For some time, we have been paying close attention to the development of WiFi wart, because a quad core cortex-a7 USB mobile phone charger with dual WiFi interface and running openwrt sounds just what we need in our life. Unfortunately, we just heard from [Walker] that the progress of the project has slowed indefinitely due to the serious chip shortage.
At this point, we have all heard how the chip shortage affects large companies. Carmakers feel the pressure, which makes sense because they buy millions of parts at a time. However, stories like this remind us that even personal hobby projects can be put aside because parts suddenly become 40 times more expensive than when you first put them on the bill of materials.
In this special case, [Walker] explained that a power management chip you could buy on DigiKey for $1.20 a few months ago is in short supply. The best quotation he found is $49.70 provided by an electronic broker in Shenzhen. It sounds like he’s going to grit his teeth and buy the four (ouch) he needs to build a working prototype, but it’s obviously impossible to produce.
Fortunately, this is not all bad news. [Walker] has made some progress in the power board and will eventually connect the minicomputer to the USB charger housing. Part of the trick is that the device should still be a functional USB charger, so in addition to the 5 VDC of the output port, the power supply needs to generate 1.1 V, 1.35 V, 2.5 V, 3.0 V and 3.3 V for the computer. We are pleased to see that he is on track in the main circuit, ensuring the use of UL certified components and maintaining appropriate isolation.
When we last checked wifiwart in July, [Walker] had managed to start Linux on his oversized prototype board. Now he has PCBs in his hand, which looks closer to the final size and shape required to plug them into the mobile phone charger. Unfortunately, the shortage of parts is slowing down, but we are confident that we will at least see the one-time version of wifiwart launched by the end of this year.