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Mini Computer Custom Enclosure for Power Management

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#1 Between17

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Posted 24 June 2021 - 02:37 PM

OK I know the first thing people are going to say is "you can buy lots of different NUC covers" This is not a NUC sized computer, it is smaller. A NUC cover will not work here.

 

I use a Primaluce Eagle3 on my 106mm refractor and it is great. For me, having all the cables attached to a single box on the mount makes life a lot better. However, the Eagle would be too big for my 55mm refractor set up. And it is not inexpensive.

 

In a quest for alternatives I checked out the PrimaLuce Core product, as well as the usual other suspects: AsiAir, Stellarmate, Atik, Pegasus. None of these will allow me to control my QHY camera, run the Windows software I want, and distribute power. So I decided to make something based on a small mini computer.

 

The first step was to pick up a Mele Quieter2 mini computer.

It has the following attributes that were important to me:

Win10 Pro
Enough processing power to run NINA & PHD2 & Connectify
Fanless
Small (131x80x18mm)
4 USB3 ports
runs on 12 V
MicroSD card slot

 

What is missing from this is any ability to manage power. So I learned OpenSCAD and starting with a public domain SCAD enclosure, designed a simple enclosure that will replace the bottom plate of the Mele.

 

The enclosure will take 12V in, and route it to 4 5.5 x 2.1 mm connectors for connection to the mount, camera, focuser, and the mini computer. There will be one (or hopefully two - TBD) USB outlets that will be for 5V power out only. Also want to squeeze in a buck boost converter to give a variable 0-12V for a dew heater. I designed a small circuit to provide reverse polarity protection for everything.

 

On the top of the enclosure is a rail to allow me to mount it to the underside of a Vixen dovetail.

 

I 3D printed out Rev 1, now doing some final design tweaks and hope to print out Rev 2 shortly.

 

Looking for C&C!

 

IMG_1629.JPG

 

Enclosure.jpg


Edited by Between17, 24 June 2021 - 02:40 PM.


#2 Between17

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Posted 24 June 2021 - 02:38 PM

A couple more photos.

 

IMG_1625.JPG

 

 



#3 Between17

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Posted 24 June 2021 - 02:39 PM

IMG_1627.JPG


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#4 xEOIx

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Posted 24 June 2021 - 05:30 PM

Nice, looks pretty good! I actually just picked up one of these mini computers and they are great. Seems fantastic for the price. Making a custom case for it too, but it will also house other electronics like a powerbox and autofocus equipment. 

 

Out of curiosity, why did you choose to remove the backplate? I was thinking I'd just get a longer screw and fasten it through its backplate. 



#5 Between17

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Posted 24 June 2021 - 05:50 PM

 

Out of curiosity, why did you choose to remove the backplate? I was thinking I'd just get a longer screw and fasten it through its backplate. 

Thanks! I haven't actually completely decided on that yet. It doesn't seem that the backplate is being used for a heatsink, so I figured no harm in removing it and by doing so I would gain a few mm in headroom in my enclosure that might be helpful. I'm trying to keep this super duper small!

 

I wasn't sure if the plate was performing any kind of grounding function, or perhaps being used by the wifi though. It looks like the one USB port on the side has a metal screen covered piece of foam stuck to it, that must be there for conductivity to the plate although I am not sure why.

 

However it looks like I will need to make the enclosure a bit taller anyways to fit in a second USB power port. In that case I could leave the plate in.


Edited by Between17, 24 June 2021 - 05:52 PM.

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#6 xEOIx

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Posted 25 June 2021 - 02:05 PM

I see, yeah, it does seem it isn't used as a heatsink, and either way I don't think NINA + PHD2 will max out the chip, and with your location it probably won't be a problem anyway. I stress tested the thing when ambient was 22C and it was totally fine. As far as the ground, I wasn't too sure so that's why I just kept the plate on.

 

I'm interested to see how it turns out once your done, maybe I'll show my setup too once I can get my printer to start acting nice with me and not freaking out. Might have to just print solid pieces and not include the small M3 holes as it seems adhesion is a problem. 



#7 Between17

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Posted 25 June 2021 - 05:26 PM

Sorry about your printer troubles. I don't have a 3D printer so I used a local service. Their print quality was super sharp.

 

Post a photo of your enclosure when you are ready, I look forward to it!

 

I took apart  a car USB charger with two ports on it, I plan to use that to give me two USB ports that'll supply power. So to fit that in I had to make the box taller, it was about 3/4" tall before now it's more like 1 1/8". So I will probably keep the plate on to be safe since I have the space.

 

Meanwhile I am waiting for the power connectors to arrive so I can confirm their diameter. They have been stuck in Seattle for two weeks!

 

Mele 2.jpg




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