[Scratch Build] IKEA Expedit/Kallax compatible NAS server case 2.0

zrav

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
178
Hi guys,
I'm back with another scratch build project. This time it is to replace my first scratch build, the IKEA Expedit compatible server wood case. Working with laser cut aluminium sheets on my Hexplo desktop case, I gained enough new knowledge and ideas to try to improve the original server case concept. The requirements I set went further than the previous case project:
  • Must fit into an IKEA Expedit/Kallax shelf, which means a box of no more than 33.5 x 33.5 x 39cm.
  • Must hold an ATX size board, more than thirteen 3.5" and more than four 2.5" disks.
  • Decent ventilation
  • Even more living room compatible, i.e. cleaner visuals and lower noise
By using metal construction and a SFX PSU, I was able to come up with an interior layout that fits 18x 3.5" disks plus 8x 2.5" disks, perfect for a ZFS pool consisting of up to three 6-disk RAIDZ2 vdevs and a number of SSDs. The metal sheets will be joined by a mix of extruded aluminium profiles and soldering where there isn't enough space for a profile. I'm curious how I'll handle soldering with a butane torch...

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As of right now, the drawings have been sent to the laser cutting shop, and I'm in the process of ordering all the other stuff I need.
 
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Nimisys

Fully [H]
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
18,654
Soldering? I would think you'd want the mechanical strength of Brazing for those connections.
 

zrav

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
178
I got both brazing and soldering filler material. The tensile strength difference isn't large (325N/mm2 vs 270N/mm2), so if brazing at 550C melting point doesn't work with the equipment I have, I'll do soldering at 400C.
 

zrav

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
178
After filing some rough spots, sanding the visible surfaces and drilling counter sinks I could assemble the case parts for the first time. It all fits pretty well so far.

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Most of the sheets of the upper part of the case will have to be joined via brazing (all except the front), as there's no room left for supporting profiles (pics show test assemble using profiles). This is going to be interesting.
 

zrav

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
178
So as it turns out it is quite difficult to heat up a large chunk of aluminium as it is a good conductor and the case offers plenty of dissipation area. With my equipment I was unable to get the proper temperatures for the 550C brazing solder. The 400C kind of worked after lots of heating, but lacked the proper capillary action to slide in the gaps. The result was quite mediocre and took a long time for just a segment of one joint, so I ordered a different solder with capillary action, which should improve things.
 

Nimisys

Fully [H]
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
18,654
So as it turns out it is quite difficult to heat up a large chunk of aluminium as it is a good conductor and the case offers plenty of dissipation area. With my equipment I was unable to get the proper temperatures for the 550C brazing solder. The 400C kind of worked after lots of heating, but lacked the proper capillary action to slide in the gaps. The result was quite mediocre and took a long time for just a segment of one joint, so I ordered a different solder with capillary action, which should improve things.
I just got done brazing flat sheets of brass and even with an oxy-acetlyne torch, it took quite a bit of time and heat to get it there. Even then it was fun trying to not hit the melting point and blowing through the work metal. Use a thermal resistive work surface if possible.
 

zrav

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
178
Time for an update: I had no luck with the different solder. As all the welding shops I called afterwards told me, welding large, thin aluminium sheets is tricky. I ended up having a shop weld it for me. The result is alright.

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Here I attached the PCI slot bracket and mobo mounting pins:

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And with acoustic absorber, fans and test-mobo installed:

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Plus SSD holding brackets and side absorbers:

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zrav

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
178
And now with the lower half:

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I ended up having to attach the fan grills externally as they had a tendency of touching the fan blades. Not quite as pretty, but nice enough.

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zrav

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
178
I will have to make new custom SATA power cables to feed 18+8 disks. Currently waiting for the connectors ordered from cable-sleeving.com to arrive.
A preliminary acoustic test showed that I will have to install some of the dampening pad on the disk holder brackets. Without, the spinning noise can go from very quiet to audible, depending how exactly the disks touch the alu bracket. Access noises are definitely louder that with the plastic holders of the old case.

Also now I'm debating what to do with my old wooden NAS case. I'd be willing to give it away for free to anyone who'd pay the shipping from Germany. Just the case plus the custom power cables. The white paint yellowed somewhat.
 

zrav

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 22, 2011
Messages
178
I completed the new custom SATA power cables and I added a strip of dampening foam to both the disk brackets, which greatly reduced disk noise. The system is now quieter than the old case. Success!
Theres more to do in the cable management area, but the project is coming to a close.

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EDIT:
The current ZFS Pool configuration is:
6x WD100EFAX 10TB as RAID-Z2
+ 2x Intel S4510 960GB as special VDEV (metadata & small blocks)
LSI SAS2008 controller. When the pool is expanded, I'll get a used 16 or 24 port controller like a LSI SAS9305-24i.
 
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