Lets create the PineCom
This thread is a total disaster. In sixteen pages, all we've seen is a bunch of people - myself included, I suppose - coming in to drop their wildly differing and rather inflated expectations for what this device should look like, and almost always with an "I'm not interested in this at all if it doesn't include these things" note tacked on. From reading all of these, it kind of seems like no conceivable device could possibly cover the majority of everyone's needs at any price point, let alone an affordable one.

I'm going to take a step back from my previous post concerning SDR and experimental radio, since there's clearly not a huge amount of interest in that here, or at least not enough to make the cost of the required hardware and design complexity worth spending. At this point, what we really need is any kind of coherent direction at all. In short, what IS the PineCom? Some people want it to be a smartphone, some people want it to be a tablet, and many others want it to be their own very specific concept for a new type of mobile device, which doesn't match up with anyone else's vision for it.

All we know from the outset of the thread is that this is supposed to be something like a PinePhone but with a LoRa transceiver instead of a cellular modem. It remains unclear to me what the utility of this would actually be, and from reading the posts here, it seems like most people don't have a clearer picture of that than I do.

Rather than continue to deliberate over how many cameras this thing needs and what size the screen should be, I propose that we try to agree on what the intended purpose of the PineCom actually is in the first place. We are absolutely, definitely going to need to do that if this project is going to go anywhere.
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This is a little out of control, but it is what brainstorming is. The only thing we don't have is Pine64 narrowing the criteria down over time
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First time on these forums, saw this thread and got excited, then started reading this thread and got disappointed.

It seems to me that the whole point of this device is that it would have different use cases than the PinePhone.

(10-09-2020, 06:13 PM)Luke Wrote: We’ll soon be starting work on the PineCom - a privacy-oriented handheld communicator that shares the PinePhone’s pedigree but offers a distinct and different feature set.

I feel like a lot of people's comments miss that point.

(04-05-2021, 11:13 AM)diodelass Wrote: All we know from the outset of the thread is that this is supposed to be something like a PinePhone but with a LoRa transceiver instead of a cellular modem.

I don't think it is meant to be like a PinePhone. I think as some others have suggested, I think it's meant to be like a Meshtastic device, but one with a 5" display so it can be used on its own without having to pair it with another device.

It should definitely have GPS, a camera to scan QR codes would be nice but it's more of a convenience, and a smaller display would increase battery life but 5" is already gonna be smaller than a lot of people will want. It should be optimized for battery life as well as LoRa signal strength; don't shy away from adding an external antenna or making it thicker for a larger battery because of aesthetic reasons. Physical buttons over a touch screen would conserve some energy, although that's obviously a large design departure that would affect compatibility. A notification LED would reduce turning on the screen to check for messages.

I'm really excited about this device, can't wait to see what gets made.
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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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it doesn't get happy
it doesn't get sad
it just runs programs
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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.
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(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.

Yep!
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.
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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.
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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 >>
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Couldn't the PineTab already be the PineCom if you use Jitsi or something?
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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.
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