Compact Hot Flashes

No not a new medical condition.Well I spent the day at home yesterday working on a code project for a system release I'm about to do.

No not a new medical condition.

Well I spent the day at home yesterday working on a code project for a system release I'm about to do. It was a nice change of pace from having to ride home @ 5 or 6 or even 7PM in a hot car for at least the first 15 minutes or so. Hot meaning the freaking flesh frying 150 degrees the seats get up to in the wonderful 95 plus days we've been having for the last three weeks! Its so nice now that SUMMER is here for real, not!

I've done some experiments with CPU boards running in 120 degree heat. I have an oven at work that can be controlled plus/minus 1 degree F or about ½ degree C up to 150F. Turns out that not many CPU boards continue to run with crappy consumer grade Compact Flash drives as the hard drive media. There really is a reason to pay extra for good Industrial temp range Compact Flash drives. Obviously this is work related experimentation. (But cleverly, it applies to my home projects as well!)

I'm trying to see if there are some high-quality consumer Compact Flash drives that might be able to take Industrial temperature ranges especially on the top end. Of course there are other issues that are intruding into this test.

Determining whether or not the NAND or NOR memory cells are single level (SLC) or multi-level cells (MLC). As much as I'd like to have the expanded size of the MLC based CF drives, the scary part is the ECC algorithms used in the MLC drives might trash executable files with certain bit errors but not bother JPGs or PNGs files at all. Meaning they really are good media for media. Eh hemmm.

Most of the Compact Flashes out there play lip service to the specifications setup by SanDisk, the company that invented the form-factor and the interface specifications. With a good socket and short leads to the IDE interface, some of them seem to run fine at ATA33 speed, very few to be sure. Most seem to just barely make ATA speed or ISA bus speed for the real slow ones.

Another stinky trick I've seen is that the CF parts will work at 5 Volts to full speed but not at 3.3V. Really tacky. They are supposed to work at both voltages interchangeably.

At home the CF will be the drive for my solar energy data collection/management system.

The problem with calling up my favorite Industrial parts vendor is that the CF drives I know will work cost $90 to $150 depending on the size of the drive. I'm angling for at least 2GB so I can put a full desktop on it to start with. Eventually it will have an honest command line Linux server install.

I found some old low-power 500 MHz P3 CPUs chips that I would like to try in the board. The current CPU runs at 1GHz and runs at about 25 watts. The low power ones are supposed to be good for 12 watts and max out at 500 MHz, so we'll see.

So I was wondering if I could leave the salvaged SBC I've talked about before outside in the hot weather. Part of the process was trying to install a Linux distro on a Compact Flash and letting it cook in the lovely spring weather we've been having lately. Obviously I wasn't fast enough and the weather has gone way past “lovely”. Well I get to do the worst case test first. I was thinking about running it off a battery and a solar panel in the eventual installation. For the test, I'll run it off an AC/DC power supply and hope BOTH of them survive the heat.