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Neo900 Progress Update - April

Apr 30, 2014, Sebastian Krzyszkowiak

Take part in documenting Neo900 compatibility with local carriers!

We are very often faced with questions like "which carrier will work with the Neo900?". Unfortunately, with so many different standards and bands used in different parts on the world, or even differences between various networks inside the same country, we are unable to provide comprehensive guide to Neo900 compatibility in every possible network on the world. Therefore we would like to kindly ask for your help!

On our Maemo Talk subforum there's a Compatible carriers thread where everyone can contribute and see the effect of compatibility evaluation done by others. At the moment of writing this note there's already comprehensive information about carrier support in USA and Poland. If you happen to know which bands are being used by carriers in your country, compare it to information from modem specification and post your findings. Any help is appreciated!

In other news, the organizational structure around the project changed once again, rendering previous reports about Neo900 UG already out of date. Fortunately, the new solution we had to come up with for money accounting reasons makes things actually easier - there will be no need for transferring the donated money to a new entity as announced previously, so we won't bother our donors with asking for their permission to do so. As stated last time, the people behind the project remain unchanged - we just had to figure out the best solution to keep everything clear for everyone involved, especially tax office, which due to our non-standard way of raising funds turned out to be a bit more complicated than previously assumed.

What's next? While Joerg takes a well-deserved time off (or at least tries to - with workaholics like him you're never sure :)), Nikolaus is working on next PCB design for our prototypes, about which we'll write as soon as we get our hands on a package from factory. This new version will contain experimental circuits for charging (including first tests of promised hot battery swap), some parts of the audio system (amplifier, headset detection), more LEDs and it is planned to be able to connect it to some external device like BeagleBoard for testing the display interface (connector, signals etc). In addition there will already be the gesture recognizing touch decoder chip, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and altimeter. We hope we get a good working solution for connecting the breakout board with the uSD reader and camera flash LEDs. Finally we have added circuits to monitor the modem - we will see how well they work - and the option to add a separate UART based GPS receiver so that we can disconnect the GPS antenna from the 3G module.

The status as of today is that the schematics are almost fixed for this version and fulfill most requirements we have set. Doing a good PCB layout simply takes time and only after building this intermediate step and testing it, we can start to finalize the first real and complete prototypes (which still will have some issues found only by heavy usage and testing).

For the software side, our sister project GTA04 has achieved good progress in a Replicant 4.2 (free Android distribution) port. It already works quite well and useable on a 800 MHz single core CPU with just 512 MB RAM and no(!) GPU acceleration support, so that we start to wonder what octacores with 2 GHz and 2 GB RAM are really required for. At least they are not required for the average user.

GTA04 is already stabilizing and completing a 3.15 kernel (currently -rc3). The most difficult changes are to get all drivers based on new device tree concept. All this experience will immediately be available for the Neo900 as well.

By the way, we're aware that the SSL certificate for, where donating takes place, is currently expired, triggering security warnings from browsers - it should be fixed very soon (it is already ordered and paid, but did not arrive yet). We're sorry for the inconvenience.

Small teaser before the end: we're also working on new ways to keep you better informed about our progress and plans. Stay tuned!

Neo900 Progress Update - May »

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The Neo900 project aims to provide a successor of N900 Nokia Internet Tablet™ device, with faster CPU, more RAM and LTE modem, basing efforts on an already existing, mature and stable free platform - the OpenPhoenux GTA04, following the spirit of freedom known from Openmoko devices.