GnuBee Personal Cloud 1

$60,440 raised

of $32,000 goal

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May 04 2017

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funded

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$5

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$185

GnuBee Personal Cloud 1

One fully populated and assembled GB-PC1 Bare PCB, two anodized aluminum side plates, six threaded brackets and bracket screws, and 24 drive mount screws. Power supply, microSD card, and drives not included. Requires screwdriver for assembly.


$50

GB-PC1 Bare PCB

The GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 bare, unpopulated, printed circuit board for the true DIY'er :)


$19

GnuBee Power Adapter

An energy efficient (level V) global input power supply that puts out up to 3 A at 12 VDC through a 5.5 mm x 2.1 mm center-positive barrel jack. Perfect for powering your GnuBee Personal Cloud 1. Free shipping with any GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 order.


$10

GnuBee microSD Card

A 2 GB microSD card imaged with Debian. Run your GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 directly from the microSD card. Copying Debian to an SSD or HDD is recommended, but this microSD card will get you started. Free shipping with any GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 order.


$8

GnuBee USB-to-UART Adapter

Debugging made easy! The GnuBee USB-to-UART adapter comes equipped with a 3.5 mm plug to connect to the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1. This debugging method is ubiquitous in the world of embedded systems. Free shipping with any GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 order.

Details

A low-cost, low-power NAS for 2.5" drives

As Featured In

CNXSoft - Embedded Systems News

"NAS with a large number of SATA bays usually cost several hundreds up to thousands of dollars..., but there’s a new a project called GnuBee Personal Cloud 1, that delivers a MIPS Linux system supporting up to six 2.5″ SATA drives for less than $200."

GoFloss!

"[GnuBee is] worth supporting, mainly because of [its] links to the Free Software movement ([it] expects to be certified by the stringent FSF label “Respects Your Freedom“, or RYF), but also because [it is a] great project."

nixCraft

"It is a low-cost, low-power, NAS device that runs GNU/Linux and it is claimed to be based on free, libre, and open source software."

LinuxGizmos.com

" Full schematics are available, and hardware hackers interested in rolling their own NAS devices can order a $50 GB-PC1 bare PCB"

Open Electronics

"...the GB-PC1 can be used for a variety of applications in addition to NAS. Examples listed include using the device as a file, media, download, or web server, or for the remote hosting of private cloud services."

Overview

The GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 (GB-PC1) is a network-attached storage (NAS) device specifically engineered to run free, libre, open source software (FLOSS). The GB-PC1 has all the functionality of any commercial, proprietary NAS, but at a much lower cost and with the transparency, reliability, and accessibility advantages that come with using FLOSS.

Features & Specifications

  • Processor:
    • MediaTek MT7621A
    • dual core, multi thread (Linux kernel sees four cores)
    • 880 MHz, overclockable to 1.2 GHz)
  • Memory:
    • 512 MB DDR3 RAM (maximum amount for the MediaTek chip)
    • soldered to main board
  • Storage:
    • microSD card slot (tested up to 64 GB cards so far)
    • 6 x 2.5” drives (HDD, SSD, or mix and match; drives not included)
    • Recommended RAID levels are 0 and 1 under LVM and MD, and Linux MD RAID 10
  • Connectivity:
    • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
    • 1 x USB 3.0 port
    • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
    • Serial port (3-pin J1 connector or 3.5 mm audio-type jack)
  • Power:
    • 12 VDC @ 3 A maximum
    • 5.5 mm x 2.1 mm, center-positive barrel jack
  • Dimensions:
    • Bounding box: 8.5” (L) x 2.75” (W) x 5.5” (H)
    • Weight: ~210 g (without drives)
  • Enclosure:
    • 2 x anodized aluminum side plates
    • 4 x threaded brackets and screws
    • 24 x drive screws (four per drive)
  • Software:
  • Sources & Documentation:

The GB-PC1 can hold up to six 2.5" drives, each up to 15 mm thick

Why a NAS?

Whether you’re a developer or a digital artist, chances are you have a lot of essential data, from music tracks to application code. So you probably already know that data loss is a fact of modern life, and backing up your data is the surest way to prevent it. You could use an online service for backups, but doing so exposes you and your data to a wide range of privacy, security, legal, and financial risks beyond your control. For example:

  • What are the data limits and how much does more storage cost?
  • Who really owns the data? Does the online provider gain some license to use your data?
  • What kind of security is protecting your data? How can you audit that security?
  • What kind of changes will the online provider make to their terms of use?
  • What people (e.g., employees of the online provider) or organizations (e.g., governments) could also gain access to your data?

All these questions and more make a strong case for using not only a NAS, but a NAS over which you have complete control - a FLOSS NAS! Enter the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1.

The GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 can be used for a wide variety of applications, including:

  • network storage and backup
  • file server
  • home media server
  • download server
  • web server
  • remotely accessible private cloud

The GB-PC1 offers increased information security, easier collaboration, and less administrative mess compared with SaaS solutions and other NAS devices.

Top (above) and bottom (below) of the GB-PC1 main board

Comparisons

There are hundreds of NAS devices out there, but none of them except the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 are designed from the beginning to be open hardware and run FLOSS. The table below shows two of the most comparable NAS devices and how they stack up against the GB-PC1.

TS-431 DS416slim GnuBee Personal Cloud 1
Chipset Freescale ARM Cortex A9 Marvell Armada 385 MediaTek MT7621A
Cores 2 2 2
Threads 2 2 4
Speed 1.2 GHz 1.0 GHz 880 MHz (overclocked to 1.2 GHz)
Memory 512 MB DDR3 512 MB DDR3 512 MB DDR3
Drive Bays 4 x 2.5” or 3.5” 4 x 2.5” up to 12.5 mm drive height 6 x 2.5” up to 15 mm drive height
Idle Power 14.84 W 11.63 W 11.64 W
Openness partial software partial software hardware schematics + all software
Price $294.50 $289.99 $223.00*

* Even less if you already have a power supply, imaged microSD card, and USB-to-UART adapter.

Enclosure Design

The minimal enclosure design is a major factor in making the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 small, inexpensive, and energy efficient. Though we love the aesthetic of the enclosure, keep in mind the universal truth about NAS devices: they are best placed near your wireless router and viewed from the command line or web interface.

Air Flow

The fact the mainboard isn’t fully enclosed allows for better airflow and fanless operation (though the mainboard can accommodate a small fan if you want to add one). No fan means much less build up of dirt and dust - few things compare to the inside of a fan-cooled PC that hasn’t been opened in years, whereas we’ve never seen a dirty free-standing printed circuit board assembly.

Heat Sinks

In addition to the enclosure’s great airflow, its anodized aluminum side plates help dissipate heat away from the mainboard.

Drive Size

The GB-PC1 is compatible with 2.5” drives, which means it has a small physical footprint and can work with a wide variety of SSDs in addition to the usual array of HDDs. The GB-PC1 is not compatible with 3.5” drives, but a future version might be.

Free as in Freedom

We designed the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 with the Free Software Foundation’s Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification in mind and have already initiated the application process with FSF.

The GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 is 100% free of binary blobs. Check out this campaign update to see some of the backstory of how this is possible.

Libre Software

The GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 can run several popular FLOSS suites for managing routers, NAS devices, or just general computing. These are some of the main suites the GB-PC1 can run:

Debian

Yep, the GB-PC1 can run Debian.

openmediavault

The openmediavault project is a Debian-based network-attached storage solution designed for home and small office user who lack deep technical experience or knowledge of setting up and and administering an NAS.

Screenshot of openmediavault running on the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1

libreCMC

Billed as “the libre embedded GNU/Linux distro,” libreCMC is a fork of OpenWrt that uses only libre components. Recently, our pull request for GB-PC1 compatibility was merged into the staging branch.

LEDE

The Linux Embedded Development Environment (LEDE) project is a reboot of the OpenWrt community. We’ve created a GB-PC1 fork of the LEDE project and plan on submitting a patch back to the main project once production of the GB-PC1 is underway. (It is unlikely the LEDE developers would accept a patch for a device not yet in production.)

Screenshot of LEDE running on the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1

FLOSS Devices at Reasonable Prices

GnuBee started with a simple idea: instead of hacking commodity hardware, let’s build the toys we want to play with from scratch . We want to show the world what devices running free software can do. The Personal Cloud 1 is our first product, though we have others in the works. If the GB-PC1 is successful, there will be plenty of others to follow!

How do we keep the cost of our devices down? Because we have both Chinese (Xiaoping) and US (Larry) roots, we have some major advantages over other teams. We don’t need to rent expensive living and work space in China (we stay with family!), and we don’t need to hire translators and other go-betweens. We can work directly with vendors and manufacturers. Because we are committed to working only with FLOSS projects, our software development costs are also reduced and distributed.

Future Versions

If the GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 successfully reaches its funding goal and goes to production, we plan to make other variants (e.g., a version compatible with 3.5” drives) and other products (e.g., a wireless router). However, first things first - if you love FLOSS and hardware designed to run it, please support this campaign so we can continue this work!

Manufacturing Plan

The PCBs will be fabricated and assembled in Shenzhen, China. The aluminum side plates will require a stamping die for mass production. Shipping to backers will be from Crowd Supply’s warehouse in Portland, Oregon, USA. You can read about shipping policies in The Crowd Supply Guide.

The GB-PC1 bare, unpopulated, printed circuit board

Risks & Challenges

We have worked to minimize the risks. There are no specialized parts in the design, so all the components needed are readily available. The GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 prototypes are running well, and our suppliers have a good record of quality and on-time delivery.

The free/libre software and firmware for the MediaTek MT7621A chipset is mature, with only minor issues remaining.

Ask a Question

Have a question not answered in the description above or in the Updates?

Ask GnuBee a Question or Browse the Crowd Supply Guide

Credits

GnuBee

FLOSS devices at reasonable prices.


L. D. Pinney

Founder and CTO

Xiaoping Pinney

Chairman Ping

Douglas Gazineu

Software Developer

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