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Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 7:34 pm
by j_p
Hello,

I would like to know if we are allowed to obtain the schematics of Raspberry Pi and build our own units. I'm waiting for my own rpi, but I'd like to buy units for public schools in Brazil, and I'm not sure we'll have enough money, if we take into consideration shipping and import taxes. We could, however, buy components and assemble our own units here (as far as I understand the Arduino project allows people to do this; I do not know how it goes for the Pi). Of course we'd do whatever the foundation wants regarding trademark (include it, add a "unofficial unit" tag, or whatever else).

Thank you very much!

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 7:43 pm
by abishur
Well... they're not opposed to it per se. The true issue with such a request is that a) you can't buy the main component (the SoC) in small numbers b) if you bought large numbers of the SoC you'd be unable to hand solder the BGA and c) they are reluctant to place their parts distributors under the bus by providing a full part lists. Plus, they got price breaks for ordering in bulk, you'd end up spending a lot more money to build your own pi :-(

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 7:52 pm
by hzrnbgy
what sort of programming are you going to use the Pi for? hardware (embedded), web development, game, etc?

there might be alternative...

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 9:27 pm
by plugwash
The foundation have released the schematics but not the PCB designs and some components (the main ones being the broadcom SOC and the POP memory) are not available for purchase by the general public. They have said they want to release the board design files but will not do so until/unless they have found a way to make those components available in small volumes.

Also even if/when the design files and components are available building a Pi will be non-trivial requiring an assembly facility experianced with fine pitch BGA POP work. It's not the sort of thing you can have the kids solder together themselves.

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 9:32 pm
by jamesh
j_p wrote:Hello,

I would like to know if we are allowed to obtain the schematics of Raspberry Pi and build our own units. I'm waiting for my own rpi, but I'd like to buy units for public schools in Brazil, and I'm not sure we'll have enough money, if we take into consideration shipping and import taxes. We could, however, buy components and assemble our own units here (as far as I understand the Arduino project allows people to do this; I do not know how it goes for the Pi). Of course we'd do whatever the foundation wants regarding trademark (include it, add a "unofficial unit" tag, or whatever else).

Thank you very much!
I think you would find it very difficult (read, impossible) to buy and assemble the parts for the cost of buying the fully assembled article. especially once you buy in bulk which would get the shipping costs right down. And remember, you would still have to pay import tax on the parts. The Foundation don't make much profit on each board, and neither do the distributors.

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 10:50 am
by j_p
Thanks everybody for your replies.

The idea was to get kids (teenagers mostly) to make cases for the Pi (with assistance from someone who knows a bit about electronics of course). Then also put the units in a classroom and teach them a bit about computers -- how to do basic things like using the internet, and maybe also how to write programs in some easy programming language.

I wouldn't expect them to solder components themselves, but I could get some college students learning electronics to participate and help with soldering -- if it's something an ordinary electronics student can do.

But from what people said, it seems that it wouldn't be easy and the Broadcom SoC would be expensive anyway. I'll try to see then if we can find a way to lower our costs (maybe there is a way to pay reduced taxes or something).

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:13 am
by jamesh
Cases would be fine - you can do what you like there, and all the classroom stuff you mention.

Soldering is almost impossible as the parts are absolutely tiny and use BGA's which require ovens rather than soldering irons.

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:43 am
by grumpyoldgit
jamesh wrote:Cases would be fine - you can do what you like there, and all the classroom stuff you mention.

Soldering is almost impossible as the parts are absolutely tiny and use BGA's which require ovens rather than soldering irons.
While you keep using caveats like "almost impossible" people will still believe that armed with a soldering iron, a good eye and a wet Sunday afternoon with nothing much to do, they would be able to knock one out. These are people who have never seen one. The Pi is really, really small and there are hundreds and hundreds of connections. The pcb really is the size of a credit card and you really do need hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of computerised kit in a proper factory to manufacture them.

Having said that, there must be designs out there for hobbyists to build a computing device on a pcb.

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:56 am
by jamesh
I use almost impossible because some people have managed to make boards like this (not a Raspi) and get them to work. They are few and far between - but if I had put impossible, we would be inundated with links to those people who had been successful, with all the associated accusations of lying etc. Remember, this is the internet!

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 2:54 pm
by Jeff2
grumpyoldgit wrote:Having said that, there must be designs out there for hobbyists to build a computing device on a pcb.
There are, but they typically don't have all of the features of the Pi (such as HDMI output, RCA composite video output, and etc) and are typically have less CPU and less RAM than the Pi. Unfortunately, if you try to build something with specs approaching the Pi, you'll quickly find that you're going to spend *a lot* more money than you would if you simply bought a Pi.

Re: Policy on self-assembling?

Posted: Thu May 17, 2012 5:43 pm
by AndrewS
Scroll to the bottom of http://elinux.org/RPi_xray_wallpapers to get an idea of the large number of pins on the SoC and RAM, and just how tiny they are. AFAIK JamesH has "normal sized" fingers :lol: