Friday, January 29, 2010

Vault-OS, Power Hogs and Expedient X86 Devices

I've now run the PowerBASIC for DOS Sentry program on three different platforms. A PC/104 board, a cheap laptop converted to compact flash storage and a Wyse thin client with a new PXE.

The first two devices are power hogs. Sorry, people but my power supply meter doesn't lie. The first two devices draw between 2 amps and 7.5 amps when running and never less than 1 amp when in standby/hibernate. The laptop requires a universal battery at 17.5 volts. That's a lot of juice for a real-time system that doesn't rely on mains access. Practically speaking, just not practical. This is one of the reasons I have been unable to keep Vault-OS running for long before I discover it has drained the shelter batteries.

Unacceptable. We want Vault-OS to run on anything forever with no more power than comes off the average cheap solar panel. It has to run fairly smoothly 24 hours a day on a variable voltage and current even with programmed hibernations. In a perfect world, around 500 ma would be ideal ... but where do you get an X86 with those kinds of specs? Sounds like a pipe dream.

Turns out the Wyse 1125SE running from it's console DOS can do it!!!!! Hey, aren't you glad some complete stranger on the internet is doing all this free research for you? After running 72 hours off a simple 12v rechargeable battery I am convinced these thin clients are the direction I should concentrate my efforts on.

Here's where I stand on this problem right now. I have to exit the thin client manager into the firmware console and then load my program from a USB plugged in and run it with a configuration file. I am trying to figure out how to skip the thin client firmware at bootup, go straight to the DOS console and run my program straight from the flash card. Including during an unexpected system reset.

When I get this figured out and running, I will put up my first cut of source code up for Vault-OS Sentry and the explanation of how I burned it to the Wyse 1125SE.


Rowan said...

Great news Tex. I know you decided against embedded systems so you could scavenge X86 devices post SHTF but have you considered using 'green mini PCs'? - 6-8 watts, only 1 watt on standby, 12 volts.

You could replace it with an X86 system post SHTF if needed or store a few extras. It's the kind of thing I may use in my vault if I manage to construct it.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the update sounds interesting. Really looking forward to release. I'll be one of the first to beta..... off to ebay now to look for a Wyse 1125SE :) Cheers

Anonymous said...

What are your computer skills?! I'm sure you could do better and more with linux than DOS.. I personally, bought a FriendlyArm system for my business.. While it's not a fast platform, it's far more powerful than what you need and you have spare gpios to connect external devices.. USB, LCD and everything in the package.. And it's cheaper too. .

Anonymous said...

The guys who made the old Psion3 had the right idea. Mono LCD with no backlight and all the chips inside, including the CPU, were CMOS FET chips. The power use was so low that you didn't turn it off when you finished using it, you just left it how you wanted to find it and closed the lid. It went for 3 months on a charge and would fit in you pocket. Nothing like that around now.


Anonymous said...,0,2770904.story

Americans are not going back to the moon. The Chinese seem to be on schedule though.

Anonymous said...

Tex, do you use a proxy to post on your blog? Do you worry about some fed agents finding your blog and finding out where you live?

Texas Arcane said...

The village idiot walks in plain view of the town archers where the bravest man fears to tread.