Home Made Hard Drive Rack (10+1)

Discussion in 'Modding Worklogs' started by digamma, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. digamma

    digamma Member

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    I inherited an old server from work. A dual cpu Xeon behemoth. It was more than powerful enough for a home server, but 2 problems: No SATA and odd sized drive rails. The no SATA thing was easy enough to fix, I bought an SiI3114 PCI SATA card from ebay and all was good. Then I got greedy when I saw Oli was selling a 12 port PCI-X 3ware SATA card and snapped it up. (Thanks Oli!)
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    The case, as I said, was a big 'un, even has heavy lift stickers on it. The existing drive mountings are designed for removable scsi drives, but are odd widths, and I couldn't find a caddy that was wide enough for it. And the DVD drive was just a fraction to narrow to screw in.
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    And this is where the thinking began. I wanted to expand my storage capacity, hence the acquisition of the 12 port SATA card. But now I needed to mount the drives right. The drives that were in there are mounted on sheet steel (an old case side panel) that I butchered to make two sides to hold the drives in. I wanted space for 10 drives (that was all the height in the case would allow for), a DVD drive and on the SATA card, there were pins for individual HDD status lights. Since I like flashy light things, I decided to make use of that little feature. I also wanted to keep the drives cool. So a couple of fans were also going to feature into the design. Slow moving, 120mm fans with pretty lights, from Ebay.

    The plans.
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    One side of the rack.
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    Both sides, plus some old drives to check that stuff lined up.
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    The metal work is completed.
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    Top view, down the guts of the rack.
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    The little mounts for the drive LEDs.
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    I cannot emphasise how much this flux pen has helped with soldering the wires to the LEDs and the resistors and the pin contacts and the ....... well, everything. It doesn't corrode like some acid fluxes will. It is just plain excellent. Makes the solder flow oh so nicely, and means I don't burn my fingers coz the wire gets too hot to hold and the LEDs don't melt. I'll admit, I'm not a expert solderer, but this just makes it so much easier.
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    My little companion. Ella-Jane. She was very well behaved while Daddy was soldering ALL BLOODY DAY!
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    LEDs all wired up and installed. I have a box of cat 6 in the garage and thought why not use that for the LED wiring. 12 lights, nice solid core wire, neatly tied up in bundles. Works like a charm and keeps the potentially very messy wiring, nice and tidy.
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    All done. now just to install it.
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    Installing took me a while longer than I thought. I wasn't sure I'd measured right, and then removing the old drive bays almost undid the whole project as I didn't realise the thing was riveted in so well, and formed part of the case structure. Plus, the new rack didn't just slide in as I thought it would. No, it required a little jiggling and prayer. I almost hit another snag at the point where I had it in place and ready to attach it. There was no space behind the rack to slide drives in and out. Ooops. There goes my idea of riveting it into place. Instead, I drilled 4 new holes and screwed it in place instead. That was it is easily removable when need be. Not that that will need to happen very often. Once the full complement of drives is in, they will stay put for a long time (hopefully).
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    As with anything that I build, it always takes longer (much longer) than I anticipate. But I think the result was worth the effort. It works, I think it looks good for a home done job and it suits my needs. It definitely pays to measure twice before cutting or drilling. By the third day, I was definitely tired and started making little mistakes. However, all's well that ends well.

    The material I used to make it was bought from Bunnings. 25x12x1.6 aluminium angle bar for the rails and 25x1.0 for the supports and side beams. 1/8th rivets holds it all together. It did cost more than I thought, especially when I got home and realised I needed 1/3rd more aluminium that I originally thought. The LEDs and other electric goodies came from Jaycar. 3mm LEDs plus the little mounting holes. I was originally going to have the wiring in 2 halves so that the rack could be unplugged without having to unplug the wires from the card, but that was too much work in the end. I'm happy with the end result. It is way more stable and holds more than the bodgy job I did originally.
     
  2. hairy

    hairy Member

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    so how big are the drives you put in?
    is the server loud ?
    linux or server ?
    we want details man!!
     
  3. OP
    OP
    digamma

    digamma Member

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    OK, OK! Full details of the server are: 2x 2.8g Xeon (prestonia) with HT on an intel server board (SE5701BR2), 2 gb of ECC DDR ram, onboard graphics (Rage 3D, I think), 3ware 12 port SATA RAID card, redundant PSUs, and, at the moment, it has a 160gb PATA OS/Torrent drive, soon to be changed over to a 250gb SATA. It has a 250gb "whatever" drive, a 1tb drive for movies, a 1tb for tv shows and a 1tb for backups and other things. I want to get another couple of 1tb drives in a couple of weeks for more storage space. It will be a slowly growing collection of drives, but they will all fit now. :)

    Is the server loud? Yes, it bloody well is! The 120mm fans at the front are nearly silent. The 120mm fan at the rear is massive and keeps the major components cool, the cpus, the ram, the nic controller, video chips etc. As can be seen in the pics, there is a great big plastic duct that controls air flow and it is all drawn out the back by that whopping big, noisy fan.

    I was thinking about some flavour of linux to run it, but my level of competence with linux is up to running ubuntu 10.04 on a 4 year old laptop. It just worked and that is fine as I have no idea how to do anything more than that. So it is running xp sp3, with the required items as shared drives mapped out on the other computers on the network. I was thinking about putting a free NAS OS on there, but can't be arsed to be honest. XP works and I've got a license for it through work, so why bother with anything else. (although, I'm open to being convinced if something else will be better!)
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  4. CM96

    CM96 Member

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    Mm that's pretty nice. I like it :thumbup:

    But damn that thing is big. How much does it weigh? :lol:

    Also are those LED fans in the front cheapy ones off Dealxtreme or somewhere?

    :thumbup:
     
  5. The_Shadow

    The_Shadow Member

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    Very nice job, definitely better than what I could do so you can feel proud of the work you've done at least :thumbup:

    You've probably got a Delta 120mm fan on that case, those are fun :D
     
  6. OP
    OP
    digamma

    digamma Member

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    Yep, they are cheapo fans, but from ebay. One arrived and last 5 minutes before it blew. Fan stopped and only one LED was glowing. I contacted the seller, who was prepared to offer a full refund. I asked if he could send another fan, so he did. And as you can see, 2 working fans. As for the rear fan, yep, I'd say it is a delta. Another server case I've got here also has that chunky fans, and they are deltas. Noisy buggers. But they sure move a lot of air around.

    Weight wise, I just put it on the bathroom scales and it came in at 25 kilos. I wasn't expecting that!
     
  7. illuzi0n

    illuzi0n New Member

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    wow havent seen so much work go into a hard drive bay before lol
     
  8. manphil

    manphil Member

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    Might I, be so bold, as to suggest Windows Home Server Version 1 OEM.
    • Auto backup of PC on network,
    • file shares for each user-with security
    • file shares set up for piccies, video and music
    • hard drives of varying size can be added as they all go into a "Pool" of available space
    • Share level file duplication (spread to separate drive spindles)
    • Designed to run headless (no screen, keyboard required after install)
    • No secret Raid stuff, files are stored as normal NTFS on each drive.
    • A range of community add-ons available.

    Once it is set up ..it just works ..I like it because it was easy to set up and it does what it says it will ..no drama

    (flame proof underware on ....ready for the RAID and Free NAS attack boys ....just my opinion ..guys not saying there may be more suitable options ....depends on yer needs!! :D )
     
  9. shadowman

    shadowman Member

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    Are they all single hard drives or in raid?

    If not, why not some simple Raid5 or even 5+1 or something? This way you have some backup if something breaks. That cards should be capable. With 5 x 1TB I'd go for Raid5, that way you get 4TB of storage, then partition that into 'drives' for each (movies, TV etc).

    This is what i'm looking at doing with our old work server. It currently has a Raid5+1 with 6 x 500GB drives (for a total of 1TB). I'm looking to replace those with 8 x 1TB drives, giving me 3TB with decent redundancy, backed up onto a homebuilt NAS with Raid5 (4 x 1TB drives). Hopefully the card should be able to do this (it has both SCSI and SATA cards).
     
  10. manphil

    manphil Member

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    Hi Shadowman,
    WHS uses a layer on top of the the normal NTFS file system and presents each additional hardrive in 1 of two ways ...either normally as a "non-pool' drive ...adds a drive letter for the physical harddrive or partitions contained within. The non-pool drives can be used for backup purposes or whatever you like.

    ...or you can nominate a drive to be added to the "Pool" ...this is one or more drives group together, that become your server storage space. The "pool" is the core of the WHS environment.
    Note that the additional drives can be internal (IDE or SATA or other) or external (usb/firewire/eSATA..etc)

    There is no RAID system in place in the WHS environment unless you specifically set it up ..and then I imagine a RAID set would just be added just like any single storage device.

    Dislaimer: ...I am NO "RAID" expert ...probably know enough to be dangerous!.

    The downside to the WHS storage enviroment is , if you have all of your shares "duplicated", the end result is like a mirrored RAID set. You will need twice the storage space in harddrives to accomadate any set size of files.
    The storage pool will always maintain a duplicate copy of a file on a separate drive spindle ..so in this way maintains files even in the event of a single hardrive failure ...this is invisible to the operator. Should a drive be removed from the "pool", WHS will redistribute the files to maintain file duplication.

    The pluses are simplicity as the files are ultimately still stored in the NTFS file sytem ..so you can remove a drive, install it in another PC and recover all of the files ...say in the case of sever motherboard failure or a RIAD controller failure.

    So simplicity over storage efficiency.
    Like I said ..it works ..it is simple ..does not need to be a techy type to set up ....

    I have heard of horror stories should a RAID card die and then recovery of the RAID set can be problematic if the excat same hardware config cannot be established.

    But as you have said you alread have the RAID hardware so ...why not use it!
    WHS doesn't need RAID hardware ..any PC from a couple of years ago to present can run WHS and then you just add drives as you need more space .....there's that simplicity ...again.

    Sorry ..I am sounding like a FANBOY ....don't want to ...just expanding out the explanantion.

    Intention was to make folk aware of WHS as an option. No reason why you could not run a RAID set in a WHS environment ...folk have done this as well ...if you think this is protection enough against drive failure then you would not turn on "share duplication", I would expect ....now the options start to make my head spin ...sorry tripping out :D

    Cheers,
    Phil


    P.S. hope this is conherent!
     
  11. manphil

    manphil Member

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    just for balance.

    Some negatives to WHS.

    Based on Win Server 2003 code base, so is 32 bit O/S
    Purchase cost of the current WHS version 1, O/S Disk, is approx $130 AUD ..last time I checked. (just checked Staticice ..some going for $110ish)

    Current betas of WHS version 2 from Microsoft dev team have significantly changes the storage architecture. In the view of many WHS enthusiasts this is a step backwards.
    So development going forward it could be a different animal to what it is today.

    Phil.
     
  12. Pugs

    Pugs Member

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    nice use of cat6..
     
  13. shadowman

    shadowman Member

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    Some very interesting points in your post mate, thanks for shedding some light on WHS.

    As I did say in my post, my Raid5+1 will be mirrored on a seperate 3TB NAS, which updates automagically, both supplied by UPS. In terms of failure, the chance is so extreme that both a hard drive in the raid array AND in the NAS will fail. To lose all my data I'd have to have two drives in the raid AND a drive in the NAS fail. To even further reduce the chance of this, I'll be using Seagates in the raid and WDs in the NAS, in case any of the drives have common faults.

    The only other possible event is complete total loss of the data, ie. house fire etc, but I have cricitcal data backed up to an offsite place (around 1GB, and incremental backups each night).

    I'd be pissed if I lost my movie/tv collection, but not as pissed as if I lost all my personal and private data. Thank god I'm not a photographer though, I'd probably have to take a different route with photos etc.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    digamma

    digamma Member

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    WHS sounds like an interesting prospect. I dunno though. XP,, with file sharing, does the job well enough for what I'm doing. I share the folders or drives with tv shows, photos, movies etc and on each machine, those shares are mapped to named network drives. It's a bit of work initially, but how often does one have to do a clean reinstall? (for me, the last one was nearly 12 months on win 7 and a smidge over 3 years before that on XP). I run a manual backup every so often of important stuff (docs, photos etc), the downloadable stuff I don't bother with. Sure, I'm be a tad annoyed if there was a catastrophic failure but I can get it all again.

    I don't want to do RAID really, as tbh, I'd have to shell out for a double set of drives for mirroring, as striping just ain't worth it. I know I've got the raid card, as it can do all the fancy schmancy stuff, but I simply wanted something that I could plug all the drives into, as the board doesn't have a single sata port on it and a 4 port controller, thought cheap, wasn't going to last me long. If money was not object, I'd jump straight into RAID 5+1 with a bunch of 3tb drives, but that'd be silly. I don't have that much por...I mean tv sho.....I mean linux isos.
     
  15. PabloEscobar

    PabloEscobar Member

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    Just slightly off topic, but, Can I pull a single drive from the "Pool", plug it into another computer, and simply read the files from it?
     
  16. manphil

    manphil Member

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    Sorry, haven't been follwoing this thread every day....

    Simple answer ..YES

    In the WHS console (which can be run from any of your networked PCs or from the WHS box if you have keyboard / monitor attached) you can flag any one of your drives for removal from the pool..the O/S will then go about releasing the drive ...in the most part it will be recreating copies of any 'duplicated share' files across to another drive spindle in the pool / or making copies of the 'non-duplicated share' files to the other drives.

    ....anyways ..when its completes its housework...the drive will appear as 'un-allocated' and will appear in explorer as another drive to the system. You can then move it to another PC... any o/S that reads NTFS and explore the file system. The original files on the disk will still be there as they were when the drive was part of the "WHS pool". So the whole process is non destructive from the point of view of your files.
    If there is not sufficient space on the remaining pool, WHS will not allow you to remove the drive ..it will suggest maybe deleting files or dropping duplication on some shares.

    Note: Due to the way files can be spread around the drive pool, any one single drive may not contain the complete files set of a 'share', some files could reside on other drives in the pool.

    hope this all makes sense ...the way I explain it.

    Some folk see this simple file managment as a bonus, knowing that they can always 'peer' into the WHS file storage. Others have ventured the view that it does not support any file security in that anybody with access to your drives can easily read the files. But this is starting to diverge from the original intentions of WHS.

    Phil
     
  17. ford ftw

    ford ftw Member

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    Very good job I'm considering doing something very similar in my micro atx case to hold 10 hdd's I'll be sure to post up what I do!

    Out of interest how much did all the metal cost if you don't mind me asking.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    digamma

    digamma Member

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    Probably under $30. I honestly can't remember, but it wasn't very much. Each 1 metre length of alu was between 3 and 5 bucks, and I used 2 or 3 of each type (flat and angle) all up. Plus rivets, plus the electrics.
     

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