In beginning of the Jully 2021 I bought extremely cheap small and portable office computers without warranty ($5 – $6 each). Each of them have potential to become web or file server and from what I know, it will be very useful in near future.
I started with moving all my projects and content from public websites and slowly putting them all to this machines. Well, not exactly all of it, because I am still not sure how my project ends, but now I don’t really need any advanced paid hosting, just domain and DNS entry pointing to this web.
From what I know, my current webhosting is much slower than this private one and I already started building another project as improvement.
What I bought? See these specifications:
- CPU: Intel Core2Duo T7250 @2.0 GHz
- RAM: 512 MB and 1 GB DDR2 @667 MHz
- HDD: 5x No HDD and 5x 120 GB SATA HDD
- CD / DVD: DVD RAM Slot-In
- VGA: Integrated graphics (intel) with 1x DVI out and 1x S-Video out
- Ports: 1x FireWire 1394, 4x USB 2.0 (two in front, two in back)
- Connectivity: Gigabit ethernet
All of these PCs needs PSU with 19V and 3,42A = 65W for each. All 4 computers in full load consume maximum 266 Watts, but I need at least 350 Watt PSU, because of step-up converters. And of course some reserve for active cooling, because this computers can create big amount of heat. I also need cooling for step-up converters, just in case they overheat. Each of them can provide up to 100 Watts without active cooling (at least it’s written in description) and up to 150 Watts with active cooling. But I don’t really need that much of power.
Well, I planed to do this thing differently, but for now I don’t have any other spare materials to make transparent plastic case. Well, if I found somewhere some transparent plastic pieces, I start working on this instead of PC case.
So what I did? As you see on photo above, I already started mounting parts together, but nothing permanently yet. First of all I needed suitable disposable PC case. This one was a gift from friend. Case was long time under table without any use, so I started with preparations and removed almost all metal parts I don’t needed and instead created small cage from building kit „Merkur“. It’s not pretty, but it will be all inside and not visible from the front side.
I mounted step-up converters under PSU and connected them to +12V and GND. Now I need cables from dead notebook PSUs (I have them, but don’t know where exactly :-D) for output 19V.
I plan connect all together, but first of all I need to buy another Gigabit switch, mount and connect it inside, so I may connect only one ethernet cable to my router instead of four cables. Switch consumes few watts, so here is no problem. And for future upgrade I think about backup PSU. In this case is enough room for small one.
As for cable management… Well, it’s too early to make something permanent just now when I don’t know exactly how things go in near future. I want to cut redundant cables and isolate them. I also want two USB ports for charging devices (few ampers here and there) and of course I want classic power switch, so one green and one black cable must stay for it. And for 3.3v I am not sure for now.
Well what next? I already marked all 4 PC with numbers, as you see on one of these photos. My plan is simple.
- PC 1: Main server, this page on new domain with 480 GB SSD, because here is stored really lot of stuff. This server is now active
- PC2: Side projects, test scripts etc with 60 GB SSD.
- PC3: Backup with 60 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD.
- PC4: Database server for all above with 60 GB SSD.
In future I upgrade all 60 GB SSD with 480 GB pieces, but I am sure it will work just fine for now. Well every month one upgrade will be allright, but not all at once.
Well, I update this page tomorrow to show my progress and add some new photos… Maybe even launched all four pieces at once 😀
Updated on Jul 16. 2021: Yesterday I bought last three pieces of computers that seller has in stock. All without RAM and HDD, $5 each. Now I still waiting for ordered SSDs. Seller send them via classic post service with economy tarif, so I expecting delivery at monday or tuesday. Some sellers sucks just for saving few crowns / cents. I ordered too some tools like accu screwdriver and some other things. In this case I expect delivery in next week too. Final price for all this stuff is about $100, so in end this will be not that cheap, but for now it doesn’t matter anyway.
For better design I have planed cutting front of plastic boxes from mini computers, where are USB ports and power buttons and use hot glue to mount them on front of PC chasis (or use screws and original mount holes for front panel). I still don’t want use original front panel, becaise it cover all I wanted to show, so I planing leave it as is for now and in future I add some material to cover. Probably black plastic or plexi glass sprayed with black dye.
Updated on Jul 18. 2021: Dismantling remaining computers for spare parts.
Updated on Jul 19. 2021: With little help from soldering iron I extracted nuts from base and screwed board with cooling system together again. I cleaned all parts as much as I can reach, so here is still little bit of dust on fan, but after start it’s almost absolutelly quiet. Well, not exactly, starting system is loud for few seconds and after that fan slowing donw to minimum. Extracting motherboard seemed like very good idea. For mount to the case I use four steel springs for each board, because they have symetric holes. Just what I needed.
As for SSD, here is small PCB with SATA connector for HDD /SSD and PATA connector for DVD drive, so I just use some hot glue to make sure that it doesn’t move from place. Then I add some insulating material under SSD drive and connect it. Backpane is not really needed, because all parts will be hidden inside PC chasis and visible will be just front panels glued on front side of chasis.
I have also plan for additional cooling inside case that will help to cool of SSD drives etc. For example: SSD in my computer have temperature about 40 celsius in idle, but while copying content from one drive to another, that after few minutes I can see temperature about 75 celsius, which is dangerous. To prevent this I installed additional fans between components. This way I use in this server too. Well, here are few photos… 😉
Updated on Jul 20. 2021: Today I dismantled PSU just for make three holes in it and regroup cables to +5V (red), +12V (yellow) and GND (black). I didn’t want to do it with all the cables just yet, so few of them remains in old place with attached connectors. I looked into PSU and seen that all colors are soldered on one output line (one for every voltage). Well, as I said, I was united all +5, +12 and GND lines into what you see here on photo. Now it’s time to make some more holes, use hot glue and another parts from my other project.
Maybe you asking yourself why I make progress so slowly and what the hell is all this about, when I can just buy cheap classic „xU“ server instead of building one. Inswer is simple. For first, this machines are very loud, even if you slow down fans and optimize cooling. Second reason is that I don’t have rack for that big machine. Really, I don’t want buy some big noisy shit. I want make it my way. I have plans how to do it, how to make it quiet and I have enough spare parts to replace every machine twice. 🙂 Well last one thing: For mounting I don’t use steel springs, but I use plastic zip tapes. That way I don’t need to fear of short circuit and it’s still serviceable.
Jul 21. 2021: Images will be here soon, I just forget to make them yesterday… 😀