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The resurrection of the Serener box.


I have noted that my first Pico-ITX was not quite what I had hoped it would be. Yet I did not want the Serener to lie around forever, nor did I want to throw it away. I paid a lot for the Serener. And it does work. I can still run Fedora on it. So I decided to revive the Serener by making a small case to protect its external power supply.

the ood

The Ood (pronounced like dude without the d) are a fictional race of Cthulhu-faced empaths from the revival of the British sci-fi series Doctor Who. The Ood were used as slaves until they were freed in a revolt on their home planet, onto which the Doctor had stumbled in time to help free them.

The salient feature of the Ood is that their hind brain is separate from the brain in their head, and connected to it by an umbilicus. Humans enslave the Ood by removing the hind brain (effectively lobotomizing them) and implanting a translator sphere in its place.

I bring up the Ood because the first Janovac looked like one, with its power supply dangling from the back of the Serener. It was not a good thing for a server to have its hind brain dangling about, so I set the Serener aside when I got its replacement, the ARTiGO.

the hind brain

I paid a visit to Fry's during a warm winter day on the last week of February 2009. I picked a couple of "chassises" (metal cases) that looked like the power supply could fit in them. One of them was indeed suitable. I also got some heat-shrink wrapping, which shrinks when heated, for the wiring between the power supply and the motherboard.

The Ood

The problem here is making the holes in the case, one for the wiring to pass through, the other for the power jack to fit in. I was recommended a hand-held power drill and polisher kit from a company named Dremel. Instead I bought some deposable bits and borrowed my folks' hand drill. I drilled a hole on each end of the case: One that fit the power jack, and the other for the cable to the motherboard. I also got some heat-shrink sheathing. I could not get the stuff to shrink with the under-powered soldering iron I had; but it worked as protection for the power cable none the same.

The results are interesting, as you can see in this photo.

The other end of the sheathing went into the serial port hole of the Serener.

I installed Fedora 10 on the Ood. It works quite well. Then I installed Windows XP with service pack 3 and the appropriate Pico-ITX drivers. It works equally well.

I have found, however, that the advantages of having a 'fanless' computer and a whole side as a heat sink are not wholely positive. That top gets very, very hot! I may have to find a separate to attach to the sink top to blow off the heat.

serial port?

That's right: It was a hole for a nine-pin serial port, the type you used to plug mice into. That kind of port is still useful for experiments that require serial output. I am fairly sure there are scientific and engineering measurement devices, and I know for certain that are retail receipt printers out there, which all still use the nine-pin serial output. While I have no use any more for such a port, I found useful the hole it is made for on the Serener.


My cat Isis died from cancer in May 2009. I decided to rename the Ood after her. This is why the page, and all subsequent references to the Serener box, is called Isis.

Written by Andy West on 4 July 2009.