I’m a OpenPandora owner , I had booked it on 2008, you can find some of my old posts regarding OpenPandora.
This time I have make this interview at Michael Mrozek that is now, from my point of view, the more active co-founder of OpenPandora.
The beginning of the OpenPandora project was “Just for Fun” or something different?
Michael: Well, depends on what you’d call “Just for Fun”.
We didn’t do this project to get rich, we just wanted a device like that and therefore tried to create it.
But it’s not “Just for Fun”, as a lot of money is involved, so it can’t just be done like a fun project, producing and manufacturing it sure is a normal job.
I remember perfectly that OpenPandora project go into many trouble
“thanks” to the providers of components, assembly, shipment, etc…
What you have learned about?
Michael: Quite a bit.
First, try to use as little custom parts as possible (for example: The nubs, the LCD Cable, etc.).
Common parts are well-tested, easier to get, a lot cheaper and won’t cause you as many problems.
Of course, you can’t always do that, the LCD Cable for example HAD to be custom made, but maybe we could’ve used different nubs.
Additionally, it’s very important to be near the production site.
If there are any issues, you can pay them a visit and find a solution together.
This wasn’t possible with the first production site, but is possible now with the current production site in Germany.
And finally, if possible, try to avoid stuff from China if you don’t really know what you’re doing.
While there ARE good companies in China, there are also a lot of companies which have quality issues or only properly produce if you
visit them regularly – something you can’t do as a small team.
I remember that for OpenPandora founders like you and Graig was in a nightmare in the period 2009-2011 “thanks” to all this problems “components, assembly, shipment” and financial, now your and others founders live in a more comfortable situation, which fights are you still afford?
Michael: While Craig seems to have given up, I’m trying to help his remaining customers as good as possible.
Additionally, we’re currently having problems with the LCD supplier… we’re fighting since June to get properly working LCDs, but it seems
they have issues properly applying a correct touchscreens.
It’s a chinese company – so that issue fits my comment above.
We’ll find a solution for that, but it’s annoying – both time- and money-consuming.
So now how all the beginner OpenPandora founder are you working together?
Fatih is still helping me with the chinese distributors (currently dealing with the LCD Company).
Michael (the one who designed the PCB) still helps me if we have issues with the PCB or need to change the design.
Craig is not doing anything anymore, but all the devs (notaz, DJWillis, skeezix, etc.) are still active (some more, some less).
I’m not sure what Dave (the one who designed the case) is doing. I know he designed the iControlPad2 case, but I haven’t been in contact with him for a while.
So now OpenPandora is assembled in Germany? Only the electronics components come from China? Could you explain in details all the production process, and places ?
Only the LCDs and the case are coming from China right now.
Okay, some of the other components probably as well, but since we’re buying them via a german distributor, we have no idea
A quick summary:
All parts are being bought (usually in batches of 1000).
Then the PCBs are being populated in Germany by a machine, some hand-soldered parts will be applied.
Then everything is being assembled, fully tested, packaged – and ships.
All of that happens in Germany
The cases have already been produced by a company in China… we have some quality issues there, that’s why I’d love to move to one in Europe as well.
You know that my blog is called “Humanize Technology” that means that technology if permit us to work with less human work must be to
improve the life of whole humanity and not to make rich only a minority and left the majority without work,health care, educations,
house, quality of life.
I think you and some other guys of OpenPandora are motivated for passion to innovation and to give
something to the community, and you don’t do that for the richness.
Could you confirm this? Talk about that freely.
One reason I am trying to produce any buy as much as possible within Europe is that it causes less issues.
Another one are the wages being paid to the workers.
I know there are companies in China treating their workers properly and paying a bit higher wages – but if you don’t have the chance to visit
them, you have no idea.
So to ensure that most of the people involved in the Pandora production get proper wages, I’m trying to mostly use European companies.
The Pandora lives from taking and giving.
If you check the community, you can see how people who have a bit more money donate quite a bit to help out other community members.
I want to push powerpc architecture (a powerpc based notebook in particular), because I think is a valid option for mobile and
desktop, and is a good occasion to distribute the centralism of x86 rchitecture on notebook,desktop,server and the centralism of arm
architecture on mobile.
What do you think about made a new open source console based on powerpc processors?
I’m not sure PowerPC is suited for mobile usage.
I haven’t followed the PowerPC processor for a while, but I don’t think it would be easy to create an Open Source console for it.
Most software that has been tweaked or optimized has been optimized for x86 or ARM, for example PSX Emulators, N64 emulators, etc.
This would have to be redone completely… and as OpenSource consoles won’t have a huge userbase right now, it wouldn’t work.
In fact you have made three version of OpenPandora, are your preparing the 4th version? When it will go out, how it will be? Which
are the steps to arrive to the new OpenPandora? Have you considered to use kickstarter.comas have done Graig with iControlPad2?
A fourth version of the OpenPandora will not happen, as the third one is already using the best available processor and biggest amount of RAM available for the current PCB layout.
The only thing we could increase would be the NAND, but I wouldn’t call that a “new” version.
So any improvements will have to wait for a completely redesigned and newly created handheld, which is what I’m planning to do.
It won’t be called Pandora, but it will be a good improvement. Keep what’s good and improve what can be improved.
I’m not sure I will use Kickstarter – if I do that, I won’t start before EVERYTHING is extensively tested and ready for mass production.
I don’t want huge delays
I appreciate that OpenPandora natively NOT using Android but a genuinely gnu/linux, and I like the OpenPandora pnd packages, do you continue to this choices for the future versions?
Yes, I don’t want to enter primarily the Android market.
It would turn the device into “another” Android device and would enter competition against all other device manufacturers.
Also, the Pandora is basically a Mini PC – whereas Android is suited for a mobile device like a smartphone.
We want any future device to also behave like a PC, not like a smartphone.