Building a cheap (and cool) EFIKA case
Note: You can view bigger versions of the pictures shown here on the „Photos“ page
When we were in need of a new SVN Server we decided to set up an EFIKA based system. It seemed disproportionate to use one of our P IV heat.. ehrr computers for such a small task and so this was the ideal excuse for getting our hands on one of those interesting EFIKAs.
The board is really, really small. I made this photo which shows the EFIKA’s size (with installed HD & graphics card) in comaprision to a tealight and a watch.
So what we needed now was a nice case for the system. Sure, you could mount the EFIKA into a normal PC casing but that would be, apart from wasting space, just plain and simple boring.
Fortunately there was this old crappy flatbed scanner floating around, which was never that great anyway. The perfect candidate for this project: Disembowling the scanner and installing the EFIKA. After liberating the scanner of all it’s entrails I mounted the EFIKA for a first test.
The old ATX power supply used for testing obviously wasn’t the best solution :) A picoPSU is much more befitting the EFIKA. A picoPSU is a very small DC-DC converter which plugs directly into the ATX socket.
In the next picture you can see the bottom part of the scanner case with all parts mounted. The picoPSU needs an external Universal AC Adapter (like notebook computers) which is also mounted inside the scanner casing
The small PCB which can be seen in front contains the scanner’s original power switch and power led. It is attached to the appropriate connectors on the EFIKA mainboard. Since we don’t use a graphics card, we need access to the serial port in order to administrate the machine in case the network doesn’t come up. We have much more 1:1 male- to-female serial cables floating around than null-modem cables. So a null-modem adaptor was improvised, swapping the TX and RX lines using to DSUB9 connectors.
Now the case is almost done. We only need to reattach the top part of the scanner case and there ist is: The first(?) EFIKA in a stylish scanner casing. Now we can run our EFIKA completely in stealth mode :)
The server found its home in the Ambient Computing laboratory where it is happily sitting serving SVN user’s via SSH under Debian Linux.
The information poster attached to the scanner’s lid shows some information about the EFIKA board and the MPC5200B SoC. It also gives the system’s Treemark rating (devised by VIA), where ironically the EFIKA beats anything VIA has to offer :).
In it’s free time the server does some distributed computing. Its not the fasted rig in the lot, but gets something done anyway. However since the client already eats half the RAM, the machine might need to stop the number crunching as its normal workload increases.
We also have an eye on temperature, but at the moment the server has been up for 47 days, and the HD temperature never increased over 50°C, while normally staying at 45°C with is well within the acceptable range for that drive.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me: