Building a Case for the Goldelico GTA04

I just came home from my christmas holidays and found a nice, little parcel from Shapeways in my mail box. It contained my first experiment with the Blender 3D software and the Shapeways 3D printing service.

Update: Follow the efforts here: 3D printed GTA04 Case

The Story

A few weeks earlier I started to work on the original Openmoko Neo 1973 (GTA01) CAD files, as found at goldelico.com, with the intention of creating a 3D printable model, which I could print and use as a case for my new Goldelico GTA04 smartphone. To get started I got a Blender 3D crash course by a friend of mine.

First Attempt

As I never did any 3D work before I started with the easiest part – the battery cover:

   

This first prototype was printed using the “White Strong & Flexible” material offered by Shapeways. As you can see on the pictures, this material is a little rough, but still feels nice in the hands. Furthermore I removed the hole at the bottom, as it was pretty hard to design.

The printed part fits nicely on my existing Openmoko Neo Freerunner (GTA02) case, which contains my GTA04 board at the moment:

     

Future Plans

Now, that my first attempt was pretty successful, I plan to further work on this topic, to acquire a full case for my GTA04, so I can use the old case for my beloved Openmoko Neo Freerunner (GTA02) again.
As a next step I’ll modify the Neo 1973’s middle and front parts to be printable with a 3D printer and I’ll probably try to print them using a less rough material, to compare the results.

How you can help

If you like this effort, I’d be happy if you’d go to my Shapeways site (“SlyParts”) and order the first part of your GTA04 case, which will raise 1€ for myself, which I’ll use to order further prototypes.

If you don’t have a Goldelico GTA04, yet, you should take a look at the GTA04 Group Buy Tour, where we collect a batch of 350 orders which will be produced at once, so the price can get squeezed down.

If you ordered a part at my Shapeways site, please leave a comment here about which material you used and how it feels.

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Updated: Openmoko Community Survey 2011

Update 9.1.2012: results are updated.

As the year 2011 nears it’s end, we – the Openmoko Community – did a poll [0] about which is the most popular hardware and which is the most popular software in our community. The poll was open for one week now and we got votes from 73 people.

I decided to close the poll now and release the results to the public. To create a ranking I gave 1 point to a “YES” vote and 0.5 points to a “(YES)” vote. The maximum (100%) is 73 points.

Rankings

Software Side:

1. SHR                  112.5 points    (61%)
2. QtMoko                99.5 points    (54%)
3. Debian                75.5 points    (41%)
4. Other Distro          40.0 points    (22%)


Hardware Side:

1. Om GTA02             158.5 points    (86%)
2. Goldelico GTA04       71.0 points    (38%)
3. Nokia N900            34.0 points    (18%)
4. Other Device          26.0 points    (14%)
5. Palm Pre (+variants)  14.5 points    ( 8%)
6. Om GTA01               9.5 points    ( 5%)
7. Google Nexus S         7.0 points    ( 4%)

Conclusion

On the software side SHR is still the most popular distro, directly followed by QtMoko. Quiet a few people commented, that they intend to code their own software/GUI mostly to educated themselves.

On the hardware side the Om GTA02 is the clear winner (which was expected). Surprisingly the Goldelico GTA04 is the 2nd most interesting device in this community, even though very few people have one, yet. Still, most of the developers already own one and you should get yours soon [1], as it seems to become a common target of this community. The Palm Pre, Om GTA01 and Google Nexus S got very few points and thus are probably not worth to support…

Happy New Year

Now, i’d like to wish all you Open Hard- and Software-Enthusiasts out there a good start into the year 2012. I hope the GTA04 project will flourish in 2012 and will help our community to grow and free the phone again!

Links

[0] http://www.doodle.com/sh6insnivnvqyz7h
[1] http://www.handheld-linux.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04 Group Tour

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Openmoko/Goldelico GTA04 is available for the masses!

Goldelico GTA04 – free your phone!

The Goldelico GTA04 >OpenPhoenux< finally made it! Order your GTA04 replacement board for your Openmoko Freerunner (GTA02) and/or 1973 (GTA01) now! (www.handheld-linux.com)

Technical Specifications

  • 800 MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor
  • PowerVR SGX integrated graphics
  • 2.84” (43mm x 58mm) VGA touchscreen
  • HSDPA 3G modem
  • 512MB RAM
  • 512MB internal memory + SDHC card slot
  • WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS, FM Transceiver
  • Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Barometric Altimeter
  • USB 2.0 port, 2.5mm headset port, GPS antenna port, video out

Info: The GTA04 project only provides a mainboard, which can be used to upgrade a Neo 1973/Freerunner, while still using their case, touchscreen, antennas, speakers and buttons/leds.

The release announcement

Dear all,
I take for granted that you all are eagerly waiting for an annoucement
that another batch of GTA04 boards becomes available. We did wait
with an announcement until we can really answer all questions.

Now, we think we can.

Components have all been ordered for another (small) batch so that we
can get them from production in December. If everything goes well, we
can even ship out some boards before Christmas.

The boards are named GTA04A4 (meaning the PCB revision). They
are fully featured from hardware side:

* DM3730@800 MHz
* UMTS module with 3.75G (up to 14.4 MBit/s)
* Sensors (Barometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Accelerometer)
* GPS
* connector for optional camera module
* well documented building blocks so that you can write your own
boot loaders and kernels. Nobody stops your creativity and
nobody is pretending to protect you from yourself!

So you get something that is unique. A motherboard upgrade for
a handheld device. With open documentation to develop free and
open software. And, a community dedicated to continue the pioneering
work of the first Openmoko team. Last but not least, a team that listens
to your wishes for future upgrades and trying to fulfill them.

How much will it cost?

We know that most of you do expect that it is not too expensive, something
in the range of the GTA02. Unfortunately, we can't fulfill this specific wish.
There are two main reasons (besides we are not financial magicians):

1. the device has some very expensive components (CPU + Memory +
UMTS module)

2. we have really small production batches and therefore, have to pay
much more for the components than e.g. Apple or HTC (factor 2-3
compared to reports from iSuppli).

And, we can't subsidize devices because this is not a feasible long-term
strategy from an economical point of view.

But since raising the size of the batches ("bulk purchasing") has a
big effect ("economies of scale"), we have developed a strategy that should
make everyone happy:

A) there will be units available from (limited) stock shortly before Christmas,
at a high price. We try to produce more of these units to fulfill orders
within days. This offer is also good for getting samples for projects.

B) you can participate in a group-buy at a lower price. This requires
that we reach a certain number of units before we can start production.

So the price and availablility are:

a) 666,66 EUR; available for shipment from stock; planned to start
on 19th December

b) 499.99 EUR; requires 300 ordered units before 10th February 2012
(week after FOSDEM); production start expected for April 2012. There
is also a rebate for the first 100 early bookings.

There are rebates for quantites: 5% for orders of 5 units, 10% for 10 units,
12% for 50 units. So if you build buying groups (like for the Freerunners),
you can save some more money.

Both offers are ready for preorder/subscription through this link:

http://www.handheld-linux.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04

There is a third type of offer - a customized GTA04 board. This means you
can order a board variant where not all components are installed. And the
display connector can be replaced by a Board2Board connector. This allows
to plug the GTA04 like a module on a master board and develop different
handhelds and tablets based on the GTA04 design.

An example of such a device can be seen here:

http://www.handheld-linux.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04%20Custom

Finally, I have compiled some FAQ we have received in the past. If your
question is not amongst them, please ask.

So let's prove that the Openmoko community can not only design and
build samples of a GTA04 but also go into perpetual mass production.

Nikolaus Schaller

FAQ:

Q: Do I need a GTA01 or GTA02?
A: Yes. The GTA04 is a motherboard that fits into a GTA01 or GTA02
case. It does not have all electromechanic compontents. Missing are:
GSM antenna, internal GPS receiver, Earpiece speaker, Handsfree
speakers, Vibracall motor, Battery holder, Battery, USB power supply,
and very important: it does not include a display module. So you have
to take all missing parts from an existing GTA01 or GTA02.

The only exception is the LCD module where we can provide spare
parts.

But you can operate the board without these components - but then
it is not a handheld portable computer with phone functionality.

Or you can try to build your own case. Some inspiring proposals
and samples have been shown recently (e.g. wooden case).

Q: Does the device support the US frequencies?
A: Yes, it is Quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA (3.75G), but not
CDMA2000 1x nor EV-DO

Q: Does it have FCC and CE approvals?
A: At the moment partially. The UMTS module and the WLAN chipsets
are fully precertified. And the GTA04 system has successfully passed
the CE emmission tests, that it does not produce harmful interferences.
We are just missing the CE ESD and safety tests.

Q: Why do I have to wait so long if I participate in the group buy?
A: The reason is that our project has no external funding and needs
to collect enough money before we can order chips and components.
This introduces two types of delay: the preorder-window and then
the delivery time of components. E.g. PCBs are built to our specific
request and that needs between 20 and 30 working days. And
producing and testing several 100 units needs quite a while

Q: Will there be variants?
A: We have decided to run only a single variant with all components
installed. It turned out to be cheaper in total than to have a low-end
variant (e.g. without sensors) and a high-end variant.

We have one variant that we can provide on demand: the module
version. You can use it as the basis for connecting larger displays
and experiment with alternate cases. Details how to mount mechanically
and the pin layout can be found in the System Manual

Q: Does it work with a GTA01 case?
A: Yes. You will even get stereo speakers since the speaker box of the
GTA02 has two. One was sacrificed in the GTA02 to provide WLAN.

Q: Do you have complete phones?
A: We have a handful of complete phones built from returned GTA02
units. They are also available in the shop:

http://www.handheld-linux.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04%20Complete

Q: Do I get the money back if the group buy does not reach the minimum
quantity within the preorder window?
A: Yes. 100% (less money transfer cost).

Q: What is the status of the software?
A: We (Goldelico) do offer a hardware validation kernel and a
Debian/LXDE rootfs, but this does not comprise a phone software.
Projekts like SHR, QtMoko and others are in the middle of porting
their distros to the GTA04 platform. So the software is not completely
ripe but on good progress.

But we already can do phone calls by a simple shell script and
apt-get install through UMTS.

Q: Is there driver support for every bit and piece of the hardware?
A: We do not yet have drivers for Camera, IrDA, Audio IN, Torch/Flash,
FM radio. If you can support the development, please help!

Please also note that these hardware parts have not been tested in
detail. So they may not work at all.

Q: Where are the schematics?
A: The System Manual includes the schematics:

http://projects.goldelico.com/p/gta04-main/downloads/37/

They will be updated soon to reflect the changes from the GTA04A3 (Early
Adopter) to the GTA04A4 board.

Q: Do you have spare components like case, antenna etc.?
A: We can't buy or produce these parts and have no steady supply.
We will try to get some replacements, but can't promise.

Q: Is it possible to downgrade from the GTA04 to GTA02?
A: If you swap the display again, yes. You can also get a second
display module so that you can simply swap the GTA02 and GTA04
boards+display units within minutes:

http://www.handheld-linux.com/wiki.php?page=LCD%20Module

Q: Do I need a debug board?
A: No. The TI OMAP is "unbrickable" and you just may need a
RS232 cable to boot and reconfigure NAND flash parameters.

Q: I want to use it in a project and need 50, 100, 500, 1000 units.
A: For samples or small quantities, please order them from our
shop. For larger batches, please contact us and we will find out
how fast we can produce and at which volume rebate. Depending
on quantities, we can develop and produce variants.

Q: What can I do to increase the likelihood that the group buy
reaches the minimum quantity?
A: Convince your fellow GTA01/02 owners to think about buying
a GTA04 board. Talk, Mail, Blog about the GTA04 to make it
known that the Openmoko project did lift off again.

Q: I don't feel comfortable to replace the motherboard myself.
A: The most critical part is to remove the LCD module from the
GTA01/GTA02 board. Either find someone to do it for you. Or
get a spare part. Or send the device to us and we will do it for
you at a small fee.

Please follow the instructions like for a buzz rework:

http://www.handheld-linux.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04%20Installation%20Service

Q: I am a reseller. How can I get devices?
A: You are welcome to support the Openmoko movement. But
we can't give any big dealer margins because the components
and production are already very expensive. Please contact us
for details.

Q: My country is not listed in your shop.
A: Running export into all countries on this world needs a
lot of paperwork and knowledge to follow all the customs
regulations. And worse, we have some US-Technology
inside the GTA04 that is classified by EAR. So we need
a re-export permission. This is all beyond our capabilites.
Therefore we have to regret that we can't serve all countries
on this world. But you may find friends who live in a country
we can directly serve and you manage the export yourself.

Goldelico/Openmoko GTA04 at last production stage

Table of Contents

The replacement board for the Openmoko Neo Freerunner and Neo 1973 – called Goldelico GTA04 alias “Phoenux” – just arrived at it’s final production stage after another slight delay.

Goldelico GTA04

The Goldelico GTA04[1] is a state of the art hardware upgrade for your Openmoko Neo Freerunners and Neo 1973s. It has an ARM Cortex A8 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, a HSDPA 3G modem, an OpenGL ES 3D graphics chip, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and much more…
For a detailed overview of it’s technical specification and the story behind it, see my other post[2].

Testing

The first three “GTA04 Early-Adopter Boards” arrived at the labs of Golden Delicious Computers in Munich[3] and successfully went through the semi-automated hardware validation test. The remaining GTA04 EA boards are expected to arrive later this week.


Future

After those remaining boards passed the test, they are ready to ship to their new owners, who are already very excited about their new free smartphones and ready to develop free software for it.

It is expected that the FreeSmartphone.org[4] middleware will quickly support the GTA04, which makes it possible to run phone distributions like SHR[5], QtMoko[6] and Aurora[7] on it. And of course Debian GNU/Linux will run on the Goldelico GTA04 as well, as it is the default OS on the EA boards[8].

Support

If you want to know how you can support this project, which now needs to shoulder the production of the next batch of GTA04 boards, which will then be available to the public, you have serveral opportunities:

  • Make a donation to the project [9], so Golden Delicious Computers can stock the chips needed for new GTA04 boards.
  • Buy a cool Letux 400 [10] MIPS Minibook, so Golden Delicious Computers can clear their warehouse, to stock GTA04 parts.
  • Preorder a GTA04 replacement board [9] for your Neo 1973/Freerunner, after it became available again.
  • Spread the word about this [1] awsome project.

Links

[1] GTA04 project – gta04.org
[2] specs and story of the GTA04 – blog.slyon.de
[3] Golden Delicious Computers – goldelico.com
[4] FreeSmartphone.org project – freesmartphone.org
[5] SHR project – shr-project.org
[6] QtMoko project – qtmoko.org
[7] Aurora project – wiki.freesmartphone.org
[8] GTA04 Debian rootfs – projects.goldelico.com
[9] Preorder a GTA04/donate – handheld-linux.com
[10] Buy a Letux 400 Minibook – handheld-linux.com

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Update: Openmoko GTA04 »Phoenux« is getting reality

Table of Contents

The GTA04 is rising like a phoenix from the ashes…

The Story

All started off with the idea of a fully open source smartphone. After Openmoko Inc. [1] began to deliver the Openmoko Neo 1973 (GTA01) and Neo Freerunner (GTA02) in 2007 a dream became true for many of us.

Sadly, Openmoko Inc. canceled their efforts for an open smartphone in 2009. But due to their openness (semantics, hardware specifications) it was possible for enthusiasts from the Openmoko community, with great support from Golden Delicious Computers [2] (one of the german Openmoko distributors), to develop a new and modern open smartphone – the GTA04 [3].

Technical Specifications

  • 800 MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor
  • PowerVR SGX integrated graphics
  • 2.84” (43mm x 58mm) VGA touchscreen
  • HSDPA 3G modem
  • 512MB RAM
  • 512MB internal memory + SDHC card slot
  • WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS, FM Transceiver
  • Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Barometric Altimeter
  • USB 2.0 port, 2.5mm headset port, GPS antenna port, video out

Info: The GTA04 project only provides a mainboard, which can be used to upgrade a Neo 1973/Freerunner, while still using their case, touchscreen, antennas, speakers and buttons/leds.

Prototypes & Early-Adopter Boards

Golden Delicious Computers and the enthusiasts from the Openmoko community started off with the idea of stuffing a BeagleBoard [4] into a Neo Freerunner case and connecting an USB UMTS dongle to it – this was the first prototype GTA04A1, announced in late 2010 and presented at OHSW 2010 [5] and FOSDEM 2011 [6].

Next, they started to integrate all this onto a single PCB of the same size as the Neo 1973/Freerunner boards, so it could fit into their cases, use their batterys, antennas, speakers, buttons and touchscreens. This board was then called GTA04A2 – the second prototype.
After a lot of trouble – mainly with the power controler – and an almost complete redesign of the PCB, the team finalized the 3rd revision – GTA04A3, which will most probably become the revision the early adopters will get.

With this revision the team started to solder the different chips one after another, tested them and fixed smaller problems on the go. As these GTA04 EA boards now fulfill all the demanded conditions (working CPU, Display, Touch, Memory, MMC/SD, RS232 and UMTS-USB (data)), the community was asked if they want their EA boards as soon as possible or wait another few weeks and have some more tests done with the prototypes, to squeeze out even more glitches. Most of the early adopters (me included) voted for waiting a few more weeks.
With this decision made, the first Goldelico GTA04 EA boards will probably be ready for delivery in about a month!

Update: The GTA04 EA boards are delivered and are working quite nice! Now you can order your GTA04 board through the GTA04 Group Tour.
Update 2: The “GTA04 Group Tour” was successful. About 250 boards are delivered. The next round of pre-ordering and production started.

Future

After the early adopters got their boards and replaced/ugpraded their Openmoko Neo 1973/Freerunner with it, they can start testing the hardware, writing kernel drivers and other software. The FSO based [7] distributions SHR [8], Aurora [9] and QtMoko [10] are already prepared to include the GTA04 as a supported platform.

While the early adopters are further testing the hardware and writing software, the GTA04 team will prepare to produce the next batch of GTA04 boards. After they are sure that they can produce and deliver the next boards, e.g. after they have stocked the chips needed, they will most probably reopen the preoder possibility at Goldelico’s Handheld-Linux Shop [11] for people willing to upgrade their Openmoko Neo 1973 and/or Neo Freerunner.

How you can help

If you now want to know if and how you can help us to keep dreaming our dream of an open source smartphone, you have multiple possibilities:

  • Make a donation to the project [11], so Golden Delicious Computers can stock the chips needed for new GTA04 boards.
  • Buy a cool Letux 400 [12] MIPS Minibook, so Golden Delicious Computers can clear their warehouse, to stock GTA04 parts.
  • Preorder a GTA04 replacement board [11] for you Neo 1973/Freerunner, after it became available again.
  • Spread the word about this [3] awsome project.

Thanks

At this point I want to say “Thank you, for making this happen!” to all volunteers involved with the GTA04 project!

Links

[1] Openmoko Inc. – http://www.openmoko.com
[2] Golden Delicious Computers – http://www.goldelico.com
[3] GTA04 – http://www.gta04.org
[4] BeagleBoard – http://www.beagleboard.org
[5] FOSEM – http://www.fosdem.org
[6] OHSW – http://www.ohsw.org
[7] Freesmartphone.org – http://www.freesmartphone.org
[8] SHR – http://www.shr-project.org
[9] Aurora – http://wiki.freesmartphone.org/index.php/Aurora
[10] QtMoko – http://qtmoko.sf.net
[11] Handheld Linux Shop – http://www.handheld-linux.com/wiki.php?page=GTA04
[12] Letux 400 – http://www.handheld-linux.com/wiki.php?page=Letux 400

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