Would you like to see and buy the 2.2 revision?
Yes, please!
90.24%
37
No, thank you
9.76%
4
41 vote(s)
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PineBook Pro revision 2.2: Wishlist for the hardware issue fixes
#1
Hello,

First of all, huge thanks to Pine64 for making the PineBook Pro in the first place.  It's a nice device, but certain hardware issues prevent it from becoming really usable and more widespread.  Also, huge thanks to the members of the community for creating the software support, i.e., Linux distributions and support in the Linux kernel.

My idea for this thread is to serve as a central point for listing all well-known major hardware issues discovered in the revision 2.1 of the PineBook Pro, with the intention of having those issues resolved in the next revision of PineBook Pro.  In addition, the poll should show how much interest is out there for the revision 2.2, which would include the hardware fixes and small improvements.

The list of well-known major hardware issues, as of May 24, 2021, is as follows:

1. Overheating of the battery charging IC, TI BQ24171 – see also this thread
2. Broken sensing of the DC/charger input for the RK808 PMIC
3. Weak power supply circuitry and no use of available USB Type-C features
4. Heaphones detection circuitry needs to be reworked
5. Weird crackling/popping noises coming out of the built-in speakers – for now, there is a software workaround
6. Crosstalk between the audio output and the serial console
7. The touchpad is "laggy" or "jumpy" on the initial finger movement – see here, here and here for the firmware workarounds

The above-linked forum threads and posts provide further information about each issue.  The link provided for the above-listed issue #6 leads to an external website, because I've been unable to find the same information in already existing forum threads. 

Regarding the above-listed issue #7, the conclusion of the community is that it is actually an issue in the trackpad firmware and, possibly, in the keyboard firmware.  The issue has been included in this list because of the proprietary nature of the trackpad and keyboard firmware.

Please, comment and vote!
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#2
Yes, I'd buy 2 of the replacement 2.2 boards. And yes, I agree with the USB-C charging improvements and the over-heating of the battery charger IC. And the other power sensing one, which has not affected me, (yet?).

In some ways, this could be considered for a later model of Pinebook Pro. Then enough 2.2 newer boards made to allow those who want to upgrade.


Plus, I'd like to see some other trivial board layout changes;

Easy solder / connector pads for the serial console. They ARE available, but I'd like them easy to deal with on the main board's front edge, (as is the PCIe / NVMe connector). For example, have the serial console as a block of 2x2 solder pads or miniature connector hole pads for TX, RX, GND & 3.3volts. Then, someone wanting to add a connector or wire can do so.

Next, I'd like to see the 2 un-used USB 2.0 host ports from the internal USB 2.0 hub brought out to the main boards front edge. Plus, those 2 port's associated LED/OVCUR/PWRENB connections. And of course, GND + both 3.3v & 5v power. So this should be 2 x 6 pin pads, identical to each other. That would make it easier to use just one port. Or both interchangeably. This should also be a miniature connector hole & pad.

Note what I mean by miniature connector hole pads are smaller than the old stock type used by say the ROCKPro64 for it's main expansion. Perhaps the spacing & size used by the WiFi connector of the ROCKPro64, which is smaller, (but still reasonably easy to deal with). And as long as the connector holes are on the front edge, we could even use a right angle connector.


Other improvements could be contemplated. For example, people have indicated that the WiFi chip gets hot. So perhaps a thermal pad or miniature heat sink could be included.
--
Arwen Evenstar
Princess of Rivendale
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#3
The lid magnet position needs to be corrected.
Speaker polarity probably needs to be corrected.
The SD card slot could be positioned a little closer to the edge.
180° hinges would be nice.
Maybe a different WiFi chipset if possible.
Also maybe a different touch pad, or a keyboard with a pointing stick in lieu of the touchpad.
Power, power, power. More power via the barrel socket.
A second headphone jack, so one doesn't have to share audio and serial.
Some different way to open the lid that doesn't involve the camera.
A Pine64 logo on the lid.
Change "Linux laptop" to "hobbyist laptop" on the label.
A serial number, and date stamp on the label.
Move the green LED to the leading edge or to the edge by the barrel jack so it can be seen with the lid closed.
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#4
(12-05-2020, 07:31 PM)Arwen Wrote: Next, I'd like to see the 2 un-used USB 2.0 host ports from the internal USB 2.0 hub brought out to the main boards front edge. Plus, those 2 port's associated LED/OVCUR/PWRENB connections. And of course, GND + both 3.3v & 5v power. So this should be 2 x 6 pin pads, identical to each other. That would make it easier to use just one port. Or both interchangeably. This should also be a miniature connector hole & pad.

Note what I mean by miniature connector hole pads are smaller than the old stock type used by say the ROCKPro64 for it's main expansion. Perhaps the spacing & size used by the WiFi connector of the ROCKPro64, which is smaller, (but still reasonably easy to deal with). And as long as the connector holes are on the front edge, we could even use a right angle connector.

Having the unused USB ports exposed and accessible internally would be awesome.

By the way, those miniature connectors you're referring to are standard headers with 2 mm pitch, compared with the more common headers with 0.1-inch pitch, such as the standard USB 2.0 headers found on PC motherboards.

(12-05-2020, 08:40 PM)KC9UDX Wrote: The lid magnet position needs to be corrected.
Speaker polarity probably needs to be corrected.
The SD card slot could be positioned a little closer to the edge. 
180° hinges would be nice. 
Maybe a different WiFi chipset if possible.
Also maybe a different touch pad, or a keyboard with a pointing stick in lieu of the touchpad.
Power, power, power.  More power via the barrel socket.
A second headphone jack, so one doesn't have to share audio and serial.
Some different way to open the lid that doesn't involve the camera.
A Pine64 logo on the lid.
Change "Linux laptop" to "hobbyist laptop" on the label.
A serial number, and date stamp on the label.
Move the green LED to the leading edge or to the edge by the barrel jack so it can be seen with the lid closed.

What do you find wrong with the lid magnet position?  Mine seems to be working as expected.  Also, what's wrong with the speakers, as I haven't noticed anything wrong with them?

I'm curious about what's wrong with the current position of the Micro SD card slot?  I'd much rather see the RK3399's Gigabit Ethernet interface exposed externally through a custom connector and a "passive dongle".

Having an integrated trackpoint would simply be a dream come true.

Regarding the "Linux laptop" vs. "hobbyist laptop", I'd much rather see "open-hardware laptop".  PineBook Pros are even in their current revision very much usable outside the hobbyist circles. Smile

Frankly, I wouldn't support moving the LEDs around, as I really like to see a dedicated power-on / disk activity LED while using the laptop.  However, I do support adding a couple of LEDs on the side of the laptop, e.g. near the USB Type-C connector.

Speaking of the LEDs, having one resembling the ThinkLight found on older ThinkPads would be really nice and very usable, as a much cheaper alternative to having a backlit keyboard.

Edit: Now I see what could be wrong with the polarity of speakers in some of the PineBook Pros.  You've described it in detail in another thread.
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#5
I have two PBPs from different batches. Both had the magnet in the wrong place, not meeting the hall effect sensor. I was able to easily correct one without disassembling too much. The other will require complete disassembly to see if there's a good way to move it. I found on both units, the hall effect sensor was only activated with the lid open about ½". Slowly closing and opening the lid would look like this in dmesg:
Lid closed.
Lid opened.
Lid closed.
Lid opened.
This seems to be fairly common, I'd say that if yours works, it is unusual.

Again on both of mine, and on many discussed here, the SD card is slightly too far inside the case. It requires poking with a tool (or long fingernail) to insert/remove, which occasionally causes the card to go springing out.

I agree about the Ethernet. I wonder what kind of connector would work though. I'm imagining the kind found on PCMCIA Ethernet cards, which were only feasible because the card was easily replaceable. They were just too fragile.

I really like your "Open hardware laptop" idea. That is the most accurate description I've heard so far.

I'd move the power LED to the corner of the case, so that it is visible both in normal operation position, and with the lid closed. Extra LEDs draw extra power, and I'd like to see that kept as low as possible. I've had a couple other laptops that had translucent plastic light conductors over the LEDs on the hinge edge, which wrap around the corner. That works well, but I think that adds too much cost, and might require a more powerful LED. I suspect that the current LED would work adequately if it were simply moved to the corner edge of the top surface, near the power jack. It would probably be visible from the side of the it were ¼" from the edge, which should be easy to accomplish.
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#6
I must be very lucky, because my second-batch PineBook Pro has pretty much none of the issues you've described, which are related to manufacturing and quality control.  I'd say that one of the biggest open issues with the PineBook Pro is the build quality.

I haven't noticed the issues with the lid hall sensor you've described, but I have noticed that the PineBook Pro's Device Tree has debouncing enabled for the lid sensor.  It might be worth trying to adjust the debouncing parameters.

Once inserted and "clicked" in place, a Micro SD card sits perfectly flush with the side of my PineBook Pro.  Again, it seems that I was unusually lucky. Smile

I'm not sure what type of connector is on slim ThinkPads for Ethernet "dongles", which is pretty much the same as what PineBook Pro should incorporate, but perhaps any kind of a slim eight-pin connector would work.  We just need to, so to speak, get a Cat5e Ethernet cable through the side of the laptop.

I'm glad that you like the "open-hardware laptop" description.  That's what it actually is, and I'd like to see proper support for the PineBook Pro in various BSDs.

Speaking about the LEDs, I'd still vote for a couple more small LEDs, placed on the side of the laptop.  Maybe even a couple more at the current position, serving as network traffic indicators, for example.  All that would allow additional flexibility, and the associated power consumption would probably be the smallest of the known issues. Smile
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#7
Built in debug console to usb conversion with a micro-usb port on the side. This would avoid needing to switch between usb and headphones, fix incorrect voltage on serial console cable (should be 3V, not 3.3V and not 5V!), eliminate the need for a special debug cable in the first place, fix the danger of connecting a serial cable without an opto-isolator, and prevent possible noise on audio lines from injecting garbage on the serial port that prevent u-boot from starting.
This only requires a simple chip and connector, it looks like there is plenty of space for it.

Rotate touchpad 180 degrees so that the physical buttons are under the top corners, rather than the bottom corners.
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#8
(12-11-2020, 04:33 AM)xyzzy Wrote: Built in debug console to usb conversion with a micro-usb port on the side.  This would avoid needing to switch between usb and headphones, fix incorrect voltage on serial console cable (should be 3V, not 3.3V and not 5V!), eliminate the need for a special debug cable in the first place, fix the danger of connecting a serial cable without an opto-isolator, and prevent possible noise on audio lines from injecting garbage on the serial port that prevent u-boot from starting.
This only requires a simple chip and connector, it looks like there is plenty of space for it.
...
I have the same idea. But, in some ways we don't have to wait for a new main board. Basically make a replacement daughter / small board with the serial to USB chip on it, and MicroUSB for outside communication. The serial lines are available as solder pads on the main board. If the replacement daughter / small board has a connector for these lines, we can use either existing or new, by just replacing it. No further soldering needed.

This would leave space on the main board side for a connector of different a use, (another USB 2.0 port from the internal USB 2.0 hub?).


If it had not been for the challenges this year, I might have pushed forward with that project. Even to the point of making 20 or so, then offering up the others for sale here at cost & shipping. (But not development costs, I can "eat" that easily.)
--
Arwen Evenstar
Princess of Rivendale
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#9
Move power button away from the back space key.

M.2 slot for SSD in lieu of EEMC.

Better speakers

Better track pad

Two USB 3.0 and replace the charging port with another USB type C

Add HDMI port

Need to fix issues reported on this forum with booting and sleep

Change firmware to include a boot menu if super key is pressed at start up and include options for booting from USB drive or network
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#10
@mtndew, some comments.


M.2 slot for SSD in lieu of EEMC.
There is nothing stopping you from removing the eMMC and using only NVMe in the M.2 slot. It does require installing U-Boot in the SPI flash. (Or using SDXC as initial boot.)
If you are asking about build to order, (leave off eMMC and add at factory M.2 / NVMe slot), Pine64 can't do that and keep the price down.


Two USB 3.0 and replace the charging port with another USB type C
If I remember correctly, the RK3399 only has 2 USB 3 ports. We have one as a Type A connector and the other is the Type C connector. Adding a 3rd would require both adding a USB 3.0 hub + power to run the hub.
On the subject of replacing the charging port with a USB Type C, perhaps. We need to get the charging circuit fixed, so that we can use more external power. Others have identified this as a weak point too.


Change firmware to include a boot menu if super key is pressed at start up and include options for booting from USB drive or network
Their is work in U-Boot to including selecting boot device, (or kernel), and booting from USB drives or network. I've personally tested it, (but not the USB drive or network), it's nice. Not yet ready for prime time, as they say. It can be installed in SPI flash, (so no eMMC required). Or installed in eMMC or SDXC. Note that it can't be installed in NVMe or USB drive, as that is a limitation of the RK3399 SoC. (So Pine64 included a SPI flash for people not wanting an eMMC or SDXC.)
--
Arwen Evenstar
Princess of Rivendale
  Reply


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