In our last Librem 5 update post, we discussed a number of the changes in our Librem 5 “Dogwood” batch as compared with previous batches. Dogwood was our last “small batch” in preparation for Evergreen, our highly-anticipated mass-produced Librem 5 batch. Dogwood was incredibly important as it gave us one of our last opportunities to identify any flaws and fix them before mass-production. It also was the first batch to feature a flipped CPU which we found did improve heat dissipation. As a result we spent much more time in the testing process for Dogwood than we did in the Chestnut batch.
While many parts of Evergreen could be worked on in parallel, there were a number of final steps that were blocked until we were absolutely sure that certain aspects of the Librem 5 were settled. One of the most important of these we are ready to announce: we have opened the mold for the Librem 5.
We designed the Librem 5 from scratch because we found no other design exists off-the-shelf that would meet our high standards for protecting privacy and security and qualify for Free Software Foundation RYF (Respects Your Freedom) certification. As a result our custom electronics can’t use off-the-shelf cases based off of public molds–we must create our own. Opening the mold for a hardware project like the Librem 5 is a very important milestone. The mold is used to mass-produce the case the electronics will fit in and is an expensive process (hundreds of thousands of dollars) that takes many weeks to complete.
Once you have created the mold, many aspects of your hardware, such as the sizes of the respective electronics are set in stone (well technically set in metal). If you find you need to change something that would alter the dimensions, it means opening a new mold and incurring the expense and the time all over again.
Some might wonder why we have only opened the mold at this point, and not earlier in the year. The reason is that it was only now, after extensive testing, that we were absolutely sure about the size of the electronics and the case. And it was a good thing we waited, because in our testing of the antennas over the past few months we discovered we could further improve antenna performance for the Librem 5 by extending the case length by 3mm.
The above picture illustrates the 3mm difference along the bottom bezel. The overall impact on the size of the Librem 5 is otherwise pretty difficult to notice, but does have enough of an impact on antenna performance that it was worth the change.
Along with increased antenna performance, we are investigating whether this extended case will allow us to fit a higher-capacity battery into the Librem 5 Evergreen. We will be sure to announce it if we confirm it’s possible.
Opening the mold sets off a chain reaction of other, final tasks culminating in shipping Evergreen. Based on current projections, we will start shipping Evergreen to customers mid-to-late November 2020.
It has been a long journey from our crowdfunding campaign to this important milestone. We want to thank the community for your support through each step of this process and joining us for this crazy ride! Now we are in the final steps of the process and the finish line is in sight. We will continue to provide updates as we cross these final milestones so stay tuned.