VIA Mini-ITX, a Paper Clip and 12V Power! We’re At First Base!

OK, so I’ve been sitting on this VIA board from MEDC for the past few months, waiting for TechEd and other things to subside, which they have, so I got cranking on my project.

Now, my initial idea was to build an in-car media studio, something capable of capturing video, voice and location, keeping it all in a database that I could then sync later and publish to the web.

This will be phase 1.

Phase 2 will be to take all that learning, and mount the mini-machine on a mobile platform and create my robot of doom!!!

So my first hurdle this week has been to power the board, which is no easy task. Because I need to make sure I can move this thing in an out of a car and robot.

To cut a long story short, the deal is, the board is expecting an ATX style power supply. For our mobile purposes, we need something battery based. So if in the car, it will run off the car power system (directly wired to the battery like a stereo or via the cigarette lighter).

When in the office, I just need to connect it to the wall, and be able to deploy new releases to it.

And finally, when on the bot (or mobile), it needs to draw power from a battery.

So the solution for all you VIA hackers out there is to grab a power kit for the VIA board. I grabbed the Morex 80W Power Kit.

Now this comes with three things, a board that allows you to connect it to your VIA boards power socket. From that board, there is a smaller three pin connector that you can connect the AC/DC style power brick connector for when you’re in the office, or a 12V DC source, such as a battery (Lead or NiMH power pack) or car power system.

If you plan to run it from mains power, you’ll need a power supply kind of what you have for a laptop, but it needs to be a 12V DC output one. Again, I got one from Jaycar (they are the best bunch of techies for this kind of stuff) and it’s works perfectly with the Morex board.

The last step in the process is to get a 2-pin switch, to trigger the power on the board. After all the stuff above, you would have thought that would have been easy? Nope! So after friggin’ around with this, that and that, I turned to Nigel Watson (who by the way is a genius electrical engineer) in tears! He thought for two seconds, grabbed a paperclip, touched the 6 and 8 pins on the board, and the thing fired up like New Years Eve! A paperclip! He is the geek MacGyver!

So the next step is to get the Windows XP Embedded image cranking, and also to organise my VoomPC enclosure!

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