Project Tranquillity - Completed

Discussion in 'Worklogs' started by mashie, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    It is time to start a new little project again. Well not that little, it will be the biggest case made by me before the Time Machine is completed.

    As you can see by the name of this case it is yet again inspired by the characters in Peter F. Hamiltons The Night's Dawn Triology. For those of you who has read the books knows that Tranquillity is a big space habitat with roughly a cubic kilometre of brain matter. ;)

    That is where all similarities ends though. Tranquillity here will be used as some kind of router lab by friends in need so it will have 9 motherboards and 30+ network cards in the smallest possible volume. The construction material will be MDF so a good exercise before starting the work on the Time Machine.

    Anyway, time to get the work started.

    ModCam status: [​IMG]
     
  2. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    So nine systems, nothing fancy needed really. The minimum specification on the list I got was:

    CPU: 200MHz
    RAM: 64MB
    HDD: 1GB
    PCI slots: 4
    Integrated video or able to run without videocard installed.


    [​IMG]

    The best place to find cheap old specification hardware is and will always be eBay. After winning two auctions with six computers each I ended up with this pile of 12 very heavy units. The hardware in nine of them did fit the bill with Celeron 366MHz, 64MB RAM, 4.3GB HDD, MicroStar 6117 motherboards (AGP, 5 PCI) as well as 140W PSUs. The other three will be sold on to another friend since I won't need them.



    [​IMG]

    Another auction brought me 33 Intel Pro/100 NICs :cool:



    [​IMG]

    Two evenings had to be spent extracting the hardware from the cases, not to mention chasing the dust rats with the vacuum cleaner. The blue bucket is filled with hardware to keep such as videocards, soundscards, NICs and IDE cables. The plastic bags contain the plastic parts destined for the bin.



    [​IMG]

    A little bit of jumping and the old cases became flat packs and will meet the bin as well. ;)

    The steel is over 1mm so they are very heavy, but then again they were designed to be used in the most rough environment imaginable - public schools.



    [​IMG]

    With the disassembly done, this is all that remains.
     
  3. Troney1169

    Troney1169 Limp Gawd

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    are you going to at least cut out the mobo trays? gonna keep an eye on this.
     
  4. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Nope, the trays will go bye bye.
     
  5. Elledan

    Elledan [H]ard|DCer of the Month - April 2010

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    Since this is another mod by mashie I should have expected something like this :eek:

    I like the way you sorted and stacked those parts. Makes you look very organized :D
     
  6. NeoSlayer888

    NeoSlayer888 [H]Lite

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    The title got my hopes up for a Dark Tranquillity modÂ….guess not. Never the less sounds like an interesting mod. Good luck
     
  7. k1114

    k1114 2[H]4U

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    I'm going to guess that all of these systems will be setup running linux or something similar, and that they will be basically mobo/cpu/ram+hard drive except the "server" board that has managment control over the others.

    In that case I would recomment ditching the 12x140 watt power supplies and going with a single 500watt+ QUALITY unit. You won't need a ton of actual power to run the setup, and I imagine you won't even run the thing that often. This will save you a LOT of money on the power bill, and a lot of space in the box.

    Another suggestion that i'm almost sure you already know about - you can stack the boards using threaded nylon spacers and headless screws. You could even implement a method of putting the hard drives between boards in this fashion, thus cutting down further on space requirements.

    And in addition to all that - I can't see whether or not the processors have fans, but assuming they do, you might be able to cut down on electricity costs and add reliability by hitting ebay and buying a bulk of fanless heatsinks. I would imagine a large system like that would only need a couple 120mm super low speed fans strategicaly mounted.
     
  8. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Allright, minor update.

    I removed all brackets from the NICs and installed them in the motherboards to test different layouts.



    [​IMG]

    After a few trial and errors this ended up being the most efficient layout, a switch will be included as well to provide management connectivity.



    [​IMG]

    With the general design in the head I quickly draw the whole case in CAD. Each vertical "tray" will hold two motherboards with HDDs and PSUs. Only the mobo/NICs/CPU are drawn since the HDD and PSU is one layer further back. Each tray is 325mm (12.8") high and 340mm (13.4") deep. The whole unit will be 800mm (31.5") wide, 500mm (19.7") deep and 450mm (17.7") high with casters installed.
     
  9. zeusenergy

    zeusenergy Limp Gawd

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    So I take it this is going to be a server farm? Bet that rig would fold like a mofo!!
     
  10. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Just because a PSU is rated 140W doesn't mean it is constantly using 140W. Nine boards pulling say 20W each will still only use 180W of power regardless if that comes from one or nine PSUs. By not buying an expensive PSU I will save a few months usage in power bills not to mention adding nine ATX connectors to a PSU will drive even the most dedicated person insane...

    As for mounting please see my previous post.
     
  11. SpangeMonkee

    SpangeMonkee [H]ard|Gawd

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    9 x 366 = 3.294GHz

    awww yeah.
     
  12. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Not a server farm, and 9 x 366MHz celerons won't do much good.
     
  13. FadedSpark

    FadedSpark [H]ardness Supreme

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    get the modcam up :p

    what color is it all gonna end up being? it better not be one of the many shades of biege :p
     
  14. k1114

    k1114 2[H]4U

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    Of course thats common knowledge, but 12x140W old inefficient power supplies are going to add both space and electricity cost, regardless of how much the actual draw is. Running a lot of ATX wires isn't a big deal if you were to setup a central wiring system, would take more work but would be a LOT cleaner. You would essentially have to cut the cords to the atx connectors of all the old supplies and attach the wires to a sort of "bus" that runs along the length of the whole setup, having one female plug (you might have to order it, not sure where you would find one except a dead board) at the end of the bus that the single supply hooks into.

    As far as cost, yeah you could save a good chunk of change by not going that route. I suppose thats what it comes down to in the end - is it really worth the investment.

    Also, do you plan on using this unit regularly, or is it for show? (seriously, it's hard to know sometimes). Having multiple the original multiple power supplies can be seen as a good thing since it keeps the whole setup from having a single point of failure.
     
  15. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    The modcam will be up when I start doing the assembly, I promise you it isn't exciting to see me messing around in CAD ;)

    As for colour, you will see (not decided yet).
     
  16. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    I think it will be running 24/7 so not for show this time but that doesn't mean it will look boring though. ;)
     
  17. Troney1169

    Troney1169 Limp Gawd

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    wow that looks like there might be heat problems but then again there are only small cpu. but i remember when my 90mhz woulld get so hot i couldn't touch the heatsink.
     
  18. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    When touching the heatsinks here I can't even tell a difference from room temperature.
     
  19. ColinR

    ColinR Limp Gawd

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    Surprised you didn't keep one of those boxes for the time machine! Lovely boxes. We had RM machines at school and my university got a whole lab of 386es while I was there! (Showing my age there!)

    How big is the box that they would fit in? Three feet by two by two? Bigger? Smaller?
     
  20. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Well, the Time Machine only use the high end from each year so RM was never even on the radar. However I might use some of those CDROMs in the older systems as well as all the floppy drives extracted.

    Regarding the size it will be half a foot smaller in each direction:
    800mm (31.5") wide
    500mm (19.7") deep
    450mm (17.7") high with casters installed.
     
  21. Majin

    Majin 2[H]4U

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    Mashie, Only you would take on such a project.
    LOL
    Keep it comin its looking good. :D
     
  22. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Update time.

    [​IMG]

    Finally time to do some actual contruction work and not only cleaning old hardware which seems to be the most common case lately... So with the case being built by MDF board has a few advantages, the main one is to have it all precut in store. However next time I will make my life easier by drawing out the cut pattern in CAD as well instead of trying to place out all parts on the fly in store to generate as little spill as possible. Here we have the bottom half of the main frame laid out to see if it fit.



    [​IMG]

    The box is slowly drilled and screwed together using 2.5" screws and L-brackets to get the angle square. The brackets will be the rear of the finished unit btw.



    [​IMG]

    The outer layer of MDF is 18mm (3/4") while the internal spacers between the aluminium profiles are 6mm (1/4"). The spacers and the profiles are simply attached using PVA glue.



    [​IMG]

    Profiles and spacers on both top and bottom glued in place. With nearly 1" thick material this unit is getting heavy, can't wait to install some casters tomorrow or next week after MML.

    If any of you attend MML this year you will see Doom 3: Hell Inside in action, if not you get a second chance at QuakeCon. ;)
     
  23. zapperfish

    zapperfish Limp Gawd

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    it looks very nice, and i would love to know what it will be, but why are you modding in your bathroom
     
  24. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Bathrooms are easy to clean up and this one is spare. For non dusty/messy work I use other parts of the apartment. ;)
     
  25. Troney1169

    Troney1169 Limp Gawd

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  26. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Final update before I leave for MML tomorrow.


    [​IMG]

    To make the final unit movable 4 caster wheels were added using M6 bolts and nuts.



    [​IMG]

    With the assembly of the outer frame done I was curious to see how it all looked like with some hardware in place. Next step will be to make the hardware trays before continuing on the outer texture/finish. I will definately go for a techno/armor kinda look.
     
  27. apHytHiaTe

    apHytHiaTe 2[H]4U

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    Good work mashie! This is awesome! I love all your projects!

    Quick question... I need to do something similar to this, but on a small scale. I have 3 mini atx motherboards, and it may rise to 5 or 6 in the near future. What sort of structure would be good to hold these bad boys?

    [​IMG]
     
  28. bonzanego

    bonzanego Gawd

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    when ever i see a mashie project, aside from the wow factor and master craftmanship of the case itself i always think to myself: If I had his hardware I would burn mine :)
     
  29. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Thanks, you can either follow my design or go for threaded rod plus nuts approach. It depends on how much stuff you need connected to the motherboards.
     
  30. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    I trade you three left over PCs from this mod for one of your cases ;)
     
  31. KodiakStar

    KodiakStar /'s by 0

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    Every little bit helps... we have lots of people running them on 233's even ;)

    Nice casework you have going there... good ideas for my 7x nekkid boards :)

    Think the spacing would get a little warm though. what will use use for increasing airflow
    within the case? 120's? 80's?
     
  32. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    No extra fans will be added considering it will be like a wall of PSUs at the rear providing the little airflow needed.
     
  33. sabrewolf732

    sabrewolf732 2[H]4U

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    actually it depends on the efficiency of the unit converting ac to dc. Lets say those psu's are rated at 60% efficiency, then if only 20 watts is being used by the comp, then 28watts is being drawn. if 100 watts are being used, then 140 are being drawn. multipy that by 9 psu's and it is pretty inefficient.
     
  34. JessAlba452

    JessAlba452 Gawd

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    Yikes! I'm definately going to be watching this one! It'll be interesting to see the outcome :D
     
  35. Majin

    Majin 2[H]4U

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    Nice Case...
    Looks shrap
    Things are starting to come together.
     
  36. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Small update from the progress today.



    [​IMG]

    The time has come to work on the trays that will hold two complete systems each. The material is 6mm MDF. One nice little feature with MDF is that it can be threaded using normal metal taps. After drilling a fair number of 2.5mm holes they were quickly threaded to M3 and the motherboard stands were installed.

    I have a feeling some of the people defining the ATX standard did think twice since the stands from the opposite sides do stay clear from each other when the motherboards are mounted like this.




    [​IMG]

    Next to follow was adding a few more holes for the PSUs and HDDs. After a bit of pain I realized how awkward it turned out to be mounting the HDDs and PSUs. The PSU will block the mounting screws for the HDD on the opposite side but then it has to sit on top of it's power lead from the PSU on the same side... To make a long story short, four hands had helped but I got there in the end. Now I just have to make another four of these. :D
     
  37. mashie

    mashie Mawd Gawd

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    Another day, another update...



    [​IMG]

    It felt like manufacturing doing unit after unit. At last all are done regarding major assembly. Power button and LEDs are still left to do on these units. They will not be painted and when the outer shell is ready they won't be that easy to see anyway ;)

    If you look closely you can see ribs of wood attached near the top edge. They were added to make the 6mm MDF fit perfectly centered inside the 10mm aluminium profile.



    [​IMG]

    The last tray was slightly different to make since it hold a system as well as a 16 port 10/100 switch. I wasn't too keen to add spacers to make the switch stay clear of the mobo stands so a suitable hole was drilled before gluing it in place. :D

    All new switches I get from now on will be gigabit only so this one will be retired together with this project in a far distant future...



    [​IMG]

    I can happily announce that somehow I managed to measure everything correctly so it did fit :D

    The spacing is 5mm between CPU and NICs on the next system.



    [​IMG]

    In case the HDDs needs to be reimaged that can be done fairly easily from the rear. It is lucky the PSUs has bypass power as well since this will eliminate the need for loads of messy cables and splitters.
     
  38. Troney1169

    Troney1169 Limp Gawd

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    Good Job man and quick too.
     
  39. SpangeMonkee

    SpangeMonkee [H]ard|Gawd

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    did you make the aluminium rails or did you buy them. if you bought them, were?
     
  40. ColinR

    ColinR Limp Gawd

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    No built in kvm switchbox? And how are they all going to switch on without blowing up the building's supply circuit?

    I wish my psu had pass through on it. Damn, I miss the monitor switching off from the old AT days!