The Humidor Mini-Me

February 9th, 2003

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I love small and this piece uses an industrial PC board, which is much smaller than the Mini-ITX form factor.  In fact, the case (humidor) I used has a smaller footprint than the Mini-ITX PCB footprint!  I came up with the idea in Las Vegas during CES2003 when while shopping for a souvenir I came across the little cedar boxes with Las Vegas stamped on them.  I bought one and intended to show up the next day at Live@Piero's with the tiny humidor-like box and declare it to be my next project.  Jokingly of course, it would be impossible to take the "humidor" concept down to that scale...or would it?  I thought about it some, then some more, then I forgot to even pull off my "joke" in the end.  I obsessed on it on the red-eye out of Vegas.  How small can you go with today's technology?


Presenting the Humidor Mini-Me with a big thanks to for loaning me this little jewel.


Comparison shot with the Humidor M, which was such a big hit at CES 2003.  This picture is the inspiration for the new Humidor PC's name...Mini-Me.




Yes, there is a computer inside the 6 7/8" x 6 1/4" x 3" humidor.  The piece is a 12 count travel-size unit from the Nogiguchi Collection.  It is beautifully made and finished.




Showing the components of the computer.  40GB IBM notebook hard drive, Morex 55W ATX power supply, and the Kontron JRex VE motherboard.




Wonderfully small MB with a VIA 667MHz Eden processor, at least that is what the paperwork says.  The BIOS and Windows XP Pro recognize it as a C3 processor.  Notice the cooling fan.  On an Eden?  Belarc Advisor identifies it as an IDT Pentium II?!?  Regardless, it gets the job done.  Internet surfing, e-mail communications and the most important thing a computer does...spellchek.




Backside shot.  512MB PC133 SDRAM.  Notice the ATX power connector and the upright mounted battery.  The connector on the left is for the floppy.  The board has one 40-pin IDE connector and underneath the PCB is a compact flash socket that will hold another 512MB.  The board is equipped with the VIA Twister-T chipset which provides 4X AGP video with 32 MB of shared memory.




Comparison to a C3 800MHz mini-itx board.  Another shout-out to Kontron of Germany who graciously loaned it to me.  It was intended, until I got a hold of it, to be an industrial-grade embedded controller with a 3.5" form factor.  It is the exact size of a 3.5" hard drive or floppy drive!  Notice the two tiny spring-loaded buttons, these are the power and reset switches.




Mounting the equipment.  Almost a perfect fit.  The power supply board is slightly wider than the inside case so I cut two grooves in the wood and slide the board down between them.  The motherboard fits snuggly but you would have to take it out to remove the memory module because of the swing-away "ears".




Finished piece.  All of the wiring is in place including the rounded silver IDE cable that I cut the clear protective casing off in order to make it more flexible.




Angle shot.  The blue sleeved cable is the DC power cable leading out the back of the case.




Straight down shot.  If the dual cooling fans look familiar it is because they came out of a Cubid case, as did the power supply.  I had to cut a hole in the bottom of the case and add the fans because the piece ran way too hot.  During testing, the CPU core temperature got up over 200 degrees F (sorry Kontron) but I didn't see any consequences.




Another glamour shot.




Back side shot showing the blue power cable.  The PS2 plug and USB plug tie together into the Logitech Cordless Keyboard and Mouse transceiver that I have mounted to the back side of a Viewsonic flat panel monitor.  The VGA cable is very special.  It is from L-com Connectivity Products and features an abbreviated plug and very thin cable.  It is a 15-foot cable with a quick disconnect plug about a foot out the back of the box.Very cool.




Obligatory Coke can size comparison shot.  This shot was made during the testing phase.  Notice the missing fans.




My favorite picture showing a standard size 300 Watt ATX power supply next to the Mini-Me.




I use a USB 2.0 enclosure CD burner to service my Humidor PCs that don't have CDROM or floppy drives.  Here it is holding up its new client.