Lets create the PineCom
I think the bigest thing is (as mentioned earlier) determining the audience, and what the PineCom can bring to the table for existing projects. i.e. Meshtastic (Andreas Spiess did an excellent video on this), which combines the ESP32 + Lora + GPS for a long range mesh communicator which also has an app that runs on your phone. The PineCom could do all of this, but in one ready-made all in one device, removing the need for this extra Lora box 'thingy' that you need to carry around and keep charged.

Camera - Lora isn't the fastest network, so I don't see the need for a camera for communications. If faster speed comms is an option, i.e. wifi, then yes, keep it. Also, handy for 'scanning' QR codes, and also taking pictures, if you have local storage. But I would only keep the rear camera, not the front one. As a cost saving measure Wink

GPS will probably be a must keep. Allows the 'locator' part to function, as well as making so the PineCom can be used as a GPS unit.

SPI flash - probably no point - this isn't the pine64/rock64, no need to boot from it. Surely an I/O pin can be 'sacrificed' to flag whether the device is a Pinephone/Pinecom . And forget about eMMC, just use microSD for this one.

Sensors - can't see any reason to keep the magnetometer/compass - plus GPS may be able to replicate some of that functionality of needed. Gyro + Accelerometer gives you ability to alter screen rotation + detect physical orientation of the PineCom, as well as give another 'input' method. Ambient Light Sensor and Proximity Sensor - screen brightness + display off... nice, but not essential? It would be nice to keep the idea of a I2S expansion section on the back also, so other sensors can be added. This is where keeping the backplate the same size would be an advantage, even if the screen is smaller.

How/where does this fit in with the other products - i.e. the Pinephone + a backback, or the Pinetab with lora? Is this trying to squeeze in between the two? Pinephone with a slightly smaller screen, minus cellular, plus LoRa?
Quote:Do we need both a front and back camera on the PineCom? In fact, do we need any cameras at all?
I would be okay with just back camera, almost never used front camera on my current phone.

Quote:Should the device feature a GPS (and compass) or are those features redundant in this type of device?
I probably wouldn't use neither of them, but I can imagine some use cases for them.

Quote:We’re currently thinking of using a 5” LCD panel for the PineCom; what do you think about this - is there a reason to go bigger or smaller?
After using 5.3" phone for 3 years, yes there is reason to go smaller :D Personally I would prefer 4" - 4.5", somehow I manage to make less mistakes while typing on screens of those sizes.

Quote:We are completely open to any and all suggestions at this point.
I liked the idea of pogo pins in PinePhone and think they would fit PineCom perfectly, are you going to add them?
I see this as a really useful device if it is part of a modular system. At it's simplest, it could be a gps, mp3 player, baby monitor or VoIP phone. Add a box of sensor modules and it could be used for real science. Add some camera modules it could be used for photography, astronomy, and more science or art. Add some motor controls and it could be a robot, or 3D printer or some other thing. Add some radio modules and it could be a ham radio transceiver, radio telescope, or electronic test gear. Add some audio synth gear and an electric guitar and you're making music to my ears - hopefully.

I already have more one trick pony devices than I need. What I need is a modular device I can build onto to replace all those devices. This could fit nicely. As far as screen size. I'd say 5 inches at the smallest, six to eight for most things. At eight, you could add the option of a cell modem that could turn the device into a tricorder, or tablet/laptop/really big phone for field work.
A simple camera and GPS would be really helpful, adding in a barometer and compass as part of the GPS chip would be nice to have.

Maybe the camera could be placed in a way that would allow it to be used as a dashboard cam in a car that also acts as a navigation system?

In general it would be cool if the device was a bit more rugged and would allow use with gloves, maybe have a simple stylus included or a capacitative touchscreen? Or maybe some small programmable physical navigation buttons and a track-point? Something to allow input without actually looking at the screen would also be nice for use as a mp3 player or so.

The audio chip and output port should also be high quality so that it is possible to connect a ham radio for packet radio (a cheap Boafeng or those handhelds commonly used by emergency first responders). Connecting it to a radio in a sailboat for a GPS beacon and automated weather notifications would also make this an interesting replacement for expensive sail navigation solutions.

Really cool would also be one or two full sized USB A ports in host mode, as that would really increase the expand-ability of the device.

5ghz wifi support and maybe more importantly good modern bluetooth support would also be beneficial I think.

Edit: probably too expensive, but a build in infrared camera would be really cool, as that is commonly used to evaluate thermal isolation of buildings, and might also be helpful to optimize cooling of electronic devices etc.

Edit: maybe a lower resolution camera but capable of 60/120fps capture with a fisheye lense? Or make that two of those, with higher resolution to have something like a Lenovo Daydream camera for taking VR videos? Stereo cameras could also be interesting for robotics.

Edit: build in laser pointer and a laser distance measuring device? Just brainstorming Smile
(10-09-2020, 06:13 PM)Luke Wrote:
  1. Do we need both a front and back camera on the PineCom? In fact, do we need any cameras at all? < I think no cameras is best, but if any, one back camera is fine, even better if you can integrate a privacy shutter into it>
  2. Should we bring over all sensors present on the PinePhone? If so, which do you think we can do without? <Sensors are all fine and dandy, but having a physical "off" switch would be icing on the cake>
  3. Should we use the same single band/11n/BT4 WiFi module in the PinePhone (for compatibility sake) or change it out for a dual band/11ac/BT5? <All the latest and greatest WiFi and BT tech is great, but again, physical off switch>
  4. Should the device feature a GPS (and compass) or are those features redundant in this type of device? <GPS would be useful as a communicator, if used in remote locations like one might use a GoTenna>
  5. Should we include SPI flash? <hit or miss for me, but sure, why not?>
  6. We are currently considering following the PinePhone’s general design and aesthetic for the PineCom, but if there is some sort of physical (within reason - also financially) that you think would fit this type of device well then make sure to let us know.  <REMOVABLE BATTERY FOR SURE!>
  7. We’re currently thinking of using a 5” LCD panel for the PineCom; what do you think about this - is there a reason to go bigger or smaller? < I think that an eInk display would serve the purpose better. Since this is a communicator first, smaller is better, or if it has to be bigger, cram as much battery in as possible. That way you can really get a long service life from it between charges.>
I created a profile on this forum just to respond to this, so I hope some of these suggestions are useful!
(10-10-2020, 03:51 AM)pfeerick Wrote: The PineCom could do all of this, but in one ready-made all in one device, removing the need for this extra Lora box 'thingy' that you need to carry around and keep charged.

But if you already own a PinePhone, the PineCom BECOMES the extra box thingy that you need to carry around and keep charged. A LoRa back cover would be more than feasible to make.
Hm, personally I'd like to have a proper (!) LoRa back cover for the regular PinePhone. That would be much more useful, I can always disable the modem with the HW switch if I want to. 

I can totally see the usecase of LoRa (for example at crowded festivals where to cell phone network is totally overloaded) or in emergency situations. But not sure why I'd need a seperate device.
Well I backed a kickstarter for something similar, which has stalled, and I'm in if you all want build me a few!  The thought of a comms device without a cell plan/connection just seems smart.  Seems battery life might be improved on this device, wifi/voip calling would be very handy for traveling.  I'm not familiar with LoRa, but it sounds useful.

GPS that doesn't 'phone home' is a positive, as a camera.  Someone suggested E-ink which would be power pinching, but I'm not sure if a camera would be useful then.  Bluetooth for hands free use, maybe.

Wifi 'walkie talkie' feature while on a local network would be useful in warehouses, campus settings, etc.  Sorry I'm brainstorning now.

Yup, I'd buy them.

Thanks for your time.

edit: Combine this with a BT keyboard and it could be a portable terminal as well! More possibilities that the WiPhone project.
Just a regular guy doin' regular guy stuff.
It feels like pine64 gets seduced by the idea of making a new shiny and all kinds of things fall by the wayside. Like wireless charging was promised many months ago, and now we never hear about it anymore. And remember when everyone who bought the BH and UBPorts phones were promised hardware fixes? Etc. Etc. Etc.

And definitely pine64's notorious big problem is terrible support, and changing that reputation is so deserving of your attention and resources.
I like the idea, like a freedom-flavored iPod Touch. It could be a good device for kids to tinker with and learn on. With that in mind, I would think maintaining a price point cheaper than the PinePhone would be the most important thing.
I think a rear-facing camera is not necessary, but could be useful for projects, like setting it up to do a timelapse or stream video or whatever else. It's harder to justify a front-facing camera.

A small screen would be good. I often hear people complain about how phones all got too big. Something to compete with the Xperia Z Compact phones or the iPhone SE in size would be good.

If the cameras were removed, it might mean the space could go to other components. Perhaps things unique to the PineCom. Some people have modded their Eee PC 900 laptop to have something in place of the webcam. (I believe it worked over USB, so then they can put another arbitrary USB device there). I'm guessing the camera hookups aren't as inherently modular on the PinePhone.

I'll second what someone suggested in an earlier post, add an IR blaster. These things are very cool and unfortunately haven't been on phones in a while now except for some of the Chinese options. It would quickly turn the PineCom into a programmable universal remote, which is very handy.

As for the WLAN/BT upgrade, I would say it all depends on if you can get free drivers. I know there are some wireless AC chipsets from Realtek with free software drivers, but I think Bluetooth 5 may be more complicated. Keep the hardware as free as possible, but aside from that, faster WiFi does sound like a nice thing.

You say the alt mode for video will be removed, but will USB OTG functionality still be there? Plugging in a keyboard, mouse, flash drive, USB ethernet adapter, or other device is something I would consider useful and important.
I love free software!

- PinePhone UBPorts Community Edition (mainboard upgraded)
- Pinecil
- PinePower
- Pinebook Pro (ordered)
- PineTime (ordered)

- Guix System (ThinkPad T440p, ThinkPad X220T)
- Sway
- Pinky4 keyboard

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