2.5" Drive Cage Mods
I finally decided to "stealth" the two 4-bay 2.5" hot swap cages (once I had figured out how to do it).
This is what the front of a 2.5" drive cage looks like (I'll be using two).Photo (Click to show)
These photos show one of the drive trays being removed. I normally do not like trays and doors that function as eject levers but this cage and its trays are built like a tank. The doors are made of steel instead of the usual plastic and the cage itself is thick, extruded aluminum. Even though these are hot swap bays, SSDs I put in there will pretty much be in there permanently (unless one dies or needs upgrading) so dealing with installing SSDs in trays will not be a issue. The trays can accommodate drives up to 15mm thick.Photo (Click to show)
Here the stealth cover has been installed. I'm not worried about blocking the vents on the front since I will only be running SSDs in there. If heat should prove to be a problem I have a Plan B in place to get some air to circulate in and out of the cage but I'll cross that bridge when I get there, if I get there.Photo (Click to show)
That white gizmo stuck to the front of the stealth cover is a magnetic key used for opening childproof cabinet and drawer locks. It's what I'll use to remove the stealth cover.Photo (Click to show)
This is the backside of the stealth cover. I had bought some 1/16" thick magnetic tape to secure the cover to the front of the drive cage but it was too wimpy to do the job. I had some much stronger 1/8" thick magnetic tape left over from another project so I cut two blank covers down a little thicker than I had been using so I could use the thicker magnetic tape. Even the better tape still wasn't as strong as I would have liked if I only used two pieces per cover so I filled up the back of the cover as much as I could and still have room for the piece of steel I put in there to give something for the magnet in the "key" to grab onto for removing the cover.Photo (Click to show)
Once the cages get installed in the case and the stealth covers installed, they will look like any other blank cover over an empty bay.Update (06/25/2016)
I decided to go ahead and get the aforementioned Plan B implemented so, if it turns out I need cooling air circulating in there later, I won't have to horse with tearing things down to do it then. I initially thought to use the right angle attachment on my Dremel tool to drill a series of 1/8" holes in the divider between the two columns of drive trays in each bay, then reverse one of the fans in the rear so air will be drawn in by one, go through the holes in the divider and back out the rear through the other fan (assuming I will even need the fans; each bay has a switch to turn the fans on and off). Because the space inside is so tight, I had to order a 2" double ended drill bit and cut it in half. I first set up my Dremel in my little Mickey Mouse Dremel drill press stand. The head on the one from Dremel was a piece of crap but the column and base were good. The column and base on the other one (I forget the brand, now) were crap but, with some tweaking, I was able to get the head working alright. So, I combined the good parts of the two to get one halfway decent one. Here, I have the head rotated 90° and the Dremel is set up with a cutoff wheel in it.Photo (Click to show)
I work on top of my washing machine because its height is easier on my back.
To hold the bit for cutting without burning or cutting my fingers, I clamped each end of the bit a couple of cute little 4" vise grips I found in a little general store up in Crown King, AZ when a friend and I went up there a couple of years ago on a day trip. Those have been the handiest little things!Photo (Click to show)
And here is the bit after cutting it in half.Photo (Click to show)
I chucked one end into the right angle adapter on my Dremel tool.Photo (Click to show)
I used double stick tape to tape a couple of drilling guides made from card stock.Photo (Click to show)
I also stuffed the back with toilet tissue to keep drilling chips out of the electronics.Photo (Click to show)
Once I started drilling, however, things went south, pear shaped, wonky, and a few others words my Mama told me not to use. It was difficult maneuvering the tool and bit inside the bay and I had the darnedest time seeing what I was doing, even when wearing a magnifier and had a flashlight stuffed in my mouth to shed a little light on the subject. The results are less than stellar (to put it mildly).Photo (Click to show)
Besides the holes looking like they had been drilled by a drunk on a bad bender, I had the Divil's own time getting the drilling guides out. The card stock came out easily enough but the miserable, misbegotten tape stayed put. I had to reach inside with the end of a flat needle file to scrape that "stuff" off. I was not happy. Adding insult to injury, it doesn't look like much air will be able to move through those holes.
When I bought these bays, I bought an extra one for spare parts in case, sometime down the road, something broke or died and the bays had been discontinued so I decided this botched attempt will be the designated spare parts bay (much like a parts car). That center divider is held into the main case extrusion by a couple of tabs on each side. All I needed to do was spread out the top and bottom of the extrusion so the divider will fall out, then I could drill some proper holes in them. Easier said than done. It took some creative prying with a screw driver and some little blocks of wood (not to mention some colorful language) to get the little stinkers out.
Before prying out the dividers, however, I had to remove the back panel that had the fans, drive sockets, etc. mounted on them. The first one came apart easily enough.Photo (Click to show)
The second one wasn't so easy. One stupid little screw had been installed by King Kong's big brother—the one on steroids—and I stripped out the head trying to get the stupid little thing out of there. I had to resort to my Grabits. Grabits is brand of easy outs that has a reverse drill bit on one end for cutting a cone shaped hole in the face of the screw head and the other end has grooves designed to grip inside the cone shaped hole and back out the screw. I got them several years ago but this was the first time I ever used them (there are three sizes). I got lucky. The drill bit end is supposed to be used with the drill in reverse. Before I finished drilling out the head, the cutting lips on the drill managed to grip the head well enough to backout the screw head. Fortunately, I have a spare parts bay to steal a screw from to replace the boogered one.
Once I had the bay backs removed, I reversed one of the fans on each one.Photo (Click to show)
With that out of the way, I pried out the dividers...Photo (Click to show)
... then laid out and center punched the hole centers. I decided 3/8" holes on 1/2" centers would be large enough to allow plenty of air movement and not be large enough to significantly weaken the dividers.Photo (Click to show)
For this job, I decided to break out my drill press (almost breaking my back in the process) and set it up on my washing machine. To keep chips out of the washing machine, I put down some tape to cover up the crack around the door on top. Here is a shot of the drill press after I had finished drilling but hadn't put it away and cleaned up the mess.Photo (Click to show)
I also had done some mods on the drill press shortly after I got it. The base had no easy way to put rubber feet on the bottom of the base to protect the surface it would set on so I cut an oak board to go under it, put the rubber feet on the board, then bolted the drill press onto the board. Works like a charm. I also got a 120v LED add-on sewing machine light for the drill press. The base of the light has a magnet to hold it on and a switch built into the base. To make sure it stayed put, I found a nice flat surface on the drill press casting to mount it, sanded and degreased the surface, put E6000 adhesive on the face of the magnet, then stuck it on; it isn't going anywhere. I didn't want to horse around with two power cords, so I opened up the switch housing on the Drill press, routed the cord into the housing and soldered the leads to the incoming power leads. My old eyes love that little light!
Back to the ranch, here are the dividers after I finished drilling them and deburred the edges with a countersink. The top one hasn't had a black felt pen taken to it yet to cover up the raw edges and layout marks.Photo (Click to show)
And here is one installed back in the case and the rear cover replaced.Photo (Click to show)
Not only does it look one "heckuvalot" better, the larger holes should allow plenty of air to flow through the divider should the SSDs need some cooling.
The drive trays went back in smoothly. Now that I have everything put away and the magnificent mess cleaned up, I'm ready to put my ample asset in bed. My back and hands are not happy with me and I'm going to be sore in the morning but it feels so good to have that sub-project done and done correctly.