[FoRK] Cheap Electronics Dissection Project

Albert Scherbinsky < albert at softwarepress.com > on > Mon Sep 4 09:30:44 PDT 2006

I was hoping someone else would do it. If I could get
the device I described for $100 I'd buy it.

Actually on the OLPC site they say they plan to make
commercial versions after they take care of the
children. Only to be a child again. :)

Cheers,
Albert

--- Justin Mason <jm at jmason.org> wrote:

> 
> Albert S. writes:
> > http://www.laptop.org/
> > 
> > As you likely know already the OLPC One Laptop Per
> > Child has as it's goal to mass produce laptops for
> > $100 each. If you look at the Hardware Specs you
> can
> > see that the child gets quite a lot for their
> > governments $100.
> > 
> > It seems to me that you could create a similar but
> > stripped down(to Ultra PC form Factor) device that
> > cost even less. The things to change would be:
> > -Nix the keyboard, but add an external keyboard
> > connector.
> > -Make the touchpad accecible in tablet mode(the
> only
> > mode)Note the touch pad supports both pointing and
> > writing.
> > -No swivel for screen, since always in tablet
> format.
> > -One wifi antenae instead of two.
> > -No speakers, but still have a headphone jack.
> > -No video camera.
> > 
> > I wonder what this would cost, obviously less than
> > $100.
> 
> Give it a go!  I used to work for a low-cost
> computing device vendor --
> screens suitable for viewing web content on, cost
> more than you think, I
> suspect.
> 
> I hope the OLPC project works, but I have to say,
> the screen still sounds
> like a tricky issue.  Maybe they're relying on
> massive, massive volumes to
> allow them to look for a very low price point on
> their components...
> 
> --j.
> 
> 
> > --- Kragen Sitaker <kragen at pobox.com> wrote:
> > 
> > >
> >
>
http://courageous.murch-sitaker.org/~kragen/electronics/
> > > 
> > > Unfortunately this is mostly on the web, since
> it
> > > includes lots of
> > > photos.  Here's the basic text:
> > > 
> > > I took apart some electronics with a retail
> price
> > > (here in Ecuador) of
> > > under US$10, in quantity 1, on the theory that
> > > things of this price are
> > > affordable to nearly the entire population of
> > > Ecuador, and most other
> > > developing countries. I took some photos and
> some
> > > notes.
> > > 
> > > Here's a table briefly summarizing what I found.
> > > Most of the numbers are
> > > pretty approximate.
> > > 
> > > [table omitted]
> > > The total cost of these eight devices was under
> > > US$45, a substantial sum
> > > when living in Ecuador, but a small budget for a
> > > research project.
> > > 
> > > Why?
> > > 
> > > I've seen access to information and
> communication
> > > technology change
> > > lives and societies during my lifetime,
> dramatically
> > > for the better. I
> > > think it's so important that no person or group
> > > should be able to
> > > restrict other people's ability to communicate
> or
> > > program --- that
> > > these are fundamental human rights.
> > > 
> > > However, today, most of the world's people have
> not
> > > seen or experienced
> > > what I'm talking about, and can't effectively
> access
> > > these rights, even
> > > when there's no legal prohibition in their way.
> One
> > > reason for this is
> > > that they can't afford to own computers of their
> > > own, and for both
> > > technological and economic reasons, they don't
> have
> > > much freedom to
> > > program computers belonging to other people
> (e.g. in
> > > internet access
> > > centers.)
> > > 
> > > Most of the computers in the world today are
> > > designed by and for
> > > first-world people: PCs, laptops, cellphones,
> etc.,
> > > are designed by
> > > people in Shanghai, Finland, Taiwan, Hong Kong,
> > > Seoul, the US, Germany,
> > > etc., and are primarily designed for the
> constraints
> > > and budgets of
> > > Japanese, US, and European markets.
> > > 
> > > I suspect that if you designed a personal
> computer
> > > with the world
> > > population in mind, you'd come up with something
> > > different. There have
> > > been approaches along these lines already (Jhai,
> > > Simputer, OLPC) but
> > > most of them have failed, due to a wide variety
> of
> > > reasons.
> > > 
> > > I spent a bunch of time reading price lists from
> > > electronics
> > > distributors, pondering the following question:
> is
> > > it possible to build
> > > a useful computer with a development toolchain,
> for
> > > a price most of the
> > > world can afford (under US$20, ideally under
> US$10),
> > > small enough to
> > > carry around, that can run off cheap batteries,
> > > powerful enough not only
> > > for a self-hosted software development
> environment,
> > > but also for reading
> > > and writing email, including a short-range
> wireless
> > > communication link
> > > for networking? I concluded that it was, with no
> new
> > > silicon.
> > > 
> > > But I don't have much experience designing and
> > > building electronics, so
> > > I thought I should get a reality check from real
> > > retail market prices in
> > > a third-world country: what has already been
> built?
> > > Presumably any
> > > hidden costs of NRE, assembly, shipping, retail
> > > shrinkage, etc., will
> > > show up in the retail price --- although there's
> a
> > > risk that I'll get
> > > fooled by loss-leaders.
> > > 
> > > Findings
> > > 
> > > Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me, but it does:
> every
> > > single one of these
> > > devices was made in China, with the possible
> > > exception of the Sung Wei
> > > radio, which didn't say. The small watch said on
> the
> > > back, "Japan
> > > Quality. Made in China." I would have thought
> that
> > > at least some of the
> > > bottom end of the electronics market would be
> > > supplied from Indonesia,
> > > South Korea (the Sung Wei radio does have a
> Samsung
> > > chip in it),
> > > Thailand, Malaysia, or some place in South
> America
> > > (since I'm in South
> > > America), but apparently not. Both of the
> > > calculators are close copies
> > > of Casio models that cost two or three times as
> > > much.
> > > 
> > > I was also surprised that every single one of
> these
> > > devices was built,
> > > apparently, for the US market. The labels and
> 
=== message truncated ===


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