Hacking old server hardware for new home use

[Arnuschky] was looking for a network storage solution that included redundancy. He could have gone with a new NAS box, but didn’t want to shell out full price. Instead, he picked up a Dell PowerEdge 2800 and hacked it for SATA drives and quiet operation.

It’s not surprising that this hardware can be had second-hand at a low price. The backplane for it requires SCSI drives, and it’s cheaper to upgrade to new server hardware than it is to keep replacing those drives. This didn’t help out [Arnuschky's] any, so he started out by removing the SCSI connectors. While he was at it, he soldered wires to the HDD activity light pads on the PCB. These will be connected to the RAID controller for status indication. The image above shows the server with eight SATA drives installed (but no backplane); note that all of the power connectors in each column are chained together for a total of two drive power connectors. He then applied glue to each of these connectors, then screwed the backplane in place until the glue dried. Now the device has swappable SATA drives!

His server conversion spans several posts. The link at the top is a round-up so make sure you click through to see how he did the fan speed hack in addition to the SATA conversion.

If your tolerances don’t allow you to glue the connectors like this, check out this other hack that uses shims for spacing.

Making SATA drives work with a SCSI backplane

The problem of persistent and reliable storage plagues us all. There are a myriad of solutions, some more expensive than others, but a dedicated and redundant network attached storage solution is hands down the best choice for all problems except natural disaster (ie: fire, flood, locusts) and physical theft. That being said, the issue of price-tag rears its ugly head if you try to traverse this route.

[Phil's] had his mind stuck on a very large NAS solution for the last ten years and finally found an economical option. He picked up a powerful motherboard being sold as surplus and a server enclosure that would play nicely with it. It came with a backplane for multiple hard drives that utilized SCSI connections. The cost and availability of these drives can’t compare to the SATA drives that are on the market. Realizing this, [Phil] completely reworked the backplane to make SATA connections possible. It’s an intense amount of work, but there’s also an intense amount of documentation of the process (thank you!). If doing this again his number one tip would be to buy a rework station to make it easier to depopulate the connectors and extraneous parts from the PCB. Since he needs to keep using the board, the old blow-torch trick is out of the question.

Sluggy Wind Speed Sensor

Sometimes when we look at a hack, its to see how someone chose those parts for the project. In this case, it would have been hard to see it coming. [Janne Jansson] decided to combine a set of measuring cups, a hacked Linksys NSLU2 NAS, and a PS/2 Mouse together to make a self-contained Wind Speed Sensor for his roof. The measuring cups act as wind catchers, which in turns drives the rotation of one of the mouse ball sensors. This data is then logged and transmitted by the NSLU2. The NSLU2 is running a custom Linux based firmware, similar to how OpenWRT works for wireless routers.

To calibrate the device, he also made the best logical choice: to duct tape it to the hood of his car along with a much more expensive wind sensor and use that data to make his own device as accurate as possible. When placed atop his house with a 1500VA 220V UPS, the device managed 250 days of uptime before meeting its demise. Those 250 days also included 5 days of being frozen solid, yet still transmitting (somewhat meaningless) data. All of the relevant code and build instructions are available, for those of you with similar parts to spare.

Hackaday links: June 20, 2010

Nixie Voltmeter Clock

[Gmglickman] built a clock out of an old digital voltmeter. The Fluke 8300A came out in 1969 and is featured in their 60 years of innovation slideshow. What makes it a cool clock? The Voltmeter’s display is made up of Nixie tubes.

Easy optical encoder wheel generator

If you need to print out encoder wheels for your project there is an online tool you can use. It has almost any setting you would want to make a rotary encoder wheel.The black wheel can be used with old mouse parts and the checkered wheel with an optical sensor. [Thanks Bluewraith]

New CD without the CD

1-bit Symphony is a newly released album. It come in a CD jewel case but there’s no CD included. That’s because they’ve built a circuit to playback their music via a headphone jack. We didn’t see any info on what microcontroller was used, but we love the cleanliness of the design. This apparently isn’t the first time the artist has released an album like this either.[Thanks Juan]

Making a standard SIM work with the iPad

[Tony Million] used a standard SIM to reduce the monthly cost of using broadband on the iPad. This is the exact opposite of using the iPad SIM in an iPhone and requires that you cut down your standard SIM quite a lot. [Tony] did this because he imported his iPad to the UK from the United States and using AT&T wasn’t an option for him. [Thanks David]

16TB NAS is a thing of beauty

The Black Dwarf is a sixteen terabyte network attached storage device that looks more like a display counter for high-end hard drives. We’d usually think of this as a closet or basement dweller, but an item this gorgeously crafted deserves a place of honor in your home or office. Documenting the entire process was as complex as the build itself. We like seeing the time-lapse version. [Thanks Howard via Engadget]



Hack a Day reader [The_Glu] shared with us a project of his. He used an Eee PC 701 he had lying around with a broken LCD, along with three 1TB SATA drives to create a custom NAS server for his house. The server features a number of other interesting components, including USB2SATA converters to connect the hard drives, as well as a 2 line LCD to display RAID information and server status. The entire  project is wrapped up in a custom made Plexiglas enclosure with case fans to keep the whole thing cool. While this may not be the first Eee PC NAS, or the fastest, this is a wonderful way to repurpose a broken netbook. We also love the idea of netbooks being used more and more in projects like these as the first generation reaches its end of usefulness age. More pictures after the break.

Thanks [The_Glu]

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Hackit: Network Attached Storage?

With each passing day the rate we acquire digital media increases (we don’t even bother unpacking our CDs when we move anymore). Large publishers have started moving away from DRM, which means we’ll be buying even more digital media in the future. Acquiring all of this nonphysical property puts importance on not just making it easily accessible, but also protecting it from destruction. Slashdot asked for reader suggestions of what NAS to buy; we’ve compiled some of the options below and want to know what you use.

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