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dan_in_sd
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Are the Gertboards here?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:23 am

Gert / Liz:

Can we get an update on the status of the Gertboard? I am very interested in getting one for my 10 year old son who wants to use it for a project.

Also, is the printed circuit board itself available from any distributors ( either UK or US ) ?
I don't mind ordering the circuit board and the parts seperately. I have some soldering skills. :)

Last, is there a parts list somewhere so I can start ordering individual parts?

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Gert van Loo
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:05 am

Not yet. The boards will be sold as a complete kit as that is cheaper (and a lot easier) then to find and ordering all the parts youself.
That also causes the delay as enough parts need to be ordered and in stock to be able to ship a decent amount of kits.
That process has been a lot more difficult and time consuming then anticipated.
As I mentioned on the Cambridge Raspberry-Jam: expect something in the next few weeks.

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:05 am

Why can't the pcb only be supplied for those of us who already have the components, or do not wish to fit all non-essential parts?
Texy
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Gert van Loo
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:15 pm

Because we can do only so much at any time. That option is not yet available and we are looking into that.

domesday
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:26 pm

Because Farnell want to maximise profits by being the only place selling the board and the only option being a complete kit. Selling the board on its own wouldn't be much of a money spinner for them when they can sell £15 worth of components and a PCB for £30+ Just like the Raspberry Pi itself the original Open design goals have been dropped no doubt at the request of these old economy business like farnell who are not willing to embrace the open design community, unless of course it works in their favour and they get to sell what the community designs.

I'm really not impressed with RS & Farnell, the way they have forced the Raspberry Pi into an exclusive closed design and presumably done the same here for the Gertboard, in return for their ability to ship worldwide.

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:59 pm

domesday wrote:Because Farnell want to maximise profits by being the only place selling the board and the only option being a complete kit. Selling the board on its own wouldn't be much of a money spinner for them when they can sell £15 worth of components and a PCB for £30+ Just like the Raspberry Pi itself the original Open design goals have been dropped no doubt at the request of these old economy business like farnell who are not willing to embrace the open design community, unless of course it works in their favour and they get to sell what the community designs.

I'm really not impressed with RS & Farnell, the way they have forced the Raspberry Pi into an exclusive closed design and presumably done the same here for the Gertboard, in return for their ability to ship worldwide.
Welcome to the real world! Gertboard would not be able to built in the required quantities without help from companies like Farnell. And that help comes with a price. It still a very cheap price because Gert's want it that way, and it's his design and hard work. People should be grateful for that and do a little less whinging. Unless of course they are producing their own version and producing in the required quantities, in which case they do have some right to criticise.
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domesday
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:12 pm

jamesh, I don't know where you get the idea that producing PCB's is expensive. While I appriciate Gert has put a lot of time and effort in to designing his board the actual cost to produce bare boards is tiny. A board the size of the Gert board wouldn't cost more than £3 to get made in one of the many PCB board manufacturers. That is exactly the reason Farnell are so scared of letting people have the design as they know full well that people would quickly go to eBay to buy their components and build one for a fraction of the cost that Farnell wants to charge. If it were not the case that then Farnell would have no reason to compel Gert to hold back the design from the public.

Companies like SparkFun and Adafruit embrace the open model and do really well. They sell their boards with complete open designs and don't try and close them off, people buy them despite being able to get them cheaper from Chinese makers because they see the company doing the right thing and encouraging innovation by allowing people to take the design and hack it any way they want. Farnell on the other hand wants to create an artificial barrier to prop up their profits.

While there might be some merit in the foundation enlisting the help of large companies for something as complex as the Pi with its multi-level PCB and tiny surface mount components, the Gerboard is a simple design, what value does farnell add to it ?

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:05 pm

I can absolutely assure you the Farnell are not 'compelling' Gert to do anything, and I am fully aware how much PCB's cost. Even at £3 each, when you want to make a few thousand of them, that is a lot of money to cough up front for an individual like Gert (he has already ploughed a lot of his own money in to this). Farnell do not 'have' the design - it's Gert's. Farnell are a means to an end - getting these boards in to the hands of the considerable number of people who want them, something that Gert is unable to do, as its more than a part time job, and he already has a full time job. Or at least, he did this morning.

Please stop making assumptions about how this is being handled. And if you think that selling the Gertboard is all about propping up Farnell's profits, you are sadly mistaken - there ain't a lot of profit in this exercise!
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domesday
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:35 pm

jamesh, I think you may have misunderstood what I was saying.

Gert said from the outset that he was designing his board as an open design, and wanted to sell it through the Raspberry Pi store but that never happened. Somewhere along the line Farnell got involved and everything went quiet for months. I have no idea who approached who but since then clearly Gert has had to sign a restrictive agreement in return for their selling the kit as can be seen from comments from people like Liz who have indicated they are not able to talk about it due to contract requirements. I never said that Farnell has the design, only that clearly it is an exclusive arrangement where the contract requires Gert to not publish the design. Where as if for example SparkFun were selling the board then assuming Gert wanted the design to be open as he originally planned then the design would have been published and anyone wanting to build their own could or buy one from SparkFun, it is a completely different business model.

While there may not be much profit in it for Gert (wouldn't surprise me) I can guarantee you there is plenty in it for Farnell as I spoke to them this morning and they informed me the kit will be sold in the region of £30+VAT, I don't know yet if that is a FULL kit of parts including a motor controller and ATMEL micro controller but lets assume for a moment it is. Using the regular prices that can be had from the likes of Farnell, RS & Digikey when buying in volume it works out at about £15 for a full set of components. That is a big markup considering that those companies are already making a profit on those component prices.

I am not making assumptions it is as clear as day that Farnell has a contract with Gert that contains restrictions as stated by Liz.

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:46 pm

Too much speculation for me. I'll bow out.
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:56 pm

domesday wrote:....clearly Gert has had to sign a restrictive agreement in return for their selling the kit.....
It always amazes me how people can add 1 + 1 and come up with five.

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:46 pm

Looking at the low level peripherals on the wiki there are now 30 entries for proto-boards , some already in production , some available as kits or bare boards. They range from basic breakout , through RS232 adapters upto full featured expansion boards with A2D/IO/DC Motor drives etc. I am not sure it is that difficult. I started building my own with strip-board and have now moved on to my second version of PCB.
Cheers
Steve

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:19 pm

fulburncams wrote:.... I am not sure it is that difficult.....
Coming up with a board and designing one is trivial. I can easily do one per week.
Now add a 38 page user manual, a 18 page assembly manual. Make sure you have components to sell lets say: a 1000 in a week and make sure you have the manpower to assemble and ship the kits all over the world. Also make sure you have the logistic to keep doing that for the next six month if it happens your design is a hit. If on the other hand you sell only 500 prepare to write of a few ten thousand pounds.

You are right: you are not sure it is that is difficult. ;)

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:34 pm

I do not believe the only model for an add on board is one that is produced at the rate of 1000 per week ?
I think experimentation should be encouraged and as far as I can see you do not have to spend ten's of thousands of pounds to wire up the Raspi to the real world.
Cheers
Steve

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:49 pm

Indeed you are right. But, if you want to use the Raspi as a teaching aid, then you need a standardised device with consistent instructions. Of course there will be plenty of room in the market for lots of different boards, Gertboard is just one of them, but it does do a lot of things in one package in order to provide as much teaching potential as possible.
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:07 pm

Personally I think the Gertboard is better suited to an advanced user as it requires the GPIO pins to be manually connected together, much like a breadboard really. I think something like the PiFace looks better suited as a teaching aid.

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:29 pm

I'm sorry but I'm going to have to stick up fir Gert and the RPF here. Just get off their case and sto whinging about what they're doing. Go do your own thing but DON'T criticise them for the good work they're doing for not a lot if any reward as far as I can see.
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:51 pm

I am sure a lot of us will be very happy to see Gert's board in production. (Having more than one board to play with is not a bad thing either.) Best regards, Will

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:51 pm

SN wrote:I'm sorry but I'm going to have to stick up fir Gert and the RPF here. Just get off their case and sto whinging about what they're doing. Go do your own thing but DON'T criticise them for the good work they're doing for not a lot if any reward as far as I can see.
Well If you are referring to me, you might want to re-read what is posted as the only people I have had a poke at is farnell who are so out-of-touch.

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:25 pm

fulburncams wrote:I do not believe the only model for an add on board is one that is produced at the rate of 1000 per week ?
It's not and plenty of other people are producing addon boards now.

The problem is that the gertboard is at least a semi-official project from the raspberry Pi team and as such massive popularity has to be planned for. Even if third party expansion boards are actually better the gertboard is likely to be more popular.

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:34 pm

domesday wrote:Personally I think the Gertboard is better suited to an advanced user as it requires the GPIO pins to be manually connected together, much like a breadboard really. I think something like the PiFace looks better suited as a teaching aid.
FWIW: I've got both a Gertboard and a PiFace. And while each has their merits, the Gertboard is by far the more versatile. PiFace does have the one advantage of a small footprint, but right now I'm mildly irritated I can plug it into my Pi and have the Pi mounted in my SKPang case...

Also, while the PiFace has 8 outputs separate of 8 inputs, 2 of the outputs are connected to on-board relays - I have a little application now when I want to use all 8 outputs fairly rapidly, but I either put up with the coils of the relays buzzling like deranges bumble bees, or unsolder them... Put jumpers on the next revision please!

I could go on about the PiFace, but I'll save that for a blog posting!

-Gordon
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:32 pm

Gordon you have conformed what I was saying that the Gertboard is more versatile as it is basically a collection of useful components on a board that can be configured in a variety of configurations to suit most situations, you are more of an advanced user being an experienced engineer so that suits you well, you are less likely to put one of those jumper wires in the wrong place. The PiFace on the other hand is plug-in and go, very little scope for breaking something by putting a jumper in the wrong place. I think it makes it much better in a beginners teaching environment as the configuration is simple. The Gertboard is a great idea for teaching more advanced concepts, perhaps with A level students for example but for a class room of GCSE kids there is a lot of potential for time spent troubleshooting each student's configuration, checking all the jumper wires are in the right places.

I suppose you could say there are 2 stages with the Gertboard, the patching process to connect the GPIO pins to the buffers, motor controller etc as required and then connect your devices to the board. The PiFace on the other hand is just a case of connecting your external devices to the screw terminals. I'm not attempting to put the Gertboard down in any way, just pointing out the different approach.

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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:34 pm

Indeed and there is space for both of them, as long as "The Price is Right!"
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Re: Are the Gertboards here?

Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:56 pm

Gert,

Can you tell me the best way to stay on top of the Gertboard/Farnell situation? I waited a bit too long and ended up in the 2nd shipment of R-Pi boards. And that was disappointing at best. I'd rather not have that be the case with the Gertboards too. Will you give us all a few days heads up? Perhaps a brief announcement in this forum with the words: " The gertboards will be available for order in just 3 days. Go to this URL for updates..." etc...etc...
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making a PCB yourself

Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:37 pm

If you can't purchase the PCB you want, you can also design something yourself, and have it made for you. I designed a small PCB* and had it fabricated by Seeedstudio. Fab was 1 week, shipping took 3 weeks, but it was quite cheap and the process does work. A new PCB design of any complexity usually has errors, but for 2-layer boards you can fix things by hand with razor blade and jumper wires.

If want to make a PCB and you don't already have a circuit layout tool, I'd suggest considering two options:
1) Eagle CAD Lite (freeware) can do double-sided PCBs up to 8x10 cm in size (4 x 3.2 inches). This is probably the most popular tool for hobby PCBs. http://www.cadsoftusa.com/download-eagl ... anguage=en
2) KiCad (free and open source) can do 16 layers without size restriction. I was able to learn it well enough in a few days to start a simple layout. http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/ ... ware+Suite

PCB fabrication of small 2-layer boards in small lots is now cheap (but be sure to check lead times and ship times). For example:
http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/Service_for_Fusion_PCB ($10 for 10 pieces, 5x5cm)
http://imall.iteadstudio.com/open-pcb/p ... 18004.html ($15 for 10 pieces, 5x5 cm)
http://dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/pcb_order ($5 per square inch for 3 pieces)

More about PCB fab options in general on this page: http://dangerousprototypes.com/2012/02/ ... ssionally/

* design of my own PCB: http://bealecorner.com/pcb/dd1/

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