Jump to content

Trogdor - Custom unRAID enclosure

2 posts in this topic Last Reply

Recommended Posts

I am just about finished building a custom enclosure for my first unRAID build.  I am naming this unRAID server 'Trogdor'... just because, no special reason.  This unRAID server is primarily for Plex (docker), Transmission (docker), Jackett (docker), Sonarr (docker), Radarr (docker), Nextcloud (docker), and potentially a small handful of VMs (1x VoIP PBX, 1-2x Windows 10).






I have been using a custom-built Ubuntu/ZFS based server (virtualized on Hyper-V) for 8+ years, but am finally switching over to unRAID.  While I really like ZFS overall, I find its upgrade options to be really frustrating and lacking for the home user.  I have heard good things about unRAID and figured I would give it a try.  I fell in love with the user interface and easy Docker integration, and I really like the design decisions around the array/cache/parity architecture.


The enclosure for my old 'server' is a 3U SuperMicro case with 8x hotswap 3.5" drive bays and 2x 5.25" drive bays.  It is installed in a DIY half height rack cabinet that I built by cutting an old networking style rack in half and building a MDF case around.  It has served pretty well, but I am trying to move away from noisy, power hungry, rack mount equipment to smaller, quieter, and more efficient equipment.


The Design/Inspiration:


I have always like the looks of the Synology NAS boxes (I just don't really like the hardware or OS or price), and wanted to come up with something similar.  The end result is custom built case that is 14" wide, 10" deep, and 8" tall.  It takes a microATX sized motherboard and TFX sized power supply.  There are two 120mm fans in the front, and three 92mm fans in the back (this is way more cooling than is actually needed).  The HDDs are mounted vertically in-between the front and rear fans with 1/2" gap between each HDD.  I originally designed this enclosure around the 12-drive 'Plus' unRAID license (2x SSD, 10x HDD), but had to scale it back slightly (2-4x SSD, 8x HDD) due to a power supply mis-calculation (I wasn't properly accounting for the spin-up current).  I may be able to find a different power supply to get back to 10x HDD if needed down the road (the PSU needs to be TFX or Flex ATX).  


Currently installed hardware:


  • Motherboard: Dell Optiplex 9020 MT (MiniTower - microATX sized)
    • Required fabrication of a custom cable to use with a 'standard' PSU (also commercially available)
    • Info about other required modifications here
  • CPU: i7-4770 w/ Dell Optiplex 9020 MT heatsink/fan
  • RAM: 32GB DDR3 1600 MHz (4x8GB)
  • PSU: Dell 250W 80+ Gold TFX (PN: 0YJ1JT) (came from a Dell OptiPlex DT Desktop)
    • 17.8A on the 12V rail
    • (yes this might be a bit underpowered, but seems to work fine so far, and was really cheap... $10 shipped)
  • Storage Controller: PERC H310 8x SAS/SATA PCIe (flashed with IT firmware)
  • Boot drive: SanDisk Cruzer 16GB
  • Cache drives: 2x Samsung 840 EVO 120GB (will upgrade to 500GB 850 EVOs after retiring old server)
  • Parity drives: 2x 2TB Hitachi/Seagate 7200RPM
  • Data drives: 4x 2TB WD Greens (with head park times modified) (will add 2x more 2TB WD Greens after retiring old server)
  • Case fans:
    • 3x 92mm x 32mm: SUNAN PSD1209PLV2-A (came from old Dell desktops) 4-wire, 12V, 0.35A, 4.2W, 79 CFM, 4000 RPM, 42.1 dBA
    • 2x 120mm x 38mm: NMB-MAT 4715KL-04W-B56 (came from old Dell desktops) 4-wire, 12V, 1.3A, 15.6W, 129.9 CFM, 3600 RPM, ?? dBA


I already had almost all of this hardware on hand (from previous builds or spare/used hand-me-downs), but did spend $10 for the PSU (eBay), $20 for the PERC H310 (eBay), and $65 to double the RAM from 16GB to 32GB (eBay).


Power Consumption (measured at the wall) and Temperatures:


  • 'Idle' with 6x HDDs spun down: ~43W
  • 'Idle' with 6x HDDs spun up: 75-80W
  • Doing a parity check with all 6x HDDs spun up: 90-95W
  • The maximum while booting is about 160W while the drives are spinning up (Yes, I know this isn't an very accurate way to measure this)


About half-way through a parity check, the drives are still around 22C (21-24), and the CPU is around 30C.  Ambient temperature is currently about 20C.  I think I have way more cooling than needed.  ;)


The Build:


I started by cutting the sides and top/bottom from 1/2" MDF on a tablesaw.  The top is made up of three pieces; the two front/back edges are part of the enclosure but the middle piece is removable for access to the insides.  The front/back were then cut to size from 3/16" hardboard on the tablesaw and then drilled and openings cut out with a scroll saw.  I also drilled and screwed in stand-offs for the motherboard in the bottom before assembly.




I then used glue and brad nails to attach the bottom and top edge pieces to the sides, and finally the front/back pieces.




Before going further, I did a test fit to make sure everything actually (still) fits.





Next up was using Bondo Body Filler (and a lot of sanding) to try and fill in the brad nail holes and a few low spots.




Then, three coats of sandable spray primer/filler (with sanding in-between).




And finally two coats of glossy black spray paint.  Unfortunately the imperfections really start to show here.  I need to learn how to do a better job of painting/prep.




Then comes assembly... (yes it is pretty tight, but it does all fit!)











  • Install a power indicator/button on the front (I have a nice blue illuminated one on order)
  • Add some USB ports to the front?
  • Make a dust cover for the front?
  • Make a custom fan controller to run the case fans slower/quieter



  • Everything is a bit tighter than I thought it would be.  I would probably make it slightly larger next time around (potentially including using a much larger ATX sized PSU).
  • The rear fans are a little too low and I had to notch one fan to be able to install the SAS card (this does help keep it in place though)
  • I mis-calculated the power supply requirements during initial design and had to ditch 2x intended HDDs from the design.
  • I am not very good with painting/prep. :(


Let me know if there are any questions and I can try and post more details if needed.


Share this post

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.