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A9home DIY laptop: first pictures

Published: 1st Dec 2007, 23:36:04 | Permalink | Printable

And other odds and sods from the Christmas 2007 show

The Christmas 2007 show, a relatively quiet affair held earlier today in leafy Warwickshire, has been and gone. The main highlight was the appearance of Paul Stewart's home made portable. Paul has managed to pack an A9home, laptop keyboard, touch pad, flatscreen monitor, a couple of speakers and other bits and pieces into what appears to be a slim flight case.

Although he is remaining tight lipped about the project, Paul is set to reveal more details in the new year. It's understood the case has sockets for USB, video-out and ethernet, includes electronics to take power from a battery, and video is supplied to the flatscreen via analogue VGA.

Speaking after the event, Paul, pictured below, said: "It was certainly a small venue but there appeared to be a steady stream of visitors during the the morning. This filtered off in the afternoon. It was well worth attending."






Also: RISC OS Now had issue five for subscribers and editor Louie Smith was plying punters with free chocolates. RISCOS Ltd were selling a reprinted volume three of the Programmer's Reference Manuals. NetSurf may get improved mouse gesture support to save users the effort of going to the menu button or title bar. There were also rumours of RISC OS appearing on the ASUS Eee PC mostly likely as a VirtualRiscPC-based package.

The show was organised by the ARM Club and the Midlands User Group. MUG member Doug Webb said: "The show was well received by exhibitors and punters alike. A good steady stream of punters came through the door on the day and there wasn't the usual rush to dismantle the stands at 4pm as the show overran a little.

"Paul Stewart was showing off his RISC OS portable based on a A9 - cue Man in a suitcase theme music for those punters old enough to remember the TV show. According to Paul, it nearly didn't get made as it took all his might to prise the A9 euroboard out of its little blue case where it was glued into."

Pictures in brief
Aaron Timbrell, of VirtualAcorn and RISCOS Ltd, with a show organiser.
The CJE Micros stand
NetSurf developer Dan Silverstone does some light reading.
What show would be complete without the cardboard shape people?
Allan Rawnsley, of R-Comp, and Castle's Jack Lillingston.
The NetSurf stand was able to hook up some Internet connectivity.
NetSurf running on a tablet PC.
The RISC OS Open crowd: Ben Avison, Steve Revill and Andrew Hodgkinson.


Pictures by Rob Kendrick, Doug Webb and Paul Stewart. Click on a thumbnail for a larger view. Additional reporting by Doug Webb.

Links

More photos from RISC OS Open

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Discussion

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The show was fun, as they usually are - it's great to catch up and chat with people, even if there is the usual dose of politics and spin to deal with.

Paul's laptop's a fine achievement. With a little thought to a design, a metal basher could quite cheaply produce a "chassis" to put inside a flight case to securely fix the motherboard, battery and other support electronics, and you'd have a reasonably rugged sensible laptop. A little design polish, and it could be the product so many have been waiting years for.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 1/12/07 11:54PM
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RISC OS in a briefcase. Definitely makes a RISC OS laptop seem a look feasible as long as a suitable case can be made. Great work!

 is a RISC OS Userstevek on 2/12/07 5:28AM
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stevek: If you're after the rugged look, plenty of flight cases like the one Paul has used here are already available, and they tend to come in "standard" sizes.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 2/12/07 9:53AM
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What's the potential of this development? Is there any interest by possible commerical backers? Amazing to see once again something in the RISC OS world done that people said was not possible and Paul has that accolade. I really hope this can go places and dealers can see the potential in a RISC OS compact portable.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 2/12/07 3:22PM
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AW: Hardly - what people said was impossible/incredibly unlikely was the production of a traditional, small-footprint laptop. Putting a desktop machine's motherboard in a suitcase is, while enterprising, hardly difficult, nor suitable for most uses.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 2/12/07 3:40PM
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Nobody said how it had to be done but many dismissed the whole concept. Here it is: a portable self-contained RISC OS computer system. It's a briefcase not a suitcase as well.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 2/12/07 4:15PM
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Before the modern laptop, cut down desktops in flight cases were quite common, and damn heavy!

The show organiser in the first picture is The ARM Club's own "show man" Ralph Sillett.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 3/12/07 9:01AM
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druck:

and of course let us not forget that the first "PC Compatible" was a "transportable" computer...

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 3/12/07 9:59AM
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This portable is marvellous news - well done Paul.

Was any interest shown on the day by Advantage Six and/or CJE Micros? I would very much like to see this product refined and on sale some time soon - before I raise the funds for a MacBook and another copy of VRPC!

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 3/12/07 12:12PM
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cables: I suggested to Paul that he might want to talk to A6 and a metal basher to productise it - it might be fun.

On the A9 front, Paul Middleton said that work on the A9's port of RISC OS 6 was being done "as fast as we are able to", stopping short of actually saying when it would be available, or even if any work was actually currently being done on it.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 3/12/07 12:34PM
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In Reply to rjek (2nd comment):

The flight case used is not a "standard" off the shelf case - it is a customised off the shelf case that has been resized to meet the size requrements of the DIY portable.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 3/12/07 2:30PM
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In reply to rjek (3rd comment):

Foot print wise, it is about the size of a standard laptop (it is not suitcase size !). The real problem is it's height. Weight wise it is about the same weight as an old IBM PII ThinkPad.

However. I have recently discovered a much smaller main component then one I am currently using. If it checks out okay, then you may see a leaner model next year.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 3/12/07 2:39PM
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In reply to Drobe:

A detailed article will appear in an edition of Qercus in the 2008.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 3/12/07 2:41PM
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sa110: Well, it's clearly a non-standard case by that arguement because you've cut holes in it for the USB sockets :) I've certainly seen flight cases of similar proportions to it though, so there may be one on the market that wouldn't require such resizing.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 3/12/07 3:17PM
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In reply to cables:

I hope to be able to refine it a bit more in the new year. What I really want to do is make it a tad slimmer. Although I transported it to the show using a standard laptop bag, I was unable to actually zip it up!

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 3/12/07 3:29PM
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sa110: Sounds to me like you should buy a second A9, make your slimmer version, and Ebay your first attempt off. I suspect there would be one or two bidders out there which would finance your second development!

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 4/12/07 12:11AM
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You wait forever for a laptop and suddenly three come at once. First the Lego, then Paul's, and now on the A9Home mailing list, Willem admits that his questions about drawing power from USB ports are part of his project to turn his A9 into a laptop.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnR on 4/12/07 9:15PM
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Full marks to Paul Stewart !

It seemed strange that for so long no-one took up the *obvious* area into which to put an A9 (given its size) - namely in a laptop form. While a flight case might be a bit unwieldy - it's a *lot* closer to a laptop than anything extant on the native platform.

Even if Ad6 are unwilling to provide a "portable" themselves perhaps they could facilitate "custom" builders by providing a motherboard only option (much as Castle do for the Iyonix).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/12/07 1:12PM
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AMS: not a good example, its not worth £2 ($4). Well actually it is a good example, because Microsoft will sell a (admittedly cut down) version of their OS to third world countries $3. This is at a massive loss, but they consider it money well spent to ensure that developing nations develop a Windows crack dependency (which will cost them dear later on), and are prevented from experiencing alternative open source OSs which might fuel the local software industry.

Microsoft are able to take this loss due to the massive revenues from monopoly racketeering which they have been convicted of around the world, but have suffered no effective punishment. Unfortunately no company which has ever traded honestly, including RISC OS ones, has been able to generate the revenues necessary for such a loss leading subsidy on hardware or software.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 10/12/07 9:11AM
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Maybe not laptop material exactly, but...

[link]

Of course, the limiting factor is, as always, the portability/availability of RISC OS for anything other than the narrow range of hardware put out by the usual vendors. But then, the vested interests in RISC OS land have shown just how capable/interested they are in applying what large sections of the rest of the business knows to their little patch.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 10/12/07 3:56PM
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In reply to md0u80c9:

I'd pay close attention on Ebay over the next couple of months, if I was you. You never know what may just appear on there!

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 27/1/08 8:17PM
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A9home DIY Laptop case now available to bid on at Ebay: -

[link]

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 1/6/08 4:47PM
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