This is a guest post by C. Winter.
In December 2008 my home PC died taking with it my database, all MP3s, home videos, all my pictures and a full 1tb drive of films I had ripped from my collection. So I got to thinking why not have some sort of server storing everything, backups, and on a battery backup. So my journey starts there. I spent the better part of 2 months every night looking for something that would suit my needs, but nothing looked like what I wanted for my project. So I looked at custom builds… I needed something with about 6 drives for everything.
I started to look at motherboards and I decided to use the The Intel® Desktop Board D945GCLF2 with 2 GB of ram.
My very first build worked well for about 1month and then I started having problems with heat on the drives
This build I used
6 X 1TB green Hard drives
1 X 120mm fan for front
2 X 80mm fan for back
5 X caddy’s
1 X LCD temp display
1 X 550watts power supply
1 atom 330 motherboard
1 X 4 port sata card, no raid on the card
Microsoft xp pro installed as os
real vnc for remote desktop
So I went back to the way it is designed, I asked the the company who cut the plastic if the caddy’s could be removed for some sort of removable slots. No problems. So then I got planning again.
I removed everything from the first design and started again.
The company that helped me with this build went through every step with me so we got it right first time round. I removed the caddy’s totally from my design. So I came up with this
Finished build now testing and installing xp
Hardware is the same as in my first build I just redesigned it for better air flow
This systems is running
Xamp – (mysql, apache)
Vnc – remote into the system from my network,
This system has been running now for about 11 months with no problems
Now I have all my music, pictures, databases, e-books and wallpapers all on one system I needed some sort of backup system. So I got to work again thinking why not use another system for safety
So using the same motherboard as it is low in power, I came up with this.
This system is about the same as the other system with sync software on it so I can make duplicates of everything on my main system.
Instead of using a normal power supply I looked at using something smaller something like what a laptop has.
So I used a PSU universal power unit adaptor 90w AC to DC and a picopsu 150w power supply mini-itx I purchased these of eBay.
This system runs perfect at the moment there is 3 drives in this system. Totally backing up my main server, once a week I turn this server on and leave it on overnight.
Now after doing these 2 servers I decided to hold my total collection of DVDs so I can store my total collection in the loft out of the way as I’m running out of space…
So I looked at many options but went back to my second build with the hard drive slots.
Planned 20 drives into my design and asked the company who helped my with my builds if this could be done. They said the plans needed to be very detailed but it could be done.
I setup the system at first on the Intel® Desktop Board D945GCLF2 with 2 GB just to get me started, the same as my main server.
The picture below has the raid card installed aswell.
So I spent one month designing my server box and looking at what raid card to use.
The main reason for using this card was the specs and good reviews it had,
Port forwarding on the card had tobe a must to get me the 20 drives system spec of card
Bus Type: 32 Bit PCI
Internal Connector: 4 x SATA Female
Supports RAID levels 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD
Port Multiplier and NCQ (Native Command Queuing) support
Compliant with PCI Spec 2.3, 32-bit slot, 5V or 3.3V slot
Standard and Low Profile back plates included
Software Compatibility: Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7/Server 2003, 2008 and Linux
I also used the multiplier card to give me the 20 drive system I needed
Chipset Silicon Image Sil3726
Internal Connectors: 5 x SATA Female
External Connector: 1 x eSATA Female
Metal back plate attaches to standard external enclosure back panel
Supplied with additional Slot Plate for installation into a suitable enclosure
Port Multiplier and NCQ (Native Command Queuing) support
Pin header for drive activity LEDs
RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, Concatenated and JBOD Groups supported
I used 1 raid card and 4 multiplier cards
The raid card can be set to just about any raid system you need, but I went for the JBOD (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) as I have the dvd originals so no need for backing up.
So now I have tested and played around with the card on the Intel® Desktop Board D945GCLF2 and Works perfect for what I need – running on xp pro.
After putting my plans together it all came together. the drawing I used
after placing my plastic order, there was some of the details in needed to change. But everything went ok.
Now for the plastic build.
At first I taped everything together to make sure everything fitted in place. Perfect fit first time.
Now to setup the fans, the top 4 fans are set tobe on all the time and the bottom to 4 can be switch off and on, depending on how many drives are installed.
Now for the main build.
Now the basic stuff is in, the wiring needs tobe set out and make sure the drives slot in ok on all the bays
Before I turned this system on I checked all the wiring 3 times.
I had a small streaming problem so I changed the motherboard from Intel® Desktop Board D945GCLF2 with 2 GB to the Asus AT3N7A-I Mini-ITX Motherboard Intel Atom 330 Dual Core nVIDIA ION with 4 GB of ram and it runs like lightning now.
The system now has 10 drives in the system and works like a dream
The system runs XP Pro with VNC remote login for maintenance and file sharing on.
Below are the 2 systems finished and running? I also have an ups (1500w) system to prevent what happened to my old computer.
The ups system has a program with it so the power can be monitored, at present with the total setup when everything is on 240w of power.
The ups system has stopped 5 power outs and 9 spikes in power, so for me a good investment
The whole network runs on gigabit network for streaming
Total cost and break down for the 20 bay system
Motherboard - £160
Raid card - £90
Forwarder card- multiplier (4) - £55 each
Cathode lights x 2 - £8
Case (total custom) - £157
Leds - £40
Fans (1.20watts) - £15
Fan covers (£0.99 each) - £17.82
Cables – sata – 50
System drive (1TB green drive) £66
20 drive at £66 = £1320 – I only have 10 installed at moment
Notes from HSSDave: Thank you for the post Craig. Wouldn’t Windows Home Server run great on this box??? Hit the forums to discuss.