Popcorn Pocket P. C. Open Sourced

If you miss the days you could get an organizer that would — sort of — run Linux, you might be interested in Popcorn computer’s Pocket P. C., which was recently open-sourced on GitHub. Before you jump over to build one, though, there are a few things you should know.

First, the files are untested since the first unit hasn’t shipped yet. In addition, while the schematic looks pretty complete, there’s no actual bill of materials and the PCB layers in the PDF file might not be very easy to replicate, since they are just a series of images, one for each layer. You can see an overview video of the device, below.

Still, the information is there, although we haven’t seen the software yet. The device itself is interesting with a built-in keyboard. The specs are relatively straightforward. A quad-core ARM running at 1.2 GHz, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of eMMC. The IPS LCD is just shy of five inches and has a 1920×1080 resolution. There’s the usual suite of connectors and interfaces and you can get a version that incorporates LoRa.

We hope Popcorn will continue releasing information on the device and will make enough software information available for the device to be truly open source. Of course, most of us will just buy one anyway, but it is nice to know that the source is there if you were to want it.

As we’ve noted before, designing a Linux board isn’t as hard as it used to be. There are till, though, some challenges.

19 thoughts on “Popcorn Pocket P. C. Open Sourced

  1. The primary benefit of open sourcing the design files isn’t for people who want to make the device themselves (at this level of complexity it’s just too damn expensive in small quantities) it’s for the people who bought the original device and want to develop for it, or repair/mod their existing units. Or to provide examples of particular subsystems that could be reused in a different design.

    I’ve got a fantastic service manual for an old commercial PDA with full schematics and part layout diagrams, and while I’ll never replicate that PCB, it helped when I blew a surface mount fuse on it, it helped when I wanted to boost the current limit for peripheral devices, and it’s helping now as I develop a replacement PCB with a Pi compute module on it which connects to all the original hardware.

    1. For what? Modern Linux with a GUI like Xfce or LXDE? (probably most GUI’s if set up for performance) Yes, more than plenty. I would actually say too much (for the application), but there is probably not a huge price difference these days for those capacities.

    1. The PCB layers aren’t in the PDF…. they are in a different repo as Orcad DSNs… as well as the gerber and drl files.

      So, no not click bait, perhaps not quite a clean and open as it could be but… better than click bait.

    1. Weirdly, I managed to hack out most of a tablet’s operating system running Android 5.1 (to remove a factory Trojan) and that thing is the most wildly efficient computing hardware I use.

      It has only enough software installed to run Youtube and Kobi.

      Dual core Allwinner or Rockchip Runs about 12 hours playing streaming video if my math is right.

  2. I don’t think that most companies opensource their products with the idea that people can build it on their own if they want to. For small things like a microcontroller board, like Adafruit, I can see that being a consideration, but as someone else here has pointed out, for complicated stuff like this, it’s just too expensive for a hobbyist to do it. In cases like this, I think that people opensource their products so they can say that their product is opensource. They want the “cred” that the opensource logo gives them.

    1. From a personal experience I can say you are totally mistaken. I’m currently playing with VESC 4.12 just connecting custom HW but there are many of both commercial and one-of reimplementations with custom PCBs. Some of them were even featured here.
      Same goes for PX4/Pixhawk flight controller models where the original hardware serves not only as a Flight Controller you can buy but also as a reference implementation(s) for BOTH professional derived product and derived boards created by individuals and universities.

      Both VESC and PX4 require complicated multilayer PCBs.

      1. And those designs are an order of magnitude simpler than this is. Four layer boards with one or two dozen parts are cheap these days. Not so much a *ten* layer board with at least 5 times the board area packed at maximum density with high-speed components needing tightly controlled impedances and routing.

        If you had the ability to reproduce this board, you’d probably be more interested in making your own designs instead.

  3. “If you miss the days you could get an organizer that would — sort of — run Linux,”

    What is this “sort of” of which you speak? What I remember is the Zaurus which absolutely did run Linux. The gui was a little different, basically just QT and the framebuffer but one could flash OpenZaurus and have X-windows and everything. The other player was HP Journada which came with Windows on it but could also run OpenZaurus.

    1. The one thing that was off was the ability to run software not packaged for the distribution. It was hard to find a full set of build tools to run on the device since most people didn’t want to do that anyway. But it was also really hard to get the cross compile tools working and they pretty much demanded your desktop run the exact same distro and version of every library as whoever originally built the cross compiler.

      So if you wanted to run your favorite Linux program on your organizer you probably could because it was probably already available in the OZ repo but if it wasn’t then you were probably out of luck.

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