[NTLK] Internal WiFi Project

Matthias Melcher mm at matthiasm.com
Thu Apr 7 17:11:39 EDT 2016

Hi Jake,
hi Newtonians,

I would like to come back to Jake's grandiose project, based on my experience on my last vacation.

Well, wouldn't it be great to have WLAN inside the Newton, hidden away, and still fully integrated. I was thrilled and offered to make PCB's, but the Wireach WiFi Module that Jake uses comes with a strict export restriction, putting the burden and blame of export into unwanted countries onto the person that builds the board. It's already quite expensive in the US, but it's pretty much unavailable in Europe.

After considering sending modules back and forth between continents, signing license agreements and sub-agreements, I felt that we have reached a level of ridiculousness that was just too high.

Easter break 2016. I decide to travel to Cube ("before it's too late"). Direct flight from the Netherlands, no problems, but when I arrive all, my phone numbers, addresses and appointments were gone from my Samsung phone. WTF? It took me a while to understand: all that data is in the Cloud, and my attempts to connect to a WiFi station in Cuba failed. Samsung uses a Qualcomm WLan chip that has no license to operate where "evil" dictators operate. When the GPS chip finds that the phone is in Cuba (or in North Korea, I assume), the Qualcomm chip is disabled by the operating system. 

My phone saw the Wlan for a minute, re-synchronizing the cloud, when the GPS chip found enough satellites to figure out my forbidden location and shut down vital parts of my phone. Surprise!

Apart from the fact that this is simply ridiculous (well, the phone was hacked by a nice Cuban acquaintance within 10 minutes), this reinforces my opinion that certain entities can lock down all communication (and transportation) of anyone anywhere in the world at will.

Maybe having a green little friend as a backup for vital data is not a bad idea at all.

But back to the original post: there is no pressure without counterpressure. So while Qualcomm and Wireach try to gag us with a $80 module, the Chinese market has produced a WLan module ESP8266 that contains all the same encryption plus a fast RISC CPU and 512k of firmware Flash for $3 (yes, three) with no export restrictions whatsoever.

I am in the process of redesigning the board to mount an ESP module and so much more. I hope I will be able to post first suggestions for a wiring diagram soon. The parts are all ready, waiting to be breadboarded together. I will publish what I find here in the hopes to get much needed feedback.

 - Matthias


> On Dec 22, 2015, at 11:29 PM, Jake Bordens <jake at allaboutjake.com> wrote:
> Its the end of the year, and I wanted to wrap up some loose ends on the Internal WiFi project.
> First, I created a new "port cover" that works with the WiFi board installed.  See the picture here:
> 	http://retronewton.blogspot.com/2015/12/3d-printed-port-cover.html
> Second, I posted all of the files to GitHub, including the PCB design, the Newton PKG and source code, and the 3D models of the port cover:
> 	https://github.com/jake-b/Newton-Internal-WiFi
> There's also a model of the original (unmodified) port cover part that you can print if you need one.  (You'll want to add supports so that the tabs print correctly)ully automatic. After an initial "

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