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johnodon

My BackBlaze Inspired Build...

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I have only recently stumbled across unRAID.  You can thank the XBMC forums for that!  :)

 

Anyway, the idea really intrigued me..especially being able to mix and match drives.  And then I had an epiphany.  I remembered reading an article some time ago that showed a server case in which the drives were mounted vertically.  I thought “wow…this would be a perfect solution for an unRAID box…ease of access to add/upgrade drives.”.  I racked my brain and finally remembered that the article had something to do with “cheap petabyte”.  So I Googled just that and found the article:  “Petabyte on a Budget:  How to Build Cheap Cloud Storage”.

 

Here it is:  http://blog.backblaze.com/2009/09/01/petabytes-on-a-budget-how-to-build-cheap-cloud-storage/

 

backblaze-storage-pod-partially-assembled.jpg

 

One thing that I wanted to accomplish was to keep the price down.  I thought the easiest way to do this was to forgo the backplanes and flip the drives so the connections are face up.  This way when I need to add/upgrade a drive, all I have to do is shut her down, slide the top of the case open, hook up the drive, close her up and power on/configure.  This would also allow me to avoid the cost of drive trays and such.

 

So, I am off and running.  The first thing I needed to find was an affordable 4U chassis that would accommodate my needs (namely the ability to remove all of the forward drive cages). The one I settled on was the D-416 4U Compact Stylish Rackmount Chassis.  I got this from Newegg for $102.99.

 

As you can see in the pics below, all of the drive cages are merely screwed in (no rivets):

 

D-416_09.jpg

 

My plan is to construct my own skeletal drive cage out of angle aluminum.  The inspiration for this came from this thread:  http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=475428

 

Picture a shoebox that is open on all sides with dividers running from front to back (north to south) every 1” and a center divider running the length down the middle from east to west two make for two rows of drives.  Now double that for top and bottom for stability and foam rubber on the bottom for some shock absorption.  The entire cage will be bolted to the bottom of the chassis.  Here is a rough top/down view:

 

DriveCage-1.jpg

 

I just received the case today and started taking some measurements.  If done right, I can comfortably fit 20 drives and still have 3 empty slots in the middle.  Each set of 10 drives on the right and left will have a 120mm fan attached to the front of the cage.  There will be about a ¼” gap between each drive for airflow.  A 80mm fan will cool the 3 additional drives.

 

This is VERY MUCH a work in progress.  When I get home from work today, I am going to start construction on the cage.  One thing is certain…things will be VERY tight.  I hope my math skills do not fail me!  ?

 

I will keep this post updated with progress.

 

John

 

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That BackBlaze article circulated around here for quite a while when it first came out.  Their solution is very simple and inexpensive relative to the density, and has a lot of really sweet features.  I'm envious you found a case you can manipulate so much, so I look forward to your progress.  Please update with your exact measurements, and you might want to reach out to some of the other case modders on here, most notably Queeg and Raj.

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What are they plugging their drives into? I've been kicking around a design in my head for a case, but I'd like to know what they are using to dock their drives into. Obviously it has to have a power and a sata plug for the drive to just simply plug into. Any locations anybody can think of. ;)

 

width=450 height=405http://www2.corsair.com/_images/systembuild/1099104/8095%20Attach%20SATA%20Backplane%20Power.jpg[/img]

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According to the article, they are (were) using Chyang Fun Industry (CFI Group) CFI-B53PM 5 Port Backplanes on the bottom of the server, and keeping the drives seated with gravity.  Someone did research a price on these when the article first came out, and CFI was very responsive to the inquiries and offered bulk discounting.  Here is their signal path diagram:  

backblaze-storage-pod-sata-cable-wiring-diagram.jpg

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I made a similar rack out of aluminum angle stock, but in a very inexpensive 5U chassis I purchased from geeks.com for $27.99 shipping included.  You can see the drives are mounted from the front, with all the cabling from the top.

http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=2031.msg67670#msg67670

 

I only put one row of disks, 14 across, with about 1/8th inch between each for airflow, but I do have room for a second row if I care to get crazy.

 

I have the three 120mm fans on low speed.  The disks were really cool with them at high speed, but the noise was way louder.  At low speed the disks sit at 19C when idle and get up the mid to upper 20s when all active.

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The Backblaze server uses port multipliers and they are putting 15 drives on a PCI card. Not really the highest speed here.

 

It would be very interesting to find a similar type of card with individual ports broken out, similar to other backplane cards. however, it would need edge connectors for the SATA and power input connectors. I still doubt you can do ~20 drives in hotswap cheaper than you could just buy a Norco case.

 

Peter

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Those IBM backplane brackets at $4.50 each might be usable for a cheaper case. Especially when you consider they include the cables so no need for SATA cables as well as the brackets. The seller might only have 1 available though. Anything that costs upwards of $10 each will put you around $200 just for enough connectors to build a 20 drive case and you still need to build the rest of the case.

 

One of those links leads here - http://stores.ebay.com/Good-Deals-4-Smart-U

Could be a cheap source for hot-swap cages.

 

Peter

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I see the drives plug into the board itself, but what connects to the board? Wires? Cables? How is it all powered?

 

 

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If you look at the picture I posted up above a few replies ago you will see the backside of the card. The drive is on the other side. On the backside the Sata and power connectors plug in and on the drive side is the male end that plugs into the back of the drive.

 

However without positive pressure I would worry that the drive would loose connection, but I'm sure with the drives weight it would help. I only brought up questioning the source of these connections because I've had a case design in my head for the longest time and if I wanted to I could move ahead as long as well prices didn't drive it sky high.

 

Drobos, Buffalo's, Dlink DNS-323 all use this type of connection like the HotSwap Bays.

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thanks for the links Kizer

 

i am in the process of looking into making my own hotswap drives cages (5 in 3) and if i can get somebody to make me the cages in aluminium then i will add the IBM backplanes in them ...

 

normally should get an answer today if the guy can make the cages and how much they would cost

 

spend last sunday all afternoon in Pantip Plaza to find 5 in 3 cages and the only ones i found where the icy docks but at 6350 bath a piece

divide that by 32 for US$ and you have 198 US$ :(

http://www.pcgallery.co.th/pcg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=270&Itemid=136

 

if this wouldn't work then i think i will need somebodies help to ship them to me or go for a Norco alike which will set me back 19000 bath :(

http://compware-agency.com/4u/100-rackmount-server-4u-d23-no-power-supply.html

but i would hate to bring a noisy machine into my living room :(

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Great project, I definitely look forward to the results.

 

I wonder if someone could make their own ghetto 'backplanes' by strapping together a few of these SATA power/data combo cables:

 

12qqd.jpg

 

I expect the main issue would be getting them to be sturdy enough as a unit to support hot swapping a drive.

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Wow I see some particle board and hot glue in my future. LOL

I didn't realize you could get a combo that cheap.

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Wow I see some particle board and hot glue in my future. LOL

I didn't realize you could get a combo that cheap.

we want pictures of hot glued fingers ... euuuh.. sata/power cable combo on particle board  ::)

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Combine those combo connectors with a CAD program and a cheap case could be made. I actually know a company close to me with a router table and another place a few hours away with a water jet. Both are be suitable for cutting plastics with good precision. One piece to hold the connectors and 2 more with drive cutouts could make a usable rack. If you were really tricky then you'd cut one piece of plastic to surround that connector and another piece with smaller holes to support the back of it.

 

I'm still not sure how easily the drive would plug and unplug from that connector if it was solidly mounted.

 

Peter

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Combine those combo connectors with a CAD program and a cheap case could be made. I actually know a company close to me with a router table and another place a few hours away with a water jet. Both are be suitable for cutting plastics with good precision. One piece to hold the connectors and 21 more with drive cutouts could make a usable rack. If you were really tricky then you'd cut one piece of plastic to surround that connector and another piece with smaller holes to support the back of it.

 

I'm still not sure how easily the drive would plug and unplug from that connector if it was solidly mounted.

 

Peter

 

That is why I am going to do it the Irish way and flip the drives upright and just plug cables in.  :)

 

John

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LOL, you take all the fun out of it. ;)

 

Nah...I'm just that poor!  :(

 

Now I know what my buddy meant when he alwasy called kids "energy and money vampires".

 

 

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OK...I think I came up with a good model for the drive rack.  It will be made out of aluminum rails and round bar attached to brackets I plan to fashion and attach to the inside walls of the case.

 

Unfortunately, since I plan on using round bar I won't be able to attach those the rails using screws.  My plan was to use some kind of industrial adhesive (just a drop) on each end and in the middle (middle rail to separate the 2 rows of drives).  I was just going to use Gorilla Glue...does anyone have a better suggestion that may be made specifically for aluminum?

 

Also, motherboard, power supply, sata cards and 2x 2tb drives showed up yesterday.   ;D  At some point I will list all of my HW and costs.  I already had most of the drives, teh CPU and memory.

 

I have such little room in the front of the case to cool the drives, I had to order 2 of these slim fans:

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835185139&Tpk=N82E16835185139

 

35-185-139-TS?$S300W$

 

I'll post some pics later with the case gutted and the MB and PSU mounted.  Although I know most want to see the drive rack completed.  I was hoping to do that this weekend, but it is my son's 1st b-day.  I think the wife may have other plans.  :S

 

TIA,

 

John

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Unfortunately, since I plan on using round bar I won't be able to attach those the rails using screws.  My plan was to use some kind of industrial adhesive (just a drop) on each end and in the middle (middle rail to separate the 2 rows of drives).  I was just going to use Gorilla Glue...does anyone have a better suggestion that may be made specifically for aluminum?

I used alumium brazing rod to braze the end brackets when I made my custom "rack"

It was similar to this:

http://www.harborfreight.com/pack-of-8-alumiweld-aluminum-welding-rods-44810.html

 

I used it to fashion the brackets on the ends of my rails, but your idea of using round-stock to separate the drives looks like a good one.  I might borrow it for the internal rack when I go to expand mine.

 

I used a propane torch to perform the brazing of the aluminum.  Worked perfectly and the braze is stronger than the aluminum angle.

 

Joe L.

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That is a good idea Joe.  I have done that with stainless for my beer making equipment.  I know that SS required a special flux and I thought aluminum was the same.  Can you confirm?  I really would like to do something better than adhesive.

 

Thanks,

 

John

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That is a good idea Joe.  I have done that with stainless for my beer making equipment.  I know that SS required a special flux and I thought aluminum was the same.  Can you confirm?  I really would like to do something better than adhesive.

 

Thanks,

 

John

No flux needed at all.  You do need to use a stainless steel brush to clean the aluminum first... (they specifically say to NOT use a brass brush)  The package of rods I purchased came with the brush.

 

The rods melt at a relatively low temperature, so a standard propane torch is enough.  It is much like sweat soldering copper pipe.

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No flux needed at all.  You do need to use a stainless steel brush to clean the aluminum first... (they specifically say to NOT use a brass brush)  The package of rods I purchased came with the brush.

 

The rods melt at a relatively low temperature, so a standard propane torch is enough.  It is much like sweat soldering copper pipe.

 

Did they sell those rods in-store or did you have to order them?

 

John

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