What happened to that DIY Mini-ITX laptop project?
Lately I've received an increase in queries about the DIY Mini-ITX laptop project that I was working on. Some assume that the project is dead. It's not; it's just sleeping. See the video above for details.
DIY Laptop Project?
If you missed it, I demonstrated a battery powered Mini-ITX machine end of 2017, and announced plans to design a DIY Mini-ITX Laptop Kit. After several updates over 2018, all updates suddenly stopped.
- I aimed to get the project finished by October 2018 (in time for AmiWest 2018), but managed to get only a prototype laptop screen done instead. Watch the video to see the laptop screen
- Most people on the DIY laptop mailing list were AmigaOS fans who want an Amiga laptop. It was clear that the A1222 Mini-ITX motherboard in my prototype wouldn't be publicly available any time soon. Hence, the laptop kit wouldn't be worth much to the majority of potential customers (at least, the ones who had expressed an interest)
- Having spent a lot of time and money on the project, I was running out of money and needed to focus on something that would pay the bills
- So, I sadly had to put it on hold, and focus on other work
What Went Wrong?
- I tried to create the end product in one go. This caused me to waste a lot of time trying to get things "perfect" first time round. As an engineer and software developer I'm used to rapid prototyping and iterative design. In this case, the cost of prototyping and not wanting to waste too much material on prototypes got the better of me
- To make matters worse, I lacked access to the equipment needed for the manufacturing processes I was hoping to use (e.g., designing sheet-metal components without any sheet-metal equipment to prototype on)
- My most expensive mistake was buying a huge 3D printer to do the prototyping on. It took almost a month to assemble (full-time), and was plagued with problems. The Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) wasn't accurate and reliable enough for what I was doing
- I should have aimed to build a simple prototype first, and then iteratively improve it
- I hope to restart the project this year, with the aim to finish it
- I have continued thinking about the project, and have new ideas
- I'll take everything I've learnt so far, simplify the project, and make it happen
Got a Project That's Stalled or Been Derailed?
You haven't failed yet... unless you give up. Think about what went wrong, and what you could learn from it. Also think about what went right. Then, use the lessons learned to succeed in completing the project (and/or succeed with the next project).
Interested in the DIY Mini-ITX laptop project?
Click here to sign up to the mailing list. It's the best way to stay up-to-date. And, it'll let me know how many are interested.
Hans de Ruiter 25/06/2020 8:14pm (3 years ago)
The Pinebook Pro is has an ARM processor, whereas AmigaOS needs a PowerPC CPU. There's no way that a Mini-ITX motherboard will fit in the Pinebook Pro's shell, or any other empty laptop shell. It's simply too tall.
Jarmo 22/06/2020 12:31pm (3 years ago)
Why just not buy pinebook pro and try to install Amiga os over there? Or fit your board inside that case(saves desing time), and there is also empty shells that you can buy and fit your stuff inside there. Just throwing ideas. Best luck at your desing. Keep the flag high.
Hans de Ruiter 12/06/2020 7:13am (3 years ago)
It's very ambitious to try to create a donation funded PowerPC laptop, which will effectively be a fully custom design. I personally think it's a tough sell, because most people don't care about the CPU type (except for AmigaOS 4 users and a small group of PowerPC fans). You can see this in how slowly their fund-raising efforts are going.
I wish the www.powerpc-notebook.org team all the best.
Hans de Ruiter 12/06/2020 6:52am (3 years ago)
Thanks for your comments. I just checked out your website, and you've got some interesting projects.
I fully intend to enjoy finishing the DIY laptop project later this year...
Keith M 11/06/2020 5:45pm (3 years ago)
I've worked on several projects over the years. While I've learned much about different aspects of electronics (and computers, and programming and ...), I've also learned about myself. My interests ebb and flow. They often start as a tiny seed in the back of my mind --- and keep popping up until I *have* to work on it. I do a ton of research, order a crap ton of parts, use it as an excuse to buy more test equipment, and dive in 150%. I'm usually obsessive about that project for some time. Sometimes it's six months, sometimes it's longer.
Regarding "finishing" projects or stalled projects, I've learned to simply ignore the "outside" perception of my project, although I crave constructive feedback/input on the technical details. You have the naysayers, you have the "you should have used python", "you should have used a microchip PIC", "you should have used an MSP430" -- and opinions from a bunch of people who have never made anything before in their lives.
I have a project I started four years ago. And I work on it about every six months for a month or so, and then put it away. Tons of other mini projects in between.
I do all this to enjoy myself, enjoy tinkering with electronics, playing with my nice test equipment. I don't care if I never "finish" any of the projects -- or if they are stalled.
So enjoy yourself! Enjoy your projects! Share your triumphs, and your failures. For what it's worth, most of my learning has come from failing --- from doing something wrong initially, and saying, "Oooohhh that's why it didn't work!"
Some of my trials and tribulations (with some amiga-related hw projects) are available here: https://www.techtravels.org
Best of luck and thank you for sharing!
Stefan 11/06/2020 5:16pm (3 years ago)