If someone told me that one day I would be able to build my own personal computer, I would have simply called them delusional. But with the constant evolution of the PC, the idea now seems more in reach.
Phuoc Thanh Phan, an electrical engineering major at UMass Lowell, has jumped feet first into this evolution with his DIY mini-computer model – a computer less than 6 inches long, equipped with 3 USB ports, a power button and a built-in fan, all Phan contends, allowing you a longer run time.
“I wanted to build a mini-computer that was simple. I wanted something that had everything a regular computer had except in a small scale, with the option for consumers to build it themselves,” Phan said. “The concept is not new. The mini-computers are out in the market and are accessible, but we differ because of quality, price and our built-in fan.”
With a Kickstarter goal of $100,000, Phan hopes to unlock the Yuni Design DIY mini-computer by March 2016. The funding goal is needed to launch production, to reduce individual costs and cover expenses for materials, packaging, tooling and equipment.
According to his ZoomInfo page, Phan, 27, “oversees strategic direction of the start-up company. Phan started up the company with Derrick Wakanya during the late fall of 2014.”
(Wakanya is also pursuing a degree in electrical engineering from UMass Lowell; both plan to graduate in 2016.)
“Phan received a couple degrees and certificates before deciding that he wanted to start up his own company. He received a Technical certificate in Electromechanical Technology at Worcester Technical High School, an [associate of science] degree in electromechanical at Quinsigamond Community College, and two Workforce Module Certificates at Mount Wachusett Community College in Business Management and Six Sigma. Phan was also involved in Vex robotics and won the Amaze Award for design.”
With less than $1,000 raised as of Dec. 3 and about a week left on the Kickstarter campaign, Phan has more work to do than ordering parts.
“I have tested the product on all ages and it seems that it is so simple that anyone can do it. That is our goal. We want this product to reach everyone, despite [their] age, and allow them to utilize the PC in a way that has not been done before,” he said.
“This is why our Kickstarter goal is $100,000,” he added. “We want to be sure we are creating the right product. We have some great features like our built-in fan and power button that makes the product user-friendly, which is rare among competitors.”
Phan has been able to incorporate a fan and keep it at low volume for noise control.
“It’s not about the silence as much as it is about the product not overheating. Our built-in fan still offers the silence of a quiet workstation, but also makes sure that the product will not overheat,” he said.
But that may not even be the best feature of the product.
Using a Linux variant (Ubuntu MATE) as its operating system, Yuni Design gives consumers the option to use everyday productivity programs such as LibreOffice and KDE’s Calligra, formerly known as KSpread, the equivalents to Microsoft Word and Excel.
“This is a fully functioning PC. There is no need to compromise your work needs and is great for students. I have been using my prototype for my schoolwork since I created it. It has everything I need and more,” Phan said.
“Since we have built this mini PC with 3 USB ports, the best part is the lifespan of this product. You can add a flash drive or two and save all of your documents, photos and work onto the flash drive, without utilizing the space on the actual PC. This gives the PC a greater ability to work smoothly without having to upgrade [with] additional RAM,” Phan said.
“If you actually need additional RAM, we can provide that, and all you would do is add it to your motherboard,” he said. “The product is easy, and the best part is the fact that we use Linux as the operating system. The system is known for being great at not having viruses.
“I want our product to boost its great quality. I want its diversity to be used to inspire the youth to build their own computer and to reduce the expenses for consumers trying to bring computers into their home,” Phan said.
Consumers will pay $265, according to the campaign page, for a DIY mini-computer kit that includes a mini-keyboard and mouse. Boasting quality and expansive features, the Yuni Design product might just be ready to stand tall among its competitors despite its compact size.