Mini-box Voom PC: 12VDC Mini-ITX
Posted 17 Oct 2005 at 16:19 UTC by steve
VIA and Mini-box recently announced
PC, a computer designed for automotive applications but also ideal
for outdoor robotics platforms. The Voom PC supports any of the Mini-ITX motherboards
coupled with a 12 or 24 VDC power supply and enclosed in case that
doubles as a massive aluminum heatsink. The system can optionally be
provided with a with an off-the-shelf embedded Linux distribution that
boots from CompactFlash. More info on the Voom PC can be found in a
article. Depending on the choice of motherboards, prices for the
Voom PC range from
$299 to $399.
With a 100W PSU (the smallest that they sell, as far as I could see)
you would want your robot to have a really big battery just for the
computation. Why can't they have mobile technology processors?
You could just make your own small PC along the same lines by going here
and buying the bits:
get the low power EPIA 5000 fanless board and a PSU which they sell down
to 60W - the PC will only take the power it needs so it won't run too
hot with no drives connected etc. The small 'plugin' or single board
PSUs take 12v in from a mains adapter / battery.
which boots from a flash drive / usb key (and supports wireless etc)
I have the EPIA 800 board at home which I plan to do just this with. I
was going to just screw the board and PSU to a piece of plywood and
cover it with some cardboard and tin foil for screen it. It's in a
plastic box right now but it doesn't get too hot so no need for a really
Not sure how much power it will take but I'll be writing about on my
website at some point. The mains adapter supplied is rated at 5A but I
think it will much less with no hard disk / CD ROM.
Ive tried similar stuff before just powering a 486 running dos off
batteries can take over 13Amps at 5v mind!
robot size, posted 18 Oct 2005 at 13:25 UTC by steve »
I'm thinking these would be perfect for something the size of a Grand
Challenge robot. For small robots that need a PC onboard, a gumstix
would be a better plan. Less power and tiny size but about the same
although, the White Box PC924 bot uses mini-itx boards.
I'll measure the power my EPIA 800 takes later from it's 12v PSU input
and we'll see how hungry it is - it's less than 5A as I say, because
that's what the 12V mains adapter is rated at...
right, found this to save me the trouble of getting my multimeter out:
It tells me that with my EPIA 800 running with just one compact flash
drive it will consume a total of between 11 and 22 watts which is approx
between 1 and 2 amps at 12v; depending on if it's idle or playing a DVD...
Obviously the more you add, wireless cards etc it be will be a little
more. But not too bad considering it will run Windows if you really want
it to. Also of course it supports standard PC bits and pieces, PCI cards
and standard drives, input devices etc.
Looks like I better get one then. Looks like all of a sudden PCs have
become power efficient!
yes, it was suprisingly low. when I have it booting from a USB stick and
running the OS, communicating on the network etc, I'll measure it again
but I don't expect it to be over 2 amps when it's doing lots of processing.
The other boards consume more power, the P4m board says 50watts on the