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A fanless home file server
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Author:  Foyevtsov [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:06 am ]
Post subject:  A fanless home file server

Hi all,

I just finished on these weekends my one-week project, which I would like to show here. It is a file and a print server, which is essentially, as expected to be relevant here, a small silent PC. It has no fans and no moving parts except of the storage hard drives. I have built it on the Intel D945GSEJT motherboard. Briefly, it is a half height mini-ITX board, which is just 20 mm height. It is equipped with a hard wired onto the board 2.5 W TDP Intel® Atom™ processor N270. As for me, the remarkable feature of this motherboard is that it requires only a single 12 V power supply and has a standard 3.5 mm plug for it. A 1 GBit LAN on this board is also an additional value for a file server.

So, my server is based on the Intel D945GSEJT MB, whose features are:
- 2 Gb RAM
- 4 Gb MMC card, which is configured as a primary master drive.
- It runs Windows XP, which is installed on this flash drive. The OS takes ~ 2 Gb, so for the server I consider it is just fine.
- For the storage space the server may hold up to 2 standard 3.5" hard drives. Currently, a low-power (and noise) Western Digital Green 1.5TB is installed.
- External 12 DC switching power supply (60 W max)
- A self-made aluminium case
- The power consumption with one 3.5" HDD is 14 W (no HDD operation) and ~16 W with HDD read/write

And of course, some images:

I spent some days for preparing the aluminium parts for the case, which are just simple rectangular aluminium plates joined via aluminium corner bars:
Image

The essential electronic parts are laid down for comparison:
Image

One of the Zen sides, which has only 2 LEDs and two buttons:
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Assembled aluminium corner bars to the appropriate plates (everything is numbered :wink: ) and the bronze MB spacers:
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The MB is now firmly fitted to its place on the bottom plate:
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The MB plugs-side plate is mounted (notice the protective sticking film on the outer sides, so it looks yet like an ugly duck):
Image

The opposite side is added:
Image

The hard drives have their frames, on which they are mounted on rubber rings:
Image

... so mounted it looks like this:
Image

Now, connect the HDD on its frame to one of the side plates:
Image

Connect the plugs and fit all together:
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Fit and tight all sides:
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I, personally, found the size of the case incredibly small:
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Add the final top plate:
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So far the case recalled me car shows, when a new car is covered by fabric before being presented. So, the most intriguing moment:
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And, voilà:
Image

So, less important stuff, add some stands and check the corner fits (the aluminium plates are 1.5 mm thick)
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And some more fancy views:
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So, this is my new 12 W home server. Since I am very concerned about annoying noises and the power consumption (Germany prices), I am satisfied on the result.

P.S. Sorry guys if there are too many images or these are too big, I just could not resist to show them :)

Author:  greenfrank [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 3:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

nice build! expecially the home-made case. :)
I have the same intel mobo, it is in a small htpc I tried to build but is too slow/weak for that purpose. I will try to reuse it for a file/music server.

Author:  Foyevtsov [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

greenfrank wrote:
nice build! expecially the home-made case. :)
I have the same intel mobo, it is in a small htpc I tried to build but is too slow/weak for that purpose. I will try to reuse it for a file/music server.

Thanks!
I guess it is not way too slow, but, of course, it depends on which restrictions you have. Can it play a blue-ray video?

Author:  Dr. Jim Pomatter [ Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

Fantastic case! Perhaps I should say fan-less-tastic case.

How did you cut the motherboard ports out of 1.5 mm sheets? (Laser?)

Why do you need to run Microsoft Windows XP?

I ask because you could also run a router on the box, and save the 6-25 watts that a good WiFi router uses contently. You would need a USB Ethernet adapter, but that should not be a bottleneck. Your Internet connection is going to be much slower then the USB Ethernet adapter.

Impressive

Author:  Foyevtsov [ Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

First of all Many Thanks
Dr. Jim Pomatter wrote:
Fantastic case! Perhaps I should say fan-less-tastic case.

How did you cut the motherboard ports out of 1.5 mm sheets? (Laser?)

Why do you need to run Microsoft Windows XP?

I ask because you could also run a router on the box, and save the 6-25 watts that a good WiFi router uses contently. You would need a USB Ethernet adapter, but that should not be a bottleneck. Your Internet connection is going to be much slower then the USB Ethernet adapter.

Impressive


Well, cutting was a great part of the whole work, for which I particularly proud of. Laser cutting would be impressive :), but I did it simpler. I have a small milling machine, which is not yet computerized. So, first all dimensions had to be measured. Then I cut a stencil mask from a self-sticking paper using a cutting plotter (A4 size). Stick it carefully on an aluminum plate and then cut on the milling machine with a 3 mm diameter end mill cutter.

Concerning the router I thought about it. You are right, the Wi-Fi router uses some (lucky me) 6-8 W in my case. Unfortunately, it cannot be omitted, because it is a DSL router from the Internet provider :). The 5-port Netgear FS105NA Gigabit switch, which I use for fast interconnections within the network, uses only 5W, which is already not that much. Eventually, I am planning no rearranging so far.

Currently, this file server, the switch, the router, the printer and a phone, which altogether sit on an one plug, use some 35 W and at maximum 37-40 W (not while printing, of course !) and I am pretty lucky of it.

Why should I not use Windows XP? Well, I have four Windows machines (including this one) and one of them has also Linux as a second OS for my wife's work. Do you think Linux-based server would offer less power consumption or some other advantages? By the way, I tried to test the transferring rate between the server and one of the PC's on a 2 Gb file. The result is 25 Mb/sec (less than 1.5 min for a 2 Gb file). Additionally, accessing a folder with hundreds of files (like pictures from a camera) is not a problem (as it is for many slower NAS devices).

Author:  boost [ Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

Schönes Gehäuse!
Wie hast du die Anschlüsse hinbekommen?
Ich hatte beim Modding von nem Case die Ausspariungen für ein kleines Netztteil sauber auszuschneiden.

Author:  ickarumba1 [ Mon Aug 01, 2011 1:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

Beautiful computer! Beautiful case! Good Job!
I wish I could put together something like that. Unfortunately, I lack the skills and tools. :(

Author:  Foyevtsov [ Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

ickarumba1 wrote:
Beautiful computer! Beautiful case! Good Job!
I wish I could put together something like that. Unfortunately, I lack the skills and tools. :(


I would say that it is not that complicated, if you like to do something by hands and have some patience (like not to hurry to finish it in 2 days), then it is an easy task :wink:

Author:  Vicotnik [ Mon Aug 01, 2011 3:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

Very nice case! :D I really like the industrial look.

Author:  diver [ Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

Nice job!

Author:  zoob [ Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

Really slick work!! Have you considered using countersunk screws? It would definitely help prevent snags when you need to dust off the shiny case :)

Author:  Foyevtsov [ Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

zoob wrote:
Really slick work!! Have you considered using countersunk screws? It would definitely help prevent snags when you need to dust off the shiny case :)

Thanks!
Yes, I was thinking about it, which would took me some another extra day of work :). But seriously, some my previous results with the 1.5 mm thick 99% aluminium sheets jointed by 2 mm countersunk screws tell me that mounting precision would suffer. It is simply because of insufficient thickness, so I would say that 2 mm 99% Al and up sheets or 1.5 mm hard Al (say alloyed with few percents of Si or Mg) would perform better.

If it must stick out, it must look consistently :)

P.S. Just as an update:
I updated the case with a 4 cm fan @ 5V. By monitoring the temperatures before I found that the chipset of the MB produces too much heat, which boosts already quite warm HDD. The temperatures were as following, chipset: +55 C, HDD: +52 C. After installing the exhausting fan the temperatures are: chipset: +35-37 C, HDD: +42-44 C.
Concerning the noise I was surprised, because in my case the HDD produses more noise than the fan. So, finally, the file server is not a fanless anymore :(, but just as quite as a spinning HDD could be :).

Author:  frostedflakes [ Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

That's awesome, great job on the enclosure. :)

Author:  yoitsmeremember [ Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

If there ever was such a thing as case porn, this is it.

On a more serious note, excellent job. I especially love the attention to detail on the corners.

Author:  cbutters [ Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

So pretty! I love how the case looks without a backplate, and the aluminum work is precision! Makes me wish I had access to a metal shop.

Author:  DanceMan [ Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A fanless home file server

Beautiful work. Thanks for showing it. I have one somewhat related, Atom on a DTX motherboard, but in an old mATX case and using a conventional psu. The only fan in it is the psu fan. But this is craftsmanship.

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