Yifan Lu has recently started a Indie GoGo page. It leads with a nice little tease, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you can use a microSD as a Vita memory card? If you have a hacked Vita 3G with OLED screen, this adapter will replace the (useless) 3G modem with a custom microSD card adapter.’
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Yifan Lu says he needs our help but if we can put forth enough cash, he can supply a microSD card solution for those of us with a 3G model Vita. He goes on to explain his primary idea, ‘Vita memory cards are too expensive and it would be nice to be able to use a microSD card. The 3G feature is pretty useless. Combining those two thoughts and I decided “what if we replace that modem with USB storage?” This works because the Vita’s modem port is simply a USB 2.0 port that uses the miniPCIe form factor. A hacked Vita running 3.60 has the ability to load custom drivers, and it is just a matter of putting all the pieces together.’
He even has laid out features if/when the day comes that these adapters are created,
- ‘At the core of the adapter is the USB2244 chip, which is an SD to USB microprocessor. It is a high-end chip (you won’t find it in cheap SD to USB adapters) that has good power consumption and a long lifespan. It supports SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
- You need to open up the Vita and replace the modem card. This is relatively simple and is akin to changing the battery. You can put in a large microSD card, install it, and forget about it.
- With HENkaku Ensō, you can use the adapter on boot
- Because there’s extra space on the board, I also added two debug ports that the original modem uses to communicate with the Vita. Using them is optional. Developers and hackers can use this for their homebrew and hacks.
- All design files, Gerbers, schematics, layouts, BOMs, software drivers, etc will be public and open source. Anyone can produce the board as well as modify it.’
Yifan Lu has also stated a lot about why he needs us to help him with the actual money aspect and where the costs are going to go, with him having a fixed goal of $2,374. ‘I am not doing this to make money. You will help fund all the supplies and the development process. I will work on this project on my spare time and your funds will not be towards labor costs I incur (designing, building the prototype, shipping and packing, etc). To be completely transparent, I will break down the supply costs of the project:
- $89.05: supplies for prototyping (components, solder paste, inspection microscope, tweezers)
- $13.95: breakout board I designed to test the signals from the prototypes. Design files will also be open source.
- $15.12: First prototype run. 10 boards unassembled with no special options. Just to test the design.
- $74.40: Second prototype run. 10 boards unassembled with hard gold fingers and stencil. This will be the “product verification test” and is a small run of production quality boards (for example, gold fingers on the connectors are expensive but required if you want any durability).
- $100 (maybe): Any additional prototypes. This is in anticipation that there’s some major bug found in the second prototype. Up to two more runs with no special options. I hope this won’t be the case and my estimates are overly conservative (better to factor in this cost now than ask for more money later).
- $1830.26: Final production of 100 boards assembled with hard gold fingers. The boards themselves will cost $597 and is mainly because of the gold. The components will cost $539.43 (main cost here is the mechanical microSD card slot and the USB IC). The assembly will cost $693.83 since I don’t plan to solder 100 boards on my own.
- $45: shipping supplies (padded envelopes and ESD safe bags)
- $207: fees taken by Indiegogo and the credit card processor’
There are of course some major caveats in terms of who can use it. If you paid attention up to this point, you’ll realize that only the OLED 3G versions will work with this. The specific model is the PCH-110X. And naturally, you have to be running nothing higher than 3.60 for HENkaku/taiHENkaku/Enso. One last note here is that if you’re donating on his Indie GoGo page, there are no warranties. He specifically states, ‘I’ll be upfront about this so there won’t be any confusion later. I am doing this in pursue of knowledge and expect to make no money. Therefore, I can’t afford to waste time and money with customer support or technical help. You are expected to know how to open up the Vita and how to install HENkaku and the custom driver (instructions will be provided, but I won’t have time to help you individually). Additionally, I cannot vouch for the quality of the PCB manufacturer and assembly service (SeeedStudios). They are the cheapest provider, but not 100% of the boards they send back are high quality. So in an order of 100 boards, I expect maybe 75 of them to be completely functional and 90 of them to be mostly working (maybe insertion will be difficult or maybe a connection won’t be perfect). In that case, I will not have any extras to send nor will I be testing each unit before sending it out.
Please note that when funding this campaign, you are mostly paying for the development and getting a working board would be a bonus. You are not buying a tested and working product.
However, everything from the software and the hardware will be open source. Once the project completes, anyone can decide to invest the money in mass producing it for sale. If you do so, I don’t expect any royalties or anything.
Follow the link here to go donate to his page, I promise, it will be worth it.
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