I was wandering around on a rainy Saturday afternoon in the mobile phone market in Shenzhen and I spied a stall keeper working on a phone motherboard. Unlike most of the other folks in the market, he was working from a set of schematics — that got my attention. I asked him where he got his schematics from and he kindly dispatched his young son to walk me over to the small tool shop on the other side of the market where, buried underneath a pile of single-use BGA SMT stencils, was a collection of mobile phone schematics for just about every phone made.
I don’t know about you, but getting my hands on schematics gets me really excited. This is like, the Ultimate Hardware Geek Pr0n. Sure, undressing a mobile phone and revealing its tender innards to my gaze — the sweet perfume of flux residue unleashed, curling into my nostrils — is one level of hardware voyeurism. But, getting the schematics for the phone and peering into its very circuit diagrams — that’s a whole new level, like tearing off the undergarments and ravaging the bosom of the phone. I was excited. I brought the manuals to the clerk and asked how much…wincing at the price I may have to pay to bring these prized morsels back to my hotel room. I breathed a sigh of relief when he asked for only 75 quai — a little over $10 US — for the whole three-book collection. I didn’t even haggle. I grabbed my booty and ran for the nearest taxi.
Alright. Don’t take my double entendre too literally; it’s just fun to write that way. Anyways, on to the manuals…