Raspberry Pi 2 with Sailfish OS, DIY-smartphone? Part 1

At early on, I have always wanted to replicate the idea of the PiPhone, by David Hunt. But I originally came to this idea on not just using a single dialer for it but also include the elements that make up a phone, like text messages, mobile internet and such. With the first Raspberry Pi, it proved out to be a non-trivial task, because of the operating system selection for it.

My aspirations for Nemo Mobile came to mind for this, mainly because we could already do armv6 on it, but our core distribution, Mer, didn’t have any working builds for the modern version of Mer, which includes the Nemo Mobile middleware.  This would be crucial to include, as without the middleware, no modern smartphone operating system functions would work. Overall the situation was quite grim for the first Raspberry Pi.

Enter time after FOSDEM 2015, my head was full of new ideas that I wanted to try out with Nemo Mobile. Mainly the discussion revolved around using open devboards like Minnowboard Max or OLinuXino. This idea came from Leon Anavi and Philippe Coval from Tizen community, who were interested about Nemo Mobile. Me getting out of Brussels and entering the airport of Helsinki-Vantaa brought fantastic news, Raspberry Pi 2 Model B had arrived. Reading the new additions anxiously brought it to my attention that it ran armv7 architecture, Nemo Mobiles home architecture.

I immediately ordered one when I got back home to Finland and it seemed like the DIY smartphone was indeed doable. I started to look around the Internet for good GSM modules, which would allow touch screen usage. Thanks to carepack from #sailfishos-porters, who came around with the GSM expansion shield from the depths of the Internet. This was also the most important part of the whole process.

My Raspberry Pi 2 arrived and I immediately started to tinker with the operating system options for it, what it needed to run and such. Later the same weekend I started to port Nemo Mobile to it. The process was actually quite simple, contrary to other hardware adaptations I have made for it. Using the N9 system image, which was a “pure” adaptation, namely meaning it doesn’t use libhybris. With that I got a bootup, without any graphics of course. Having also ordered a PiScreen, I tried to make the touchscreen work for it.This became a process of upgrading the eglfsrpi plugin from Martin Brook‘s old code for it. This took a while to accomplish but I finally managed to get video output to appear on the PiScreen, using fbcp program. All fine thus far.

A little bit more waiting and then the GSM expansion shield arrived. I opened the package to, my surprise, find that I had really ordered a kit build. First problem of this that I have no soldering station to start the process out, second is that I have next to no soldering skills with shaky hands to begin with :). This meant outsourcing this soldering job to someone else, who happened to be my coworker who has excellent skills when it comes to soldering.

Now writing this, the process is underway and I should have it in my hands in a couple of days, then the first testing phase of using ofono for the AT-commands feeding starts.

Stay tuned for the part 2, in the hopefully near future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s