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Thread: My Wall-E System Pt 4 - In Wall PC (hardware)

  1. #1
    Automated Home Sr Member jaffab's Avatar
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    Dec 2008

    Default My Wall-E System Pt 4 - In Wall PC (hardware)

    As part of my home automation process (code named Wall-E (as it works from a wall based PC system – hence ‘Wall’ and ‘e’), I always wanted in the lounge to have a PC which I could use to control the house, pick media to play, turn on devices, etc. After a lot of research on the web, and asking questions on this site, I opted for a CUWIN3500 PC.

    One of the requirements for my selection of home PC was that I wanted it to run Windows CE (I wanted instant startup, no boot times as with XP), fanless, very low to no noise, and very low power usage. For me, the CUWin3500 fitted the build.

    On the whole, a very good device. The front is a lot like a picture frame – a black surround which some may consider too black, but we positioned it in a wall in the centre (a small wall by a door) and from a distance, it looks like a picture frame hung on the wall. Wife was not too upset about the look of it. In fact, she has suggested putting a wooden picture frame around it (dark bronze) so it would fit in with the real pictures in the lounge.

    Boot time for the device (Windows CE) is about 3 seconds – which is perfect as I want to power down the device when I am away (at work, etc). It has 64Mb flash drive built in (which keeps memory on power down) and 64mb ram (which is cleared on power down). However, a nice app loaded on the device saves all your settings to the flash, so as long as you install you app (and any drivers, such as CF, SQL Server client, etc) to the flash drive, change the system settings once (IP address, user ID, country etc) it will restore back to working setup on power up without any changes being lost.

    Dip settings on the side allow it to boot directly from flash. Load a program in the root of the flash, and when it starts up, it runs the program directly. This is where I put my home brew app, and it boots, loads the app and displays the screen in 5 seconds – excellent.

    Screen is first class, both in terms of display and touch screen. As part of my home brew home automation app, I display photos in the screen so it acts as a virtual photo frame, and the photos look very good on its 800 x 480 screen display. Runs VS2005, Vs2008 and CE/WM apps.

    The device has a built in speaker, which is OK when the unit is outside the wall, but when inside, is a little on the quiet side. However, it has a 3.5mm adapter port, so will connect a hidden small speaker to this inside the wall, and this will sound for alarms, events, doorbell rings etc.

    Fixing in the wall is very easy. The frame has a 9mm lip all the way around, and you get a template. This was the scary bit for me, but holding up the template to the wall and with a very sharp knife, I cut through the plaster board to leave a device sized hole. The device slid in very well, very firm – and whilst it comes with fixing clips, I don’t think I will need them as the fit is so snug. However, one thing I had to do is some minor extra cutouts around 2 of the edges to allow for the device to slide in and out with the power cable in and extra SD card- both of which extended outside the case by 1 or 2 mm.

    Speed, is average. Nothing wrong with it – but don’t expect HAL reactions here. It works fine on my app, but nothing to write home about.

    The only downside on the device that I can see is that it does not like being laid flat on its back (in a horizontal position) for more than an hour – then the heat builds up and the touch screen no longer registers touches. However, if its positioned upright, any heat escapes at the top (vents in the box in mine, which then rises between the plaster boards) and all is good.

    My device has been the soul of my home automation system (the heart is the home server running the X10 process), and has been the most reliable and easy to use of the entire set-up.

    The software application is developed by me, using .NET (I will post a separate post on this, and will also upload the source code, database (SQL SERVER) and image files, in case any one wants to walk along the same path.

    Sorry for the quality of the photos, but it gives you a general idea of what I have done.

    So here we have the back of the device - pictured with the wires in place and the hole in the wall. The wire that ends on the black thing is a room temperature sensor. You can see the available connections on the box.

    The hole I made in the wall for the device (via the template). It does not look very deep, but between the plaster and the block at the back, is 4cm (enough for the device).

    distance shot - how it looks installed. Note on mine, wife *forced* me to put a wooden surround around it (a fairly large one) of wooden brass picture frame, so it would match the pictures in the living room (sigh)

    The main screen of my home brew app on the device - nice sharp screen (photo a little fuzzy - sorry). Shows news, weather, current power use, and temperature in different rooms.

    Thre are more pictures with the dimensions of the box here...

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  2. #2
    Automated Home Sr Member jaffab's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008


    And a few more photos of the set-up....

    Displaying films to be played. As you will see, graphics display well on the screen (the images are sharp on screen, but my photo is a little out of focus, next one is better....).

    Another example of the photos on the device. A 'screen saver' photo display on the unit from my home brew app.

    Final example of the screen display - this showing a graph example. Yeah, ok, maybe the colours are a little gareish, but thats my app, and I will tone them down.

    A side on view. As I say, wife forced me to put this (rather large) wooden surround in place to match pictures in the room, however, you can see the screen sit on top of the frame, so this is how much it originally stood out from the wall (about 5mm), now thats been extended to about 2.5cm thanks to the frame. Still, had to keep the wife happy.
    __________________________________________________ _______________________
    My life is Home Automation, and my PS3 clan friends at

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