Build A File Server Inside An Old External Optical Drive Enclosure

This one nearly ended up in today’s Links post, but on second look we think it deserves a feature of its own. [Profezzorn] designed some mounting brackets to house a file server inside of an external drive enclosure. Click on the instructions tab to get a bit more of the story.

The enclosure that he’s using is meant for a 5.25″ optical drive. It comes with a USB to SATA converter which is how he connects the hard drive to the Raspberry Pi serving the files. His mounting system uses the original holes in the enclosure, the threaded holes of the drive, and the holes in the RPi PCB to mount everything with just ten screws. The enclosure included a Molex power connector. He sacrificed an old connector to make a custom cable for the Pi’s power.

Add a portable power supply, do a little work with the Linux configuration, and you could easily turn this into a pirate box.

20 thoughts on “Build A File Server Inside An Old External Optical Drive Enclosure

    1. Well this is just the entry on Thingiverse about the 3D printed adapter, rather than a full writeup about the actual server build.

      Taken in that light, I can see how this maybe should have ended up in a Links post.

  1. I like the mechanical stuff going on here. The USB-over-phone-cord gives me the jibblies though. I wish there was an embedded Linux-on-ARM board with native SATA at the same price point.

    1. There’s a Pogoplug with SATA and gigabit Ethernet, neither of which pass through USB like on the Pi; though some benchmarks I’ve seen suggest it lacks the CPU/memory to fully max out the bandwidth of either interface. It can be found for $40, and will run Arch Linux.

      There’s also the Cubieboard for $55. I’m not sure how it performs, but I’d expect it to be faster at real-world file serving than either the Pogoplug or Pi, and the $20 extra over the price of a Pi isn’t much.

      And after seeing a USB device successfully connected with wire nuts recently, a little bit of phone cord doesn’t frighten me. ;)

      1. The Allwinner-based CPU contraptions are pretty decent for the money. The MK802 stick I have at home is far snappier than the Pi and about on par with the Beaglebone Black (all running Debian, headless, with Python webapps and video streaming)

        As for the USB… I’ve thrown away my share of cheap pre-2.0 USB cables that don’t work reliably at high speed because the manufacturer got a deal on 4 conductor enameled Litz cable.

        1. I don’t have any personal experience with a system newer than 2010. That is the newest machine I own today. All of that UEFI and what have you doesn’t sound very good to me though. I got off the upgrade merry go round years ago when I started running Linux. Almost decades ago now in fact.

          I can see the SBC systems getting more powerful and being a really viable option for me in the future too. A Pi, or Beaglebone isn’t quite there yet, but I think they are a step in the right direction.

    2. I’ve used a professionally designed embedded system with an ethernet switch in the stack of PCBs (PC-104 hardware, but that is irrelevant). The ethernet ports used something like a smaller DIP socket and just twisted all 4 pairs together. Yeah, it’s not officially to spec, but if you’re not pushing your system too hard then you can get away with surprising things over short lengths.

      I guess the problem is if you add some other EMI source near your system and suddenly your storage intermittently fails…

  2. It seems that one VERY important piece of data is missing – What type of transfer speeds do you get from this? Is this even designed to be connected to a PC or is this just a raspberry pi with tons of storage – If so, why? What is the goal of this project? Does it have any purpose other than to stick two things in one box? I am really confused. It looks like it’s just the two in a box connected together, but with the bus speed limitations I see absolutely no point to this… Did I miss something?

    1. I mean, you know what the title says right, a file server…
      So, umm, that’s what it is. It is a file server in a 5 1/4 case. Do with it what you want. Sync your backups to it. Store files on it (whether it’s offics docs, audio, video, web links, whatever, lol). No, it’s not going to be blazingly fast, Rasp-pi is limited to USB2.0, after all. But for 1 or a few people accessing it, it should do fine. Not a corporate/enterprise level solution, but perfect for the house/SOHO. In it’s current case it could serve (heh, pun intended) inside an existing desktop PC (think PC within a PC), with the mention of a pirate box (a totally different project, btw) it’s not stated but implied you obviously don’t have to have this thing IN your PC, any suitable power solution will work.

      1. So basically, after overhead in the pi, this thing is going to be about as fast as USB 1.1 and weight 3 times as much as a 50 dollar NAS from newegg?

        Was there ANY point to this project besides slowing down transfer speeds?

        I’m sorry, but this is pretty pathetic. If you’re going to build something, make sure there is a point to it first??? I haven’t been on this site for a couple years, I come back and sure enough it’s still full of people making poor emulations of what others have done a thousand times over. I just don’t get it!!!!

        1. You’re right, you don’t get it. A hack isn’t always the best way to do something, it is just a different way of doing it. Nor does hacking have to be an original new creation. Although style points are awarded for originality. But this website isn’t called inventaday, even if many projects presented here are inventive. BTW shopping at Newegg is *never* hacking. Just so we’re clear. Maybe you can go off and make your fortune with a website called consumeaday? Good luck with that.

      1. USB2 in the real world is faster than 10/100 Ethernet? that’s news to me. Also my fileserver has to handle streaming at least 2 blueray rips to two different devices at the same time or at very least a blueray rip and a dvd rip. So no this wouldn’t work for me. It is a cool hack however.

        If anyone knows of a arm board that supports native (i.e. not a USB bridge) Sata2 (3gbps, but sata3 would be better) on 4 drives at a time without slowdown, and has native gigabit ethernet I’m all ears, but i’ve looked and can’t find it.

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