Monday, March 21, 2011

Eco server iConnect - part 1. A little of soldering.

As I mentioned in my fist post here is first part of my story how I made eco server out of Iomega iConnect.
Before making server out of iConnect you have to get serial access to uboot and console. Without that you just have black box :)
iConnect have internal UART 3.3V interface inside. Iomega was kind enough to not desoldering pins and serial console is ready to connect wires :)
Since having serial console outside your device will be very usefull I made external connection using 3.5mm stereo jack. Here is photo of my console external permement connection:

In order to make such setup i used:
  • 3.5 mm stereo jack socket
  • 3.5" floppy drive power connector
Floppy (for those who don't know what it is - here is explanation) power cable have the same pin raster like iConnect connector so it will fit perfectly. I removed on of wires from floppy cable since RS is using only 3 (RX,TX,GND) and moved color cables in original floppy cable between positions so black is GND, yellow is TX and red is RX.
I decided to place jack near RJ-45 socket since this is the only place where is enough space to make such output and it was safe to drill hole without removeing front panel. Please be carefull when making hole for jack socket - hole will be close to PCB - if your drill will "touch" board you can brick your device.
After that you can solder wires from floppy connector and jack.  Her is pinout specification:

And here is how this looks from front panel when device is closed:

Now I have access to serial at any time. Last think you need is rs-232 <-> UART 3.3 V converter and simple cable jack<-> RS-232. Do not connect iConnect serial port directly to your PC RS-232 port ! You need  voltage converter  for example one based on MAX232 intergrated circuit. Schematic how to use it you can find here (page 17) or if you need only schamatic that I used first it is this picture. If you want something more I prefer to use USB-TTL converter based on FT232RL. This one I just connect to PC USB and other side to my device. This is one made by myself (PCB bought in internet):

Now I have full console access to my iConnect on every PC and I started fun with software installation. This will be described in my next post.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

iomega iconnect as eco server

I'm sysadmin for many years and I had always my "private" server. My last one in my home was Epia VIA600 Mhz based powered by FreeBSD. Unfortunatelly after my father visit who accidently remove power cord using his foot (still don't know what he was doing behind my desk :) ) board was gone.

I decided to build new one, but this time I was looking for something more eco-friendly and less noisy since my "home server" is in my main room (technical wire obstacles). After some digging I found SheevaPlug. That was almost perfect. Only problem is that it is not avialable in Poland and I had realy bad experience with Polish Post Office, so buying it outside Poland was last resort.

Then I found this ( webpage. Segate Dockstar and Iomega iConnect are avialable in Poland :) I choose iConnect because it have 802.11n WiFi card (ralink RT3090) and more RAM (256MB). I was afraid that install might be problematic because there is not many webpages discussing Linux installation on iConnect but I was open to try.

I had some experience with embedded hardware in past so that was not so hard, however there are some issues I would like to share with you on my next post about Debian installation on iConnect.