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Messages - bryceadamprescott

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General Discussion / Motherboard kit for existing laptop
« on: February 26, 2017, 11:22:02 PM »
It might make sense that before implementing an entire laptop from scratch, a kit could be created to replace the normal motherboard with this "upgraded" motherboard.

Basically, choose a laptop that can be easily found, like a ThinkPad or Inspiron, etc.; it can be a generation or two old to save cost.
Create the motherboard to use the existing laptop and use the existing battery and display.
Sell the motherboard as kit and also convert a few laptops for a turnkey solution.

Not ideal but this simplifies the process greatly.

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General Discussion / Re: RISC-V
« on: February 26, 2017, 11:00:45 PM »
I hate to say it, but as great as the PowerPC arch is, it requires royalty payments, etc.; at least according to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_instruction_set_architectures.
The only truly open architectures are: RISC-V, OpenSparc, and OpenRisc. Perhaps this is one of those situations where a certain version of the instruction set is open and later versions are not (ex: ARM).
 
RISC-V adheres to the open source philosophy very well and there are good FPGA implementations for testing. The main page of this project explains that PowerPC was chosen because it is newer
and cleaner; well, RISC-V is one of the newest architectures.

From what I understand, the PowerPC chip that this project is targeting is:
1) Has uncertainty as to whether the manufacturer will continue or not.
2) Varies from the PowerPC CPU targeted in the official Debian PowerPC port.

Debian is currently working on a RISC-V port that would be maintained by them.

Strangely, I don't see any comparison between OpenSparc and PPC on the main page. I would think that OpenSparc would have similar advantages to the x86 as does the PPC. Unfortunately, SPARC is no longer maintained by Debian.

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Suggestions / OSHW Wi-Fi card
« on: February 26, 2017, 02:57:16 AM »
As you probably know, the Wi-Fi landscape isn't very good for open source hardware. Most Wi-Fi cards that have open source drivers still have binary only firmware (ex: all Intel Wi-Fi cards).
There are cards like Atheros 9k that are more open, but nothing modern. This notebook needs a AC 2x2 5Ghz Wi-Fi card to match the rest of its awesomeness.

An ideal (and highly optimistic) solution would be to create an OSHW Mini-PCI Wi-Fi card as a prerequisite to this project. Imagine having a Wi-Fi with not only open source drivers
but also firmware and hardware designs. This is something that could spark more interest in the laptop project. Plus, I imagine some hardware vendors adopting the design; I mean,
why not avoid R&D if you can. Something like Kickstarter could fund the R&D and production costs as long as the appeal goes beyond this project. This would, of course, mean
that drivers would not only need to be created for Linux but also Windows (and maybe more...). This could be a great accomplishment in the world of OSHW.

I understand that this is monumental and probably a pipe dream. Please, any electrical engineers, etc. who have input post it here.

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Suggestions / Re: Trackpoint?
« on: February 26, 2017, 02:16:46 AM »
Here is another laptop project, with different goals, that has a trackpoint-ish thing: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gpd-pocket-7-0-umpc-laptop-ubuntu-or-win-10-os-laptop--2#/.
I could swear that back in the 90s, IBM's competitors had something like a trackpoint before touchpads became the norm. I don't think having a red dot that moves a mouse would cause any legal trouble; the issue is probably the name and the exact specs itself.

I see the difficult part being sourcing the keyboards with this built in. The Novena got around it by using a wireless ThinkPad keyboard but something else would be more ideal. Maybe  choosing a spare ThinkPad keyboard part that is highly available would work. The problem with doing anything like that is that the laptop would need a redesign if the parts ever become sparse. Producing a custom keyboard with a red dot would probably be expensive.

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