Tiny cubic PC


We’ve been watching the progress of the Space Cube since 2004, but PC Pro managed to get their hands on it first. Developed by the Shimafuji Corporation, it comes with 16 megabytes of flash memory and a version of Red Hat is run off a 1 gigabyte CompactFlash card. The design of the Space Cube is pretty minimal, but it’s got the basics down, from a USB port to a VGA output and a D-SUB RS232 input, and even an Ethernet port. The most interesting thing about it is the Space Wire port, which is a proprietary interface use by NASA, the ESA, and JAXA for outer space. Unfortunately for working hackers, this ingenious micro-computer will set you back about £1,500.

[via NOTCOT]

12 thoughts on “Tiny cubic PC

  1. seems crazy for something that is not much smaller than a pico itx and is not nearly as powerful. I know it has a serial port on it but seriously there are not that many things that can not be run via a usb/serial adapter any more, IMHO fail on this product.

  2. You say £1,500. Do you actually mean GBP or is that meant to be USD? I hope you mean USD, as the weak dollar means that would actually only be £750-ish!

  3. @ h_2_o: I haven’t actually checked, but I don’t think you’ll be able to find a picoITX mobo with Spacewire on it. Also, I’m reasonably certain that the concern here was having a complete computer, with specific interfaces available, and fitting into a very small space. Space is very limited on any spacecraft; every millimeter counts. This device measures in at 52mm X 52 mm X 55mm. While the dimensions of the picoITX-based end unit will vary, just the motherboard is 100mm X 72mm (depth varies by board). After adding a picoPSU, hard disk, memory, and a case, you’ll be hard pressed to come in as slim as Shimafuji’s machine. Even if you manage to bring the depth of the finished unit in at the same as this little gadget (55mm), it would be more than 2.5x the volume (a bit over 2.66x, actually).

    I’d say Shimafuji did a pretty good job.

  4. The high price is probably due to an expectation (by the manufacturer) that their only buyer will be these space agencies, and only in limited quantities. A small and specialized market like this leaves little room for competition and economies of scale effects on the price. Additionally, it’s meant for government agencies. That almost always increases the price.

  5. Err, it doesn’t look that different from the meshcube or t-cube
    which both exist for at least 5 years … Is there something more than a hardware upgrade here ?

  6. I was noting that my Nokia N810 Internet Tablet actually comes pretty close to this thing except perhaps for the VGA out and CF slot.

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