If anyone wants to do a retro case, I have a Compaq ST/286 (1990 era) that has a lot of space inside for remodelling. smile Plus already has Novena-style removable keyboard.

Is free to good home, it just needs to be collected from Melbourne (AU) shortly. Or will send anywhere at your expense, although overseas is probably prohibitively expensive - these things weigh 6.5kg!


(39 replies, posted in Software)

Nice work ex-parrot, that's excellent news!

Did you have to preload the novena repo & its packages somewhere, or did you just do this after first boot into the new system?


(5 replies, posted in Software)

xobs, I was wondering about a semi-relating thing: how amenable would you be to changes to novena-linux/novena-uboot that make them more like the standard Debian kernel & bootloader packages? ie changes to bootloader integration, /boot generation, initramfs generation, etc?

I'm not asking you to do the work, just wondering if you'd accept patches that headed in that direction. It's one of the stumbling blocks I hit when I looked at the debian installer stuff.

(Although I haven't had any real time to play with my Novena in ages sad, so I'm not really offering to create these patches. I'm just wondering what you think about it as an idea.)


(14 replies, posted in Hardware)

Hi James,

james_a_craig wrote:

I've actually laid out a basic board for this

Neat! Any chance you posted it online as well?

james_a_craig wrote:

However, I haven't found a source of the 54-pin FPC cable, nor the novena-specific fancier version bunnie produced. Anyone have any suggestions where I could obtain such a thing? (I'm MadHacker on IRC, BTW)

For "Novepad" I used cheap & generic 50 pin 0.5mm FFC (the end 4 pins are only used for resistive touch, so you can offset a 50 pin cable into the 54 pin connector). Pic here. Using a 80mm long cable seemed to introduce a bit of noise but shorter might be OK (although that was at 165MHz also, clock speed should be lower for this display so 80mm long might be fine).

I'm also interested in maybe doing a group order for the custom FPC. itead and some of the other cheap PCB services will do it, but it's still reasonably expensive. I think when I last looked it was about $100US for qty 10. Let me know if you're interested too, and I'll start another thread about ordering some.



(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Things are not looking good on the touchscreen FT5816 front:

- Doesn't enumerate over USB at all.
- It appears on i2c at the expected address (0x38), but any i2c read just returns the last byte that was written to it. This seems to be consistently the case no matter what combination of writes are sent first.

The chip has an internal firmware so I think it's probably factory erased and is entering some default bootloader/bootstrap mode.

One of the drivers out there (Acer T30) actually includes a firmware update mechanism in the driver. My chip doesn't respond to the firmware update initialisation sequence used there.

Without any firmware programmer's guide, or any clue about what voodoo sequence allows firmware upload, I think this might be a dead end...


(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Finally, it's alive!

After way too many delays and distractions, I got the display side working:
More, somewhat crummy, pics: http://imgur.com/a/0rF3z/

This has to be the most troublesome prototype I've ever built. I should have ordered a solder paste stencil as soon as I remembered that I hadn't done that. There was way too much rework from my sloppy manual paste placement! Also, the backlight drivers behaved in a way I didn't expect from the datasheet - making me think they were fakes. And a via seems to have broken inside this PCB. But the design itself seems sound. big_smile

There are some temporary glitches on the display when actually using the Novena. I think my 2.4GHz wireless trackball triggers most of them. I hope the cause is the cheap & nasty 80mm FFC visible in the photos. When my "desktop" edition kit gets here I'm going to try with the proper custom FPC, then probably order more FPCs (does anyone want to do a group buy?)

Otherwise, my next steps are to try the touchscreen controller in earnest. And try to package the whole thing in a tablet-like form rather than as bench sprawl.

(On the touchscreen controller, some bad news - FT5816 seems to be on the way out. Taobao sellers are dwindling and Focaltech has a whole new range of controller chips on their website now, most of which haven't yet made it to the "single quantity taobao seller" end of the market.)


(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

modder_mike wrote:

Interesting, here I am looking for information on IT6251 and my own website (mikesmods) is linked from a page with someone doing something similar to what I wanted to do smile

projectgus, I'm very interested to hear how well things end up working with the digitizer.  I looked at a whole bunch of captouch controllers and never found one that looked exactly right for that digitizer, but I'd never looked at FocalTech.

Thanks for publishing that info on the digitizer at all Mike, I wouldn't have bothered trying it all otherwise!

Unfortunately I haven't even gotten to the touch controller yet, I'm still messing around trying to get the display to work. sad


(39 replies, posted in Software)

Thanks picmaster. I think I used the effika image as the basis when I hacked together the GK802 installer as well.

I guess the difference is one of definition - is the installer done when it produces a valid rootfs, or is it done when it produces an immediately bootable system? The critical differences for that was boot process as you say - having a bootloader package that's correct, also the right kernel package and having a correct initrd generated by the debian update-initramfs system. Probably also for GUI stuff there's a need to choose and install the right graphics drivers.

Given for Novena these items are now all packaged, it might be almost as simple as injecting a preseed.cfg into an effika/other initrd with a secondary package repo (novena.io) and a list of additional packages - then you'd have an installer that produces an immediately bootable target.

lucas.pirolla wrote:

So at what frame rate is Novena running when it's driving the FullHD LCD?

Novena default is a 1920x080 @ 60fps frame rate, which means a 148.5MHz pixel clock (which I understand means a 74.25MHz actual LVDS clock, with dual data lanes.)

FWIW, from the kernel side this information is (currently) stored in the device tree, so you can find (and change) this information in the Device Tree include file for Novena.


(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Hmm OK, can maybe ignore the first part with the dmesg extract - I hadn't realised that the error was being ignored and initialisation was finishing normally. So the it6251 may be working fine, and the LVDS timings are set via devicetree so may be fine. Need to verify the rest now...


(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

dr_welt wrote:

I'm looking forward to see your progress. Especially on the digitizer. Did you successfully tested this before?

No, the digitiser is a real crapshoot! I have it talking to me via i2c, and I found a driver I can pull in from a Cyanogenmod tablet kernel (Acer T30), but I haven't gone any further with it yet.

I did finally found some time to play with the display some more, though.

Unfortunately, it's not successful yet. When the it6251 driver goes to talk to the "other" (LVDS) side of the chip over i2c it returns an I/O error, presumably an i2c NAK:

[    3.883312] it6251 2-005c: Looking up power-supply from device tree
[    3.883413] it6251 2-005c: ENabling regulator86000 s12736 r8192 d15936 u36864
[    4.091358] it6251 2-005c: Trying a bunch of times to enable device
[    4.100452] it6251 2-005c: Ended after 0 tries
[    4.104940] it6251 2-005c: Board powered up after 150000 usec
[    4.117720] dummy 2-005e: error -5 writing to lvds addr 0x5

I was wondering if anyone with a desktop board or similar could please check my novena-eeprom output against theirs. I'm wondering if maybe some part of the LVDS config needs to happen in the uboot stage, before the it6251 will accept that it's seeing anything:

# novena-eeprom
Current EEPROM settings:
        Signature:        Novena
        Version:          2
        Serial:           31
        MAC:              00:1f:11:02:15:1e
        Features:         0x75 (es8328,edp,pcie,gbit,hdmi)
        EEPROM size:      65536
        EEPROM page size: 128
        Oops offset:      4096
        Oops length:      61440
        LVDS channel 1:
                Modeline "lvds1" 4294.967  65535 131070 196605 262140   65535 131070 196605 262140 +HSync +VSync
                Flags: 0xffffffff (channel_present,dual_channel,vsync_polarity,hsync_polarity,mapping_jeida,data_width_8bit,ignore_settings) Unrecognized flags: 0xffffff80
        LVDS channel 2:
                Modeline "lvds2" 4294.967  65535 131070 196605 262140   65535 131070 196605 262140 +HSync +VSync
                Flags: 0xffffffff (channel_present,dual_channel,vsync_polarity,hsync_polarity,mapping_jeida,data_width_8bit,ignore_settings) Unrecognized flags: 0xffffff80
        HDMI channel:
                Modeline "hdmi" 4294.967  65535 131070 196605 262140   65535 131070 196605 262140 -HSync -VSync
                Flags: 0x61 (channel_present,data_width_8bit,ignore_settings)

... that's the only guess I have for now (well, that or an electrical problem...)

If anyone is feeling generous, I'm also curious about how the the it6251 responds if you disconnect the display panel from the eDP adapter. Is it the same error mesage? I guess once my 'desktop' arrives I'll be able to experiment with this for myself...



(8 replies, posted in Hardware)

Hi GregRob,

I've noticed the same thing. I guess the expected cable to use is the custom designed FPC (Flexible Printed Circuit) for the Novena LVDS interface, rather than generic FFC (Flexible Flat Cable). Custom flex PCBs seem pretty common for modern LCDs.

To test my "Novepad" adapter board prototype I got a generic 50 pin FFC from taobao (the same are on ebay, I think). The endmost 4 pins of the 54 are just used for the resistive touchscreen signals, so as long as you place the 50 pin cable at the right end then all the important signals should still be connected. You can kind of see this in the photos on the "iPad 3" thread.

There is a chance that the generic FFC won't be good enough as all the conductors are the same width & spacing. There could be signal integrity problems with the LVDS pairs or current draw problems with the power pins. The Novena LVDS FPC has routed pairs for each LVDS signal, and thick copper sections for power/ground. I'm hoping that with a short cable things will still be OK, though.



(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Wow, that's really neat! Any glitches or weirdness caused by airwiring the eDP lanes like that?

Thanks heaps for posting the timing settings for devicetree too, saves a lot of messing about.

I'm surprised the it6251 didn't need the register settings changed to tell it to enable all 4 lanes, as there's a register write hardcoded in the driver to (supposedly) set two. I guess it must have negotiated parameters with the display over the AUX channel or something? Very encouraging, I can't wait to pick up my board again and finally hook it all up.


(6 replies, posted in Software)

That makes sense.

The way I was running novena-image, was with the changes I made including allowing all packages to come via apt-get (less fiddly than finding and downloading them all). apt-get doesn't apply any ordering apart from whatever it works out from the dependency tree, so uboot-novena was named before on the command line but got installed after.

I can think of potential fixes/workarounds when using apt-get, although I guess they all depend on whether you're interested in merging those changes or not.

If you are thinking of maybe incorporating those changes, possible fixes/workarounds I can think of include:

- Have linux-image-novena depend on novena-uboot.

- Add a special case to novena-image.sh so if novena-uboot is in the list of packages, it runs 'apt get install novena-uboot' first before it does the main multi-package apt-get install.

- Extend the novena-kernel-post-install-postinst script a bit so it can run in one of two cases. If called from kernel postinst then it does what it does now. If called from uboot postinst then it find the newest installed kernel and copies that in, instead.

If any of these sound good (or any other option) then I'm happy to try to implement and test, send another pull request.



(6 replies, posted in Software)

Thanks xobs. The uboot novena post-inst ran for me and I got u-boot.img/u-boot.spl, but it seems like for some reason the novena-kernel-install-postinst didn't run.

I'll have a poke around and try and figure out what happened (my script has the mentioned changes in it, and I'm cross-building, so it's quite likely I introduced a bug).



(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Got the boards last week, made up a prototype:

Not the nicest soldering job I've ever done, I forgot to order a stencil so lots of rework in the end. Had some dramas getting the 54 pin Novena mainboard connector to solder properly - persistent cold joints, like the connector wouldn't sit flat on the board whatever I did.

Have at least verified the very basics, ie the Novena can power it on and all the power rails look right, but nothing else yet. Already a small list of (mostly minor) errata.

Out of time to do much more before Christmas/31c3 so it might be stalled for a while now.


(6 replies, posted in Software)

Thanks xobs. I have now generated a working Jessie disk image with novena-image, works great.

I sent you a PR on github with a couple of tweaks to the novena-image script that I found useful.

One other thing I was wondering about - I found I had to manually create a zImage & novena.dtd file in the /boot partition for uboot to find. Is that intended to be delegated to either a package or the novena-image script, or is that the way you intended for it to be?




(6 replies, posted in Software)

Is there a source available for built versions of the additional packages used by the novena-image wrapper scripts?

I think probably all of them are available as source from xobs' github, I'm just hoping I can be lazy and download them all from someplace. smile



PS xobs, sorry I never actually followed up on the Debian installer thing. Still interested, but no idea if/when I'll make the time.

Hi Tim,

I'm coming to LCA2015, and I'm a crowdsupply backer for a desktop Novena. The catch is that I'm also going to 31C3 (Dec 27-30), and I'm not coming home to Melbourne between 31C3 and LCA, so it's pretty unlikely that my Novena will arrive in Melbourne before I leave. I might be able to arrange to get it forwarded on to a friend to bring it down to Auckland, though.

There must be a reasonable number of Australian/New Zealand backers though, not to mention international LCA visitors, so surely there will be more. I know of one other backer in Australia, but she's not coming to LCA this year.

(I also have a PVT1 prerelease board still on loan through some unusual but fortunate events, but that'll be old news by mid-January!)



(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Yay, routed! http://i.imgur.com/QZajhTb.png

Still needs some cleanup, and the silkscreen/designator layer is a mess. I was hoping I might have a prototype built before 31C3 but it looks unlikely now. neutral


(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Thanks Bunnie!

Displays & parts arrived so I've started test fitting the connector layout and checking footprints


I think this connector layout will allow everything to sit flat on the bench for testing, but eventually fold up into a stack on top of the mainboard (mounting TBD).

BTW, bunnie/xobs/anyone - do you think I'll have any luck running LVDS over generic 0.5mm FFC as shown? Or should I be placing an order for some of the Novena FPCs?

Next comes the hard part...


(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Second post with second link, for photos of LCD monitors using IT6251


(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Made some beginnings on this, I have a complete schematic run past my ad hoc review process (aka print out sheets, go to coffee shop with red pen).

PDF of schematic:
https://github.com/projectgus/novepad/r … ematic.pdf

(You can derive the github repo from the above URL, the forum limit is one link per post.)

Any comments/critiques/review at all is most welcome. Few things I noted:

- Seems there are plenty of obscure captouch interfaces but not many with 40 TX channels, and fewer of those with any stock available even on Taobao. Focaltech FT5816 has >40 TX and is available in BGA and QFP, not a lot of taobao suppliers for either so I went for the QFP. I'm not overly confident this will ever work, given a dearth of specs on either the FT5816 or the iPad3 digitizer. But I figure it's worth a try.

- I simplified the power rails quite a bit from the Novena eDP board. Partially because I figure I can try to live dangerously (noone's expecting me to make a large quantity of these), partially because I found some photos of IT6251 installed in an LCD monitor model and their power setup seemed really simple, including traces visible directly connecting between power domains, etc. Although they are running from a single LDO not a switcher (I added an LDO option to the schematic just in case). For novepad I aimed half way inbetween what I saw on that monitor and what's on the Novena eDP schematic. Happy to be told this is a bad idea to skimp on, though!

- I'm not going to start any layout until I have an LCD panel and a digitiser in front of me, so I can measure out the connector positions. I'm thinking of designing the board with all connectors and components on top, then it can be attached to the back of the LCD panel with double-sided tape. The only catch I can think of is testing it - the custom LVDS cable for the Novena is quite short so it'll have to sit face-down over the laptop board. You guys don't happen to have tested/used any longer/generic 54 pin FPC cables with Novena, have you? I can live with occasional glitches or voltage drop in exchange for better debugging access. smile



(39 replies, posted in Software)

Hi xobs,

Oh wow, I should have done some more reading before posting! I knew you were building debian packages but I hadn't seen the installer wiki page. Looks like you're a long way down this road already. Thanks for filling me in.

I'll try to have a play around with what you've got there, see whether I can help bring it over to Jessie.



(19 replies, posted in Hardware)

Thanks xobs, that's very encouraging. smile I agree uboot environment makes things very simple for timing changes, sounds great. Good to hear there probably aren't any display-specific tweaks required on the output side.

The captouch interface is an interesting idea, I haven't really thought about it - this post series suggests the digitizer pinout is known and he's done some decoding of the signal. Looks like plenty of ADC/signalling mess about to get a working interface still. Though maybe there's a $2 taobao captouch interface chip that can be pressed into service. wink

I will post back if/when I start actually designing an adapter, rather than dreaming about it. smile