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Neoware CA15: Hardware 


 


 

 



lhs rear inside

Specifications

For the Neoware thin clients there is a handy document from HP which you can use to identify exactly what you have. In my case the label on the back of the unit reads CA15 with a part number of BV-01-CC. This breaks down as:

BVProduct LineG160 (The circuit board inside the box)
0SoftwareStandard software
1Platform1 = CE.NET
CFlash CapacityC = 32Mb
CRAM CapacityC = 128Mb

Apparently CA15 is the Bcom number, the marketing number being C50.

The basic specs are:

Processor
   Type
   Speed
VIA Samuel 2
400MHz
Memory
   Flash
   RAM
32M (max 1024M)
128MB (max 512MB?)
Video
   Chip
   Max resolution
VIA VT8623 (Apollo CLE266)
1600 x 1200 32-bit colour
Ports
   Network
   USB
   Serial
   Parallel
   PS/2
10/100
2 x USB2.0
1
1
Kybd & mouse
Power
   Off
   Running
0 W
14-18W

Power Supply

Unlike a lot of other thin clients the Neoware CA15 has an internal power supply. The mains lead has a "clover leaf" style connector rather than the more usual kettle style. If your CA15 came without a lead these are easy to source.

CPU

Neoware CA15 circuit board

VIA's processors seem to be loosely named. C7/C3/Eden etc actually cover a range of capabilities. For those to whom it matters here is some detail from Linux's /proc/cpuinfo

vendor_id:CentaurHauls
cpu family:6
model:7
model name:VIA Samuel 2
stepping:3

Expansion

Both the Flash memory and the RAM in the CA15 are easily replaceable. (Note: Click on the image of the inside of the CA15 for a larger view).

Flash: The flash is a "DiskOnModule" that interfaces via a 44-pin IDE connector. The system will quite happily boot from a Compact Flash card or 2.5" drive connected in its place.

RAM: The RAM is a 200-pin DDR SODIMM. I haven't been able to locate an actual specification for what the CA15 supports, but the 128MB module fitted is a DDR400 (PC3200) unit manufactured by pqi. I have successfully replaced it with 256MB module that I had to hand - the replacement only being DDR333. Michael Steele emailed to say that he's successfully installed 512MB - Crucial Part Number CT807983 (PC2700).

USB connector detail USB: Teun Kloosterman emailed me to point out that the PCB has an area adjacent to the DOM which is labelled USB1 (see photo for detail). Unlike the CA19 there is no header fitted to it. He soldered in a header and found he'd gained an extra USB port.

USB pinout Motherboard USB pinouts are usually(?) as shown left. In this case we we only have a single USB port tracked out to the connector and so it's only the row of pins nearest the edge of the circuit board that are used. Pin 1 is clearly marked with a white arrow-head.

Having soldered in the header Teun got a little inventive:

"Now I took a cheap USB stick apart and soldered a flat cable to it. Covered it in shrink wrap and taped it to the small removable cover. On the other side I made a 4 pin molex connector et voila I now have 2 GB more storage inside."

I soldered in a header but took an easier approach to checking it out. Digging around I found an old motherboard-to-backpanel USB connector and used that (see photo below). If you don't have one to hand you can find such things on ebay or elsewhere - it's just a matter of finding the right search term. Having a look just now I found "USB header" was moderately successful.

There is space inside to coil up the cable and to accommodate the socket (less backpanel!) and pendrive. Over the years I'm sure I've seen USB backpanel-to-motherboard connectors where the cabling has been to two single strip connectors rather than the two cables going into a single DIL connector which is the example shown below.

USB connector USB connector

Compact Flash Socket:CA 15 Compact Flash Socket area If you look at the circuit board by the 44-pin IDE connector you can see that it is actually tracked for a Compact Flash card socket. Caleb Mayfield noticed this and decided to get adventurous. He sourced a suitable socket from Mouser Electronics and soldered it to the board - see second picture. It works well. He used a 3M part number N7E50-Q516RB-50-WF. Google should help you find an in-country supplier.

CA 15 Compact Flash Socket Sorry about the mixed orientation of the two photos. The 'before' picture is of my CA15 whilst the 'after' picture is from Caleb. His motherboard was out of the case at that time and I didn't have the energy to dismantle mine that far just for the photograph. Net result is that there is a 180 degree difference between the two views, but I'm sure you can sort that out. In my photograph the support pillar for the flash module is also still in place - you obviously need to remove that in order to insert a Compact Flash card into your new socket!

In each photograph you can also see the added header for the internal USB port.

 


Any comments? email me.    Last update July 2011