/ Ultimate Home Box
  1. 2022-12-23 — Ultimate Home Box: Plan
  2. 2024-04-27 — Switching the Home Box to Orange Pi ⬿
  3. 2024-05-05 — Designing the Orange Pi Enclosure

Switching the Home Box to Orange Pi

After running into too many roadblocks on this project (due to my tight design constraints) and burning out, I’ve finally come back to this project with renewed interest. The hardware space has improved since I left off, and I’m willing to make some compromises this time to increase the chances of following through to completion.

New constraint: no soldering or custom cable making. If I can’t buy a component off-the-shelf (besides the 3D printed enclosure), too bad, figure out something else.

Luckily I’ve found a new source of the sort of components I need: automotive computer hardware. It’s not uncommon for commercial vehicles to need onboarding computing, and that hardware is often compact and runs on low voltages. Thus I have found the answer to my power-supply woes:’s picoPSUs.

Initially, I wanted to be able to power the Radxa Rock5B by giving it 20V via the USB-C power port on the back. This took me down a rabbit-trail of trying to find low-profile right-angle USB connectors to keep the connection internal. It also forced me to use a 20V power supply for the overall system, which necessitated separate DC power convertes to get the 12V and 5V needed for the HDD/SSDs. That’s all going away now, because I’ve also switched SBCs.

Orange Pi 5 Plus 32GB

Instead of the Radxa Rock5B, I’m moving the design to the Orange Pi 5 Plus 32GB. This has a few serious benefits:

I already have the power supply in-hand and have verified that the LEDs on the SBC light up when I connect it. The PSU’s built-in cables have just enough ports to connect to a SATA power splitter (currently on-order) and the SBC itself.

PSU bench test showing a power brick connected via barrel jack to a Pico PSU
which has an ATX jumper tool connected, and has a built-in cable extending off
for a molex connector that goes to the SBC and an extra SATA power

In addition to these hardware simplifications, I’m committed to making more compromises on the form-factor. Getting the parts in and out of the enclosure design I made before was enough to discourage me from working on it. It will still be extremely compact, but it’ll need a bit of breathing room necessarily to accomodate all of the off-the-shelf cabling now involved.

The current bill of materials is now as follows:

Next: 2024-05-05 — Designing the Orange Pi Enclosure

Creative Commons License