Not so long ago ownCloud announced their cooperation with Western Digital. Outcome is PiDrive – basically home NAS solution. ARM board (RaspberryPi2) connected with HDD. And with the announcement of the cooperation came a challenge. Community was asked to come up with ideas regarding what would they do with it. Who was interested in working on the image that will be shipped as part of the final solution was offered a prototype of the device. I was one of the guys brainstorming about what to do with it. I had some ideas and already started working on some of them. More about them and the progress later. Currently I want to share some pictures of the PiDrive (as I already received the prototype) – obligatory unboxing and few thoughts on hardware.
Important note – whole this blog post is about prototype. Final device can be totally different.
So what do we have here? Let’s start with the ARM board. Raspberry Pi 2 has some advantages and some disadvantages from specs alone (just opened up the box, not booted up yet). It has only USB 2.0 (while drive itself supports USB 3.0) and only 100MBit ethernet, which is not that much nowadays. With BananaPi, it could get harddrive attached directly via SATA port and it would have 1GBit ethernet. But on the other hand 4 cores can be quite useful on device that is expected to run webserver. And if we learned anything from RaspberryPi it is that marketing matters a lot and thanks to it, there will be huge community around Raspberry Pi2 and thus plenty of interesting projects (and peripherals) can later come to PiDrive.
That kinda brings us to the box. As you can see on pictures, the prototype actually come with two boxes. One is black and other whiteish. Both of them are translucent, so you can see when some LED on your Pi is on or when harddrive is doing something. Both cases looks the same except of the colour. Really great idea is how to handle all the cables that go out of Pi. As you can guess, some are pretty mandatory – like power and ethernet. But there can be plenty of optional ones. More USB devices (keyboard, mouse, …), HDMI, some GPIO attached devices, maybe more. There would have to be plenty of holes to support all of them. The box solves the problem by letting you plug everything in and then having long and narrow hole in the back where you can guide out as many cables as you want. I really like the design of the box. Except one thing. I kinda miss the top of the box. In my case, top is open. You can see inside which is nice on one hand, but dust will be falling in quite heavily. I hope this will be fixed in final version or maybe just my devkit was missing the closure. One other small issue I have with box is that the stand that holds Pi and drive (board to board) doesn’t have hard plastic everywhere between them and I’m kinda worried that both board could touch if they vibrate enough and short out, but maybe it’s well tested and impossible and I’m just worried without any reason. But despite this criticism, I really like the boxing for the PiDrive. And I will somehow create a top of the box myself.
One last thing I haven’t mentioned yet is hard drive itself. It is 2.5″ 1T WD drive. More specs once I get the device booting. And there is a really cool cable attached to it. It has one power input, one power output as micro-USB (that goes to Raspberry), one USB that goes to USB port of Raspberry to connect it with drive and one micro-USB 3 that goes to the drive (both power and data). Kinda cool how it connects power and data while having four heads.
Overall I really like the idea and the project. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but I’m happy that I’ll be part of the effort. So take a look at the pictures for now and I will create another blog post once I’ll have something up and running and some practical experience with the setup.