Well, you aren't going to get away from the fact that not all NUCs provide the same level of expansion header support.
Most of the NUCs have an internal 2-pin power connector. I believe that this can be a power output as well as a power input and that you can connect your circuitry directly to it. Be careful, though; your circuitry would need to provide the regulators for handling the 19V input from the power adapter. As well, depending upon what NUC you use and what you connect, you may need to use a larger power adapter.
Hope this helps,
Thanks for the tip! I must have missed that. Looks like it can put out 1.5A, which is great! I think this will work. I think I need to test a few controllers and figure out the maximum amps that they will pull with the vibration motors active.
Edit: One other question! Where can I get connectors to plug into that external power connector? And how would I populate them? I'm working with pins compatible with the Raspberry Pi and Arduino, which are, of course, way too big.
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Onboard USB Header Information:
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Thanks so much for the reply, Ivan! The project is coming along swimmingly! I just ordered the 4-pin connector for the external power header. Here's what it looks like so far: http://imgur.com/a/3jO6v