As we are soon jumping in the 4th quarter of 2015, things are getting progressively in place for the Dragonbox Pyra, with full prototypes to be assembled within November. The remaining elements are now being produced: the keymat, following its layout finalization, is now in production and samples of the real thing will be available by Mid-October. Once received we will see how it works hands-on, and if keys are lighted up as expected via the backlights.
The case’s mould is also being manufactured and should be done by early November. That means that the subsequent cases produced will be very much the final ones, while the colour needs to be decided. I’d say that the colour will also depend on the mould design. Colouring of plastics is done via the addition of masterbatches mixtures, and those can modify the property of plastics at high temperatures – making some colours more prone to cracks or breakage depending on your mould design. I hope ED is aware of that.
As you may be aware, the Pyra’s hardware is comprised of two essential parts, the main board and the CPU board (for modularity purposes). It looks like the rotator chip is working as expected now (you can see the video at the bottom of this post). It seems like the design is completely done for these 2 boards and there will be a pre-production run by Mid-October to ensure the assembly can work with the fixed design on the actual production line.
Batteries are manufactured and 3000 are now available at the production site in Germany.
With all these elements in place, the first pre-production models could be assembled by October-November and go to developers in order to increase the pace of software availability (and OS optimizations) by the actual time of release. This also means that pre-orders could start as early as November or something like that, and give it a few more months for the availability of the final machine. So, it now seems like Q1 2016 is a likely shipping period.
On a side note, ED also shared this video showing the Pyra using a dual video output mode: an emulator running on the Pyra screen, and a full X desktop running at the same time on the HDMI-out via a connected monitor.
Not sure how useful this kind of dual output would be in reality (maybe one could use the Pyra screen as a notification display while doing actual work on the X session on a larger screen), but as a tech demo it’s quite cool. This technique works by using one framebuffer running an X-Server and the second framebuffer sent directly to the emulator for display on the attached screen.