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Raspberry Pi becomes Raspberry PC via Mini-ITX carrier

Jul 16, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Raspberry Pi embedded development firm Geekroo has surpassed its Kickstarter funding goal for a Mini-ITX board and case that extends the RPi into a full-fledged computer (SBC). The Fairywren is equipped with a 24-pin ATX power supply connector, a four-port USB hub, a 2.5-inch HDD bay, a serial port, an IR remote module, GPIO breakout, and sockets for a built-in XBee radio and Arduino Uno boards.

Australia-based Geekroo, which sells a variety of Raspberry Pi cases and breakout boards, has quickly surpassed its modest Kickstarter funding goal for the Fairywren of 5,000 British Pounds. After almost two weeks, it has surpassed 7,200 Pounds, or about $10,875 U.S.



Fairywren Mini-ITX baseboard for the Raspberry Pi
(click image to enlarge)

 

The funding price is 40 pounds, or about $60. The Mini-ITX board and case prototypes are still a work in progress, but the specs will be frozen Aug. 1, 10 days before the funding round ends, says Geekroo.

The idea for the Fairywren came when the Geekroo developers became fed up with the clutter from all the cabled peripherals attached to the 85 x 56mm Raspberry Pi. The company’s earlier Pi cases protect the tiny SBC, but don’t contain all the add-ons used by a typical RPi hacker.



Fairywren component locations and rear I/O panel
(click image to enlarge)

 

The Geekroo uses the 6.7 x 6.7-inch Mini-ITX form-factor along with an acrylic case with cutouts for real-world ports. It also comes with a prepunched rear I/O panel, intended for use with typical off-the-shelf Mini-ITX cases. The board requires a Raspberry Pi from one of the later generations that include mounting holes, but support may be added later for original RPi’s.

The Fairywren appears to support the $35 Model B rather than the newer, stripped-down $25 Model A. Documentation for the system is still far from complete, but images appear to show all the RPi’s real-world ports extended to one side of the case. The current prototype shown in most of the images will be replaced with an easy-open transparent acrylic case.

The Fairywren also adds a real-world RS232 serial port, as well as a GPIO breakout panel. Instead of the normal two USB ports, an integrated hub supplies four ports.



Fairywren and its rear panel in a typical Mini-ITX case
(click image to enlarge)

 

The system includes a bay for a 2.5-inch SATA hard disk drive (HDD). Users can instead choose to use the bay to connect an Arduino Uno microcontroller board, a recent update to the design. The Arduino can be used to control basic functions of the Fairywren, including the cooling fan and a Digi XBee ZigBee radio module, available via a newly added XBee socket.



Fairywren in its optional acrylic case
(click image to enlarge)

 

Preliminary specifications for the Fairywren include:

  • Processor/memory — supports Raspberry Pi (700MHz ARM11 Broadcom BCM2835 with VideoCore IV GPU, with 512MB of SDRAM)
  • Storage — 2.5 inch SATA HDD bay; SD/MMC/SDIO slot
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port
  • I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 ports via built-in hub
    • RS232 port
    • 26-pin GPIO breakout
    • HDMI port
    • Composite RCA output
  • Other features — IR remote module; Arduino Uno socket; XBee socket; RTC; temperature sensor for cooling fan
  • Power — ATX 24-pin power socket with programmable power system and 3.3/5/12V output
  • Dimensions — 170 × 170mm (Mini-ITX) in acrylic case
  • Operating system — Linux

The Fairywren is expected to ship in October to Kickstarter supporters for 40 U.K. pounds, or about $60 U.S., not counting the $35 Raspberry Pi or optional user-supplied Arduino Uno, HDD, or XBee add-ons. More information may be found at Fairywren Kickstarter page, and eventually, at Geekroo.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

4 Responses to “Raspberry Pi becomes Raspberry PC via Mini-ITX carrier”

  1. Popolon says:

    A little low specs for a full computer, there are lot of more powerfull open sbc using ARM multicore architecture, with more memory (from 1 GB to 4 GB now), like cubieboard2, Odroid-X etc… and they all use less than 5W and don’t need fan or any cooling device.

  2. digi_owl says:

    Now do the same for beaglebone.

  3. Johnny says:

    I was thinking the same thing, the specs are a bit weak on this thing. Yeah, the Raspberry Pi really opened up the field with the whole small form factor ARM based thing, but really too many good low power chips are making their way forward, and clearly there are better things to come.

  4. dark_helmutt says:

    Sorry, but this is a complete waste of time. Why bother with a Pi as a totally underpowered PC when you can buy an Intel all-in-one ITX board running at 1.86GHz for the same price (or less) than this combo – yeah it might be fine for fiddlers etc but not for anyone else.

    I own a Pi and it is fully functional in it’s current state as a hobbyist plaything – don’t try to make it what its not.

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