Saturday, 26 April 2014

More Case Mods

Following the little bit of case surgery previously noted, the migration of my production unRAID server to MediaServer8 required a little more gentle persuasion.

With unRAID version 6 beta 4 available, I thought it was time to transfer all my data from my old dual Xeon system. I had 8x 1TB data drives in the old server plus 1TB parity and 500GB. However, MediaServer8 currently only has 8 motherboard SATA connectors (plus a 2x port PCIe hard that's running recording and timeshiftimg drives for ArgusTV/MediaPortal).

So I needed to remove 2x data drives from my array. This is not such a big deal as I plan to upgrade drives to 4TB units over the coming months. I duly copied the data from the drives with least data and removed them from the array.

I ran a parity check on the old server and with all well, removed all the HDs. I downloaded unRAID 6b4 and, having saved my config directory, reformatted my MediaServer8 USB key, installed unRAID and copied back my config directory.

My target chassis has 6x hot swap bays in the lower section and 4x 5.25" bays above. In my old server I have a 5-in-3 SATA unit so I would need to transfer this across as well to accommodate the 8x unRAID HDs and the 2x video drives.

Pesky Vent Bars
Bars Be Gone
Here's where I hit my first problem. The Zalman GS1000 case has plastic bars between each 5.25" bay. These had to go as the 5-in-3 unit couldn't slide in with them in place.

A quick bit of dremel action and the bars were no more. The-5 in-3 unit fit in perfectly.

 I dropped in all the drives (6x data drives in the lower bays, parity and cache in the upper bay). I booted up and encountered my next problem; one of the transferred drives wasn't being recognised by the system. Regardless of where I plugged it in or which cable I used, it simply wouldn't show up at boot. I removed the drive and dropped it into another machine and there it was, resplendent with all it's data intact. For some reason, that particular drive just wouldn't work in the MediaServer8 system.

Fortunately, I had those two spare 1TB drives I'd previously removed from the old server. I popped one of those into MediaServer8 and it worked perfectly. However, I was now in the unenviable position of booting into unRAID following a hardware transfer and also rebuilding my array with a replacement drive. Happy that I had backups of the really important data, I let unRAID do it's stuff and several hours later, I had a working system!

Now the next problem...

Those lower bays could get toasty
During the array rebuild, I noted that the temperatures on the 6x hard drives in the lower bays were high (mid to high 50 degree celsius).   There is good cooling in this case generally but no direct airflow over the lower bays. As each set of 3 bays has a backplane, there's no way of directing air from inside the case. A temporary solution saw me open the outer flaps and stand two fans there. This worked great and drive temps never topped 30 degrees but it wasn't very sturdy or safe. A more permanent solution was required.

Looking at the flaps, I thought they could be modified to house fans which would blow air over the drives. Having disassembled the flaps and measured up, I bought a couple of Scythe Kaze Jyu Slim 100MM fans.

These duly arrived and I set to work; I removed the centre of both the outer cover and the inner flap and mounted the fans (a pretty much perfect fit - I used some rubber feet of an old set of walkie talkie charger as shims to firmly wedge the fans into the hole I'd cut out).

There was a bit of work involved routing the power cable through the bays in such a way that they did not interfere with the normal insertion / removal of the drive caddies but I got there after a little wiggling.

Fans inserted into hacked flap covers.

Some fan mesh attached. 

A couple of hours total and I had a pretty cool case. The flaps still work as before and the drives are not showing any temperature issues.

They're also pretty quiet units and they even come with brackets allowing them to me mounted directly to hard drives. I think I'll be getting a few more of these.

Since I had the case out on the table, I took the opportunity to route and tidy up some of the cabling. I also re-arranged the PCI cards for a better airflow, ensuring that the silent graphics cards are separated from each other as their heatsinks get quite hot. I'm thinking one more mod is required - inserting a fan in the side panel to blow cool air in over the pci cards.

All in all, I'm pleased with this. I have a 4TB drive pulled from a WD MyBook. I plan to get a WD Red 4TB in the near future to use as parity and add this WD unit into the array. I have space for 3x more drives in this case and with these changes, I'll have 3x 1TBs spare and when added will leave mw with a  total of 8x data drives and 11TB storage, 32TB when I eventually upgrade everything to 4TB. That should keep me going for a while.

(I've added in a Syba SATA III 4 Port PCI-e x1 Controller Card with Low Profile Brackets to give me 4x more SATA ports which will be all I need to support these drives).

Case interior with most of the tidy up done

Pci slots full with (eft to right) 2-port SATA, GPU (TV1 vm), Octopus Sat tuner, GPU (TV2 vm), 4-port SATA, GPU (unRAID, M-Audio Delta (whole house audio VM) and there's a second Sat tuner up top which still needs a better mounting solution.


Ha! It seems that I'm in the process of modding my case to become essentially the latest iteration of the line from Zalman - the GS1200 has fans on the lower bays and a side panel fan built in. Seems they figured out the same cooling issues as I'm encountering!!!

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