Worklog: Something kinda fun


Jun 12, 2001
This is not a case mod or anything, but I thought some of you who, like me, don't get to play with some of this stuff every day will enjoy it.

I have taken on the task of building a setup for a friend of mine. Basically it is a rackmount setup with 3 computers all run through a KVM switch and enclosed as a single "computer"

He did most of the part choice with me helping out with questions and details. He payed for it all and had it shipped to me. Now I get to put it together.

I will post pictures as this progresses. I will start with what has been purchased:

-18U low profile enclosed rack with steel rear door and smoked glass front door
-Rack Mount KVM Switch
-3 APC1200 UPS units
-20.1" Widescreen LCD monitor
-Logitech Wireless KB/Mouse combo
-3 Steel rack mount server chassis

PC1 (personal):
Abit AL8
PentiumD 920
2GB Corsair DDR2
2x Liteon DVDRW
150GB WD Raptor
ATI Radeon X1600 Pro 512MB
ATI HDTV Wonder TV Tuner

PC2 (personal fileserver):
Abit AL8
PentiumD 920
2GB Corsair DDR2
Liteon DVDRW
37GB WD Raptor
500GB Seagate Barracude SATA3.0
2x250GB Seagate Barracude SATA3.0
ATI Radeon X300SE 128MB

PC3 (Personal web/mail server):

Abit AL8
PentiumD 920
2GB Corsair DDR2
Liteon DVDRW
37GB WD Raptor
2x250GB Seagate Barracude SATA3.0
ATI Radeon X300SE 128MB

The hardware is pretty standard on all 3 computers. None of it is super high-end stuff, but it still should be decently fast and a lot of fun to build. First batch of pictures in next post.
OK, this is the first shipment of parts which arrived yesterday. I unpacked one of the cases to get a feel for it. I have enough parts to start building, but I will wait for the next couple of shipments before I start building.








sitheris said:
Why even bother with the KVM? just VNC!

Good Question. We are using a 4 port KVM so he can hook a 4th computer into the system for troubleshooting or work reasons. He can also plug his trusty laptop into the system and use a 4th PC. It is just as easy as VNC with hotkeys anyway.
Alright. Todays shipment has arrived.

Not very exciting really. The monitor is here along with the KB/mouse and the HDTV tuner.



Man, thats a lot of hardware in one place. Well can't wait to see how this turns out!
Day 3. I think this is everything except the rack (Which was back ordered 1 week) and the Radeon 1600 Pro (Stupid me ordered an AGP instead of a PCIx card. Oh, well, new vid card upgrade for me).



OK, the real fun began last night as I got my first chance to experience the build in these cases. Its not quite explained in pictures alone anymore so I am going to start typing a bit.

First, this is the case that I am working with. I opened it up the other night to get a feel for it, but tonight is the trial by fire. I have worked with rackmount cases before, but never this one. Anyway, the first picture is with just the top of the case removed:


I removed the drive cages and the crosspiece so everything would be easier to get to for motherboard and psu installation. Every thing comes out very easily, a feature I like about this case.


I then went about removing the standoffs that I would not need and rearranging them into the proper positions. Then I installed the motherboard and PSU. I love the fact that the PSU matches so nicely in this system.


I installed the Hard drives in their cage. From left to right it is: 37GB raptor, 250GB Barracuda, 250GB Barracuda, 500GB Barracuda.


INstalling the drive cage back into the system is where I first encountered issues. Thre is a bump in the bottom of the case to accomodate a rubber foot and that would not let the drive set in all the way. This meant that I had to move the 500GB drive over to the end. Also the case is not quite deep enough to truly accomodate standard SATA cables. There is a cover for the drive cage that would not fit with the cables plugged in. If you want to use the cover you would need to purchase right angle SATA cables. The other problem I ran into was the Floppy cable that came with the motherboard was not long enough to reach. The Floppy controller is all the way on the lower side of the motherboard (below the PCI slots) and the Floppy drive in this case all the way in the corner underneath the CD bays. So I need to order longer FDD cables. But that is not a huge deal. Here is a pic with everything installed and most of the cable management done:


And the front of the finished build:


I took it in and fired it up last night and it is running hot (61*C!!!) so I need to start figuring out what I can do about airflow because it is only going to get hotter once it is installed in the rack.

Edit: fixed the temperature issue, it is not idling at a nice 24*C. Yay! It was my own dumbassedness (new word). The cooler pegs were funky and I didn't pay enough attention when installing it and the cooler was barely touching the CPU. Glad I didn't make a bigger boo-boo though.
Well, the first computer stress tested for 2 days without a hitch maxing out at 45*C. Here is a pic of the next system assembled. This is the one with the X1600 Pro and the HD video capture card.


It is installing Windows now and then stressing will begin on it.

When I started it up I ran it on the BIOS health page for a while to monitor idle temps and it maxed out at 18*C :eek:

I am happy with that so far. It will be interesting to see where it maxes out under load.
I figure I may as well keep going with this thread since it has gone this far. Sorry for the lack of updates, but I have been swamped.

Here are the last 2 shots on the camera. One is the final computer, the other is the idle temps I am getting.



The rack shipped yesterday (It was backordered) so I should have the final pictures posted up by the end of the week.

NOw a few more impressions. First thing is that the ATI HDTV Wonder card is a pain in the rear to get working. It took me 2 days and about 10 reinstalls of the software to get it working properly. The results are fantastic though. I have a video of the HD signal if anyone is interested. It is raw/uncompressed and about 188MB in size for just a few seconds of video so I won't post it unless someone really wants to see it.

Other than that all 3 computers are just awaiting their new home and I will post again when that gets here.