Lets create the PineCom
I'm definitely in for at least one and more likely 2 or more depending on what I can do with it. It would be awesome to have something not dependent on cell or wifi that I could communicate in a park or a busy crowd.
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With a licence, you can already do that with commodity devices Smile

Heck you can do it without a licence too, but not as well.
(04-06-2021, 04:11 PM)KC9UDX Wrote: With a licence, you can already do that with commodity devices Smile

Heck you can do it without a licence too, but not as well.

If you're looking for voice communication over moderate distances in the US, you can pick up a decent FRS or MURS handset for around US$50, which will interoperate with countless devices already on the market and require no license. Other countries often have similar unlicensed mobile allocations like this as well, but I'm less familiar with them.
In addition to the superior propagation characteristics of the VHF spectrum (as compared to UHF for FRS), MURS also permits data transmission, which means textual communication could also be a possibility. I think most handsets capable of digital communication are considered specialized equipment at the moment, so they tend to be very expensive, but this would be an easy thing for Pine64 to change. Pretty much all you need is an MURS radio glued to a minimum-viable audio chip, and the modulation can be done in software.
The need for regulatory approval in many different jurisdictions worldwide might make this difficult to realize, but the point remains: relatively high-power, narrow-bandwidth communication is a well-established technology, and hardware to achieve it is already inexpensive in many places. More importantly, it lacks the big uncertainties of newer proprietary technologies like LoRa, which have not been shown to be useful for the same purpose.
A decent set of FRS transceivers can be gotten for $20; and surprisingly a lot of people are on the air with them. MURS has all kinds of possibilities that other services don't have, and have less existing users. Humourously, Wal-Mart uses them round here and you can remotely ask their employees to do things and they will comply. (I have not done it but I've seen it demonstrated!)

Implementing any of these services on a new device with other capabilities will be mostly impossible in the US. FCC doesn't like devices that can do more than one thing. At least not for these services. GMRS/FRS are the one exception.
In my mind the PineCom always was a device that would provide a communication tool for individuals or more likely groups that need/want a means of communication that doesn't rely on fixed infrastructure, and provides geolocation/discoverability on demand. I could imagine a use case like emergency communications or off-grid activities/general group activities... what I'm not sure of - does that warrant creating a whole new device vs just a backpack for the Pinephone? Also what does 'communication' mean in that context? Is text messaging enough, maybe some data streaming, or does it also need some voice capabilities?
Come have a chat in the Pine IRC channel >>
Couldn't the PineTab already be the PineCom if you use Jitsi or something?
If this is a kind of modernized and open PDA, (whoohoo, back to the Nokia N770 we are!) then it needs a discernable difference from a pinephone to be useful on its own. (Otherwise the potential LoRaWan backcover can cover your needs). For me, a killer distinction would be a 4-5" eink screen, which allows to show, incoming mails, messages, the time and your next calendar entries, while sleeping nearly all the time (it could wake up like every 1-2 minutes, fetching data updating he screen, and going back to sleep). The battery could last weeks!

A low-spec cam on the back to scan qr codes and business cards and a runtime of +1 week and I am in.
Sorry if anyone has already written this, but at the moment I can't read through all these posts.

my first thoughts. I'll elaborate on case use at the bottom.

this device is not really necessary, UNLESS:

1. It was marketed more for large businesses to communicate with each other over the same network over specific wifi protocol. Immediately I think of churches, theaters, stages, conference halls, hotels, casinos, large corporate businesses with multiple areas that need lots of interdepartment comms, etc.
2. It was specifically marketed to work over wifi protocol, NOT channeled RF, which is important for churches, stages, conference halls, etc. I'll elaborate.
3. Has a WIRED AND WIRELESS (bluetooth?) headphone/headset with mic option. Very important, and would help with marketing toward stages.
4. Has front and back cameras.
5. Very low price, and I'll elaborate why on that as well.
6. Touchscreen with touch keyboard would be nice, perhaps with an app created that was similar to discord: "rooms" you can join, instead of "active calls you can make" and a text chat function within those rooms. This would be incredibly useful for stages and theaters.
7. Has a physical push-to-talk button (though optional between push-to-talk or always-on communication)
8. two physical programmable buttons beneath the PTT button. Or maybe three programmable buttons, and you can program one to be a PTT in whatever app you use, if you choose to.
9. LED light with an easy-to-access control. Dimmable too, if you can swing it.
10. Dimmable face.

I used to work in churches, stage production, etc. We tried to get on a communication device system where we could whisper to each other over a lav mic/in-ear headphone like the classic secret agent thing. The devices were over RF channels, and not wifi. They were extremely cumbersome to use because they would never stay on the correct channel, would lose touch with our antennae, and would interfere with our stage microphones and in-ear monitors for the stage act. Part of that is user error of course, but for the most part we had to work with the faults of the building we were in and the limitations of the equipment.

(Because I'm feeling narrative this morning)

It's 5 minutes until showtime. I feel my pocket vibrate and pull out my trusty little secret agent communicator. I look on the face and see a chat to us from our stage manager. "REMINDER: INTRODUCTION AT 8:15, SHOWTIME AT 8:30" Puzzled, I push my PTT button, and all who are in our STAGE TEAM chatroom hear my voice in their ears. "Where is the speaker?" A few seconds pass before a short response. "He's on his way back now." A few minutes go by before "one minute" comes from the manager. All is quiet as the lights dim and the show begins. The speaker walks onstage and gives his opening remarks, and in silence, the players enter the stage one by one. Lines are delivered flawlessly... Except from one who's voice falls on deaf ears. "Mand, check Rachael's mic pack." I can't respond by voice in the quiet, so I push my programmable button 1 which sends a green light to the chatroom, signaling my acknowledgment. between lines, she wafts herself offstage where I can diagnose the issue in private. Mic cable unplugged, and it's likely that this gaudy costume was to blame. I amend the problem and Rachael returns to the stage, just in time to deliver her crackshot retort, loud and clear. I pull out the communicator and write a quick note, informing the manager of the problem. She will talk to the costume designer after the show. Ryan's dry voice can be heard over the comm. "Already breaking things?" I push my programmable button 2, signaling a red light in chat.

Another stage tech enters backstage, his communicator out and LED light active. He is using his front-facing camera to show an equipment configuration to some techs in front-of house through the chatroom, and probably sending some pics of readouts. Probably diagnosing another technical issue quickly and efficiently, and the best part is that all these communicators are standard, have NO mothership antennae or other system to route through, were easy to set up and get assigned into chat groups once on the same wifi, and were way cheaper, more robust and had vastly more functions and features than pro transmitter/receiver setups for our modest budget.


Thank you, thank you.

(EDIT: just to be clear on the physical buttons thing, for certain things like PTT or programmable buttons, I DO NOT always want to be fiddling with opening a touchscreen to do things. If the phone is clipped to my belt and someone needs a quick answer, pressing a physical button without needing to look or unclip it from my belt or even remove it from my pocket would be stellar. Same with programmable buttons on the side.)

But really, situations like that DO happen, and it is an incredible pain when your communication systems are not functioning or maybe nonexistent and you have to CALL each other... which is a huge problem. Maybe a huge operation which has the budget for a perfect system setup won't have that problem, but for smaller venues, churches, production teams, etc... this could be a cheap, quick and easy fix. Best part is, you can set up your own private wifis at a show and bring the routers with you as part of your stage setup if you chose so you don't have to worry about clientside wifi. Or if you're part of a team in a stationary building, you're using existing wifi networks. Hell, you can even get into your "group" from home wifi if you wanted for zoom-like meetings.

I was running this with my wife just now and she said nursing homes use things like that as well, so there are a lot of uses for them in diverse industry sectors. Hospitals, doctor offices, schools, IT companies, you name it. And if you don't design something like this, I probably will to be honest, if not just for myself and my own teams. People have mentioned cameras for scanning QR codes, etc. I think a lot of people who have said "It's not useful unless it has a modem" or "just make a phone" are most likely not in, nor have ever been, in an industry where walkie-talkies and quick back-and-forth comms over distance were useful. And in the case of a PineCom, you could do so much more than just voice.

I think this thing could be huge for teams, venues, etc where they could buy a bunch, have them tagged and handled, and when you show up to work you just grab yours from the box and you're ready to go for the day. When you leave for the day you plug it in so it's ready for tomorrow, or take it home depending on company rules. If you leave the company they just assign it to a new employee. For individuals or environments where that constant team distance communication is not really useful or necessary, it's probably useless, and that's fine, it's not for them.

Hope this helped.

PS I wouldn't be upset if you called it the MandPack. no reason though... just saying.
I'd probably use this device as a companion for a dumb phone, sometimes sharing its broadband. The smaller screen makes it very interesting to me.

Quote: Do we need both a front and back camera on the PineCom? In fact, do we need any cameras at all?

I would like one camera at least for reading 1D/2D barcodes.

I'd prioritize CCD quality
over pixels.
One good camera is much better than two ~useless ones.

Quote:Should we bring over all sensors present on the PinePhone? If so, which do you think we can do without?

I would do without ambient light, gyroscope, compass. They are just nice to have.

Quote: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?

As WiFi would be primary connectivity, it would be quite important for me
(so with 5 GHz)

Quote:Should the device feature a GPS (and compass) or are those features redundant in this type of device? 

Not sure about compass, but GPS, please! I want to do offline navigation. Please make sure the reception quality is quite good.

Quote:Should we include SPI flash?

Nice that you ask, actually for me all internal storage makes things more complicated for no good reason. Just do everything from µSD. Easier to tinker, easier to backup, simpler design.

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?

It should fit easily on most pockets and not suffer when bending. 5" is probably still a bit big, but fine. The last device I really enjoyed having around was with a 4.3" display.
It does seem the LoRaWAN ideas are taking off Big Time.!

But, 1) it looks like this new system has packet size limits on data transfer.
2) The Big Players in the game are already mapping and claiming the areas where they will be "$elling you $ervice"

I was hoping that these would be more of a modern day high tech "Walkie Talkies"
Buy a pair or more, and be able to have conversations between these units.
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