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Scratch Build – In Progress Project: Server/HTPC

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by TheAbyssDragon, 30 Jan 2010.

  1. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    Introduction

    Up until a two weeks ago, my server was an Intel mITX Atom that shared a case with my desktop computer. The servers job was to provide web services, provide local storage, and maintain torrents. However, during some odd power flickers I was experiencing, my mITX went belly up. The embedded Atom board was the only component to die, thankfully, but this put me in an unexpected situation.

    My plans were to build a new desktop computer a few years down the road, and retire most of my current desktop into a rackmount server. My options were to build a new desktop ahead of schedule and follow through with my road map, buy a new mITX Atom, or take a different route altogether. Since it is impractical for me to build a new desktop--with my current one being only a year old--not to mention I have no where to put a rackmount, that option is off the list. A new Atom is the cheapest and easiest solution, but doesn't give me the headroom I'd like to expand; I never thought I'd fill 2x 1 TB hard drives when I built the thing, but I'm at 90% capacity right now.

    I had the idea a while back that it would be nice to put an HTPC and a server in the same box. They fill a lot of the same roles: one stores media, the other plays media; one needs to be on all the time for recording, the other needs to be on all the time for web services. So why not give it a try?

    The Beginning

    One of the reasons it took me two weeks to get started on this project was because I had to scour through HTPC cases. After much deliberation, I ultimately went with an old favorite that I've always wanted, the Antec Fusion Remote.

    [​IMG]

    Below you can see Antec's three chamber design for thermal management. You should also see room for two 3.5" hard drives. If you bothered to read the intro (you didn't did you?), you know that one of the reasons for this build is to expand beyond two drives. So this is clearly unacceptable.

    [​IMG]

    So how am I going to fit more than two drives in this space?

    [​IMG]

    The answer is, I'm not. Instead I'll be placing a 2U (TFX) power supply here with some custom ducting to be added later.

    [​IMG]

    What's the advantage? Now the entire PSU bay is free to put plenty of hard drives. Below you can see my Cooler Master 4-in-3 hard drive rack which fits perfectly into this space.

    [​IMG]

    And I mean perfectly. The rack is just the right height to allow the top panel to be replaced.

    [​IMG]

    I currently plan on building a 6 drive rack to place in this area of the case. However, with how well the Cooler Master rack fits, it's tempting to just call it a day and mount it in place.

    Alas, I'm a busy student and must return to my studies.

    Thanks for reading!
     
  2. llamafur

    llamafur WaterCooled fool

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    Woot another modder from Columbus!
     
  3. Fazanitar

    Fazanitar What's a Dremel?

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    Great idea for space management simply by moving the PSU - the case looks great, will be keeping an eye on this.
     
  4. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    Thread Revival

    It's been nearly a year now since I started this thread. The project is still alive, it's just been slow going. I'm just now finishing up my bachelors degree and the past year has been hectic between undergraduate classes, graduate classes, and doing research on the side. I planned on getting a lot done over the summer, but sank most of my time into writing my thesis. Hopefully I'll be able to make some headway over winter break.

    Progress

    Hard drives! Four 1.5 TB Western Digital Green hard drives to be precise. I put these together in a software RAID5 using mdadm. Dealing with Advance Format wasn't difficult once I found the information I needed. After creating a single XFS partition the raid has 4191.67 GB (4.5 TiB) of usable space. A few weeks ago one of these drives starting having read failures; replacing the dead drive and rebuilding was a cake walk, I'm very happy with the robustness of this setup.

    [​IMG]

    Here are the drives hooked up temporarily. At this point in time I couldn't drop them down into place because the power supply cables were about an inch short. No matter, those nasty bunny ears won't last long.

    [​IMG]

    I'm using a Scythe bay rafter that fits three 2.5" drives into a 5.25" bay. It's made out of pretty sturdy resin material. A spare 5400 rpm notebook drive (left from my laptop after an upgrade) acts as the new OS drive.

    [​IMG]

    Here it is mounted nicely in the Antec Fusion's removable bay.

    [​IMG]

    Next up was to replace that stock heat sink. Here is a size comparison of the stock heat sink with the Scythe Big Shuriken.

    [​IMG]

    SATA power connectors! Remember those bunny ears? Not for long...

    [​IMG]

    The results are much cleaner than the standard power cables. I also created a custom cable to power the notebook and cd-rom drives. However, it was at this point that I realized the hard drive rack won't fit entirely in the PSU opening due to interference between cables. The cd-rom/notebook drives are nearly back to back with the hard drive rack. It will be necessary to mount the cooling fan externally to solve this problem.

    [​IMG]

    Since the powersupply is now located in the front of the case, I want to install a nice pass-through and power switch. Below are the two components I plan to accomplish this with.

    [​IMG]

    Some rough tracing on the back of the case shows where I plan to mount them. I had considered placing them on the edge of the ventilation, but decided that the corner would be cleaner. As they are now, I should be able to tuck all the cabling away nicely. Note that they can't be pushed any further to the left due to a 120 mm side fan.

    [​IMG]

    Next

    My next priorities will be to cut out mounting holes for the power pass-through and switch. In addition, I need to figure out how I'm going to mount the hard drive cooling fan externally. My plan at the moment is to rivet a piece of sheet aluminum over the power supply hole and mount the fan to that.
     
  5. Fordy

    Fordy Minimodder

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    Nice, ill be following this as its pretty.much exactly the same ad my project which is in planning stages.

    Although, I had to discount this case, which I too originally wanted, because its too deep for my AV rack.
     
  6. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    Minor Update

    Due to space restrictions at home, I decided it would be easier to do any cutting/filing at the lab during after hours. Yesterday I was finally able to cut out the holes for power pass-through and switch. Each was cut using an old Dremel with reinforced cutting wheels, then filed smooth and mostly square.

    [​IMG]

    The switch snapped in and won't be coming out any time soon. I had to do a bit of extra filing to get the pass-through to fit; it is in there very snug now. I was originally planning on drilling two holes and bolting the pass-through in place, but since the fit is so snug, I may just give it some epoxy. Notice I had to cut a very small notch from the top panel of the case.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the view from the back. These will be soldered in series with a right angle power cord I bought just for this.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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  8. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    That's the same fan that is on the heat sink. I have considered using one of those instead, but haven't done any measurements to confirm that it would work. Thanks for the suggestion!
     
  9. stuartwood89

    stuartwood89 Please... Just call me Stu.

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    This would look a lot nicer. I have this thing about externally mounted fans/radiators. It always looks bad in my opinion. Following this by the way :)
     
  10. Knighthammer

    Knighthammer What's a Dremel?

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    Looking good - I'm dieing to do a HTPC myself.
     
  11. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    I placed a piece of paper on the back of the case and traced my finger around the edges. This left an imprint in the paper.

    [​IMG]

    I then inked over the trace with a pen.

    [​IMG]

    This was glued to a piece of aluminum. I began cutting the piece out today, but was unable to finish. Unfortunately I don't have access to a scroll saw, so I have to do the cuts with a Dremel. The plate should be done in the next day or two, then I can cut the hole for the fan.
     
  12. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    Power Pass-through

    I wasn't able to stay after hours today to work on the back panel, due to some homework I needed to get out of the way. However, I was able to wire up the power pass-through and switch. I'm a bit disappointed in how the heat shrink turned out. Other than that, cutting the wire to length and soldering everything up went smoothly.

    [​IMG]

    Here you can see how the power cable is tucked into the top lip of the case. It runs 3/4 of the way around the case to the front corner on the same side, where it ends in a right angle connector.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. llamafur

    llamafur WaterCooled fool

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    Are you going to paint the inside of the case? There's a shop on west fifth avenue called fortin ironworks, I've heard they do powder coating. I'm liking the PSU relocation.
     
  14. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    That would be awesome, but no I don't have any plans to paint/powder/anodize the case. Although I realize that little details make a big difference, once this rig is complete it will be tucked nicely away beneath a TV.
     
  15. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    Again no progress on the back panel, so I did a round robin with my fans. The Scythe Slipstream PWM that was mounted as a case exhaust is now sitting nicely atop the Scythe Big Shuriken heat sink. I realize that the fan is twice as large, but it makes the whole heat sink look twice as large.

    [​IMG]

    This freed up the Slipstream Slim PWM fan to be placed on the HDD rack. It's just taped on for the time being, since to actually mount it I would have to remove all the hard drives. However, doing this made me realize that this fan has a slight imbalance and it vibrates a ton, even on 5v. I had to place little silicone feet between the fan and the rack to cut down the noise.

    [​IMG]

    If using this fan allows me to mount it internally, then I won't even put mounting holes in the back panel. The fan would mount directly to the rack, and the back panel would just have the fan hole to keep a clean look. I'll have to decide if I want to buy another Slipstream PWM to put on the exhaust, or a Slipstream Slim (medium or low speed) to put on the rack and put my current Slipstream Slim back on the heat sink. Either way, I would like it if both the heat sink and exhaust had PWM fans.
     
  16. DesignBlueprinter

    DesignBlueprinter What's a Dremel?

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    Cool innovation, I love the custom power switch and the re-routed power connector
     
  17. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    I know it would undermine some of the progress I've made, but I've been contemplating placing a trayless hot swap in the case:

    [​IMG]

    It's not the nicest looking hot swap I've found, but it's inexpensive ($46 at Provantage) and uses a 120mm fan. I would probably have to sit it sideways, so the drives would be accessed from the side, because of length restrictions.

    Any thoughts or opinions on this?
     
  18. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    Would you actually use or need hot swap drive bays in an HTPC?
     
  19. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    It is not necessary by any means, but it would be an added convenience for replacing dead drives.
     
  20. TheAbyssDragon

    TheAbyssDragon Gafgarion

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    Although long overdue, this update will be brief. A fan template I created a few years ago was printed onto transparency paper with a laser printer. The template was held in place with the magnet from a hard drive. From there I was able to score the metal with a utility knife and remove the template.

    [​IMG]

    After some time with a dremel and file, I had a nice hole for a fan!

    [​IMG]

    Everything fits in nice and snug. Routing the cables nicely was a bit of a pain, since my fingers didn't have much room to work.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All said and done, I'm actually planning on putting a slipstream on the hard drive rack. Although I didn't think a full size fan would fit previously, I now realize that it will fit, but only after all the cables have been connected. So order of operations might be inconvenient if I ever need to replace a dead drive.

    An aluminum back panel is still to come, but attaching it won't require me to remove any hardware, so I plan on using the machine as is for now.
     

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