Open source, 1U rack mount internet appliance, based on Raspberry Pi

March 06, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Californian company EarthLCD recently introduced what its says is the only-available 10-in. wide by 1-in. high TFT LCD panel, which it uses to give single-unit-height rack modules a versatile display; now the company has put together an open-source design for a rack-mount internet appliance based around the Raspberry Pi.

Target applications include network analysers, audio gear, video, audio controllers, and music servers. The unit is available as open-source project files – or as a complete module. In 2014, EarthLCD proposed the idea of a 1U rack mount open source appliance that would enclose this its unique 10:1 aspect ratio TFT LCD. In order to get the LCD rapidly designed in, EarthLCD took the step of creating not just a reference design, but completing an open-source design which includes packaging, software and firmware to build a 1U rack mount appliance.

The company notes, "Using the Raspberry Pi allows us to get this display into potential users’ hands fast and allow them to design high value internet appliances very rapidly by just adding their software and application-specific I/O via USB or I²C interfaces."

The Pi-Raq has a powder-coated sheet metal enclosure holding a Raspberry Pi B+ with an EarthLCD 10 x 1 LCD adapter board, the EarthLCD-10.4-1024100 TFT colour display, and a user interface control with a jog wheel. The SolidWorks (3D CAD) files are included for this metal enclosure along with the schematic and [PCB] Gerber for the LCD driver. With the Pi-Raq and the existing EarthLCD 10 x 1 display, rack mount equipment, such as power controllers, network hubs and routers, can now have an easily programmable front panel with colour TFT LCD.

Running Debian Linux opens up the Pi-Raq standard network analyser software, music servers and numerous open source applications to be ported to the Pi-Raq. The four USB ports and a 100 MHz Ethernet Port allow for expanded network and I/O connectivity. The Pi-Raq operates from a 9-18VDC supply. Using the Pi-Raq design, says EarthLCD, will save users months of design time and considerable cost.

The Pi-Raq files will be on Github by March 31st 2015 and the Pi-Raq will also be available as a completed product for $249.00. The EarthLCD 10x1 display is available for $89