Introduction: Computer for RE Systems (Part 1 of 2) (Hardware)

Here I will show you how I made a fully working Mini Desktop computer for small Renewable Energy systems.

The RE system that I plan to be using will be primarily a 12 Volt system with 6 or 8 Golf Cart batteries, and I will have a 700 watt power inverter to power the lights and such, but I need a computer due to being addicted to the interwebs and to be able to work, keep in contact with people, download por.... Important Files, and such.

So I need a computer that does not take much power, yet I don't want a laptop, I like a good full size keyboard and mouse. I don't really need it to play high end games, just internet and such. I also want it to run directly off of 12 Volts because a standard computer power supply brings 120 Volts AC down to 12, 5, 3.3 Volts DC. It make no sense to have 12 Volt brought up to 120 and back down to 12 again.

The standard power inverter is about 80 to 90% efficient and the standard computer power supply it about 80% efficient, so I would easily waste 40% of the power it take to run you computer.

No, I do not want that, so lets get started.

oh, also, I was it as cheap as possible.

There is a sticker on the back that says "12V 4.5A" But I have found that this system uses only 2 or less amps at 12 Volts. I have been running it off of a 2 amp 12V AC adapter for one of my external power supplies

Step 1: Look Around for One to Use and Modify

I am and ebay looker, but I hate and don't use paypal, so it's hard to buy alot of stuff, work out good for me sometimes.

Everytime I find something I am interested in, I always check the specs out on Google, I found this Wyse WinTerm WT3455XL Terminal PC on ebay for $14.99 with free shipping, It was advertised to power on , but the BIOS was locked with a password, I looked up the specs on Google and just happened to find photos of the inside of it, after seeing all the part it had, I knew I had to get it.

Inside of this terminal there is a VIA embedded CPU Micro ITX mainboard, 12 Volt PC Power Supply which is the only thing I was really after, and one open PCI slot. There is a 32MB SSD plugs directly into the primary IDE connector on the mainboard, It has what looks to be a slim version of XPe(Embedded), but it was of no use to me, there are also 2 slots for PC133 RM and it had one 64MB stick in it already.

Step 2: Remove and Add Some Stuff

Remove that 32MB SSD

Since it takes the older PC133 SDRAM I had some 256MB sticks around.

Now that we have 512MB of RAM let's add a hard drive. That 10GB one sitting on the shelf over there will work just fine.

Step 3: HDD Hookup

Since this is just a standard Desktop IDE HDD, I put the jumper to the Master position and hooked up the power and data cable, folding the cable is a good idea here, to allow the case to be put back on top.

Step 4: Wireless?

I decided to add a WiFi card since I had an open PCI slot.

Once you have the WiFi card in, the desktop is pretty much as it will be once you are done, but we still have more to do.

Step 5: Load OS

In Part 2 I will show how to load an OS on it, and how to get rid of those annoying BIOS passwords that people like to use.

I had decided to go with and old version of Ubuntu (Warty Warthog) because the embedded cpu is either 500 or 550Mhz only.

Part 2 is here.