Housing an aquarium computer

As mentioned before, I purchased a Lattepanda as a single-board computer for running Windows 10. This works great, although the Intel Atom chip runs a little hot and needs extra cooling.

The main purpose of this is to run my Seneye aquarium monitor, so it needs to fit under my aquarium along with the other items that I’ve built to automate my fish hobby. This means an IP56 custom housing which presents me with a challenge: how to get heat out of a sealed box?

IP56 LattePanda case

In the end I have decided that a completely sealed box is unreasonable, although you could imagine a small water-cooled one with the radiator external to the sealed box. Air holes drilled into each end and push/pull fans drawing the air past the computer board seemed to be an excellent idea as the Intel chip runs very hot. There were some challenges:

Getting a USB cable through a grommet

Did you spot my problem? It is in the bottom right of the photo. I was able to get a small micro-USB through a 10mm grommet by removing the sealed cable end, however I now have a bigger problem in that I need to get a USB-A type plug through to service the Seneye SUD device. For that I am using an external USB female panel mount and connect that to the USB input on the computer.

Switching it on and off

Another issue is that the LattePanda has a curious boot-up sequence. First you ‘switch it on’ by supplying power to the USB lead which goes through a sequence of blinking red and blue LEDs, then into a quiescent state of blue LED only waiting for you to trigger the Windows boot. This is done by pressing the ‘on’ micro button on the side to start the boot. But the real issue is that in a sealed box this will not be possible – I have to find a way to click that micro-button externally.

Any ideas?

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2 thoughts on “Housing an aquarium computer

  1. Just wanted to share a different technique I used to get a similar result to this. I have a Raspberry Pi v3 in my aquarium cabinet running Raspbian and the Seneye connected by USB to the Pi. You can use VirtualHost to share this usb connection over your home network. I have a Virtual Machine running on my NAS with the seneye software installed. It works continueously and thinks the seneye is plugged into this computer itself. Then alows me to remote desktop this VM from anywhere and check on my home aquarium šŸ™‚ I’m not taking the next step and trying to replace the Seneye out with the individual probes straight to the Raspberry Pi itself.

    1. Thanks David, seems you are undertaking a very interesting project. The VirtualHost idea looks good but to be truthful I was more interested in the technical challenge of dumping the Seneye protocol than measuring the tank! I’ve now moved on to other projects and are pretty desultory with tank maintenance, but may get back to it in the future. All the best for your project.

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