Tips for working in a home cabinet..?

MGCJerry

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 18, 2005
Messages
143
This past weekend I bought a 42U cabinet for CHEAP ($150) off fleabay/craigslist (locally) to house all of my networking crap. Lets just say it juuuuuuuuust fits in a 2015 Kia Soul sideways with about 3' hanging out the back, and a 17 mile trip back home and lots of strange stares. :D The old stereo stand I was using finally broke after 12 years of loyal service so it was time to move on.

Old picture: I have several more servers and stuff since this picture was taken.
network.jpg


Now I've done my fair share of small home network installations, and have seen my fair share of cabinets and racks in person (Im not in IT, just a lowly electrician) but have never wired one myself. The only thing included with the cabinet was a shelf and a handful of nuts already clipped in.

So, does anyone have some good tips to start a cabinet n00bie?

Some notes:
• All devices, even ones I'm not actively using total is 24U.
• I'm also sourcing some cable management for my switch from the data division of the company I work for. I'll be comparing prices to what I might be able to get off ebay/craigslist.
• I plan on installing the shelf standing height so I can place a monitor & keyboard on the shelf to make management easier for those machines without IPMI abilities.
• I already bought a pack of 100 screws/nuts/washers
• I don't think I need a patch panel as there will only be a handful of cables going to outside devices.
• I still need to get rails for some of the servers I want to install. I'll need to get 3 more Supermicro rails, and 2 Proliant 360g3 rails.
• Cabinet is on casters, and all sides and doors (and keys) were included.

So does anyone have any specific tips for racking and even cable management?
 

Red Squirrel

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 29, 2009
Messages
9,211
You do want a patch panel, it's just so much cleaner. if you don't have lot of jacks but also have different types (Ex: coax) consider a keystone patch panel, you can then do everything in there. Ethernet, phone, cable etc.

I would bolt it down to the floor, personally, so get rid of the casters.

For cable management it really depends on the rack, mine is a 4 post so there is not much cable management so I basically built my own management system using slats of 1x2 wood and 2x6 as "ducts". Actual cable duct is way too expensive for what it is so could not justify the cost.



Same on the back. I have 3 ABS pipes that go from front to back as well in case I want to pass wires through.
 

Dead Parrot

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
2,831
You probably don't need a patch panel now. But empty rack space tends to attract stuff so put a patch panel on your "If it is a good deal" list. Your current work place may have some sitting around surplus. Patch panels do make keeping the rack wiring clean looking much easier as the rack equipment to panel cables can be custom made, cutting down on the nest of coiled network cables.

Check for clearance to where you want to roll it. Some racks + casters won't clear a standard door frame.

If your stereo shelves were standard rack width, they might serve in your new one. If not, plywood can serve as rack shelves. Especially for the little stuff for which there isn't a rack mount option easily available. Cable modem, consumer switches, WAPs, etc.

Make sure you don't exceed your floor loading capacity.

Leave standing and sitting space behind the rack if possible. Having to lean inside a rack while twisting and reaching up or down to find that NIC plug in the dark sucks. Once you mostly fill a rack, you lose the lean inside option.

Some type of PDU can help simplify the power cord rat nest.

The rack mount keyboard, mouse, monitor sounds cooler then it really is. Much easier to use a keyboard, mouse, monitor on a desk next to the rack. Don't forget the KVM switch.
 

MGCJerry

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 18, 2005
Messages
143
Thanks for the replies :) Going to start the minimums today. Router, switch (48 port version), modem (an annoying stand-up model), primary server (not pictured) and it does have rails.

I'll keep a patch panel in mind,If my work place has any laying around, and offers a decent price, ill go for it. Never know when I decide to go for it later on and ill already have it...

The cabinet is going in my room, and its sitting nearby.

The stereo cabinet is actually a bit wider (interior) than a standard rack, and I could probably re-use the one survivor in the rack somehow. I do have some 2x3s i could probably make some additional lightweight shelves out of. I'm not placing all the devices in the cabinet until i get all of the rails.

Without getting an engineers report I don't know the floor loading. However, I don't plan on loading more than whats been sitting in that spot originally, despite the wall its against is over a foundation wall in the basement (and built with real hardwood 2x8, not a modern pine 2x8) I could probably get 'more' in it.

I don't have any space for sitting or standing room behind the cabinet unfortunately. I'll have to do the squeeze and lean in. The good news is that many of my devices aren't full depth so that will give me a little more wiggle room, ill only have access to one side of the cabinet as it will sit right next to my desk thus blocking one side. Which is also the reason for wanting to place a monitor/keyboard/mouse (usb keyboard with touchpad built in) inside the cabinet. Space is at a premium on my desk, and its only for when I have to do stuff where IMPI or the OS isn't available. I'm also hoping I can get some LED tape light to add some lighting inside the cabinet. I also need to figure out the top fan.

I do have something i can use for a PDU. I currently have it mounted under my desk, its a 5' long aluminum "power strip" with like 12 plugs on it. Id like to get another one.


Thanks again everyone. Got several ideas and tips out of these. :)
 

Red Squirrel

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 29, 2009
Messages
9,211
You'll want some space behind it at least enough for you to fit. In my case it's quite small but enough to at least get behind there to access connections etc. You don't want to rely on empty rack space as you may want to fill it eventually.

I had to build a custom step stool since the one I had does not fit properly back there lol.



Going to lose another 1/2" once the drywall goes up.


A KVM console is nice too but they are freaking expensive. I still have no solution for that myself at this point, I need to figure something out though as IPMI requires Java and its always a pain in the ass to get it to work in Linux, that and some of my servers don't have it, and raw direct access is always good to have anyway. A KVM is nice but not really necessary imo, but they are nice if you get a server grade one with many ports. With a KVM console you can still just plug the connectors around as needed. This would mostly be for low level stuff like OS installs or tending a server that is hung or having issues etc.

And yeah PDUs are nice, some of the fancier ones also have an amperage display. I was originally going to build my own by simply installing a huge strip of power outlets but it was not even worth the trouble as the PDUs I got were a couple hundred bucks each.
 

MGCJerry

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 18, 2005
Messages
143
Here's where I'm currently at with the cabinet as a 'quick start'. It still needs some work as I still want to get more stuff loaded (providing floor is adequate), but at least the old wood "cabinet" is gone. I also had to rearrange my room for everything to fit.

networkcab.jpg
 
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