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Poll Results: Build or buy the server rack?

 
  • 50% (5)
    Build it!
  • 50% (5)
    Buy it!
10 Total Votes  
post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
So I plan on putting a Server Rack together over the course of the next year. Is there any reason to buy a rack and not just make one out of 4 2x4 or 4x4 posts? The rack will be in my basement which is nice and cool since its half underground thus pretty well regulated thermally. The basement also (at this point) does not take water so that won't be an issue. Is there any reason to buy one instead of just making one?

Also, if there is a benefit to buying instead of building, are there any suggestions?
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post #2 of 19
I've honestly never thought about putting a rack together myself, but I don't see why it would be a problem to do it yourself, provided you have the tools and knowledge to do it right. Since rack-mountable equipment obeys to industry standards of size, you'll want to make sure to obey those standards.
Additionally, the entire rack should be grounded to the electrical service panel providing power to the equipment in the rack.
post #3 of 19
The only benefit of buying is that the purchaser knows that it will confirm exactly to standards and specifications.

How many Us do you need?
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post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shub View Post

I've honestly never thought about putting a rack together myself, but I don't see why it would be a problem to do it yourself, provided you have the tools and knowledge to do it right. Since rack-mountable equipment obeys to industry standards of size, you'll want to make sure to obey those standards.
Additionally, the entire rack should be grounded to the electrical service panel providing power to the equipment in the rack.
The know how to build it won't be a problem. Just got done removing half the roof and building a dormer on the entire back of the house, all new electric, plumbing HVAC. MOved the bathrooms, stairwell, expanded the kitchen, removed the chimney. So the building part I got tongue.gif

As for grounding it, I would likely get a copper ground wire and run it up one post grounding to each bracket coming from the rackmount cases. Then run this up, along the rafter and over to the ground for the water lines and tie onto that. This would be the easiest way to do the grounding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckieHo View Post

The only benefit of buying is that the purchaser knows that it will confirm exactly to standards and specifications.

How many Us do you need?

Still working on an exact but its going to be at least 20 because I want at least 1U between each server. I know you don't need to do this, but I want the breathing room to exist. I know for sure the following:

2x 2U load balanced pfSense boxes
1x 1U KVM
1x 1U Cisco Catalyst 3750
1x 3U FreeNAS NAS Server
1x 3U Windows Server

There will also be at least 2 Rackmounted UPS so I can balance the load and hopefully get a bit longer run time out of them.

Down the road I may be adding another NAS Server as well, if so thats another 3U. BUT that depends on need and the hardware & software configuration of the Windows Server. There is also the possibility I add in a VOIP Server (Asterisk if I do).

So really I guess that takes me to 25-30 just to fit the existing plan and UPS plus extra for the potential extra FreeNAS and Asterisk VOIP servers, so 30-40 for the sake of flexibility.
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post #5 of 19
I have built a server rack before; very simple design. Angled steel bought from Lowes, a reciprocating saw with the proper blade, and a nice drill with the proper bits. It was around 15U, which is what sounds like what you are looking at as well. My flaws with it was that there was no standardization. I drilled the holes for what I needed, and that was it. If I needed to move stuff around, it probably wont work. One other thing with my design is that I didn't do a 4 post, so rails weren't an option. The reason for doing mine was to keep things simple, and a way to stack my gear.

Since you live in Cincy, which is a fairly large city with a good Craigslist listing, I say buy used. You can get a 42-45U rack for $100-150 if you be patient. Building what I built cost me around $60, but the labor of drilling and cutting steel on an apartment balcony wasn't really worth it to me (I bought a home a year ago, so not an issue now).

Here is one in Dayton (a little bit away) but it's awesome because it's blue:
http://dayton.craigslist.org/sys/3751996998.html

Let me see if I can find some pictures of my old steel rack...
post #6 of 19
What are your pfSense boxes? 2U for each sounds bit much.
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post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tycoonbob View Post

I have built a server rack before; very simple design. Angled steel bought from Lowes, a reciprocating saw with the proper blade, and a nice drill with the proper bits. It was around 15U, which is what sounds like what you are looking at as well. My flaws with it was that there was no standardization. I drilled the holes for what I needed, and that was it. If I needed to move stuff around, it probably wont work. One other thing with my design is that I didn't do a 4 post, so rails weren't an option. The reason for doing mine was to keep things simple, and a way to stack my gear.

Since you live in Cincy, which is a fairly large city with a good Craigslist listing, I say buy used. You can get a 42-45U rack for $100-150 if you be patient. Building what I built cost me around $60, but the labor of drilling and cutting steel on an apartment balcony wasn't really worth it to me (I bought a home a year ago, so not an issue now).

Here is one in Dayton (a little bit away) but it's awesome because it's blue:
http://dayton.craigslist.org/sys/3751996998.html

Let me see if I can find some pictures of my old steel rack...
Didn't even think of craigslist, good idea smile.gif

As for making it out of steel, I guess I could. Heck my parents neighbor is a welder by trade too. But truth be told, I just didnt want to mess with metal, just a lot more work. 4 2x4 or 4x4 posts would be just as stable but if I can get a real rack I'd do that too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckieHo View Post

What are your pfSense boxes? 2U for each sounds bit much.
Oh hmm, I think I did that because the board I was using had Realtek NICs and not Intel NICs which according to pfSense's site the Intel work markedly better. due to this I went with 2U for low profile NICs. But after reading a post on the FreeNAS forums today where a person did a 25 point comparison test of Realtek and Intel for transfer rates, I think im going to switch the boards, case, and NICs. So I'll probably end up with 1U for them.

But the hardware that was going to go into them was pretty beefy, for pfSense at least. Was planning on a 32GB SSD for the OS drive, 2GB RAM, a Pentium G2020, and a gigabyte board. Because of the potential setup of all of this, I wanted my front end pfSense to be able to hold up pretty well and have a lot of headroom for intrusion detection and prevention.
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Ever Evolving
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post #8 of 19
Even with a 1U server, you can use a riser card and still have a PCIe slot. It just turns it horizontally.

EDIT: If you still want to build one, go google "LackRack". Thank you IKEA (which you have just up north)!
Edited by tycoonbob - 5/20/13 at 1:34pm
post #9 of 19
Buy it. I did something similar to Tycoonbob with metal. I made this contraption that hung from the ceiling in my basement. I can say it worked and it was up off the floor so I could walk under it. In the end it wasn't worth it though. The Lackrack is a cool idea but honestly scour ebay and craiglist. You'll find something easily enough. I literally just called a guy about a 42U Dell with doors and extra parts for $150. Just gotta figure out how to get it in or on my VW. rolleyes.gif
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post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kylepdalton View Post

Buy it. I did something similar to Tycoonbob with metal. I made this contraption that hung from the ceiling in my basement. I can say it worked and it was up off the floor so I could walk under it. In the end it wasn't worth it though. The Lackrack is a cool idea but honestly scour ebay and craiglist. You'll find something easily enough. I literally just called a guy about a 42U Dell with doors and extra parts for $150. Just gotta figure out how to get it in or on my VW. rolleyes.gif

If that rack touches your car...we want pics.
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