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Old 11th Feb 2013, 03:00   #1
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[Complete] Definition: Server

Definition: Server

I finally decided to get around to moving my fileserver duties away from my dual socket 604 Xeon motherboard, and onto something a little less power hungry.

I wanted to get it as small as I could, but still accommodating the pair of 4-bay hotswap cages I have had for several months (was slowly buying parts to redo the server). Seeing as how my woodworking skills are probably better than my case modding skills, I was thinking about doing another wood build for the server. But then I decided that having a wood server would get heavy in a hurry. I also knew that I wouldn't be able to build it any smaller than a mATX case I could buy.

So, I started hunting for suitable cases. I thought about going with a standard ATX mid tower, with 6+ 5.25" bays I could just mount the drives in, but I wanted to go with a mATX board at largest for this, so there would have been too much wasted space in that. Then I started looking at the mATX towers. Ended up settling on either the Fractal Design Define Mini, or the Arc Mini. They're the same layout, just different panels and front bezel.

I ended up deciding on the Define Mini. I like the front door, and how it will hide the hotswap bays, and the activity lights associated with it. When MicroCenter had a sale on all cases, I went down there and picked one up, and got to work.

I wasn't very good with taking pictures of the case before, I was too excited to tear it apart and get to work. I will be putting the hotswap bays in the front where the 120mm fans were, and where the doors that covered them used to be. In order to pull this off, I had to widen the openings by about 1/16" or so (it was too tight at the top and bottom).
Again, not so good with the pictures, but I assure you, it was just a bunch of filing plastic. Eventually the two bays would fit in the opening.

Then I turned my attention to the side panel. I wanted to put a window in it because 1.) I hadn't done a window mod yet, and 2.) Why not?

Started the slow process of removing the Fractal Design sound deadening foam, stuff. It wasn't quick, but it did work.
All in all, it wasn't too bad. I mean, wasn't easy, but not too bad. I used my pocket knife to slowly separate the foam from the side panel, while pulling the foam away. A word of advise for anyone attempting to do this in the future. Don't try to fold the foam back over itself while pulling it off. It'll just break the foam (it's dense) and then peel off the fabric backing. Instead, pull up and away. This sounds counter intuitive, but it helps lift the foam off the panel while not breaking the foam. Using the knife helps release the adhesive. In the last picture, you can see I left a few scratches at first, until I got the hang of it. The long scuffs show where I was running the knife along the edge where the foam was still stuck to the panel.


After that, it was time to do something about the front of the case. These 120mm fan openings aren't large enough for a 5.25" device. So I marked it out as best I could, from the front bezel I already widened.
I also laid out where I wanted to make the window on the side panel.

At this point, it was time to make some cuts. Only issue I had, however, is that I live in an apartment, with no garage of my own. And my dremel and jigsaw are at my parents' house (not that far away, but still an issue). So I would have to wait until I got a chance to get there.

Enter Bill, at MNPCTech. I was asking some "how best to" questions regarding the bulge from the fan mount in the panel, when he invited me down to help me out. So I took the opportunity during a break in the snow storm to head down there and get this stuff done.

He gave me some pointers, and helped me cut the window out of the panel. The radii I had laid out pushed the limits of the jigsaw blades abilities, but Bill made it happen. Note to self: gold dollar coins aren't a large enough radius for a jig saw.

While Bill was helping file the edges of the window, I set about cutting the front of the case. Another note to self, make sure to start with the dremel cut on the end that allows me to cut on the right hand side of my line. I didn't, and as a result couldn't see the line next to the blade while I was cutting. It's ok, though, as it worked out alright, and was still pretty straight. It also didn't matter too much, since it wouldn't be seen anyway. Filed it down, and test fit the hot swap bays. All was good.

Then we installed the window with some U-Channel, and 4010 tape. I was too focused on what we were doing, and "in the moment" that I didn't take any pictures of the process. But here are the pictures after getting the case home
Test fitting the hotswap bays:
I must say, they do look pretty good up front, too.
The reason for the size and location of the window, is because I didn't feel the need to have the window show the sides of the hot swap bays (pretty boring, really), and no real point in showing the side of the power supply, or the cables coming off of it either. So this window will do what I want nicely.
And I will even be using the fan acoustic covers that came in the 2 fan holes from Fractal Design. I'm going to use them to support the hot swap bays. Being foam, it should help reduce vibrations to the bottom of the case, and also brings the back of the bays up to the same height as the front of the case.
They're not attached to the case yet, just sitting there at the moment.

I understand I typed quite a bit, so if you made it this far, thanks for checking it out. Hope to have another update, with more progress, soon.

Thanks again, Bill, for giving me some pointers and helping me out.

Last edited by Mosquito; 7th Sep 2013 at 01:06.
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 05:37   #2
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Very nice start. Well done on planning the window. I'm looking forward to seeing this come together. Are you planning on trying to make it a quiet one instead of the jet engine you have now?
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 06:59   #3
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Very nice start indeed! When I was looking at the frame it indeed has many similarities with the Arc, but I think the top panel is slightly different as the Arc has the possibility to mount a 240 rad (or 2x120 fan of course).

Btw, if I didnt know any better, those hotswap bays look almost stock when looking at them from the front! Job well done!
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 12:09   #4
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Quote:
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Thanks again, Bill, for giving me some pointers and helping me out.
No prob! It's shaping up to be really nice build
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 12:18   #5
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This is looking great so far, I'm looking forward to more updates! I'm a little concerned about your comments about typing so much - that's about 1/3rd of how much I have been typing in my project logs (not yet published) so I hope people can digest them when I do start posting them!
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Old 11th Feb 2013, 15:37   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avolla View Post
Very nice start. Well done on planning the window. I'm looking forward to seeing this come together. Are you planning on trying to make it a quiet one instead of the jet engine you have now?
Thanks Austin. I suppose I could move the ultra kaze fans from the old server into this one... but I think I'll go with something a little quieter lol Power consumption and heat shouldn't be as high, so I don't think I'll need them...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Azariel View Post
Very nice start indeed! When I was looking at the frame it indeed has many similarities with the Arc, but I think the top panel is slightly different as the Arc has the possibility to mount a 240 rad (or 2x120 fan of course).

Btw, if I didnt know any better, those hotswap bays look almost stock when looking at them from the front! Job well done!
Thanks Azariel :-) Thanks again for the measurements. Saved me a little time, and got the project moving quicker. You are correct, the top fan of the arc has a lot more mesh, and spaces for fans, but I think that's part of the Define being a "quiet" computer case. (No one says I can't mount 2 fans in the roof of this one either )

I'm quite pleased with how the hotswap bays fit as well. It really has the look I was hoping for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mnpctech View Post
No prob! It's shaping up to be really nice build
Thanks Bill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
This is looking great so far, I'm looking forward to more updates! I'm a little concerned about your comments about typing so much - that's about 1/3rd of how much I have been typing in my project logs (not yet published) so I hope people can digest them when I do start posting them!
Lol, but at least you read it! I generally do talk a lot (I'm quite a talkative person once I get going), but when posting logs I typically try to keep the paragraphs shorter so I can space things out a little better. I was also trying to explain a bunch of stuff I didn't have pictures for, so that didn't help lol. As long as you use paragraphs and punctuation, I'm sure it won't be an issue
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Old 23rd Feb 2013, 04:10   #7
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Update 22nd Feb, 2013

Made a mounting bracket/hanger to keep the hotswap bays from sliding out the front

This was the first one, out of 1/8" aluminum







Wasn't happy with that one, so I made a second attempt, using 1/16" aluminum instead




That'll do for now.
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Old 23rd Feb 2013, 04:51   #8
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Looks good. Are you going to have just the one or will you throw another brace further forward?
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 05:48   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avolla View Post
Looks good. Are you going to have just the one or will you throw another brace further forward?
Just planning on the one row for now. It's possible that I make a wider brace that would cover most of it front to back, but for now, I'm content with it the way it is.
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 05:48   #10
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Updated, hiding a few wires and a quick test fit

nothing substantial, but I did a quick test fit with the card and cables I've got. Then I turned my attention to the bundle of wires I don't intend to use on the hotswap bays. Took the back panel off, and a side panel, and tucked them inside. If I ever want to use them in the future, I can still.

old:


new:


And the test fit


The window size and positioning doing what it was intended to do.
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 10:05   #11
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Looks good so far. A lot smaller than the old one. Nice job on the cable management. Are you planning on painting the bays black to match the case?
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Old 30th Apr 2013, 00:00   #12
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Been way too long since I was able to make any real progress on this, but here's where I'm at...

I picked up a 2x140 rad grill from Bill, and cut a hole in the top of the case to mount it and 2 fans. It won't be watercooled, as it's just a low power server, but I wanted to get a bit more exhaust since I removed the spot for 2 120mm intakes on the front.









Also been playing with some sleeving. Sorry, I don't have a smaller picture of that.
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Old 1st May 2013, 06:18   #13
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Old 1st May 2013, 09:49   #14
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about time you peel the warranty sticker off of something. The sleeving looks great. Can't wait to see it in person.
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Old 1st May 2013, 19:42   #15
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lol thanks Austin. Not the first time, and certainly not the last lol.

The irony is that it was the easiest sticker out of all of 'em to remove, and the only one to come off in one piece... hmmmm
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Old 1st May 2013, 21:32   #16
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Lookin Good Mos


lemme know when you need the 140s, I confirmed I have them here
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Old 1st May 2013, 21:42   #17
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Nice work there. I've been thinking of building my own file server so great to see some server projects!
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Old 1st May 2013, 23:34   #18
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Quote:
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Lookin Good Mos


lemme know when you need the 140s, I confirmed I have them here
Thanks Bill. Awesome, I'll probably shoot you a message soon. I'm at a point where I can use them almost as soon as I have them. I was doing system install last night. Just need to paint, or do something with the hotswap bay support piece.

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Nice work there. I've been thinking of building my own file server so great to see some server projects!
Thanks Server builds aren't too frequent around here... But really, it's a case mod that we're looking at when we browse these aren't they? Hardware/purpose shouldn't matter
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Old 2nd May 2013, 06:55   #19
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Wow, great looking sleeving Mosquito! What kind of sleeve are you using? A generic paracord? Or a specific brand?

You quite often see paracord going all 'wobly'...especially for longer straight parts, but this material doesnt seem to do that as much!
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Old 2nd May 2013, 15:25   #20
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Wow, great looking sleeving Mosquito! What kind of sleeve are you using? A generic paracord? Or a specific brand?

You quite often see paracord going all 'wobly'...especially for longer straight parts, but this material doesnt seem to do that as much!
Thanks Azariel. It's probably a "generic" brand, but it was labeled "Army Universe", which I bought through Amazon.

If you were referring to the first picture of the sleeving not being 'wobbly', that was actually just the paracord by itself. Though it does seem to be behaving rather well. Overall I'm pretty happy with it, given it's my first time using paracord at all and also doing heatshrinkless
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