Cubieserve


A Cubieboard based ləət Router/Firewall/Server Thingy© with a bit more oomph than my Raspbery PI based $file Thingy© had. Said oomph comes not only through the faster cpu (1GHz ARMv7 vs 0.6 GHz ARMv6) and more ram (1GB vs 0.5GB), but especially from the faster IO. The Cubie's SOC has much faster USB ports, as well as SATA and Ethernet.

The Raspberry Thingy© was done rather quick and really dirty, using every type of crap parts i happened to have at hand. For the cubie i took my time and gathered (mostly) appropriate parts, or reused the good parts from the old project.
I also put more thought in the making this time. I intend to use only one power supply for everything: the Thingy© itself, Router, Display, Speaker, Phone Charger, whatever. Today, everythings powered by 12V or 5V anyway.
  • Case: Black, simple design, made of PE or other easy to work with plastics.
  • Power supply: Either 12V and 5V or 12V and and 12V-to-5V step down converter. At least 2A on 12V and 4A on 5V.
  • System: Cubiboard and baseboard (for VGA), good USB Hub (cheap one are sometimes unstable and die soon)
  • Storage: internal 4GB Flash for root, big'n'cheap USB Stick for home, big SATA HDD for $DATA
  • Peripherals: USB Wifi Stick whose drivers support AP mode and with Antenna Connector, USB Ethernet Adapter.
  • Extra: GPIO controlled Relays, Nokia 5110 Display, 433MHz RF Transmitter, temperature sensor
  • Head: 15" TFT, tiny wireless keyboard/mouse combo, speaker



BOM

  • Case: Got it for 1€ from a flea market. (9.08€ $file Conrad)
  • 12V mains: noname, had it at hand. Everything with enough power should work. But use a switching one.
  • 5V converter: CPT 12V to 5V step down converter: 3.90€, $file eBay
  • Cubieboard 1: 52.50€, $file Watterott
  • Cheap baseboard with VGA: 11.11€, $file Watterott
  • Wifi Stick: ~13€, $file Amazon
  • Ethernet Stick: 10-15€, $file Conrad (cheaper on Amazon or eBay, but care: some sold as USB 2.0 are actually USB 1.1)
  • Thumbdrive: 32GB, 10€ from Staples.
  • 2.5" 600G HDD: salvaged from broken notebook. Hard to get for cheap.
  • Relays: $file 1kΩ resistor, $file 1N4001, $file BC548, $file relais
  • Nokia 5110 Display: 5pieces ~8.19€, $file eBay (but you can get them in single quantities)
  • 433MHz RF Transmitter: ~3.89€, $file Amazon
  • 15" TFT: had one rusting in the shelf. Can be bought cheap at $file eBay or flea markets
  • good sturdy 4-Port USB Hub: 0.5€, flea market or 25.79€ $file Amazon
  • Tiny keybaord with touchpad: 14.99€, $file Amazon
  • modified crappy USB powered Speaker: 5€ from Conrad, many years ago. 10€ for better drivers from Conrad, some years ago.


Build


These kind of case are made of Polystyrol, and thus pretty soft. One can cut holes just with a knife. When clipped together they are pretty sturdy. Really good for tinkering. In this project, all holes are either cut with a carpenters knife or drilled.
The baseboard is mounted by threaded plastic spacers glued to the case. Since i bought the baseboard only after i mounted the cubie alone i had to close some of the holes with scrap plastic and super glue.
The USB Hub is supported by two metal breackets from a toy set screwed to more spacers. The hdd is held by three more of those metal brackets. I used a soldering iron to heat nuts and weld them into the case as mounts for the hdd brackets.
The step down converter is screwed to backplane through a hole. A heat sink is glued on to it outside of the case. All plugs are mounted through hole on the back. I use cable shoes for car electrics for the power supplies. The connectors for these are soldered to the perf board areas on the baseboard. The relais electronic i soldered to these areas too, except one of the two relais. The one inside is switching only 12V, the other is switching 220V.

I need to make cables for VGA and the external USB port, as well as finding a place for the USB ethernet port.


The disk mounted. The small box is the 5V regulator, its mounted through a hole in the backside to keep the heat outside.


Backside, i botched the hole for VGA connector, but not too much, i just mounted it outside.


Next step: assemble the relays on the perfboard and connect the display. There is some software work to do, the display driver is only available for the raspy.


Disposition


It worked quite satisfiable for a few years. But the distribution i used, "cubian", was not maintained. Since it was based on Debian Wheezy i got security upgrades, except for the specific kernel. I compiled a newer on, but that was tedious and the USB support became unstable. All other, maintained distribution for the platform (at least those i knew of) lacked support for video acceleration.
In the end, i gave up. Too much hassle and to much other interesting possibilities for the cubie. Thus i build a new, x86 based $file server.
total: 143.09ms (include: 2.52, request: 0.72, trace: 0.45, init: 3.25, load: 0.01, parse: 132.47, menu: 1.05, template: 2.51, minify: 0.12)