Home | News Archive | January 2006

The picoPSU
January 15, 2006

The picoPSU-120 from Mini-Box is the world's smallest snap-in 12V DC-DC ATX power supply unit. It measures just 31 x 45 x 20mm - about the size of two AA batteries - and plugs straight into the ATX connector on your motherboard. As a fully compliant 120W DC-DC ATX PSU it can power the current range of C3 motherboards, as well as the forthcoming C7 boards and AMD and Intel based Mini-ITX boards.

Strictly speaking, it's actually a DC-DC converter, and is used in conjunction with an external AC adapter. The AC Adapter converts 110V or 240V mains power to 12V power. This goes into the DC-DC converter via (the black and white) 12V cable and is converted into 12V, 5V and 3.3V lines for the motherboard. In addition to the yellow 20 pin ATX power connector built into the picoPSU, there is a small wiring harness with two standard 4 pin Molex HDD connectors and one FDD power connector, to power hard and optical drives.

The secret of the picoPSU are state of the art, patent pending SMT components and highly efficient power MOSFETS. The use of shieded SMT inductors and Special Polymer (SP) capacitors further reduce the overall size, keeping emmisions and heat dissipation low.

We've had these for a few days now and can already think of many uses for it. We can see this thing being great for Mini-ITX projects, and as a retro-fit replacement for cases with power supplies with cooling fans - making them completely silent. As a bonus, it's 96% efficient, so barely gets warm.

The picoPSU-120 at the Mini-ITX Online Store

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VoomPC in a Chevrolet SSR
January 14, 2006

Mini-Box sent us some pictures of VIA's Rick Clayton demonstrating one of their VoomPC Mini-ITX vehicle enclosures, mounted in his rather splendid Slingshot Yellow Chevrolet SSR at CES this year.

The dark coloured box slightly above the bright blue VoomPC is something that Rick made to eliminate the internal cabling mess (mostly USB devices). Everything has been mounted non-permanently, so the interior hasn't been damaged by the installation.

Specifications: VoomPC Case, M1-ATX PSU, 256MB DDR RAM, EPIA MII 12000 Motherboard, 40GB 2.5in HDD running Windows, 6.0L V8 Engine.

VoomPC at the Mini-ITX Online Store

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AOpen show Mini-ITX boards at CES
January 07, 2006

Regular readers of this site have known the benefits all along, but finally a major motherboard manufacturer is testing the water. AOpen have displayed two Mini-ITX form factor motherboards at CES, both with rather desirable specifications.

The MoDT i915GMt-FA (pictured above) is a Pentium M powered board, using Intel's 915GM chipset. It has two DDRII RAM slots, dual Gigabit LAN, 1394 Firewire socket, a PCI slot, 2 SATA connectors, a 40 pin IDE connector, VGA, DVI and both S-Video and YPbPr Outputs. Power is provided through a 4 pin Molex connector, slightly less bulky than the more standard 20 pin ATX connector. The board was displayed without a CPU installed, but with a heatsink on the Southbridge and a meatier one (presumably) on the Northbridge. With current Pentium M CPUs we'd expect a fan and heatsink arrangement - AOpen quote under 30 dBA for the board in operation.

The MoDT i945GTt-VFA is the first board we've seen to support the Intel Core Duo processor (aka Yonah), courtesy of Intel's 945GT chipset. It has two DDR2 SODIMM slots, dual Gigabit LAN, DVI, VGA, S-Video, and Composite outputs, one Mini-PCI slot, 2 SATA connectors, a 40 pin IDE connector and the same 4 pin Molex power connector as the i915GMt-FA. Beyond that details are scarce - we'll let you know when more information becomes available.

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The Azimut 2 Omnidirectional Robot
January 06, 2006

Robomotio, and the Laborious Mobile Robotics research laboratory at Sherbrooke University in Quebec have completed their "Azimut 2" Omnidirectional robotic platform.

The Azimut 2 is powered by two 24V NiMH battery packs and an external power tether, with an elastic actuator, vertical suspension system and high efficiency brushless motor and gearbox driving each wheel. The result is four independent directed wheels, suitable for operation over both flat surfaces and uneven terrains. The Azimut 2 can change the direction of these wheels through 180 degrees, making the robot capable of moving sideways without changing its heading. That's the omnidirectional part.

The Mini-ITX part (of course) is the Pentium M Mini-ITX motherboard providing high-level processing functionality, which in turn drives the low-level controllers through a shared 1 Mbps CAN bus.

Specifications: Overall Dimensions: 60 x 52 x 29 cm; Weight: 35 kg; Max Slope: 35; Payload: 34Kg; Max Speed: 5.3 km/h; Max Direction System Speed: 180 /s; Direction System Continuous Torque: 9.8 Nm; Max Wheel Torque: 8.5 Nm; Wheel Diameter: 16 cm.

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