Pinebook Pro as an all-in-one boat server?
#1
Hi Folks,

I would like to make an  all-in-one plex media server and wireless router for a boat.  Here's what I'm looking at as high priority items:

1) low power usage, run off 12v batteries
2) low physical space usage
3) no HDDs (waves, power!)
4) Host local wifi network for boat
5) preferred list of remote access points to route through (Home marina, other marinas, phone hotspot, etc)

I was first considering simply using a RockPro64, but it looks like I would need to make a custom case for it or use the NAS case which is larger than I'd like.    I'm considering instead using a pinebook pro, leaving the lid closed, and mounting it inside a closet.  A couple of bonus advantages: 

1) Battery backup
2) integrated screen/keyboard if network goes down
3) Functional as kids laptop if project doesn't work out.

Downsides:

1) m.2 tops out at 2TB while SATA and U.2 offer larger sizes (and can be cheaper/GB)
2) Don't strictly need the keyboard/trackpad/screen (but nice to have).
3) Heat a concern inside a small closet?

Any thoughts on whether or not this would be a good plan?  Any concerns with power/heat or ability to host a second wifi network (USB3 dongle?

Thanks!
#2
Why do you need so much storage?
Why not use USB sticks?

As long as you are not pushing the chip too much, heat is not a concern.
When using it for video conferencing (I tested Jitsi) and number crunching (I tested Rosetta@home to help against COVID-19) it really gets hot.
Worst case, make sure you attach it to some metal object for added cooling.

I haven' t tested to connect to wifi and setup a hotspot at the same time on the same wifi chip, but it seems there are solutions (too lazy to look further).
https://askubuntu.com/questions/318973/h...ingle-adap
#3
(05-15-2020, 01:34 PM)jiyong Wrote: Why do you need so much storage?
Why not use USB sticks?

I would like to use it also as a plex server to host our movies and music.

Quote:As long as you are not pushing the chip too much, heat is not a concern.
When using it for video conferencing (I tested Jitsi) and number crunching (I tested Rosetta@home to help against COVID-19) it really gets hot.
Worst case, make sure you attach it to some metal object for added cooling.

Ok. I suspect normally it wouldn't be drawing much power and the CPU wouldn't be working too hard, but potentially if it had to do any trans-coding that could be rough.  Is the bottom metal?  I could mount it with the bottom facing out.  If I really had to I could probably stick a heatsink on it though that would be irritating.

Quote:I haven' t tested to connect to wifi and setup a hotspot at the same time on the same wifi chip, but it seems there are solutions (too lazy to look further).
https://askubuntu.com/questions/318973/h...ingle-adap

Thanks for the link!  If I could do it all through a single chip that would be fantastic.  I figured if worse came to worse I could use the USB3 port and setup a second wifi adapter (potentially with an external antenna to get better signal).

Probably the biggest question is if I'm better off going this route, or doing something like a mikrotik router and trying to mangle plex onto it.
#4
If you're not in a hurry (I assume not since you want to purchase a PBP for this) have you considered waiting for the HardRock64? And if the RockPro64 isn't entirely out of the question, have you tried looking at the various cases available for 3D printing? This one looks to be shorter than the NAS case: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3404900
#5
The bottom is metal and it would be good to mount that facing out for cooling. It gets hot when charging, but I'm not sure if it stays hot once fully charged by still plugged in.

I usually suggest people not to use a computer when they want a NAS, but this laptop uses about 2-5 W, around 1/2 the power of my NAS so perhaps you are on to something!

Try to charge it directly with DC instead of going DC>AC>DC. You could use a USB socket or get a DC/DC converter for this device. Based on this post: https://blog.yavilevich.com/2017/03/effi...x-modules/ I chose the "fine" module for my boat project, but that is powering an Arduino that uses 0.2 W and the fine works very well at those low amps. It is capable of 3A, which is what the PBP charges at but I didn't look if it's also efficient there. Probably, it was more of a challenge to find one that is efficient at part load.

One problem you may run into is that the charging throughput is limited. Some people have found that during intense operations, the 15W charging can't keep up. People have also found that using the NVMe adapter and a high power drive significantly affects the power draw of the laptop. So be sure to get a lower power drive. There are compatibility results and power data for NVMe drives on the wiki, linked from the main PBP page.
#6
When you want take a large media library with you, why not have a look at the ODroid HC2?
Transcoding is best done when having access to the hardware video codecs, but that's a weak spot for a lot of ARM based solutions, including the Pinebook Pro and HC2.
What kind of device are you using to play the files?
#7
Hi everyone,

Thanks for all of the great feedback!  Sounds like charging limitations with the NVMe adapter is probably something I should look into a bit closer.  I'd definitely try to go straight DC->DC. 

Not surer about the odroid HC2.  Would that really be a better solution than a RockPro64 with a custom enclosure?  Playback devices will probably be a Roku and whatever portable devices folks have (android phones, etc).

Something like a turris omnia would be an interesting solution:

https://www.turris.cz/en/omnia/specifications/

Except that they appear to cost around $680USD in the US!
#8
I don't have experience with a Roku, but a reasonable Android device should be able to play almost anything with something like MX Player, lowering the need for transcoding.
Now that MX Player has been sold to some Indian media company, you can have questions about privacy, but so far I have the highest compatibility with MX Player.
Unless you have 4K content or h265 encoded stuff, which will only play on the more powerful devices.
#9
if you are looking to transcode with your media server, then you prety much need vaapi hwaccel support which makes intel the current favorite.

i would rather have separate devices for wireless, server, and clients. (how big of a boat is this? how many people?).

pbp can be a damn good client with debian, ffmpeg, kodi, and jellyfin plus utility laptop. i would also do a tablet for the times you dont want a keyboard.


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