Tips & Tricks

How to hook up a mini PC

Mini PCs are compact, tiny computers that typically cost less than $100 and run hardware and software that’s similar to what you’ll find in your typical Android smartphone or tablet.
But because they have no screen or battery, they’re also much cheaper with many models available for well under $100.
They may look no larger than a cigarette lighter or a USB flash drive, but they come with enough functionality to create a low-cost computer system.… Read more

Power your Raspberry Pi with just two AA batteries

The Raspberry Pi is turning up in all sorts of different projects, but powering it on-the-go can be sometimes be problematic.
Normally, the low-power Linux-running computer board gets its power via a USB power source – usually, a USB phone charger with 5VDC and at least 1A of current.
But if you want portability, you need an alternative. It’s quite normal to power a Raspberry Pi with four AA batteries – in fact, it’s quite easy.… Read more

Turn any Android 2.2+ smartphone into a wireless micro server

You have to love how technology endlessly progresses. You might not like the latest gear but it always – always – makes previous generation stuff cheaper. And nowhere is this more true than with smartphones. At time of writing, there were dozens of cheap Android smartphones running version 2.1 or newer selling for under $100, phones that have been long superseded by faster models with newer operating systems and bigger screens.… Read more

Tearing down a $3.29 HDMI cable – what’s inside

Sometime ago, I made the point that I thought that HDMI cables are overpriced and that, in essence, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $10 per metre for a decent cable provided all 19 pins on the HDMI plugs were wired up and that it had at least AWG28 gauge wire inside. Later, a reader suggested spending $50 to $100 for a cable should be the norm.… Read more

Use your notebook as monitor/keyboard for your Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi has taken the world by storm over the last 12 months.
The tiny ARM-powered computer selling for between $35 and $50 around the world is making it possible for anyone to afford a computer and learn how to program.
However, until now, you’ve always had to bring your own keyboard, monitor and network connection.
Meltwater has come up with a simple method for using any notebook or computer to act as a remote terminal for the Pi – all you need is a network cable between the two, that plus the Raspberry Pi operating system on an SD card plus a 5VDC/700mA power supply running the Pi.… Read more

Power a mini PC in your car for less than $1

Mini PCs, whether in the form of TV set-top boxes or TV sticks, have taken the market by storm, offering ARM-grade computing on a miniature scale with support for Android and, in many cases, Linux as well.
We’ve already talked about how to run a single-core mini PC like the original MK802 or the lower-powered CX-01 on two AA batteries, but it’s also possible to run these devices in your car.… Read more

Power your mini PC or TV stick from two AA batteries

It’s fairly common to see a mini PC in the form of a TV stick require USB power. Even if your’s wasn’t supplied with one, AC mains USB power adapters are available everywhere for next to nothing. But if you have a single-core TV stick like the old CX-01 or the original Allwinner A10-powered MK802 or MK802+, there’s a pretty simple way you can power these particular units with just two AA batteries.… Read more