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Thread: My experience with mini-box (maker of M2-atx and others)

  1. #1
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    My experience with mini-box (maker of M2-atx and others)

    seeing as we have a lot of members here that are newbies and do some research, i figured i'd post my convos with mini-box tech support regarding an issue multiple people have had.

    this will give you guys a decent idea as to how mini-box deals with their customers, something probably as important as the power specs.


    my first email:

    dear sirs.

    i would like your assistance solving this matter. I have an M2-ATX bought 03-08 from one of your authorized resellers (short-circuit.com, reciept available upon request.) i smashed my car before hooking the m2-atx up, and let it sit. upon booting the unit up for the first time recently, it worked fine, with the exception of a broken piece of ram not booting power to the 5V rail (actually i sent a quick support question to you guys, and one of your reps (Cristi Ciubotaru) never got back to me with an answer (support #54620).

    i took the unit out and attempting to reinstall it went seaching for the correct way to install the motherboard on/off switch. upon only finding the +/- pin-out for my Via EPIA M10000, i guessed at its corresponding pin-out on my M2. the motherboard failed to boot in sequence, and would only boot when i pulled the connector off the J8 pin on the m2. furthermore the 2 pins on the J8 are constantly shorted.

    some research on the internet has led me to the conclusion that when i guessed at the polarity of J8, i guessed wrong. my problem matches exactly that of user "cobase" http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/powe...-problems.html

    in his case his unit was RMA'd and replaced.

    i advocate that my unit, even though out of mini-box's one year warranty, should be RMA'd likewise and replaced. I feel this way because (i feel) the J8/J9 connectors should have been labeled on the either the installation sheet or manual, or maybe available on your website, or something. (in fact, your latest manual still fails to list the polarity of the pins) this is especially pertinent information given the fact that improper installation will toast your power supply.

    interestingly enough, there's a big ol' disclaimer warning that reads:

    The M2-ATX board has several wires that need to be installed in various
    places.
    When installing, always double check the polarity of your wires with a
    voltmeter.

    further confusing me is the fact that the J6 connector (which doesn't toast the power supply if switched) has its pins labeled, yet the connectors that fry the power supply if switched aren't labeled to ensure this doesn't happen.

    i look forward to your response and a positive outcome for all involved.

    -Christopher Larocque

  2. #2
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    their Response:

    Dear Christopher,

    I am sorry for this situation. Can you do some tests with your M2-ATX? Try it in dumb mode, no jumpers installed, and mode 1 and see the results. Also, try to connect an external ON/OFF switch to J9 and see if it works. Unfortunately, we can't do anything about a RMA if the 1 year warranty passed. Looking forward for your reply.



    Best Regards,
    Cristi Ciubotaru.

  3. #3
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    My repsonse:

    If it will help diagnose a problem and lead to a solution, then sure i'll try it...

    0. the unit powers. The amp anti-thump works fine... Once u jump the motherboard, the psu works fine.

    1. I'm able to start/shut down the motherboard by momentarily bridging the pins on it...

    2. It doesn't work in dumb mode (its not supposed to, as dumb mode doesn't control the startup/shutdown procedure), it doesn't work in mode 1, (if it did, I wouldn't be emailing you, and my carpc would be running now ...)

    3. Although most people who've had these problems haven't had much luck (even emailing you guys) i'll try my hand.

    3a. Is J/8 and J/9 polarity sensitive?
    3.5a if its not, what could cause those pins to be shorted?

    3b. If one were to reverse the polarity, would it force the J/8 J/9 pins to permanently short?
    3c. What recourse is available to fix a shorted J/8 J/9? Would a firmware update fix it? Maybe the replacement of a resistor or capacitor?
    3d. Could I pay u guys to fix it?

  4. #4
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    the rest is unwritten, but considering the fact that this has happened to multiple people, mini-box's lack of presence on any boards i could find (which is odd, as this is a GREAT way to reach your target audience) and the fact they acknowledged none of my questions and ignored a tech support question before this, i'm not hopeful in the outcome of getting any kind of satisfying result.

    take this exactly for what it is, don't try and think i'm trying to bash mini-box, but its def. something you should be aware of when deciding on what power supply to pick.

    also, feel free to post your own comments, experiences, etc. to help your fellow members....

  5. #5
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    At least you get a response

    I have been waiting for a reply since May 5th

  6. #6
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    My experience with Opus has been much better. Quick timely communication and they even re-programmed a power supply for free for me.

  7. #7
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    Thank you for your input. I have an M2-ATX in my wife's car and it has never performed as expected. It does not keep the pc powered when I shut off for short periods, even though it is set at 2 hours and it does not stop the amplifier from "thumping." I monitored the output and there is indeed a 3 second delay. Unfortunately, it takes longer for my computer to boot than 3 seconds.

    I think I'll try Opus next time.

  8. #8
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    I've sent them a couple of questions about DCDC-USB. While the unit itself performs OK so far, I've never received any replies. I'm definitely going to pay extra for Opus next time, in exchange for reliable support.

  9. #9
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    I would recommend to do business with a 3rd party outfit that can give you proper tech support instead of dealing direct with Mini-Box. I love Ituner/Mini-box and all they do. Their products are fantastic and the most reliable of all we offer. All of my personal experience with them has been positive, to date, but I work with them as a b2b and not an end-user. I do find that they provide less support to end users than some other outfits would. FWIW - their technical how-to is fantastic. In my humble opinion, they (probably) just don't have the time or resources to support their many consumer/end-user support requests.

    I guess to make an analogy I would compare it to contacting HP directly about their PC's instead of your local mom & pop (or best buy, if you must) to get tech support. The end-users are small fish to HP, whereas your local distributor will be more happy to gain your business through supporting you thoroughly. That said, you certainly could be successful in contacting HP direct. It's just an example.

    All things considered, though, I don't want to push people away from their business! lol
    They're a pleasure to procure from


    *edit: meant technical know-how
    Last edited by chris_h; 08-07-2011 at 09:42 PM.

  10. #10
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    Thank you for sharing this. Good support is worth a price premium.

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