I travel a lot and I like to take my media with me. However, I'm rarely end up at places with a strong internet connection and I don't like having to hook up my laptop to the TV. So a couple months ago I decided to build a portable media computer, and as a result, Mjölnir was born.
Mjölnir (so named because it looked like Thor's hammer before I painted it), is essentially a Raspberry Pi, a powered USB hub, and a portable HDD tucked inside an electronic enclosure.
The Raspberry Pi is great, especially when it's tucked away behind a monitor. However, it isn't perfect as a something to carry around with in your travels. To make it as small as possible the connections are all on different sides of the board. Plus, once you've found them all, you have to hook up the pi to a hub, the the hub back to the pi to power it, and then your portable HDD into the hub, then plug in power to the hub, HDMI into the pi, and ethernet. . . . on and on. And a crow's nest of wires does not look very good.
Mjölnir was born out of a need for simplicity. I wanted it to be just like a tiny computer, all the ports at the back, just plug things in and go.
If you follow these instructions you too can have a portable media computer for around $215.
Wow, the feedback and response to this has been incredible. Thank you to everyone that has viewed it and commented. I'm glad the majority of you like it. After recieving some feedback I'll try to clarify some points I failed to make in my instructable:
- Orientation - The removeable plate is actually the bottom. I attached bits of Sugru to that for feet, and after I closed the lid I flipped it over and that's the bottom. Showing pictures of the internal configuration made it confusing, because when you see inside the case with the panel removed, you're actually looking at it upside down.
- WiFi - Originally i had one of the ports on the USB hub for a WiFi Dongle; however that thick aluminum blocks all WiFi. I don't need WiFi (like I said I use this mostly in places where there isn't internet); but if you' need one I'd recommend buying another USB panel connector and mounting it just above the first one. There should be an open port since I have my fan plugged into the Pi directly.
- Fan & Temp - Yes, that is a 12V fan, and yes USB only puts out 5V. It doesn't run at full speed (or even half speed), but it moves enough air for the little heat my HDD makes and it's super quiet. I watched many hours of full 1080p content over the weekend and the Pi's CPU never got above 54C.
- The OS - I'm running RaspBMC (http://www.raspbmc.com/) which is a custom Linux kernel based on Rasbian which in turn is based on Debian Wheezy. Once installed it boots directly into XBMC which is all you can use. This was a big plus for me, because this makes it very user friendly for my friends. If you're looking for a full fledged computer with a browser, games, etc. this probably isn't for you.
- The Pi will also support OpenElec (XBMC) and RasPlex (Plex) as OSes.
- Control - So one of the reasons I choose the Pi is because it supports CEC over HDMI. This means that MOST newer TV's can control the pi using their factory remote. This was a big plus for me, because this makes it very user friendly for my friends.
- Cost - Yes, as mentioned at $215 you're almost into NUC territory. However, remember that includes 2TB of storage, memory , and remote control (through CEC). Additionally, I, like so many of us, already had a Pi, an external HDD, Sugru, many of these cables lying around. So the cost ended up only being less than $100. I included the TOTAL cost for someone wanting to start from scratch. Just so they know what they'll be getting into.