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Creating the Mona-Server


jvk
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I've never been a traditional type of guy, I guess that is why I'm taking on this project. While listening to podcast #93, someone (I believe it was Jim) mentioned that he was thinking of mounting one of his servers on plexi-glass and hanging it on the wall. Absolutely brilliant!!! I just happened to have a lot of hardware laying around that I will be using to build my next WHS when vail is finally released as a product, so I thought why not, lets build the Mona-Server and make a piece of art out of it (form and function in one).

 

To build the Mona-Server I bought a piece of Plexi-glass at home depot and a cheap frame at Ross.

 

mona1.JPG

 

A quick cut with the circular saw and I have the plexi-glass mounted in the frame.

 

mona5.JPG

 

To hide some of the wires, and make the frame appear to float on the wall, the frame will be attached to a 3/4" piece of plywood.

 

mona7.JPG

 

The plywood backing will also give me a place to mount the DVD drive in. Here the recess for the drive is being marked.

 

mona8.JPG

 

This is a shot of the backside of the frame with the plywood backing attached and the dvd recess cut.

 

mona9.JPG

 

The picture below shows the dvd drive mounted in the frame.

 

mona10.JPG

 

Here is a side view of the dvd drive mounted in the plywood backing. When the dvd drive is closed it will not be visible since the side of the plywood backing will be painted black to match the frame and dvd drive bezel.

 

mona12.JPG

 

This picture shows the general layout of the main components (Motherboard, dvd drive, and hard drive.

 

mona11.JPG

 

So that is as far as I have gotten this weekend. The next steps are to lightly sand the plexi-glass so that it takes on a frosted appearance. The plywood frame will be painted black on the side and back, and the face that is visible thru the plexi-glass will be white. The motherboard will be mounted on standoffs that will be glued to the plexi-glass using a product called "weldon #4". I used this stuff before on my salt water reef tank, and basically it chemically melts the two pieces of plexi-glass together. The server will be set up to accept 3 or maybe 4 2.5" hard drives and they will be mounted to plexi-glass drive cages that will also be glued like the Mother board standoffs. a large hole will be drilled in the center behind the motherboard to allow for wires to pass thru. A hole will also be drilled behind each drive for the power and SATA cables. I am also thinking about putting some LED lights around the perimeter of the plexi-glass so that it kind of glows and maybe a few LEDs behind the frame so it has an indirect lighting affect. As far as a powersupply is concerned, I really don't want to mount a bulky ATX powersupply on the wall so I am opting for a Pico PSU. Basically, the Pico PSU clips into the ATX motherboard connector and the actual powersupply itself is an external brick.

 

Here is a picture of a Pico PSU I have mounted in another project.

 

mona13.JPG

 

I know what you are thinking, will it have enough power? The Pico PSU puts out 160 watts, and by my calculations, the computer with 3 drives, a dvd drive, the dual core CPU, Memory, and the Motherboard itself will draw about 140 watts under load. Additionally my current WHS (a single core in a chenbro case) with 3 3.5" drives runs on an external powersupply, and my media center PC in the bedroom also runs on an external brick powersupply.

 

Here are the hardware stats...

 

ASUS M4A785-M motherboard

AMD Athlon II X2 250 3.0GHz Socket AM3 Dual Core Processor

2 GB RAM

3 2.5" Hard Drives

Slim DVD writter

PICOPSU-160-XT Powersupply with external PowerBrick

 

So that is Mona-Server, as the project progresses I'll post more pictures.

 

jvk

Edited by jvk
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Pretty cool idea so far. Thanks for sharing the thought process for how you plan to put it all together.

 

I am curious if it is really a good idea to run your power supply so close to its limit. I realize that it is rated for 160 watts and you calculated 140, but what about the consideration when you do a cold start? I guess reading it again you said max load is 140.

 

Keep up the pictures!

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Talk about taking things to another level. Awesome concept. Can't wait to see the final result.

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I wonder if Jim wished he wouldn't have brought it up now? :)

 

However, seeing others get a jump start might give him some ideas.

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Love it. You never know what you are going to start on the podcast! Keep the pictures coming!

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Pretty cool idea so far. Thanks for sharing the thought process for how you plan to put it all together.

 

I am curious if it is really a good idea to run your power supply so close to its limit. I realize that it is rated for 160 watts and you calculated 140, but what about the consideration when you do a cold start? I guess reading it again you said max load is 140.

 

Keep up the pictures!

 

The powersupply is actually rated at 200 watts max, but it is advertised at 160 watts continuous output. I was checking out another post on the builders forum and people are reporting idle power draws with system set ups similar to mine at 35 - 50 watts. Hopefully I'll be Ok. If not, it will be a lesson learned :)

 

I haven't really made that much progress today, but I was able to build the 3 drive cages for the 3 2.5" drives.

 

Here I have a drive mounted in one of the cages. This cage will later be glued to the plexi-glass surface along side the motherboard.

 

mona14.JPG

 

You might notice that I "frosted" the plexiglass by lightly sanding it.

 

The picture below you can see one of the drive cage parts before and after sanding

 

mona15.JPG

 

All the plexi-glass will be sanded in this project, this serves 2 purposes. First it helps me hide imperfections in my work as well as it helps to disguise the locations of wires. Second, when I get the LEDs put in the side of the frame, the rough surface should help pick up and reflect the LED light.

 

The only other thing I did today was begin to markout where on the Plexi-glass face the mother board will be mounted. I also drilled the main wire pass thru hole that will be used to run the wires behind the motherboard.

 

mona16.JPG

 

Tomarrow I'm off to home depot again to get some hardware and acrylic rod which I will use 9/16" lenghts of to act as Mother Board standoffs. I also placed an order yesterday with Directron.com for the Lights, powerswitch for the lights, a DVD riser card for the slim dvd drive and finally a powerswitch for the computer itself.

 

Thanks to everyone for reading... it is nice to have a place to post where there are other wall server builders!!!

 

jvk

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This is excellent stuff.

 

IMHO it turns everything on it's head! For example, I assume how to specify chassis components and layout all has to be re-considered as against the normal getting it in a case type of decisions. May I make a tiny suggestion? When it's hanging on the wall, enhance the splendour with a dichroic spot light (or similar). It may cause a little extra heat, but it will sure pick-out the colours and relief.

 

I think it's great, can't wait to see it done.

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Guest no-control

Corkboard PCs have been around for awhile in the modding world, especially as a cheap "tech-bench".

 

http://forum.teamxbox.com/showthread.php?t=615601

 

http://www.engadget.com/2008/05/29/corkboard-mac-gives-push-pins-new-purpose/

 

But I like how you guys are thinking wall art as opposed to just being broke college kids approach.

 

Good stuff ;)

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This is excellent stuff.

 

IMHO it turns everything on it's head! For example, I assume how to specify chassis components and layout all has to be re-considered as against the normal getting it in a case type of decisions. May I make a tiny suggestion? When it's hanging on the wall, enhance the splendour with a dichroic spot light (or similar). It may cause a little extra heat, but it will sure pick-out the colours and relief.

 

I think it's great, can't wait to see it done.

 

Hmmm... a spotlight. Well if it is supposed to be "art" why not put a light on it like in an art gallery. Great idea, Thanks!

 

Not to much of an update today, except I ordered the last of the parts (pico PSU and external power brick). Hopefully only one more trip to home depot for paint and that is it... famous last words huh.

 

I was wondering how I was going to attach the frame to the plywood backing, first I thought of using glue, but then that would be permanent and if I needed to take it apart to swap out the dvd drive, I would be out of luck. In keeping with the form and function in one theme, I decided to thru-bolt the frame to the plywood backing with atique brass looking furniture fittings.

 

Here you can see the frame attached to the plywood backing for the first time...

 

mona17.JPG

 

jvk

Edited by jvk
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