Lets create the PineCom
#41
Heart 
Personally, I have a PinePhone and love it for what it is.

For my money, the answers are:
1) Only keep the back camera, and I'll be using it for utility so it doesn't need to be a high resolution. The 2mp should be fine for me.
2) I would keep only the compass and barometer. Accelerometers and gyro creep me out, and I never use ambient light.
3) I'd love to have dual-band wifi! That's my one minor hangup on the PinePhone. I'm mainly a wifi user.
4) No GPS, for me. If the compass and/or barometer rely on GPS, drop those, too.
5) I'd like to see some SPI flash, but it's low on my list.

A 4.5 to 5 inch screen would be good for me. I like to carry small, when I can. The PinePhone's 5.95 inch screen is a little bigger than I'm used to. It's usable, and I love it, but it's more than I need.

I'm extremely excited about the possibility of a pocket-portable communicator with LoRa and WiFi, especially if it uses the same batteries I already have for my PinePhone.
Thank you!
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#42
I'm imagining that the PineCom is a WiFi-only version of the Pinephone to be used primarily for IoT services. An 99$ IoT device which doesn't require additional drivers  development & configuration makes logistic sense to build easily. However, I'm not sure if it is the best way to expand your portfolio, especially when USB-C video-out will not be supported.

On other hand, if you are willing to invest more powerful configurations in this series, it could serve as a testbed for your other offerings. If not, it just seems like redudant effort right now. 

I would appreciate more accessories to my pinephone using the pogo pin or usb dock or if possible, a laptop shell such (like the NexDock) for the pinephone for people on the go.
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#43
I would much rather see the pinephone keyboard happen before this.
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#44
I created an account after someone shared this thread in a FOSS mobile computing channel.

To answer your questions:
1. A back camera is nice to have for scanning data codes. Key exchange might be a bit of a hassle otherwise.
2. Notification LED, I can't think of a use for anything else. The sixaxis might be a nice quality-of-life thing, but really GNSS/magnetometer is more useful than the IMU.
3. Whichever has better kernel support.
4. GNSS+compass is always useful. It gives you a RTC and if incorporated into a mesh device, it can give the network useful information.
5. no opinion
6. no opinion, but see my other post for an idea
7. smaller if possible?

Although, if I am already carrying around my pinephone, then I wouldn't see myself carrying around this device too. The only thing I wish about the PP were that the screen were smaller, but I love it so far!
Thank you!
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#45
The idea sounds very cool! These days, voice communication isn't a hard necessity and especially for a privacy-focused device, the fewer environmental sensors the better. Practically, if a person is to communicate outside of the range of the mesh/wifi networks, they will be carting along some sort of cellular device and if they are at home, then a larger device will likely be the first thing a person reaches for, considering ergonomics and ease-of-use. At home, I use my laptop mainly followed my my phone, since it has all of my conversations already on it, but I don't need cellular.

There might be an opportunity to create something like a "communication core". A scaled down and stripped down version of the pinephone that can run all of one's communication applications and then snap into different docks depending on the desired erogonomics, kind of like what the PocketChip attempted to do.

The core would have the SOC, ram, an indicator light, a small radio, USBC (supporting different host modes) and a small liion battery, like a 10440 or smaller. It then could attach to a pine-phone-style case to get a screen, proximity sensor, ambient light, sixaxis, larger battery, cellular radio, front/rear cameras, etc. Or, it could attach to a pinetab style case for all of the above, with a larger screen. Or it could attach to a cosmo-communicator-style case for a subnotebook-sized keyboard. Or it could attach to a full-sized keyboard for a cyberdeck-esque experience at home.

The idea is that one can detach the "communications core" and leave it in a headless mode if they want to receive messages only (limited to the battery capacity), or attach it to another computer/phone if they want a gateway to a local mesh. Then the user has the option of attaching the device to different form factors if they want a phone on the go or a web-browsing machine at home, and the user's session would be seamless--they wouldn't have to synchronize conversations, keys, images, etc across multiple devices.

Although, it seems like it would be hard to make the phone pack thin (which is okay), and would create lots of additional SKUs as opposed to just making a different device.

Just a thought, cheers!
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#46
(10-09-2020, 06:13 PM)I love this idea and would definitely buy one. Most important feature would be multi-hop mesh capability with a well designed long range ISM band radio/antenna system. Would the firmware for for the ISM radio be open source and could developers flash alternatives to the LoRaMesh networking stack? I\m thinking of low-bandwidth more power/range efficient alternatives. Wrote:
Quote:Do we need both a front and back camera on the PineCom? In fact, do we need any cameras at all? 
Front camera only is ok. There are off-grid PoS applications that require a camera to scan QR codes.

Quote:Should we bring over all sensors present on the PinePhone? If so, which do you think we can do without?
Dead reckoning sensors are important for off-grid uses.

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?
BT5 LE would be a nice option for mid-range mesh communication.

Quote:Should the device feature a GPS (and compass) or are those features redundant in this type of device? 
For off-grid users and group coordination GPS is useful.

Quote:Should we include SPI flash?
Booting from MicroSD seems fine.

Quote: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.
  An SMA connector for optional antennas. Also some sort of clip system for attaching to backpack other straps. Best range won't come from being in your pocket.

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? 
Smaller is better for low power draw.

Quote:We are completely open to any and all suggestions at this point. That said, we’d appreciate it if you’d keep in mind that the targeted price range for this device is $99-149 when offering your insight. 
Chipset that supports GFSK modulation and ability to flash alternative mesh network protocols to the firmware.

Also important to have a 'boot on power' option so that fixed installations powered by solar can restart when power is restored.

You might want to talk to the teams at VolkFi, goTenna and PyCom to see if there are any possibilities for collaboration to increase volumes and lower cost.
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#47
(10-09-2020, 06:13 PM)Luke Wrote:
  • Do we need both a front and back camera on the PineCom? In fact, do we need any cameras at all? 
We don't need the front camera, but the back one can always be useful

(10-09-2020, 06:13 PM)Luke Wrote:
  • Should we bring over all sensors present on the PinePhone? If so, which do you think we can do without?
  • 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?
No strong opinion on that, but a chipset with better mainline drivers would sure be nice!

(10-09-2020, 06:13 PM)Luke Wrote:
  • Should the device feature a GPS (and compass) or are those features redundant in this type of device? 
Yes please!

(10-09-2020, 06:13 PM)Luke Wrote:
  • Should we include SPI flash?
If you plan to keep the eMMC I don't see the use for it. But a 32-128Mbytes SPI flash could be interesting as a boot device.
Actually, integrated storage doesn't seem necessary as long as we can boot from SD, if it can help bring the cost down.

(10-09-2020, 06:13 PM)Luke Wrote:
  • 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? 
4"-5" would be a perfect size
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#48
https://hackaday.io/project/171790-armaw...messengers
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#49
Speaking as someone who just went thru a whole rigamarole of getting a new secondary android device that could run LineageOS to get google (mostly) off of it...

This is a fantastic idea.  It's been so long since I've seen a dedicated non-phone "smartphone", and one coming from Pine is quite exciting.

Regarding features, the big ones for me are:
  • Bluetooth support
  • Back camera (no front needed, probably)
  • GPS (allows for mobile navigation with an offline map)
I don't think I personally will use them, but I also strongly recommend POGO pins, similar to what the PinePhone has, as I can see how a non-phone device like this could be used as a control surface for home automation, and other similar sensor-related gadgets.
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#50
(10-10-2020, 04:25 PM)KC9UDX Wrote: I'm a little surprised that anyone uses an MP3 player.  I went straight from cassettes to smartphones.  I'm not sure what good an MP3 player is when everyone carries a smartphone.

I did explain the use case in my post.

To add to that though, I don't like the hyperconvergence that has happened with cellphones. It's useful sometimes but other times it gets in the way. For instance, I could use a separate GPS unit because of how bad it is to be in horrible highway traffic trying to go somewhere and needing updates from my GPS... and then someone calls me. I'd love a device that gives me a separate screen+sound but it could otherwise give me the same navigation as what I get on my phone. Then some annoying telemarketer, or a relative, wouldn't cause me to miss my turn.
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