Challenge / reason for existance
- There is no truly fair and sustainable electronics on the world - at least not for something with reasonable processing power.
- Furthermore, the combination of Windows XP end of life and some graphics chipsets being badly supported in open source software, led to a practical obsolescence of a lot of laptops. E-waste is nearly worthless and an ecological problem.
FairPhone (a company I'm not affiliated with, though which I do like much), did quite a good start on fair electronics with their phone. In this project I build on that by trying to convert a laptop named in (2) to something like the Superbook.
Buying a Superbook is no challenge. Creating something similar from - mostly - scrap is what makes this project unique and challenging. This leads, hopefully, to less trash, and re-use of something that beforehand could be considered trash. For me personally, finishing this project to a certain extent (which means, it needs to be usable enough), would mean freeing another 'good' laptop I currently have, for someone else to use (so less waste).
I hope this project would make it possible to reuse (upcycle) a lot of scrap laptops, while in the mean time making it unneccesary to produce a lot of new electronics and plastic cases. Furthermore, it aims to get the fully 'fair laptop' one step closer.
The final dream is a single or multi PCB conversion kit (see: thoughts on the fairness) for at least one type of laptop, that does the following:
- Input using USB-OTG and/or FairPhone2 USB feature connector
- Connects to the existing keyboard using a microcontroller
- Connects to the existing TFT using a DisplayLink driver IC
- Has some advanced battery logic (perhaps to re-use existing Li-ion batteries, or just powered by the net)
This project's scope
- Chain of USB OTG hub -> ATmega8 USB keyboard driver + USB Displaylink to DVI -> DVI to LVDS -> TFT
- All fitted in the old laptop
Some thoughts on the fairness
What could make this laptop 'fair-ish', even when produced on a somewhat large scale.
- Laptops that are economically lost can now be reused
- The kit can be modular and re-use stuff that people have lying around. It's not important what type of USB OTG adapter or USB hub is used. Any power bank can be used as a power source. No new materials = no new climate/worker condition/... impact.
What would make it unfair?
- All electronics have some dubious history, and this doesn't change when they're second hand.
- The hardest part would be the LVDS display driver. A custom DisplayLink PCB could solve this - but I don't think I can do this - never did PCB design before.
- If it becomes a 'wanna-have' that gets being built and then put into a drawer. That would mean new materials but no added value. And that risk has mine too...