Aug 10, 2016 | By Benedict

UK startup Rhombus Tech has launched a crowdfunding campaign for its Earth-friendly and easily upgradable EOMA68 computing devices. The innovative devices use a standardized PC board and 3D printable housing parts, with design files available under GPLv3+ license.

With Rhombus Tech nearing the half-way point of its $150,000 crowdfunding goal for the EOMA68, truly open-source computing could be just around the corner. The UK-based company has developed an Earth-friendly computing system with a standardized PC board, and hopes that the innovative devices could change the way in which consumers approach computing technology. The modular design of the EOMA68 (Embedded Open Modular Architecture) allows for simple upgrades and repairs, and its 3D printed housing can be customized by the user.

At the heart of this 3D printed computer is the EOMA68 PC card, which features an ARM processor, 2GB RAM, and 8GB storage. The card is capable of running systems such as Fedora, CentOS, FreeBSD, ArchLinux and Parabola, Debian, and Android. The “Libre Tea” card, which comes with a pre-installed Parabola OS, is even expected to be granted Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification from the Free Software Foundation. Backers of the CrowdSupply campaign can order one of these cards for $65, and can choose to house the card in either a tiny, laser-cut plywood desktop base unit (below) or a 3D printed 15.6” laptop housing.

In addition to the PC card and its cool housing options, there are a host of other gadgets and accessories available to optimize the EOMA68 experience. Amongst these add-ons are the $35 EOMA68 Pass-through Card, which lets a user turn the EOMA68 into a secondary display by connecting it to a smartphone or tablet via HMDI or USB, and the $20 Breakout Board, suitable for for access, tinkering, development work, and testing.

A key element of the EOMA68 computer is its 3D printed housing. Users can either order a complete computer with pre-printed housing ($500) or simply download the CAD files for free in order to print their own. This makes repairs to the housing of the computer incredibly cheap, with users able to print replacement components as and when required. However, the 3D printability of the machine also provides an extra degree of customization: color changes can be made on a regular basis, should a user grow tired of the look of their EOMA68.

Rhombus Tech has endeavored to make the EOMA68 as open-source as humanly possible, making virtually all hardware and software public: “We are working with the FSF to apply for RYF Certification of the Libre Tea Computer Card, for example, but are also going way beyond that by providing full CAD files, schematics, and datasheets for all the parts (without NDAs) as well as having the 3D CAD files for the casework as a completely open GPLv3+ licensed project right from its inception,” the company explains. “In addition, all firmware and kernel sources are GPL-licensed and will always remain so, and have been vetted in advance and do not contain any copyright violations or proprietary license-violating blobs (an extremely common practice nowadays).”

The 3D printable EOMA68 has been made open-source to encourage and invite others to contribute to its development—something that can only be achieved when all relevant information is made public. At present, the only exception to the open-source approach is the PCB CAD files for the Computer Card, which will be released once “sufficient units are hit.” This delay will help Rhombus to prevent any third-party manufacturing runs from undermining the development of the project.

As well as being developer- and consumer-friendly, the EOMA68 has also been designed to go easy on the environment: “It goes without saying that we don’t like seeing electronic goods continue to stack up in landfills around the world, and we know you don’t like it either,” Rhombus Tech explains. “We envisage a thriving community developing around the re-use of older computer cards: people using them to set up ultra-low power servers, routers, entertainment centers or just passing them on to a friend.”

Early backers of the EOMA68 crowdfunding campaign can expect to receive their orders by Spring 2017, with shipping due to begin on March 20, 2017. Shipping is free for U.S. backers and $10+ for internationals, depending on the size of the item ordered. Customers ordering the $500 pre-printed kit for the EOMA68 can choose from five material and color combinations, with a deluxe black resin option available for an extra $150.

 

 

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Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote at 8/17/2016 10:10:27 AM:

Instructions to obtain the CAD files and build instructions are currently listed here: https://www.youmagine.com/designs/libre-hardware-licensed-parametric-laptop-design/



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