Mini PC with internal power supply?

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Neil E., Jul 13, 2013.

  1. Neil E.

    Neil E. Been here awhile

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    I'm hoping the PC gurus have some suggestions. I need a small PC for doing industrial programming work (PLCs, HMIs, etc.). It doesn't need much computing power; a variety of ports is more important. Serial, USB, 10/100 ethernet and monitor is all I really need.

    Don't suggest notebooks, BTDT never want another. It's unlikely the small screen of a tablet will be large enough. I've found several 4:3 17" or 19" LED monitors that will be perfect (not widescreen). Setup with a wireless keyboard/mouse combo, these will do exactly what I want.

    So is there a mini PC that can be the brains of the setup? I want to avoid external power supplies, but will consider them if no other choices are available. As you can probably tell, ease of portability is not critical, but I'd like something smaller than a mini tower.

    The only other solution is an all-in-one PC since there are a few choices with 4:3 screens. They seem to be geared for higher performance than what I require.
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  2. BillsR100

    BillsR100 Happy Paleoflatus

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    Not sure why the aversion to laptops, but there are many many very small PC's out there but I can only find a few that are battery powered.
    A battery that powers a PC would be fairly large and heavy, bigger and heavier than the PC itself.

    If I were in your shoes, I would get a good used laptop and plug in any larger monitor you want, as well as wireless key board and mouse. By doing that, you would have a battery powered computer capable of running your larger monitor.
    .....oops, never mind, the external monitor will require a power supply, dang.

    You need a large screen laptop.
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  3. filmfan

    filmfan Been here awhile

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    A Mac Mini might be a candidate
    They have bluetooth (wireless keyboard, rodent or trackpad), wireless and wired ethernet, usb ports and two kinds of video inputs, but no serial port.
    For OS you can run Mac OS (Unix), Windows or Linux
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  4. Neil E.

    Neil E. Been here awhile

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    Battery power isn't required. Keep in mind I work in industrial environments with lots of AC power. The idea is to plug the PC directly into AC power and avoid a 120AC to ~19VDC adapter. Same as a monitor plugs directly into AC.

    Extensive googling yields little industrial PCs like these:
    http://www.stealth.com/littlepc_100_ultraminipc.htm
    http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/systems/
    http://www.ibt.ca/v2/items/cmi100500/index.html
    http://www.cappuccinopc.com/?gclid=CN-6iv2LrbgCFY87Mgod7FkAqw

    They all require AC adapters, but the small size might make the adapter worthwhile. One even operates at 12VDC.
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  5. Neil E.

    Neil E. Been here awhile

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    I looked at some of the small units as per your link; none have RS232 ports (I don't like fumbling with USB to Serial port adapters).

    Laptops suck big time due to the retarded keyboard layouts. Button locations are mixed up and thus clumsy to use. Laptops also have wide screens which have no value to me. PLC programs are typically "ladder" diagrams that are tall and narrow - the exact opposite of a wide screen.
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  6. BillsR100

    BillsR100 Happy Paleoflatus

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    Looking for a new PC with a RS232 port will be hard to find.
    And I couldnt agree with you more about the dumb wide screens these days!! Drives me nuts. I write software and at work and many of us have our wide PC monitors sitting wide side up then set Windows to rotate the display 90 degrees (its in your windows display settings), works great.
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  7. Zoef zoef

    Zoef zoef Been here awhile

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    You may want to look at a "raspberry pi" . Might fit tour requirements. RS232 is not direct, but can be supported with some additions.
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  8. emerson.biguns

    emerson.biguns All idiot, no savant

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    You don't have to use the keyboard or screen on a laptop. Why not just add a wireless keyboar/mouse and an external monitor of the format you require?

    A $1,200 industrial PC seems kind of silly.






    .
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  9. KSJEEPER

    KSJEEPER Long timer

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    So you need a small computing device, with various ports, but not a laptop.

    Like asking for a way to get to work, 50 miles away, in under an hour, but no internal combustion engines. BTDT.

    Perhaps you had a turd of a laptop previously? Why eliminate a class of device based on a bad experience? My first car was a POS, but I still have an automobile to this day.

    Desktops in corp america today are for TRUE power users, the guys who need massive horsepower, or call center reps. Even CC reps are going to WYSE terms. Thats about it. The desktop is a dying breed. Kept alive by gamers and guys with massive computing and storage needs. But maybe the hundreds of millions of laptop users worldwide are wrong?
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  10. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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    I agree that a laptop seems ideal, but whatever.

    There are all kinds of options. It sounds like this is less for running something on the computer than to hook up, program and debug another controller/computer/etc. - if you haven't already said that, then maybe make that clear?

    The Mac Mini is good - used ones are fairly available, and don't think that you have to run OSX if you don't want to; you can run Linux or Windows on it too, either as dual boot, in a VM or as the only system. There are also a number of Wintel equivalents - I think Dell makes several for example.

    However, if you are hauling this around, you might consider an all-in-one computer like and iMac or one of the Wintel equivalents where the computer and display are one unit. Personally I don't like them as I prefer to be able to upgrade/replace the display separately.

    As for RS 232, there are USB adapters to just about anything.
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  11. troidus

    troidus Long timer

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    But he does not want to use an adapter.

    OP, look at business-class SFF desktops. They're more likely to have serial and parallel ports and will have a 3/3/3 warranty. If they don't have the ports, they'll have an open card slot that you can put an I/O board in to get what you want. Here are a couple that have serial ports.

    http://www.pcconnection.com/IPA/Shop/Product/Detail.htm?sku=14593126&cac=Result

    http://www.pcconnection.com/IPA/Shop/Product/Detail.htm?sku=14927878&cac=Result
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  12. Neil E.

    Neil E. Been here awhile

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    I was just given a brand new Toshiba Satellite C70D at work since my 10 year old machine is having USB trouble. Part of the frustration is Windows 8. Totally retarded operating system compared to the simplicity of XP.

    My old unit is a predecessor of today's all-in one PCs. It's an Angel 3300 LCD PC and has been stellar for the work I do. Bristling with ports, it could hookup to everything. I use it for programming controllers and displays. A lot of typing is required so a full size keyboard is essential.

    I looked at using the Toshiba laptop with an external monitor and keyboard as suggested, but all the pieces together will require more space than my old setup. I'm leaning towards putting one of the mini PCs on the back of a regular 4:3 monitor.
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  13. a1fa

    a1fa Throttle Jockey™

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  14. emerson.biguns

    emerson.biguns All idiot, no savant

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  15. Yamarocket630

    Yamarocket630 Honey Badger

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    Look into a wide screen monitor that can be rotated to become a tall, narrow screen.

    For example: [​IMG]
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  16. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    FWIW I use a laptop in a dock running 3 27" screens using a wireless keyboard/mouse all day every day at work. Then I bring it home with me on weekends. Works great.

    They do make tiny little PCs now. We have one in our conference room at work. Its probably 3" thick and 5" long/wide I'd guess. I think it only has USB and HDMI outputs thought.

    Why the aversion to an external power supply? You know PCs have the same thing more or less, just bolted to the inside of the case right?
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  17. Neil E.

    Neil E. Been here awhile

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    An external PS is just more clutter, that's all. The old Angel unit had a standard power suply and hard drive in the base. All the other ports were on the back/sides of the monitor. Setup was VERY fast because all I need to connect was the AC power cord. And add whatever communication cables the job called for. I really liked how fast and simple it was.

    I've nailed down the monitor to the Viewsonic VG932M-LED. The vesa adapter surface is free for PC mounting. Keyboard and mouse will be the Logitech MK270. At this point the Mini-box M350 looks like the best case.
    Motherboard: MI980 Onboard BGA1364 4th generation Intel® mobile Core i7/i5 Intel QM87 seems to have the best multiple port support.

    http://www.ibt.ca/v2/industrialboard/minitx.html
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  18. Neil E.

    Neil E. Been here awhile

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  19. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

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  20. Neil E.

    Neil E. Been here awhile

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    Lots of punch in that little package. The price points makes the dongle nightmare look almost tolerable.
    #20