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.