PiVan Mk 3 (Here we go again)

Whilst my Media center was running on a PI 3B, I had the occasional under voltage issue.  This I noticed because the lightning bolt would appear on the top right of my screen.  I ignored it for the most part and everything seemed to be ok.    However, I upgraded the PI to a newer 3B+  This is to make RetroPie run better, and give me more power.  Besides, I had another project that the 3B was more suited too.

So, here we go again.   I’m taking this opportunity to upgrade everything and solve the under voltage problem once and for all.   Here’s how I’m planning on doing it.

Firstly, I’m ditching the Media PI case – whilst it’s a nice looking case, it’s under powered and is the source of the under voltage.  So instead, I’m going to custom build the case this time.   This presents some more options.

Firstly, I’m going to power the whole thing by 12v.   This will be in one of two forms.

  1. A 12V power brick, that’s capable of delivering more power than I need.
  2. A power connection that I can plug directly into a car or caravan 12v socket.

Inside the box, I’m going to put a StarTech USB3.0 hub, 12v Fan and for extra credit 2 usb charging ports (this will allow charging of game controllers).   Finally, I’m going to add a Real Time Clock to the PI so that the time stays correct when I’m running it away from the network.

The PI will have breakout cables for the HDMI and network, so that I don’t need to remove the lid to plug in.   The 12v input will connect to two seperate 12v to 5v DC-DC converters.  One will be dedicated for the PI, the other will provide power to the USB Hub.

The PI will have my wireless keyboard dongle plugged in, and also the USB hub.

The other two usb ports, I’m going to use breakouts to have panel mounted sockets.  Again so that I can plug things like USB sticks or wired game controllers in.

The USB Hub’s spare ports will be kept internal.  Initially this will have my 4TB drive plugged in, and there will be space to add a couple more USB Hard drives.

Why am I using a USB3 hub?   I’ve chosen this as the HDD is already USB 3.  The PI is only usb 2, but one day, I’m sure they’ll bring out a USB 3 version of the PI and I want to be able to take advantage of that upgrade.

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