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Offline Nonsense

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My Hardware Solution . . .
« on: March 23, 2012, 05:32:09 pm »
Seeking to update, improve, consolidate, and make ready for IPv6 my home network hub, I have come up with what I believe to be an elegant solution to cable clutter.  I had a carpenter located on Cape Cod, who goes by the trade name of “Nice Racks,” custom-build an oak, six-space, rack-mount cabinet for me to place on a table located in a walk-in closet in my home where I have located my equipment (see photo below).

I mounted a 15A power control panel which features individual switches that control eight rear outlets from my local Guitar Center store and mounted it in the top rack space of the cabinet (I wish I could have found a similar unit that did not feature an “American D.J. Professionals” emblem on it, but sigh!).  I had no need for surge/EMI/RFI protection in the unit since my power protection is located external to the cabinet.

In the next lower space of my cabinet, I mounted a 24-port HP ProCurve gigabit Ethernet switch.  This switch features jumbo-frame support.

In the third space of my cabinet, I mounted a Cables-to-Go 16-port Ethernet patch panel which I equipped with category 6 keystone couplers.

In the fourth space of my cabinet, I mounted my PfSense firewall/router.  Inside a Supermicro CSE-510-200B server chassis (with internal power supply), I installed a Supermicro MBD-X7SPE-HF-D525-O server motherboard that I equipped with 8 GB of Crucial CT2KIT51264BC1339 SO RAM.  The motherboard features dual INTEL NIC ports and an Intel ATOM D525 processor with a heat sink that allows for passive cooling, however, the chassis features two fans that cool the motherboard down to 30 degrees C below the passive CPU heat sink/motherboard operating temperatures allowing the system to run at all times below 100 degrees F.  A Gelid Solutions model CA-PWM Y extension cable  supplies power from the motherboard to the two fans.  I loaded the embedded version of PfSense 2.0.1 on a 4 GB micro USB memory module that I purchased at my local Staples and plugged it into the USB-A slot on the motherboard.  When the system boots it runs the firmware via RAM, so there is no need for a hard drive.  IPMI is an additional feature of the motherboard, so I am able to configure the firmware and run the system remotely from any computer hooked up to my LAN.  Since fiber optic internet service is not yet available in the town in which I live, I installed an ARC1-901A PCI Express to PCI 90 degree converter in the PCI Express slot of the motherboard which in turn allowed me to install a Traverse Technologies Viking ADSL2+ PCI card in the chassis.  I connected my DSL telephone line to the Viking card.  By adding the Viking card I have avoided having to use an external DSL modem.  I was able to set up the Viking card via Telnet over IPMI.  I purchased most of the parts for this system through New Egg, save the ARC1-901A adapter and the Viking card, the latter being manufactured in Australia with the closest retailer being in Belgium (!).

Finally, in the fifth and sixth spaces of my cabinet, I mounted identical network storage systems.  I installed the same Supermicro MBD-X7SPE-HF-D525-O server motherboards and Crucial CT2KIT51264BC1339 SO RAM modules that I used in my firewall/router, this time in a Supermicro CSE-510T-200B server chassis.  The CSE-510T-200B chassis is similar in all respects to the CSE-510-200B chassis which I used for my firewall/router save it features two 2.5” hot-swap hard drive bay slots on its front panel as well as a third fan to cool the hard drive bays.  In addition to the Gelid Solutions model CA-PWM Y extension cables used to supply power to the chassis’s motherboard fans, I installed OKGear model FC44PWM-12BKS extension cables to supply power to the chassis’ hard drive bay fans.  I loaded the embedded version of FreeNAS 8 (BSD NAS firmware which is available for free downloading at the FeeNAS web site) on 4 GB micro USB memory modules similar to the one I used for my firewall/router and plugged them into the systems’ motherboards.  I am able to configure and control of the systems via IPMI.  I have not as yet purchased hard drives for these systems, as I am waiting for the price of 1 TB enterprise-grade hard drives to drop back to normal in light of last fall’s Thailand flood fiasco.  I, however, eventually plan to use one of the NAS systems to back up files and the other to store photographs.

This system provides me a unique way to configure and manage my home LAN, and interconnect multiple wired and wireless desktop and laptop computers, an X-Box and Nintendo games, as well as other miscellaneous LAN devices.  I have located it on a table in my walk-in closet alongside my HP Color Laserjet 4500 printer (equipped with a HP gigabit print server card), my Ubiquiti Networks M2 “Bullet” wireless access point (powered via Ethernet and attached to an 8 dBi fiberglass omnidirectional antenna which features a special downward tilting pattern that covers my entire house exceedingly well), and my Tripplite 2000 VA isolation transformer (provides surge protection and common mode noise rejection) and Brickwall PW2R15 (provides surge protection and differential mode noise rejection) (see photo below).

This project was a time-consuming one, but well worth the time and expense.  It certainly does away with the cable clutter I endured with my prior setup.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 05:40:54 pm by Nonsense »

Offline taryezveb

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2012, 06:40:21 pm »
Nice setup and great job. :D

Offline stephenw10

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2012, 07:08:01 pm »
Nice.  :)
I particularly like your oak rack. It beats the LackRack, though perhaps not on value!

Steve

Offline Nonsense

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2012, 08:30:33 am »
You can buy some cheaply made prefab rack cabinets or portable rack cases online or at stores such as Guitar Center, but the fellow in Massachusetts was the only one I could find who did custom builds (I am sure there are others).  My cost for the cabinet was ca. $150.00  The maddening thing was to try to find a rack-mount gigabit switch that had ethernet ports on its rear panel and status lights on its front panel.  I did find one company in California that made such a switch (they cater to home theatre installers), but they wanted over twice the price of what I paid for the HP switch for it (and there was no indication that it performed as well as the HP switch), so I elected to use the HP in conjunction with a patch panel.  Using the keystone couplers in the patch panel allowed me to not have to hand wire the individual jacks to my wall jacks.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 08:36:16 am by Nonsense »

Online cmb

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2012, 03:38:45 pm »
Nice setup! 

The patch cables are shorter than the spec technically permits, but that shouldn't be an issue (maybe if you need collision detection to work properly, but that's not necessary with switched networks). I've seen custom made 1" patch cables working in production for years with no issue.

Offline matguy

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2012, 01:30:20 pm »
Nice setup! 

The patch cables are shorter than the spec technically permits, but that shouldn't be an issue (maybe if you need collision detection to work properly, but that's not necessary with switched networks). I've seen custom made 1" patch cables working in production for years with no issue.
I think short patches to a patch panel is ok, where the length behind the patch panel gets you back above the minimum spec length.  But, again, there has been much debate about real minimum lengths other than anecdotal stories where a too short cable was blamed for a problem or a short cable causing other issues (such as bend radius, plug/boot strain, equipment proximity, etc.)

Offline Nonsense

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2012, 05:56:06 pm »
I have heard of the cable "minimum length" requirement, some say a foot, others a meter, others 8 feet, and others 17 feet--between active components (i.e. a router to a switch).  Mostly, I have heard this requirement in reference to cable testing equipment.  I have never seen an informed explanation as to why there should be a minimum length--it does not appear to be a gain (required loss) issue--some say too short a cable will lead to reflections (end to end resonances at undesirable frequencies) that can cause data loss.  If that were true, there would likely be a minimum length for coaxial (rf) cable also (i.e., between a transmitter and an antenna)--I have never read a discussion about such a theory.  By the way, behind my patch panel I use two foot cables to connect to my active components--so my minimum length from active device to active device is 5 feet (but the connectors on the patch panel themselves could cause reflections . . .).  "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Offline Gluon99

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2012, 09:07:13 pm »
LackRack is a hoot, less then $10 for the US. If only I was still a bachelor :P



Nonsense, is the exhaust out the back or sides of rack?
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 09:14:30 pm by Gluon99 »
-- pfSense 2.0.2 Setup --
Motherboard: Jetway NF99FL-525
CPU: Intel Atom D525 Dual-Core 1.8GHz
RAM: 1x2GB Crucial DDR3 1333
HD: 60GB OCZ Agility 3 SATA III
PSU: PicoPSU-80
Case: M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure

Offline stephenw10

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2012, 06:50:08 am »
I personally have one of the 'Enterprise' Lack Racks and the shelf is great for your larger server. Also good for supporting coffee mugs.  ;)

Steve (still a bachelor)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 06:55:14 pm by stephenw10 »

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2012, 06:22:44 pm »
I have heard of the cable "minimum length" requirement, some say a foot, others a meter, others 8 feet, and others 17 feet--between active components (i.e. a router to a switch).  Mostly, I have heard this requirement in reference to cable testing equipment.  I have never seen an informed explanation as to why there should be a minimum length--it does not appear to be a gain (required loss) issue--some say too short a cable will lead to reflections (end to end resonances at undesirable frequencies) that can cause data loss.  If that were true, there would likely be a minimum length for coaxial (rf) cable also (i.e., between a transmitter and an antenna)--I have never read a discussion about such a theory.  By the way, behind my patch panel I use two foot cables to connect to my active components--so my minimum length from active device to active device is 5 feet (but the connectors on the patch panel themselves could cause reflections . . .).  "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

You're definitely good then, I wasn't thinking patch panel when I posted. The only explanation I've seen for minimum cable length on CAT* Ethernet is if collision detection is required to function, which generally doesn't matter anymore given there aren't many hubs around.

Offline matguy

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2012, 10:00:32 pm »
I personally have one of the 'Enterprise' Lack Racks and the shelf is great for your larger server. Also good for supporting coffee mugs.  ;)

Steve (still a bachelor)
I've got an Enterprise model too, but I had to add structural support for heavy servers.

Matt (recently a bachelor again)

Offline gridrun

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2012, 04:02:02 am »
What's that WLAN gear there?
Tech stuff on my blog: http://niston.wordpress.com

Offline Nonsense

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2012, 06:28:00 am »
Gluon99--through the back and sides--stays very cool as Atom does not generate a whole lot of heat.

Gridrun--I don't follow your question--see my opening post.

Offline peterclark4

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2012, 08:44:16 am »
Is it wrong that I now want a red LackRack to match my Watchguard Firebox x700?  :)

Offline stephenw10

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Re: My Hardware Solution . . .
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2012, 10:14:55 am »
What could be wrong about that?  ;D
Why didn't I think of this at Ikea?

Hmm, perhaps I could add a beech veneer to my firebox....

Steve