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Thread: Cortex PC suggestion

  1. #1
    Automated Home Guru marcuslee's Avatar
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    Default Cortex PC suggestion

    Hi Guys,

    Was looking for a low cost, small sized suitable candidate, and I've settled on a second hand Notebook, as they have the grunt, are low power, small in size, and built in UPS with it's battery pack!

    The only thing I had to overcome was how to auto restart after power loss, as I wasn't able to find a Notebook BIOS which supported this like desktop PCs. And in that regard I've found a solution by building this module which provides the momentary power switch press upon receipt of a 12v signal (also checks to see if laptop is already on, and doesn't momentary press the power button):
    http://www.mp3car.com/user-innovatio...on-module.html

    I've got 12v in the system as I'm using it for something else, thus when power is restored, on goes the Cortex PC if it was off.


    Also in case you anyone was wondering, (as a long time Thinkpad fan for robustness) I went for a Thinkpad T61, with a dock station, and wired the momentary power into the dock station power button (so I don't have to butcher the notebook).

    Additionally (though I've not tested how well it works in real life), Lenovo has a utility to monitor the health and intelligent maintenance of the Thinkpad battery to try and maintain it's longevity if always plugged into mains power.

    Hope someone finds the above of use!

    Marcus

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    Automated Home Guru JonS's Avatar
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    I also went down the Notebook route for all the same reasons. I think the only disadvantage is lack of expansion slots for e.g. CCTV or voice modem cards, though cards with USB do exist.
    Great idea for the auto restart button, great idea - thanks
    JonS

  3. #3
    Automated Home Guru marcuslee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonS View Post
    I also went down the Notebook route for all the same reasons. I think the only disadvantage is lack of expansion slots for e.g. CCTV or voice modem cards, though cards with USB do exist.
    Great idea for the auto restart button, great idea - thanks
    JonS
    Just as a follow up, there's not even any need for the external power on homebrew modules now - Lenovo now have a "Always power on with AC Attach" BIOS option from their X201 / T410 range onwards by the look of it.

    (When I get some pennies up, I'll be moving over to either of these).

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    with hindsight, we might well have chosen a laptop approach ...

    ie: we went MiniITX, for low power consumption, and just-enough of what was needed, but we're regretting it already :

    - we've had to add a UPS, which adds to the consumption ('though it does cover other things besides) ...

    - the IVC200 video-capture card's GPIO interface can't be accommodated, physically ...

    - it wont' drive the full resolution of the wider screen we bought to conveniently accommodate Structure & Plan View together ...

    - its lowish GHz & Gb ratings are beginning to tell, during setting-up & editing, as we get more & more modules commissioned, and as we contemplate getting video aspects going (AUI & CCTV) ...

    - it seems incapable of supporting audio comm's

    OTOH, cooling / ventilation might be more of an issue, with a laptop
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 25th February 2012 at 06:19 PM.

  5. #5
    Automated Home Guru marcuslee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    with hindsight, we might well have chosen a laptop approach ...

    ie: we went MiniITX, for low power consumption, and just-enough of what was needed, but we're regretting it already :

    - we've had to add a UPS, which adds to the consumption ('though it does cover other things besides) ...

    - the IVC200 video-capture card's GPIO interface can't be accommodated, physically ...

    - it wont' drive the full resolution of the wider screen we bought to conveniently accommodate Structure & Plan View together ...

    - its lowish GHz & Gb ratings are beginning to tell, during setting-up & editing, as we get more & more modules commissioned, and as we contemplate getting video aspects going (AUI & CCTV) ...

    - it seems incapable of supporting audio comm's

    OTOH, cooling / ventilation might be more of an issue, with a laptop
    Interesting.

    So from my approach, Cortex won't be doing too much else like video etc.

    So not too taxing.

    Also on that front my fav is Lenovo Thinkpads as they're robust (also in terms of hopefully running long term without heat issues).

    Also though one of the Lenovo utils that come loaded are the auto maintain health of batteries, such that it doesn't just charge up the battery and keep it at maximum. You can choose the option to maintain the longevity of the battery (I think it will change the charge up routine slightly, and also I think there's an actual 'drain down' battery refresh manual click button also).

    It also has a health feedback of the battery, so in that regard, I'm hoping it'll be UPS feature like.

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    IBM ThinkPads were standard issue at work and, have to say, we found them pretty awful ... poor battery life, frequent crashes, everything a fight. The OS system was a large part of it, as were the challenges of using it as a mobile device (moving around - office to office, airport to airport, site to site) ...

    that was over three years ago, though, so maybe it's better now ...

    using it statically, for just HA, also might help ...

    OTOH, what would be better ... ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    OTOH, what would be better ... ?
    I'm on the cusp of trying Cortex on Parallels on a Mac Mini ...
    ----------------------
    www.gumbrell.com

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    interesting - let us know how it goes !

    we have a dual HD one set-aside to act as a network server, so could be tempted, too ...

  9. #9
    Automated Home Guru marcuslee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcuslee View Post
    Hi Guys,

    Was looking for a low cost, small sized suitable candidate, and I've settled on a second hand Notebook, as they have the grunt, are low power, small in size, and built in UPS with it's battery pack!

    The only thing I had to overcome was how to auto restart after power loss, as I wasn't able to find a Notebook BIOS which supported this like desktop PCs. And in that regard I've found a solution by building this module which provides the momentary power switch press upon receipt of a 12v signal (also checks to see if laptop is already on, and doesn't momentary press the power button):
    http://www.mp3car.com/user-innovatio...on-module.html

    I've got 12v in the system as I'm using it for something else, thus when power is restored, on goes the Cortex PC if it was off.


    Also in case you anyone was wondering, (as a long time Thinkpad fan for robustness) I went for a Thinkpad T61, with a dock station, and wired the momentary power into the dock station power button (so I don't have to butcher the notebook).

    Additionally (though I've not tested how well it works in real life), Lenovo has a utility to monitor the health and intelligent maintenance of the Thinkpad battery to try and maintain it's longevity if always plugged into mains power.

    Hope someone finds the above of use!

    Marcus
    Hi Guys,

    Just as a follow up, the above is NOT a good solution for Cortex. Upon real life testing (ie un anticipated power drops to a production network!), it seems that the USB module interrupts the PCU USB. What results is that some time after the reapplication of power, the USB serial disappears from Device Manager.

    Naturally though, the built in BIOS option listed in the thread is a nicer solution.

  10. #10
    Automated Home Guru marcuslee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcuslee View Post
    Hi Guys,

    Just as a follow up, the above is NOT a good solution for Cortex. Upon real life testing (ie un anticipated power drops to a production network!), it seems that the USB module interrupts the PCU USB. What results is that some time after the reapplication of power, the USB serial disappears from Device Manager.

    Naturally though, the built in BIOS option listed in the thread is a nicer solution.
    Hi All,

    Follow up to my follow up, turns out it does actually work ok. The problem in my case was that when power was dropped, the dock station would drop out as well and as it happens, that's where the PCU was homed to!

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