NAS Project - in a Wine Barrel


Mar 4, 2011
Hi all,

Mostly i like working with the smaller SFF cases and have another build to post on them - but for this project it is all about a NAS PC.

Seeing as we needed more NAS storage space and the size (amount of HDD) was known it came down to one thing - the case or chassis to use.
This build will have 12 x 2TB drives and the plan will be for that amount.

I must add that it is also very expandable as the HD's could be expanded quite easily. Another 6 can be added by using a 3rd SATA PCIe card - perhaps even 2 more as there are slots available (all x1 PCIe)
(and possibly even using the unused onboard MoBo SATA another 6 - but i dislike dissimilar "paths")

However - the case would be the limiting factor - and designing a 18 or 24 drive housing needs to be done from the beginning. So a good price vs storage ratio seemed to be 12 HD.

Now for a case to hold them using the criteria mentioned below. But the nearest suitable looking case here in ZA is the Lian Li PC-P60 or P80 - and they are not ideal either.

Main criteria:
  • The case must have fans blowing lots of cool air over the HDD - OK for Lian Li
  • But as my two other normal chassis with Icy Dock bays show - one also needs INSULATION for/against the vibration (dampening) - not OK in the Lian Li 'case' - unless i mod/get their external cages and then it gets messy. And pricey too! :eek:
  • Will it be easy to maintain and swap out drives/upgrade SW etc?
  • Would the cooling and anti-vibration be achievable?
  • Wood...?

So - working on a wine farm - what comes to mind that is hollow with lots of space?
Of course - a wine barrel or VAT. More specifically the smaller 110L ones sometimes used for small volumes of a select cultivar. The standard 250L VAT's are just too large to manhandle - then a custom chassis may be better suited.

Well - what the hey - it seemed like a better option than retrofitting a normal chassis - and with the main criteria in mind it was a "yes".
So it was back to the drawing board to see if all would fit - and how to fit the parts.

Using Sketchup to get some ideas of how to structure it i made some initial layouts to scale and it looked promising.
So i hope this is the right spot to upload some pics of the build.



Mar 4, 2011
OK - here is the candidate - some pics of the rough state of the VAT.
It is made up from parts of other discarded barrels (any 'good' barrels would be far too expensive and likely in use anyway) Whereas a "made-up" VAT is really cheap all things about R800 (~$120) and the (suitable) novelty value included.

The beginning.
An old Wine VAT.
Discarded old small 100L barrel
Freshly re-glued (normally tight fitted and roasted to seal!) and the metal hoops re-done to suit.

Glue is dry and hoops removed for cleaning.
The inner planned Mobo try can be seen inside. This is where we plan to build the whole NAS on.

Much better. Sanded down and now the cleaned hoops can bet hammered back.
Alas the craftsmanship is not as good as the original “wine” quality barrels – we found the hoops deformed the round shape more of an egg shape. Not visible by the eye, but once one measures it is clearly a cm or two out in places!


Mar 4, 2011
The pics are a bit behind the times as the build is nearly done - all but for real life live testing.
So i will upload the pics that were taken to show the progress.
The build took a week including both weekends - and mainly done after hours.
( Don't have a workshop so my poor office had to suffice :) )


Mar 4, 2011
End on view – with the mainstay “tray” fitted loosely. Getting railings or a method to slide this tray in and out was an initial problem.​
Many good ideas - but due to tight tolerances no space of the tray could be lost or obstructed, and so the options became fewer.

Here the barrel is still at the cooperage workshop. [FONT=&quot]

OK - got the barrel back and ready to begin the assembly...
Fortunately i had a friend give occasional assistance - mainly in manhandling the VAT - and later the tray because when it was fully populated it turned out to be quite heavy. [FONT=&quot][/FONT]

Now what shall we do about all this space? (The VAT is on its side with two temporary tray slider rails fitted – the final product was a bit different.
We needed the 12 x HD to go “somewhere – and instead of making a likely dearer custom box, this seemed to suit the need as is.
The bung hole (top) can be seen here on the right

Our candidate (victim?) - a110L old used Wine barrel made up of spare parts.
On average it was about 10+ years old oak - soaked in red wine for at least 6 years.
And the spars were salvaged from other old barrels to make this “new” one…but not quite to the wine industry high quality tolerances. :rolleyes:
This made things harder as we had nearly round "lids" but a slightly oval or egg shape body.
And once inserted the lids are about 2cm deep on each end and then have a 1~2cm gap, and by then the offset can be noticed.
But hey - we love challenges!

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Mar 4, 2011
Here is the main part – the inner tray - for the drives that are needing a COOL and vibration free home.

The MoBo tray was gutted from an old PC chassis- note the fine tolerances – no space to waste

Especially considering the opening “end” is a smaller diameter circle than the inner portion of the barrel. So it first has to fit thru the door.

Drives hanging down on special foam supports are solid and just clear the edges of the VAT opening.

Some idea of the mounting method – simple aluminium tube and foam rubber strips form a cage

[FONT=&quot]The IDE HD are my “test and R&D drives – just in case someone noticed [/FONT];)

One “simple” pic showing a simple solution to a very complex initial problem.

In the barrels’ case we have a sliding tray full of heavy components. It slides out, and then at some point tips down due to its weight.

Initially having dual runners on the inside used up too much space. So to stop the tipping action up to the last second before removing the tray – we used these simple brackets holding under the single tray runners – one on each side. Worked perfectly

[FONT=&quot]Ps - The aluminium side bar is simply a “shim” and makes sliding easier too. One on each side.[/FONT]

The essence of the design – a housing with 12 x hard drives – all cooled via 2 x 140mm fans and with enough space and rubber around them for a vibration free life.

The discordant resonance built up by >10 7200rpm HD spinning has proven to be detrimental as we have lost 3 drives now in nearly as many months due to the vibrational interaction.(On my other NAS box) :eek:

[FONT=&quot]The fan mounting is a simple click in and out – the spring of the legs holding it in place – works like a charm[/FONT]!

View of a NAS

The initial voluminous barrel suddenly became a tight fit once the drives, Mobo and fans were inserted.

At this end a smaller diameter “lid” will allow air into the system.

On the other (back/rear) end a “Big Boy” 200mm fan sucks the air thru and out. Only running at half speed and quite silent.

Initially we had some air filter material in the front lid opening but that dampened the airflow too much.
And running the Big Boy at full power would work in that case – but then the noise level is noticeable and irksome.


Mar 4, 2011
Another view of the front – where the tray slides into the VAT.

The HD “rest” rungs for each bay of six can be seen. As well as the one leg of the fan holder- sliding in and out.

Servicing or replacing a drive is easy as the try slides out halfway without overbalancing the VAT/VAT stand.
The fans + stand simply “clip off” and then the HDD are easy to manage/replace..[FONT=&quot]

[/FONT] The lower decks!

The PSU can be seen at the bottom of the tray on the far (rear) end.

The HD sit along the front rungs – 6 on each side.
They rest on the special foam and it is nearly 1cm thick – so it compresses a bit and stops the drive moving.

At the top (front of tray) one can just make out the aluminium bars forming the HD openings.
They are just to hold the drives in place when manhandling the tray in and out.
Otherwise via the force of gravity and the foam the HD sit very solidly.

PS - the nice foam used - it is simply tubular aircon pipe insulation foam - amazing stuff and worked like a charm.[FONT=&quot]
[/FONT]On a farm one uses what is at hand

The rear end (or business end as the action happens here. The wood is HARD.
And it is old and cracks (as can be seen) easily when cut or manipulated too hard (like dropping it)

Here is where the “Big Boy” Antec 200mm fan will sit. Extracting all the air from inside via the incoming air facilitated through the front lids “air slot”


Why can one not get a Grill or Grid to cover this bad boy???
At full speed it may become lethal to fingers and small children, women, sheep..etc. :confused:
(ps- the 'hole' is in the middle - the camera angle just makes it look offset)

An idea of size. The final position was 90 degrees to this one.
Note the two flattened sides.
AND that the fan has a rim either side – so it cannot just “slide” into a hole but has a 'funnel' or trough around it between the two edges! Hmmmm?
How to fit it? Because when it sticks out as per the pic it looks ugly.

(OK, so we did a McGuyver to get the fan into the “hole” with each “ridge sticking out
(so no butchering the fan – put that Dremel away!) :D

How? Can you guess?

Well, it was already cracked on one end, so we simply cracked the other side – thus splitting the hole (whole) thing open.
So now simply stick the fan inside and then..'nurse: please close it up'! :)

Busy insides.

Before tiding up all the drive cables a peek at how the insides look.

The custom PCI bracket can be seen at the rear.
And the heart of the system to feed the HDD – 2 x PCIe SATA Cards.

(There is place for another two - but not for more drives...unless we use a larger VAT)
Oh - and the MoBo is an normal ATA size Intel Kingsberg with i5 CPU and 8GB RAM.

Here is a view of one of the two HDD rungs.
Each bay of six drives fits in nicely.

Yes, ideally the airflow would ask the drives be oriented edge on – but this way we can fit them a lot easier than a more complex and roomier edge on method.
So far so good as they are only mildly warm under load – and as soon as the software allows we can measure the real time temps. (Freenas 8.01)[FONT=&quot]

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Mar 4, 2011
The bung hole cap.

Seeing as this seemed like the only place to put indicator LED’s on – we made a “power on” and dual “HDD activity” LED holder from two layers of Perspex using an original oak cap.

The wine VAT rests horizontally on a cradle – so the only way to see any indication activity or even if she is on or off is via this “cap”.

Here we see the power on state.

And here the disk activity is shown.
We turned the exposure down to catch the ultra-bright LED ‘s better – otherwise the red washes out the details.

Even in daytime they are very visible!

This was a mini project in itself. For removal of the inner tray we have two connectors to uncouple this bung cap from the Mobo beneath.
And the on/off button is in a recess in the top of the cap. (still looking for a switch cover that would suit this mounting method – but until then a small piece of foam covers the power button.

Making the perspex with LED’s inserted, as well as the on/off button and its cabling down thru the middle was a mission. But it worked out fairly nice.

No reset, and it all runs headless anyway.[FONT=&quot] ;)[/FONT]

Last minute add-on.

Made some access holes for a monitor and USB (keyboard etc)

The slightly rough holes are due to the rock hard wood (wine soaked Oak) also having nails to join the individual flat ribs making up the round disc.

These tensile steel “nails” were unforeseen and destroyed the Dremel discs. We will tidy it up later but for now this will have to do.

It works well – the rear lid is a “twist and turn” attached method – made some aluminium brackets on the inside so ‘push it in, twist 20 degrees and ‘click’ – there she sits!

Simple eh?
Nope – not nearly – the “round” VAT is actually egg shaped or an uneven elliptical form. Try getting the ‘round’ lid in and stop it from moving sideways when inside!
(the inner ‘seat’ is already nearly a cm wider than the opening! (Thus the foam for aesthetics – the gap looked ugly)

A closer shot of the fan showing the close tolerances of the inner tray and the “nested fan mounting method” – this way the fan is more hidden and does not protrude.

When removing the rear lid (with fan) one needs only to hold it aside to work on the tray, or one fan lead is unplugged to facilitate the complete removal of the tray.

The finished product.

Still some decisions to make over oil or finishing of the wood. The plain raw sanded colour showing the wood grain is kinda nice too..

And silent - one cannot hear it run – and unless it is dead quiet (and even then I doubt one could hear anything unless standing right by it)

The front air inlet is the “gap” around the front lid.
Made it as small as possible so it does not look too obvious and yet still gets enough air in for the rear “Big Boy”[FONT=&quot].[/FONT]

Well, that it so far. Now for some trial runs and testing - but so far all looks well and the operation, temperatures and even NAS transfer speeds are all 100%.
In hindsight so far there is not much i can see to do differently - and the only possible negative is one cannot move the whole bulk of the VAT alone. But then a large tower case or rack mount is also quite unwieldy.

Thanks for reading - suggestions and comments welcome.



Limp Gawd
Feb 28, 2011
Wow that's quite the project. It looks great so far.

I just have one question, The 200mm fan is set up as an exhaust, and there are no intake fans, correct?

If this is the case, then I would expect negative air pressure inside your case, err... barrel, even with the large gap on the intake end. This is good for cooling but bad for dust. If possible, I would recommend finding some sort of dust filter to put around the gap. Just a thought.

Be sure to post more pictures!


Supreme [H]ardness
Jul 29, 2005
That's quite a thing of beauty you've built yourself, Tweakzz. Color me impressed.

Now, who'll be the first to stick a PC in a Keg?


Aug 15, 2005
wow nice! too bad you cant make it liquid cool with wine. but must smell nice when it is warm


Limp Gawd
Oct 14, 2008
wow nice! too bad you cant make it liquid cool with wine. but must smell nice when it is warm
I was thinkin the same thing bout cooling it with wine lol. That looks nice. I bet its pretty big. That light feature where the plug was is sweet. great job


Mar 4, 2011
Hi all,

Thanks for the good feedback - i must admit to feeling rather satisfied about it myself. Especially as it actually works quite well to 'boot' ;)
(19.5TB NAS using a RAIDZ2 array - using Freenas 8 so the swap files and 1024 byte conversion resulted in this as useable space. With AD integration etc.)

And about the smell - indeed, it does have a very definite wine smell! Especially when cutting the wood (or trying to!). Recently whilst trying out different filtering materials around that gap in the front lid the restriction of airflow became apparent - and any heating of the wood did release a subtle wine aroma. But not noticeable anymore (maybe i am just used to it? lol)

Presently i am trying to get a less dense filter medium as i agree with the post on it being better to do so - i am very much a believer in a clean system myself.
Yes - air cooled not wine cooled :D. It is really only the 12 x HDD that generate a lot of heat - the i550 CPU runs quite cool and only using a stock Intel cooler.
But even a little heat builds up if there is not adequate flow - and some days in summer the outside ambient temps can reach 40C+.

Once i have an idea of the filter i'll post some more pics - and also when the decision is made on what wood treatment to apply.

Glad you liked it - i found hardforum excellent in getting ideas and seeing fellow modders apply their skills.
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