Saturday, August 27, 2005

PC Engines WRAP

Recently a little device had come into my possession that goes by the name of 'WRAP'. I know of smaller x86 compatible devices, however there are not many that can brag about having 3 independantly operated ethernet interfaces and a mini-PCI slot while still consuming less than 5watts.

These appliances, have been available in one shape or form overseas for quite sometime, perhaps a few years. The reason I did not purchase the units earlier is because of the complexities of dealing with an overseas distributor; you can kiss the warranty good bye and you are forever playing the exchange rate game.

The purpose I have implemented the WRAP for is to power Marinanet hotspots. I run a software product called RouterOS that is produced by Latvian company Mikrotik. Until now I have been using normal PCs crammed onto shelves, cabinets and ceiling spaces with varying levels of success. With the WRAP I can safely mount the little appliance on the wall out of the way and not worry about moving parts and environmental extremes.

So far I have successfully installed these units at two Marinanet sites: South Port Yacht Club and Hamilton Island Marina. At South Port the unit lives on a wall in the administation/reception office which makes for a nice airconditioned environment, but space constraints were well addressed due to wall mounting. The Hamilton Island install will be an interesting one during the summer as the unit lives inside a tin shed with limited insulation. So far it has been operating quite well but I have no sensors for temperature at the site. The next site will be on Magnetic Island, North Queensland. This will definately test the temperature tolerance as >40°C during the summer is normal.

CPU: 266 MHz AMD Geode SC1100 CPU (fast 486 core)
Memory: 128Mb SDRAM
Storage: 64Mb Compact Flash
Interfaces: 3
National DP83816 Ethernet,1 miniPCI, 1 Serial Port (console)
BIOS: PC Engines tinyBIOS
Operating System: Mikrotik RouterOS 2.8.28

PC Engines Creators of the appliance
Yawarra The Australian distibutor
Mikrotik Producers of the RouterOS operating system
Marinanet The company that installs and runs the hotspots using the aforementioned combination of device and software