Norhtec MicroClient Jr.

In August 2006 I read an article on LinuxDevices about a small PC compatible computer. I had been following the development and availability of single board computers such as Soekris produces, and gumstix devices, for some time. I also followed the availability and price of the mini-itx and nano-itx boards that VIA makes.

I am interested in those types of computers because I am insterested in robotics, and I think they have applications there, and because I think that using them you might be able to build your own laptop computer, which would be more flexible and less proprietary and less dependent on special drivers than a traditional branded laptop. One detriment for robotics was the cost; the type of robots I am thinking of should be cheap, almost disposable. For laptops these boards are often have an under powered CPU.

The main thing that caused me to by the Norhtec MicroClient Jr. was the price. It can be had for around $120.00. I paid close to $250.00 for my entire order, because I ordered two serial ports on the device and also two CF flash cards -- one is a blank 2 GB card for experimentation, the other is a 512 MB card with Puppy Linux pre-installed.

According to this more recent Linux Devices article, another company, E-Way Technology Systems, is now selling a computer that looks similar and is even cheaper and faster (except that my Norhtec actually seems to be 200 MHz, not 166 MHz as they advertised).


Puppy Linux

Adding your own linux


Ideas for Uses and Applications

Using a USB parallel port that can emulate a printer, make a device that allows a DOS computer to print to the parallel port using a standard printer, and then re-prints it out to a modern USB printer.

Security systems, monitor sensors and take pictures.

Environmental controls -- fancy house AC and heating, greenhouse control of vents/fans, etc.

Robots! Uses only a little battery power.

Routers -- modem, wireless

Backup server -- big disk attached to USB

If you have any ideas for a product that could be made using this device, please send me email.

Robert G. Ristroph
Last modified: Thu Nov 30 12:44:48 CST 2006