Hacked together NAS in a box

hacked-together-nas-in-a-box

[David] is serving up files on his home network thanks to this Frankenstein’s monster of a Network Attached Storage device. It looks like he raided all the good bits from his parts bin to bring it all together.

The case is a tin box which may have been for a card/board game or some holiday treats. The hardware started with an NS-K330 server which he picked up from Deal Extreme. It has a NIC and a couple of USB ports but it tends to run really hot so he added a heat sinks to the board’s main chips. The hard drives are both 2.5″ form factor from old laptops. He uses some 2.5″ to 3.5″ mounting adapters to attach them to the tin box. A pair of USB to IDE adapters shed their cases and were solder directly to the wires which make a connection with the server’s USB ports.

There is a Linux distro specifically for this hardware but [David] wasn’t impressed with it. He ended up compiling OpenWRT for it and is satisfied with the functionality that provides.

Comments

  1. I did something similar to this a few years ago, mounting a Linksys NSLU-2 and a pair of hard drives inside the case of a junked DVD player. It worked nicely, repurposing various parts of the DVD players electronics (PSU, cooling fan) but the Achilles Heel was that the USB-to-IDE adaptors I had wouldn’t let the drives sleep, keeping them spinning and making far too much noise for me to put up with.

  2. BadHaddy says:

    Dont replicate this one guys. That NAS uses a SoC that is rediculously slow. Formerly known as the Star str8132 (now Cavium). 250MHz of ARMv4. It can’t actually drive the USB at 2.0 speeds alone, let alone handle networking protocols while doing so. Its fine if you are accessing some very small files very slowly, but there are many better options for not TOO much cost.

    For 199 bucks, you can get an intel D2700MUD atom board with 4GB of ram in a Morex 557B case with an 80 watt PSU. This would utterly SLAUGHTER this setup, along with most sub 500 dollar commercial nas units, and give you 2 real SATA connections. Load FreeNAS on it and you have a solid SMB NAS.

    • Dave says:

      There is a big price difference between 30 and 199! I have this running SnakeOS and its ok, not brilliant but good value for money

      • BadHaddy says:

        Most certainly! For the price, if you just want to access storage, its not bad. Try FTP or NFS if you want to boost throughput. SMB really drags on these things. You should see a 20-30% increase in throughput.

    • John says:

      I used to have a NS-K330. I used it primarily for torrent and sharing an el-cheapo printer. The external hard-drive I had attached to it was always getting moved around anyway, so I really didn’t care how slow it was over LAN. I agree that SnakeOS is total garbage, but It’s a good solution for light use at a really cheap price (30 bucks IIRC). FWIW, in my limited tests it was fast enough to stream 1080p video, but the torrents running in the background would get corrupted if you did that. LOL.

      I eventually ended up salvaging a core 2 duo and 4gb of ram from an old broken laptop and slapping that shit into a mini-ITX board I got on an open-box sale at Newegg for about 40 bucks (just 10 more than the NS-K330 itself). That’s what I would recommend to people looking to do something like this on the cheap. Not only do you get SATA, HDMI, a bajillion USB headers, etc., but as a plus some of those laptop-CPU compatible mini-ITX boards have dual gigabit LAN ports, serial ports, GPIO, LVDS connector for small LCDs (WTF?) etc. It’s really amazing how many features you get with those boards. Sadly, the ones with PCI-Express slots are dramatically more expensive, but this is a server build, right?

    • tom says:

      Forget that, get a linux-compatible pogoplug. 1.2GHz SOC and it runs Debian ARM flawlessly. I paid $19.99 for mine, and they frequently drop under $20 on deal websites.

  3. Bogdan says:

    Can anyone compare this to a NAS built with the Raspberry Pi? (considering the price range).

    • Solenoid says:

      It seems this project is more about repurposing existing hardware than getting the best bang for the buck. The RPi is stupidly easy to set up as a NAS (among other things). Price wise it seems they cost about the same.

  4. NAVNi says:

    I threw together my own NAS solution using a Raspberry Pi.

    http://navni-stuff.blogspot.com/2012/09/raspberry-pi-nas.html

  5. COde says:

    What about a TP-wrt703? or look at more from TP-link. Linux + nice hardware for cheap prices if you look them up at chinese stores (ebay for most of us, or taobao.)

  6. davijjordan says:

    I agree with use what you have. Done the nslu2 bit and made it portble. http://www.instructables.com/id/Give-your-Cisco-Linksys-NSLU2-some-muscle-part-1/
    Also use the raspberry pie as an ltsp thin client. You can get openwrt images for the x86 platform. have al older version running on an intel p2. http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Jack-of-all-trades/. started liking using opebsd for pentium 1’s.

  7. ka1axy says:

    Those heat sinks aren’t going to do a lot of good in a closed box. He needs to get some air moving through that box if he doesn’t want it turning into an oven. Or, he could leave the lid open…

  8. Haku says:

    On the subject of re-purposing, I’m in the middle of re-purposing an old Asus Eee901 I was given with a cracked screen (now using a pico-projector instead) as a download/playback machine.

    So far I’ve taken out the two (very low capacity) mini=pcie SSDs, updated the BIOS, plugged in SATA+USB breakout cards into the mini-pcie slots, salvaged 2 SATA sockets from a dead motherboard for the breakout cards & hooked them up to two 320gb 2.5″ drives, I get read/write speeds of 60mb/s+. The drives are also powered from the Eee.
    Next step is to make a base to bolt under the Eee which holds the drives with gromets to help dampen HDD vibration/sound.
    Also used a USB soundcard for the Toslink capability to deliver 5.1 to the audio receiver.
    So far works a treat, just need to tidy things up.

    Though next year I might ditch it all for a higher specced (dual core) Atom powered Mini-ITX with HDMI output & toslink already onboard so it can handle full HD, dropped into a spare HTPC case I have lying around.

  9. Mike says:

    Damn good hack.
    That’s what it’s about isn’t it? Taking stuff that doesn’t work, or you no longer need and hacking it into a solution.
    So many times on this site people bitch and moan about someone just building it up or buying the solution and scream ‘where’s the hack?’
    HERE!! This article is a hack and most of the comments are how you go and buy the solution and get new parts to put it together with.
    People suck.

  10. Whatnot says:

    Takes me back to the time I put a maybe-not-so-legal cabledecoder in a tin can like that.

  11. david says:

    I’m glad you liked it!
    This can be done with some TP-link router, it’s similar hardware.
    I’m using it as backup server across internet, so I don’t care if it’s slow over LAN, the bottleneck is the network connection.
    I wanted to add a fan and a temperature sensor that I have, but maybe it will become too much noisy. Or maybe a little circuit around and enc28j60 in order to switch it on/off over internet to keep it off while it’s not being used. I have scheduled some nightly backups.

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