The PSI-WEB Project

The PSI-WEB Project

(Pico-Sized Internet - Web/Email Box)

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This is a pictorial tour of how I built the web server that is currently serving these web pages*. My server started off as a "Biscuit-PC" embedded 486 mother board made by Advantech (you can still get these older cheaper models from places like this).
*NOTE: This PSI-WEB server was replaced with an AMD/K62 system on 2003-01-29 after around 1 year of continual uptime.

I picked up the board for around $65. It's not PC-104, but does have an expansion bus on it that can be adapted to take PC-104, or ISA. But stock, it comes with neither... and doesn't even have a video card! I maxxed mine out with all it could handle: AMD486DX133, 32MB of EDO RAM, and stuck a 10GB IDE hard drive on it with Linux. Worked like a charm. The whole thing with case, surplus keyboard, paint, power supply and all was probably just under $150 (not counting the $100 hard drive).

To get this system working, I had to install Linux on a standard desktop/server, then modify the IRQ/IO settings for the NIC to match what the biscuit was hard wired for, and then move the hard drive over. Luckily, it all worked and the little server came up first time--on the network. :)

Then later--I telnetted in, installed ssh, and disabled telnet. Then with the help of my friend John Baker, modified lilo, replaced mini-getty with getty, and reconfigured sysinit to allow serial console base lilo control and logins! Oh Joy! :v)

Just some pretty pictures showing some of the
various stages of development of the PSI-WEB server.

The Early Stages

Overview shot

Mobo Closeup

HD & Specs

Overview & KB/Mouse

A Little Closer
This give you a real eye for how small this motherboard really is (exact same size as the hard drive!).

Ports Closeup

Side Shot

Geek with His Hardware

A demo at the local user group.

Stick It In A Cash Box!

I decided to put the PSI-WEB server in a steel "cash box". I wanted a metal MATRIX lunch box (or batman would do), but it seems that they don't make metal lunch boxes any longer... and I don't think that I could have fit it all in a child's lunch box anyway. But after browsing through the aisles of Wal-Mart for a bit, this steel cash box popped out at me, and I realized that it would do the job quite nicely. It was hefty enough for the job, was steel so it solved my cooling, static and grounding issues, AND had a cool handle and locking latch to boot! :)

Here I am in the living room, hacking on the case with my handy-dandy Dremel Moto-Tool.
"Ooooo... Spaaaarks..."

Here are the tools of the trade. My Dremel, Leatherman Pro, Mini-Mag, and a good DMM. Things are starting to shape up as I start bringing it all home!

Nice paint job eh? (for an amateur!)... I painted it myself, and even hand masked the acid green lettering (what a pain!). In the LARGE VIEW, notice the wired CONsole 9600/N/8/1 port, the oversized power and HD LEDs, the bi-color EthNet LED, operational handle, and locking latch. But it's the cool "Powered By Linux" Tux logo than makes her hum! ;)

Stick It On Line!

Here are a few shots of the server on line, with its hood open, and keyboard in the vertical position.

On the left is the power supply, on the right is the mobo actually mounted atop the 10GB hard drive. Notice the high quality metal work <Shheea!>. If you look close, you can still see the orange price tag on the case fan that I got from A-Tex electronics (right).

Ooooo... Nice View. :)
Good shot of the innards and the wiring job I did between the biscuit-PC motherboard and the outside of the case. Check out the large view to get a really detailed shot...

See those venting slots? Those were a real pain... even with a Dremel. The one piece power switch, AC receptacle was a pretty cool and easy find--I must say.
Hmmm... Looks kinda dusty. LARGE VIEW

And the Glamor Shot. ;)
The foam rubber on the bottom was to keep shock and vibration from damaging my HD platters while running. This is because the HD is actually mounted to the bottom of the steel cash box, and shock was an issue (in my mind at least). It also was a no-brainer for heat dissipation and grounding.

Uptime Transport Battery Hack

Here's my server on line. But I had to move it within our data center. The problem is that I had almost 1 year of uptime and I didn't want to lose it.

here it is.. My server disconnected from the AC (see the power connector on the right) and hooked up to my lead acid, regulated, +12V/+5V uptime transport battery hack(!). Pretty cool eh?

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