Could There Be An LTE Module For the Pinebook Pro?
#1
I noticed that the PineTab is going to offer an optional LTE module. I was wondering if the Pinebook Pro is able to have a similar option as well.
#2
+1 to this. I am more interested on this than NVMe/SSD connector
#3
At present, the only way to add a LTE / Cell module is via external USB, or the NVMe slot with proper M.2 device.

If trying to use the NVMe slot for LTE / Cell module, it will still need to follow the hardware critieria;
- Power limits, (the Wiki has guidelines)
- Probably needs to take over the antenna from WiFi, meaning you disconnect the antenna wire from WiFI and use it for LTE / Cell.
- Can't be too thick of a M.2 device
- Must have ARM drivers, (32 or 64 bit depending on your kernel)
- Must be a PCIe type LTE / Cell M.2 device

For the last, most of the LTE / Cell M.2 devices I found in a quick web search, were using USB interfaces. Note that some versions of M.2 can support a SATA device and USB, as well as 2 lanes of PCIe. But, Pinebook Pro only supports PCIe, no USB or SATA. So, do some research on LTE / Cell M.2 PCIe devices, and see if any have Linux support. Preferably ARM64.
--
Arwen Evenstar
Princess of Rivendale
#4
(12-06-2019, 05:48 PM)Arwen Wrote: If trying to use the NVMe slot for LTE / Cell module, it will still need to follow the hardware critieria;
- Power limits, (the Wiki has guidelines)
- Probably needs to take over the antenna from WiFi, meaning you disconnect the antenna wire from WiFI and use it for LTE / Cell.
- Can't be too thick of a M.2 device
- Must have ARM drivers, (32 or 64 bit depending on your kernel)
- Must be a PCIe type LTE / Cell M.2 device

I am going to assume that repurposing the PineTab's external LTE module for the PineBook Pro will not be possible, right? It would suck having to find another LTE modem that can be installed inside the PineBook Pro.

(12-06-2019, 05:48 PM)Arwen Wrote: For the last, most of the LTE / Cell M.2 devices I found in a quick web search, were using USB interfaces. Note that some versions of M.2 can support a SATA device and USB, as well as 2 lanes of PCIe. But, Pinebook Pro only supports PCIe, no USB or SATA. So, do some research on LTE / Cell M2. PCIe devices, and see if any have Linux support. Preferably ARM64.

How do you tell if an M.2 device uses USB? I found this device, but the third party driver seems to switch it to USB mode...

Honestly, it sounds like I should just buy the PineTab instead. I just hope the specs are very close to the PineBook Pro.
#5
(12-06-2019, 06:57 PM)CuriousTommy Wrote:
(12-06-2019, 05:48 PM)Arwen Wrote: If trying to use the NVMe slot for LTE / Cell module, it will still need to follow the hardware critieria;
- Power limits, (the Wiki has guidelines)
- Probably needs to take over the antenna from WiFi, meaning you disconnect the antenna wire from WiFI and use it for LTE / Cell.
- Can't be too thick of a M.2 device
- Must have ARM drivers, (32 or 64 bit depending on your kernel)
- Must be a PCIe type LTE / Cell M.2 device

I am going to assume that repurposing the PineTab's external LTE module for the PineBook Pro will not be possible, right? It would suck having to find another LTE modem that can be installed inside the PineBook Pro.
From the December 2019 Pine blog update, the board shown for the PineTab's LTE / SSD expansion would not work in the Pinebook Pro.

In fact, that reminded me most LTE / Cell MODEMs don't have a SIM slot. So perhaps the Pinebook Pro's NVMe expansion board won't work at all.

(12-06-2019, 06:57 PM)CuriousTommy Wrote:
(12-06-2019, 05:48 PM)Arwen Wrote: For the last, most of the LTE / Cell M.2 devices I found in a quick web search, were using USB interfaces. Note that some versions of M.2 can support a SATA device and USB, as well as 2 lanes of PCIe. But, Pinebook Pro only supports PCIe, no USB or SATA. So, do some research on LTE / Cell M2. PCIe devices, and see if any have Linux support. Preferably ARM64.

How do you tell if an M.2 device uses USB? I found this device, but the third party driver seems to switch it to USB mode...

Honestly, it sounds like I should just buy the PineTab instead. I just hope the specs are very close to the PineBook Pro.
That was good information in the second link. I don't know an easy way to tell if a LTE / Cell MODEM M.2 device uses PCIe or USB.

As for using a PineTab instead, your choice. The PineTab is definantly lower spec'ed than the Pinebook Pro. How much so, and will it affect your use? I don't know.


That said, it's possible a new, Pinebook Pro PCIe card could be made;
- PCIe to USB converter chip
- PCIe 3.3 volt to 5v converter, (don't know if this is needed, but external USB devices use 5 volts)
- M.2 short slot, (30 & 42?)
- SIM slot

Such a card would not be very expensive. It's just at present, low volume and still very early days for the Pinebook Pro. You would need ARM32 or AMR64 Linux drivers for what every PCIe to USB converter chip was used. But, careful selection of the chip would mean they already exist.

It may even be possible to make this board support either PCIe LTE / Cell MODEMs, or USB ones.
--
Arwen Evenstar
Princess of Rivendale
#6
(12-07-2019, 11:28 AM)Arwen Wrote: From the December 2019 Pine blog update, the board shown for the PineTab's LTE / SSD expansion would not work in the Pinebook Pro.

In fact, that reminded me most LTE / Cell MODEMs don't have a SIM slot. So perhaps the Pinebook Pro's NVMe expansion board won't work at all.

Ah, I see. Thanks for clarifying.

(12-07-2019, 11:28 AM)Arwen Wrote: That was good information in the second link. I don't know an easy way to tell if a LTE / Cell MODEM M.2 device uses PCIe or USB.

As for using a PineTab instead, your choice. The PineTab is definantly lower spec'ed than the Pinebook Pro. How much so, and will it affect your use? I don't know.

That said, it's possible a new, Pinebook Pro PCIe card could be made;
- PCIe to USB converter chip
- PCIe 3.3 volt to 5v converter, (don't know if this is needed, but external USB devices use 5 volts)
- M.2 short slot, (30 & 42?)
- SIM slot

Such a card would not be very expensive. It's just at present, low volume and still very early days for the Pinebook Pro. You would need ARM32 or AMR64 Linux drivers for what every PCIe to USB converter chip was used. But, careful selection of the chip would mean they already exist.

It may even be possible to make this board support either PCIe LTE / Cell MODEMs, or USB ones.

Personally, I don't really want to get the PineTab (at least not as a lowend laptop replacement).

But if the Pine team has no interest in creating a LTE board for the PineBook Pro, then I will take a look at the PineTab specs (once the device releases) to see if it is good enough for what I want to do.

With that being said, I hope there will be enough people that are interested in seeing LTE add-on support for the PineBook Pro. I doubt I will be helpful with the technical issue, but I can always try to dig around and find some dirt.
#7
Since the PBP has the magnesium case, that may hinder an internal LTE device, possibly. ?
(BUT, Adding an internal seperate LTE antenna behind the screen 'may' help..?)

Not certain, but there might be an extra set of usb pins on the board.
(as an option over using the M.2/NVMe socket) ?

When I used an external usb/LTE device on a laptop, I used a 5 foot usb cord and used a thumb tack to hold
my usb device up on a wall...

* * The closest tower was a long way away, and I still got a fair signal that way.
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