Designing a system

Hi, I'm interested in have an appliance much like a winterm created based on my specs. It would basically be just a very low powered computer system which would run a hard coded application. Now, I'd want it to be as much as possible, no moving parts. This mostly just implies no hard drive.

Has anyone ever worked in a engineering company who has designed something similar or even worked on a project of the same size? I'm looking to know what kind of time it would take a (or a group of) engineers to design something like this. Obviously, most of the technology already exists, so it would be mostly just putting it all together to work like I'd want it to.

I'm not looking for exact numbers, just basically a rough estimate, because I don't know if it would take one guy 40 hours or 10 guys 4000 hours to design? I'm completely clueless when it comes to this kind of stuff...

And obviously I'm looking for free advice here...

Thanks in advance!

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Professional and knowledgeable engineers will NOT work for free, or give free advise to someone who will profit from an endeavour. They will however give simple free advise to someone who wants to know about how something in their home works, or an idea of what is wrong with it, if the problem is not too involved. These people have to make a living, and must devote their time for that.

For what you want to do is possible. There is such a thing as a solid state drives, but their sizes are limited, and the cost is very high. They are used for special applications where the equipment is going to go through a lot of agitation and extreme handling. It is possible to build up a complete solid state computer, including the display panel, that is very shock resistant, and even water proof. Be ready to put out many thousands of dollars for the hardware. Also be prepared to pay out a fair number of thousands for professional consultation, design, and advice from a reliable source if this is to be custom built and designed.

Reply to
Jerry G.
  1. Go to your local computer store.
  2. Put £300 down on the counter.
  3. Say, "One PDA, please"
Reply to
Airy R. Bean

Thanks for your reply.

I agree 100%, and I'm not expecting someone to design this for me for free. I'd just kind of like to know what I'm up against. Would I need to spend hundreds in engineering fees? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?

For example, I'm in software design, so if someone said to me, how much would it take to write a program that does X, if I had experience in writing something similar, I could give them a *very* rough estimate of what it might cost. That's all I'm really looking for. I definately don't want anyone to put any real effort into it...

In your reply you said many thousands of dollars... would it be safe to say it would cost me between $20,000 and $50,000 to get something like this designed?

Thanks again for your reply.

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There are quite a few companies out there that might have something off the shelf to satisfy your needs, but your specifications leave a lot of unanswered questions. Such as: o Keyboard? Keypad? Mouse? Touch screen? o Display? Text-based or graphical? o Audio in or out? o Does it need to run some variant of Windows, or will a DOS program work? Linux? o Networking? o Removable storage? o What kind of environment will it be in?

Reply to
Travis Hayes

Good point. I'll take a look around. What I need is very much like a winterm...

PS/2 Keyboard port VGA monitor port Audio in and out Would run Linux LAN port USB No removable storage It would be used in an office (not a harsh environment)

The only thing I might need to change from just a standard winterm would be the quality of the video processing, and obviously have it run my software instead of the terminal services software.

I'll take a look to see if any companies sell customizable winterms...


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I'm unfamiliar with the name "winterm", so I did a little googling... it seems to be Wyse's trade name for what the rest of the world calls a "thin client". If so, there are indeed many companies out there willing to trade one for some of your money. Look for "thin clients" and I think you will be on your way.

Reply to
Travis Hayes

If you really persist at designing it yourself, you could look at 'thin client on-a-chip' solutions like the AMD Geode SC2200. Expect >1000 man hours from concept to prototype, depending on what to outsource (e.g. buying a bios from a BIOS company like American Megatrends / adapting LinuxBIOS for your hardware / writing the bios from scratch)... And looking at the Taiwanese off-the-shelf 'commodity hardware' flooding the market (the advantage of volume), it's not worth it...

A "one stop" off-the-shelf solution would be an industrial solid-state Single Board Computer module (PC/104 form factor, etc.)

A cheaper solution would be a low-end (= fanless CPU) Mini-ITX board (VIA Epia) paired with a SS Disk On Module

formatting link
, just add RAM and a fanless low power powersupply. Pricetag: $250..$400 depending on CPU and storage requirements...

/!\ BIG ASSED WARNING /!\ Virtual memory + solid state storage = a _huge_ NO-NO Swapfiles/partions (and high volume logfiles) will reduce ANY solid state 'disk' to a doorstop in no-time!

Check and double check if virtual memory is disabled, or better: compile a VM-less kernel.

Reduce file write operations to a minimum.

Just my ?0.02

Reply to

Or just don't set up any swap devices.

As far as minimizing write operations, configure the file system to use a ram disk for /tmp and /var (and any other subdirs that are written to frequently) and put everything else on solid-state storage. The only writes will be during configuration (mostly in the /etc subdir).

Reply to
Paul Hovnanian P.E.

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