At Ironwood Observatory, Ken Archer has high hopes for the future of astronomy. He sips a cup of coffee, connects to the Internet, and with a simple click of a mouse, downloads images from the far reaches of the galaxy without ever leaving his home. In fact, the observatory remains stationed miles away from him, impervious to the effects of urban light pollution. The telescope is housed in a mobile, 7×8-foot, clam-shell design that can be placed in any optimal location. The unit is solar-powered, 100% autonomous, and can be completely controlled via the Internet.
His platform: a Mini-ITX mainboard and small form factor components provided by Logic Supply. His plan: to equip educational institutions around the world with affordable, fully automated observatories that can be ideally positioned to access imagery from space.
The Mini-ITX form factor is well suited to his application: it is compact, energy-efficient, durable, reliable, and, when paired with an intelligent power supply, provides stable 12 volts to the battery-powered device. Utilizing MSI’s CX700 (MS-9802) industrial mainboard with VIA C7 processor, the entire unit draws only 9W of power. Commanded via the Internet, the roof is opened and closed, the telescope is directed toward desired coordinates, and 4MB-sized images are seamlessly transmitted to a URL that can be viewed and studied by students. “It’s as easy as opening a can of beer,” says Archer, who has witnessed countless observatories remain unused due to poor placement, long observation times, and difficult-to-manage interfaces.
Archer discovered Logic Supply when searching for military-type computers. Logic Supply serves a niche market, providing users cost-effective, industry-targeted, long-term solutions varying from fanless, solid state, embedded platforms to high-performance, Intel-based multimedia players. With Mini-ITX being inherently more energy-efficient and smaller than standard desktop boards while still boasting high-end graphics capabilities and extensive I/O, Archer found the perfect platform.
About Logic Supply
Logic Supply is a Mini-ITX systems provider serving the embedded and applied computing market with small form factor solutions. As the leading specialist in the revolutionary Mini-ITX form factor, Logic Supply provides customized Mini-ITX systems along with a wide selection of compatible components. The company offers engineering services for corporate clients, support for Windows and Linux operating systems, software and hardware development, and turnkey assembly for OEM customers. Logic Supply also has an online Web store allowing customers to easily configure built-to-order solutions.