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Project TeraByteDinnerDevice
Status Stalled
Contact FooBar
Last Update 2012-01-16

The terabyte dinner device


Remember the sneakernet? Oh those glorious days. But with the advent of the internet, carrying physical media around has become obsolete. Or so we thought! Various organisations (mostly Hollywood lobbyists) think downloading is something evil, something that should be banned. With their dollars they get governments to prosecute children and fanclubs worldwide. Technology such as bittorrent are painted as illegal practices, and efforts to ban it all together are underway.

Enter the Terabyte Dinner! Invite some friends over for a nice meal, have them bring an external 1TB hard-drive each and hook them up to your Terabyte Dinner Device. Enjoy the food and the company, and when the evening ends each of you will have 750+GB of new content, software or literature. All in crisp digital quality. And without leaving a trace that might implicate you for committing the horrendous crime of exchanging information!


The idea as well as initial funding was provided by Arjen and Aldert. The prototype will be presented during the eth0 summer event, where we will organise a workshop where participants can build their own terrabyte dinner device, and hopefully the first terabyte dinners will take place.

If you want to fund this project, do contact treasury@revspace.nl. It's not all expensive, but there are some costs.


A workshop at revspace will be planned in late April or early May to start building the very first development model and kick off further action. In the time before that, we will discuss possible designs and purchase the first components (not necesarilly focussing on a single design).

Design goals

  • Simple to use, just plug in and press the big red button;
  • No moving parts;
  • Ultra-small form factor;
  • Interface:
    • 8 USB 2.0 (3.0?) interfaces;
    • 8 RGB leds for each USB port, indicating the current status of the attached disk:
      • off - no disk attached;
      • blinking red - disk inserted, mounting / scanning;
      • red - disk failure;
      • blue - disk full;
      • yellow - copying;
      • green - copying complete, disconnect;
      • green blinking - disk mounted, ready for copying.
    • one rgb led for general status (on, booting, awaiting disks, in progress, ready);
    • an on/off switch and an 'initiate copying' button;
  • Easy to build, minimum amount of soldering or mechanical work;
  • Use off the shelf components:
    • power supply;
    • CPU board with i/o and boot storage device;
    • casing.
  • Provide special parts as kit that people can build or buy
    • pcb with rgb leds, switches and interfacing to CPU board;
    • power supply;
    • USB port risers (if needed).
  • Hardware design as well as software completely open;
  • Self-powered (battery) for use in pubs, restaurants and other public areas;
  • Viral spreading of the blueprints.


  • Ethernet port for configuration;
  • Dot-matrix display for more detailed status reporting;
  • Format new devices;
  • Crypted filesystems
  • Library of what you have at home to prevent duplicate content;
  • file-naming standard (StarTrek_TNG_e06s06.avi) and auto-renaming to keep things consistent;
  • Personal preferences in xml on your disk, eg. get all sf series with lesbian bondage first, then all other sf, then action movies, then Bach cantates and finally the natgeo documentaries about insects
    • directory naming conventions
    • tagging
    • IMDB/CDBaby
  • Software to run on random pc to emulate TBDD

General operation

  • tbdd is powered on, and boots;
  • Guests arrive and plug in their disks;
  • tbdd checks the disks for compatible filesystem (vfat, ext2, ext3, zfs, ...) and free space;
  • tbdd copies its own design blueprint onto each connected disk in the /in folder;
  • once all guests have arrived, they press 'go' on the device;
  • tbdd copies the /out folder from each disk to the /in/XXX folders on all other disks (where XXX could be the disk label of the source disk, or simply the usb port number);
  • once completed, guests take their disk out and go home.

In case a newly inserted disk can not be used, it is rejected. The RGB led corresponding to the USB port for that disk indicates this to the users. Circumstances that make a disk unusable: hardware failure, incompatible file-system, not enough space.

Note that the TBDD does not touch anything outside /in and /out, so the disk can be used to carry additional data.


  • 8 devices for each of which:
    • 100GB needs to be read
    • 700GB needs to be written
  • With one USB controller, speed is limited to 480Mbps, half duplex.
    • We assume read and write speeds to be 480Mbps (very optimistic).
  • We assume the source device is only read once.
  • We assume each device needs to be addressed separately, i.e. write commands cannot be multiplexed and thus need to be executed 7 times.
  • (8 * 800GB) / 480Mbps = *1.26 days*
  • Assuming 1 USB controller per disk (4+ controllers are quite common these days)
    • 800GB / 480 Mbps = 2:13 Hours
  • Using a more sane disk-speed average:
    • 800GB / 35 MB/sec = 6:20 Hours

-- Main.MarkJanssen (praseodym) - 05 Apr 2010 -- Main.FooBar - 06 Apr 2010

Technical Details

CPU board:

  • Mini-ITX sized atom board, commodity hardware, easy to use and develop for;
  • Suitable SoC, less standard but smaller footprint (space-wise as well as power requirements);
  • Repurposed CPU board from commodity hardware such as linksys/sheevaplug/pogoplug;

Power supply:

  • Look for kits
  • Repurposed power supply

Shopping list

Total price: 230 euro



Related links

-- Main.FooBar - 30 Mar 2010 -- Main.KoenMartens - 02 Apr 2010