Ammo can build

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I am building a server in an ammo can (will post pics) to use as an rsync destination for my most important files from my primary unraid server. 


This isn't going to run 24/7 and it literally only needs to be fast enough to, well, turn on and accept files.  I won't be running any plug-ins and I'm recycling old drives (80gb through 1tb).  I know once should never go cheap on a server meant to hold important data, but I'm going cheap.  I have a LGA775 CPU and some RAM, and a PCI 4-port SATA card (promise tech) from my unraid test system.  I didn't skimp on a PS.  I'd love to recycle all of this, but I can't seem to find an LGA775 ITX board with PCI slots and 4 (or more) SATA ports (it never used to be this hard to find old hardware on the cheap).  So I am thinking about the C60M1-I instead, and a cheap SATA controller.  Only the C60M1-I appears to be out of stock where I've looked so far, and the places I have found them want an arm and a leg ($150-$200+ on ebay, really?)


I thought about a 1156/1155 board with a super cheap CPU, but that puts me at, well, not cheap.  :)


But seriously, any tips on a super low end ITX MB with PCI and 4+ SATA on board, or a C60M1-I equivalent that is in stock?






ETA has the ASUS for $90.... Any other options?  Anyone got an old 775 ITX board they wanna get rid of?

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Please forgive the sarcasm, its not meant that way.


Sounds like a "Half baked" idea.  A little more thought needs to go in to it.  For example, how many drives are you going to use, Type of drives (Laptop or desktop) type of power supply, kind of cooling how you will mount the motherboard and so forth.


Maybe you can use Sketchup to see if what you want will fit into an ammo can.  Though this is an interesting idea, I would not go lower than 1TB because if you do then you will need to have more drives to store data.  At minimum you will need 3 (2 data 1 parity).  With an ammo can space is at a premium.  You should be thinking of MicroATX or smaller.  I wonder if a Rasberry PI will run Unraid?  If not maybe you can make it run some how.


Here are your dimensions based on the type of motherboard you are considering to install:


Mini-ITX is 6.7 x 6.7 in or 170mm x 170mm

Nano-ITX is 4.7 x 4.7 in or 120mm x 120mm

Pico-ITX is 3.9 x 2.8 in or 100mm x 72mm


--Sideband Samurai

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Thanks for the reply. 


I will be running nine drives, with a 1TB parity drive initially, and each drive will be upgraded in the order of smallest first (when it comes time to upgrade).  I have worked up several models, and know how everything will fit and go together.  This project has been in the works for about six months.  Two 140mm fans will cool from the bottom, plus the power supply fan.  I have drilled intake vent holes over the MB/CPU area, and over the hard drive cage area. 


I found an inexpensive ($50) Intel 775 ITX MB with 5 SATA ports, now I just have to find a decent, inexpensive PCIe 4-port SATA card.


I went with an ammo can after seeing a similar build, and because I can't find any super small cases.  I did find this:


But I'm not sure I can find it in the US, and I don't want to sink a ton of money into this system anyway.  An ammo can will fit in my equipment cabinet easily, give me the ability to very easily swap drives with the simple design I have, take up a tiny amount of room compared to a "real" case, and its so small I don't have to worry about a ton of fans for proper cooling.  Plus its a fun project, and I can't ignore the fun factor.  Any time I can get my Dremel out, its a good day.


My primary unraid server is in a nine-bay tower, three bays currently occupied by a five-disk tray-load swap chassis.  I totally overbuilt; its cheaper and more efficient for me to upgrade disks in this system, vs buy another five-disk chassis and add disks.  I just upgraded to a 4TB parity disk, and will be replacing the smallest disk (1TB) with the old parity disk (3TB) later today.  Much simpler to just upgrade disks at this point, and by the time I get to 5x4TB disks and actually fill that, I'm sure I'll be able to upgrade yet again to 6, 7, or 8TB disks, etc.  So having the physical space in the tower to install 15 data disks is proving to be a moot point.


I'm looking at streamlining my storage into smaller, more compact cabinets, and the ammo can build is as much a proof-of-concept for me as anything else. 


If I can get two six-drive servers going on a pair of ASUS C60M1-I's, I'd be pretty happy.  I can't find any super tiny cases that still have three 5.25" bays for my 5-in-1 cage, and even the small compact cases make it somewhat difficult (considering the tray design of the drive cages) to replace disks.  With the ammo can, I'd just pop the lit open and slide out the drive.


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I went with an ammo can after seeing a similar build, and because I can't find any super small cases.  I did find this:


But I'm not sure I can find it in the US, and I don't want to sink a ton of money into this system anyway.


It IS available in the US, but it is out of stock right now.

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Thanks.  Not looking to spend a ton of cash now either way, so gonna proceed with the ammo can build.  Heading out to get more cutting wheels for my Dremel now.  I'll post up some pics later of my progress.  Think the C60M1-I motherboard is going to be a perfect with with a cheap 4-port SATA controller.  I think I read elsewhere that a guy had one in a NAS with four or six WD greens at he was at 24w idle, and just under 38w with a parity check going.  I have a dedicated WinXP appliance to handle sab/sb/sql etc so I'm just looking to make my file storage cheap, small, low power, and redundant.


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That's definitely a proof of concept. The airflow is completely wrong, however. You need the fans to blow across ALL the drives, not hit the first one flat and disperse around the rest. If you follow that layout exactly, you would need to put a fan on the bottom and top, pulling air from the bottom and exhausting out the top. Whatever you decide to do, keep that in mind.

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I have two 140mm fans at the bottom pulling air out.  Drives stacked along one side, power supply and MB on the other.  Cooling cut into the lid above the MB CPU HS, and along the top of the drive stack.  Lots and lots of airflow, especially considering there's almost no free air in the case.  I'd say outside air replaces inside air every few seconds. 


Considering the ammo can cost me $7 and I've been through $3 worth of cutting wheels, I'm off to a good start.  The cuts and such aren't perfect because I'm no machinist, but if this works well, I'll have 9 disks stacked in a space just slightly larger than they occupy themselves, and can get a second can and really take my time and dress it up. 


Now that the build is underway, it seems if I had taken more time and care in my measuring, it would have been evident that I could fit 10, and possibly even 11, 3.5" disks in the stack and still have room for air to flow over each drive.  In the "Version 2.0" build I think I will attempt to make a plexi slide-in bay, similar to the one in the link I posted.  That would make swapping drives totally painless, and since this server is using my old (small) disks, I plan on upgrading more frequently that with my primary. 


Doing some flow testing, the machine is essentially completely silent!


Function over form at this point anyway, this stack of unused hard disks sitting here wasting away has become quite annoying indeed.



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I'm usually a huge hater of LEDs and those who like them, so the LEDs will probably get cut off the fans in the end, but the blue glow is sorta... ominous.  Disregard the white caulk that I used to fasten the screen to the side of the can, that will be trimmed off.  I am just doing test fitting right now while I decide if I am going to do the ASUS C60M1-I or something else.


PS is a 300w SPX (is that right?)


Gonna get an ethernet punch down port like you'd find in a home outlet plug style and cut a hole in the back of the case next to the power supply so I can run ethernet directly without having to pop the lid.


It was also difficult getting an exact measurement for the power supply since the case has rounded corners.  Next build I will be either mounting it directly to the longer side wall of the case, or at least measuring a little more precisely so I have room for the plexi drive cage.  Having the drives mounted directly to the case isn't a huge deal (and might even help wick away heat) but I am really going for a ten-second-or-less drive swap here, and this sure isn't it.


Gotta get some 90 degree SATA and power cables and start testing for length, or build a custom single ribbon power connector that runs all of the drives.


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