Do-it-yourself 5in3 racks (DIY)


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Inspired by smino's DIY 5 in 3 (5x3.5, 5in3) racks on his mammoth 20 drive build ( I decided to do the same. I've got a Centurion 590 case so these will be hidden behind the nice grills.


I had some old 5.5" hard drive silencers that effectively sandwiched one 3.5" drive between two pieces of foam inside a 5.5" steel body. I took the bottom tray and drilled the appropriate holes. You could use the steel from an old CD-ROM/DVD drive (I seem to always have extra DVD drives sitting around). Take a look at smino's post to get an idea of the variety of things you could use.


I built a template for drilling the holes using the 3.5" drive specification. I thought others might find this template useful so here it is below. The lines in the picture are exactly 5.5" apart which represent the inside wall of any 5.25" enclosure.


Here's it is in PDF:


Does anyone have any other cool DIY ideas? I just saved $300 (lost a lot of style points though).


Here are some shots of the resulting trays. I haven't put them in my case yet since I'm waiting for another 8 port controller card and some new drives.





Update: Here are the bays with 10 drives installed. See thread below for heat info.





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Thanks everyone. I'm glad you guys like it.

I was thinking that I could have just bent two strips of sheet metal and tapped 5.25" bay screw holes in them to fasten them to the case. That might be the easiest thing to do if you don't have extra trays laying around.


I forgot to mention that I positioned the holes to ensure that there was enough room on the front of the trays for an 80mm or 120mm fan to sit on it. I'll have to figure out how to secure the fans but there's at least the width there to play with. I'll post some more pictures when my new drives arrive.



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I love that DIY 5x3 project!  Definitely a cost saver, and looks great!  Please post some pictures with drives included and installed in your case when you have time.


You may have already seen this in my "Pimp Your Rig" post, but if not, below is a much less ambitious DIY approach which may work in some situations. 


What you give up with these types of solutions is the ability to exchange disks without opening the case.  While that may sound like a convenience factor only, truth is if you have a drive failure and then have to take the compulter apart, you risk knocking a connection loose (which is very easy to do), and then you're trying to diagnose that while your array is in a non-protected state.  So ... (since the pictures below were taken) I have added 2 5x3 cages to the top of my case (I still use this 10 drive DIY rack).  Now, if I ever have a drive fail in this rack, I can add the new disk to one of the 5x3s (I always leave a slot open for preclears or an emergency rebuild) to do the rebuild.  Then I can deal with pulling the failed disk at my convenience once the array is healthy.  Not as good as having all removable cages, but quite a bit more economical!  (An unused external eSATA port can also provide this type of functionality without buying a hot swap bay).  Always good to have a plan to do a drive rebuild without cracking open the case!


From "Pimp Your Rig" post:


In order to mount all my drives I designed and built a custom 10 drive cage using aluminum strips and right angle pieces.  Here are pictures while it was under construction and mounted inside the case.  This case is cavernous inside providing lots of room for this.

IMG_4275.jpg  IMG_4324.jpg


Closer look at the drive cage - if you look closely you'll see the edges of the three fans on the right.  The zipties make it easier to remove the cage when needed.



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Also from the pimp thread here: See the post here:


I fashioned a pair of aluminum rails, but mounted my disks sideways so the screws to mount them could easily be accessed from the front, and the cables from the top  (it is a rack mount case).  I only used screws to the "front facing" side of the drives.



I can easily get to the cables to replace any single drive without disturbing the others.  All I need to do is remove the two screws from the front to remove a drive.  The two wide flat aluminum "L" shaped rails provide plenty of support.


This is a view from the top with some old drives installed to verify spacing.  There is about 1/8th of an inch between the drives for airflow... and I have plenty of airflow with three front mounted 120mm fans.



Joe L.

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Joe L. It appears you can just pull each drive out independantly? I like that.


I have the simple 4-n-3 in my Cooler Master case, but I think I would like to some how eliminate the future need to pull out the entire cage to swap out a drive. Now you guys have me thinking.


bjp999 thats awesome, but man I see how that could be a head scratcher if you have an extra Sata Cable and wonder where it should go in. LOL  :D

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Very nicely done. The one aspect of the retail N-in-3 drive bays that this hasn't covered is needing to use less SATA or MOLEX Power connectors. Does anyone have any suggestions as to address this? Is there a known high quality SATA Power fan-out cable?


I believe two molex connectors can power  up a 5in3. This was another reason why I bought the cages, since I wouldn't need to connect a power line to every hard drive. I just have to confirm things. How many amps/power will a 5in3 cage pull and will two molex adapters be enough?



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Very nicely done. The one aspect of the retail N-in-3 drive bays that this hasn't covered is needing to use less SATA or MOLEX Power connectors. Does anyone have any suggestions as to address this? Is there a known high quality SATA Power fan-out cable?

This one looks pretty decent:

Not very expensive either.

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Very nicely done. The one aspect of the retail N-in-3 drive bays that this hasn't covered is needing to use less SATA or MOLEX Power connectors. Does anyone have any suggestions as to address this? Is there a known high quality SATA Power fan-out cable?

This one looks pretty decent:

Not very expensive either.


I created this 10 disk power cable to use with my custom 10 disk rack.  Works quite well.  Although running out of spec, I have never detected any heat issue, nor had any power problem with the disks in the rack.  All of the disks in the rack are green, but honestly I don't think it makes any difference.  I used high guage wire for the long runs, and snarfed sata power connectors from a bunch of molex to SATA splitters I had collected.  I think monoprice sells the connectors as parts, though.  This made a huge improvment on the cleanliness of the inside of my case.  I need to take some new picures.  Although not the artistry of some of the servers being posted now, it is also not the rats nest you see in the pictures above.



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Wow BJP that's a thing of beauty. I think I'll make three strips of five for my case. My PSU runs a single high current 12V rail so this setup should work just fine.

Also the Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 card I have on order should help me to tidy up my sata connectors as well.

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Here are some shots of the inside with the racks mounted.

I didn't wait for the new drives and card so the bottom shelf of 5 is empty. 10 drives total right now.


I've also switched to 4 case fans all pulling out of the case with the front filter grill the only place where air can come in. This should result in an overall cooler case and will help cool the chipset etc (and the hot Supermicro PCI-E card once it arrives). I'll post some temperatures later. As you can see from the front shot, the 590 case has nothing on the front that might restrict airflow. The front panel's blanking plates are actually mesh with foam air filters. I just vacuum off the front from time to time and the case has stayed remarkably clean inside.


Update: The middle drives are running at 41C and the outer drives at 35C. Before with my 4-in-3 racks that had lots of space between each drive the hottest drive was 37C. It looks like my negative air pressure fan system is doing the job. Higher temperatures with less space is to be expected. I might rig up some foam to block the gap above each 5-drive bay to force the air to flow between the drives.





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I like your wiring on that stack. I like that idea and I"m going to have to keep that in mind.


Looked around and found this. Power Connector ATX Case SATA Punch Head Plug HDD


Kinda nice to know what they are called when looking. LOL I had no idea until now.

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If you want to make one of these, install the drives first, put the unconnected power plugs on the drives, and then run the wires one at a time through the corresponding slots on the back of the connectors. Try to lay them in straight while making sure that the connectors stay perpendicular. In other words, not quite so easy as it looks but not hard.

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I did something similar to that on my old RAID-5 PATA Molex based array, but it became a royal pain trying to swap out a single drive unless you can move the drive forward. I guess I'd like a nice happy medium with cable-slack between the MonoPrice cable and the home-made cables.

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I did something like this too (bjp999's power). I got extra sata connectors at Monoprice.


It's a splitter with four SATA connectors that costs $3.42 (or less). Note that you don't have to wire the 3.3 volt line (orange). Very easy to do. I also found that it is possible to leave one connector off a single drive if you want to. This will come in handy to leave a failed drive mounted, but unplugged until a more convenient time.

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If I'm interpreting correctly, these are the parts you'll need:


1.  Main power connector (for a 5 disk cable, you'd need 5 of these) - Mouser I/O Connectors IDT Power Receptacle w/out latch w/bump


2.  Cover for power connector (middle of cable) (for a 5 disk cable, you'd need 4 of these) - I/O Connectors Cover for IDT Recept Feed Through Cover


3.  Cover for power connecter (last one at end of cable) (fo0r a 5 disk cable, you'd need 1 of these) - Mouser I/O Connectors Cover for IDT Recept Feed To Cover


This page from their catelog helps deciper:  Catalog page

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