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picoPSU-120 12V DC-DC ATX Power Supply
Author: Jason Kohrs
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picoPSU-120 12V DC-DC ATX Power Supply
January 20, 2006

The Basics:

At the Lunch@Piero's event, had the picoPSU displayed inside a colorful Chinese take-out style container. Inside, you find a tiny translucent box, with the picoPSU packed inside. As seen in the below right image, you have two 4-pin hard drive style connections, one floppy style connection, a DC power connection, and the tiny power supply mounted to the top of a bright yellow, 20pin ATX motherboard connection.

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The images below show either side of what is the heart of the power supply. There are two small green PCBs separated by a slight gap, with a variety of features installed on each surface. Enlarging the below right image reveals the only labeling, that indicates the pico PSU has a patent pending.

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The below left image shows an end view of the motherboard connector, where you can see that a pair of capacitors are the tallest features, barely reaching past the tab that latches the connector to your motherboard. The below right image shows the cables, none of which are more than several inches long, but in a Mini-ITX application that is generally more than enough.

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Installation / Operation:

Installation of the picoPSU-120 is quite simple, as all you have to do is pop it onto your motherboard's power connector, connect your drives, and supply power. Supplying power is the part where you are on your own, since does not provide an AC/DC adaptor with the unit. Most Mini-ITX cases have a power adaptor you could use if this is an upgrade to an existing system, or online retailers and places like Radio Shack should have them, as well.

The system that this was installed into consists of the following components:

VIA EPIA M10000 Nehemiah Mini-ITX mainboard
512MB Crucial PC2100 DDR memory
120GB Seagate Momentus 5400.2 2.5" hard drive
24x Panasonic slim optical drive
Windows XP Professional SP2

The current case being used is a Serener GS-L01 fanless unit that is far from typical. In addition to providing a proprietary power board that indirectly couples to the drives, I discovered the external AC/DC power adaptor does not provide 12V, but around 19V. For testing purposes, this case was used anyway (with drives attached but not mounted in the case), and the picoPSU was installed as pictured below.

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The picoPSU-120 fit well and has a low enough profile to fit in a case such as this. Getting the PSU back out was a bit tricky because the release tab is obstructed by capacitors found on the M10000 (see above right image). A screwdriver was used to depress the tab, while I pulled up on the PSU.

The images below show how the picoPSU's onboard LEDs indicate the status. When the system is turned off, but power is connected (in this situation using an AC/DC adaptor from a Morex Cubid 3688 case), a single green LED lights up, as shown in the below left image. When the system is turned on, the green LED stays lit, and a red LED also lights up, as shown in the below right image.

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Even a plain device like this couldn't escape the 'bling' of LEDs!

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