!
- It’s easy to place a bunch of lines and later constrain them with the help of calipers to take form of a very complex shape. Precisely the thing that’s is very difficult to make with OpenSCAD
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