The New 2.5" Hot Swap Bays
This thread is a continuation of the early part of this build chronicled in Preparing for a Scratch Built Case
. I finally named the case (and eventual computer) I've been working on Roisin Dearg (ro-sheen dar-ug). That's Irish Gaelic for Red Rose (literally, Rose Red; hey, what did you expect from someone going by the name of Fitzgerald?).
After a long delay due to emergency home repairs (which aren't completed yet but, at least, I have a working toilet instead of a hole in the floor and two new doors to replace the ones that were ready to fall apart), health issues, and other fun things I won't bore you with, I'm back to working on the case off and on. I'm making some changes to the original plans for Roisin Dearg. First, I've switched from all HDDs for my data drives and their backup drives to all SSDs a few years earlier than I had planned on so I won't be using the 3.5" HDD hot swap bays that I modded nor the three bay 3.5" HDD cage that I bought. I also ran into a hardware compatibility issue with the 2.5" shot swap bays I modded; they aren't compatible with my 4TB SSDs (the idea of making this case more or less modular was to allow me to make changes like this without having to tear down the computer to do major surgery on the case so these changes are fairly painless albeit annoying). My audio would drop out when trying to update two or three backup SSDs simultaneously using FreeFileSync in my current computer after I had swapped in a spare 2.5" hot swap bay to replace the 3.5" hot swap bay I was never going to use again. I substituted a StarTech HSB220SAT25B (read my review of it here
for a better description of it) and, after swapping it with the 2.5" hot swap bay I had swapped out with the 3.5" hot swap bay, I found out the problem was indeed in the 2.5" hot swap bays I had modded earlier so they also have to go (mutter, mutter, mumble, mumble).
First, here are some "glamour" shots of the StarTech HSB220SAT25B. The front:
The front with the Door/Eject Levers opened:
And the back side:
These are the cables that come with the dual hot swap bay:
I used the cable assembly on the left to install the dual hot swap bay in my present computer. These shots show what the cable looks like when plugged into the hot swap bay:
Btw, the two small floppy power connectors off to the side aren't fully plugged in for the photos since they are a bear for my old, arthritic fingers to pull back out when they are fully seated.
This particular cable combines the two cables going to the two SATA power ports on the swap bay to get their power from a single male SATA power connector and has two more cables branching off to power the drive power and activity indicators (a stupid design I carped about in my review of the StarTech HSB220SAT25B). I used this cable to power the dual hot swap bay in my current machine but I'm going to modify the other two cables (the ones with the four pin Molex power connectors on the end) to use in Roisin Dearg.
This what those two cables look like when plugged into the swap bay:
None of the cables will be long enough to reach the power strip I'm going to make to power the 5.25" devices so, rather than use a clunky looking extension, I'm going to splice these two cables into a SATA power splitter. This the splitter (btw, I'm going to be putting two of the StarTech HSB220SAT25B into Roisin Dearg so I can back up up to four backup drives at a time):
Here, I've removed the Molex housings from the two cables for each dual swap bay (ok, I could have cut them off but I wanted practice removing them with a tool, not that I really needed it):
I'll cut the pins off later when I know what the exact length will be.
I cut the female SATA power connectors off of the splitter here:
I have to go this route since, for the life of me, I have not been able to find any male SATA power connectors that I can crimp pins onto wires and insert them into a connector body like I can for female SATA power connectors. I bought a boat load of SATA power extension cables so I can cannibalize them for the male SATA power connectors with wires already attached to make power cables to go from 5.25" bay devices to the power strip I'm going to build (it will resemble a s 120v power strip except the sockets will be 90° punch down female SATA power connectors installed in a long, skinny housing).
This shot kinda sorta shows how the cables will get spliced together once I know what the final length will be.
Also, it will be a lot easier to slip on the sleeves and shrinks before I solder the wires together. Sleeving all the cables will make them look a bit less junky. For now, the cables are on hold.
One other problem with the StarTech HSB220SAT25B is they chose to provide two self adhesive plastic to stick on the bottom of a 2.5" HDD to prevent its PCB from shorting out on the metal bottom of each bay in the dual swap bay. That's fine if you will never have more than two HDDs.
It would have made more sense to have put plastic on the bottoms of each bay (while I am using all SSDs now, I did keep a few 2.5" HDDs to use for experiments). This is one of the plastic sheets:
I've heard you can sometimes find these on Fleabay but, rather than horse with that, I decided to put some LCD screen protectors I had knocking about in a drawer on the metal bottoms of the bays instead. Here's a shot of the screen protectors next to the plastic sheet:
I thought the bottom bay of each dual swap bay was going to be a bear to put the screen protectors into but those were the easy ones. It was the one I put into a top bay that was a real bear. I thought I had four of the three screen protectors but I had only three: I have more on order. I'll put in the other screen protector once I get them next week sometime (I hope).
The next phase of modding the StarTech HSB220SAT25Bs will be to modify the Lian Li front panels I made for the old 2.5" bays (and make one new one) to mount the 2.5" dual swap bays into so they will fit in the 5.25" bay in the case. I'll start on that in the next day or two (I hope).Update 06/17/2017
I got ambitious (more like nuts) last night and started modifying the Lian Li front panels on the 3.5" to 5.25" bay adapters I had used on the old 2.5" bays. The easiest way I could think of to do that was to install the StarTech dual bay into the old, modified bay adapter, then scribe the outline onto the front panel (actually, they're more like faceplates). Then, using a Dremel with a cutoff wheel, duck bill pliers, and a whole lot of filing, I enlarged the opening in the faceplate, gradually sneaking up on the final dimensions. Talk about tedious, I must have installed and uninstalled the dual bay a dozen times checking the fit! My hands are still unhappy.
This is the wonderful scribing job I did of the outline which I used to scribe the initial hole layout (keep in mind it was late and I was nuts):
And these are the final results after four hours work (yeesh!)
I was not thrilled with the overall results. I had to keep the top and bottom of the opening pretty tight to the doors to avoid having a gap showing; I even had fun installing the dual bay into the adapter because of the slight slop in the screw slots. Here is why it was so difficult getting a good fit. Look at the top and bottom of the front of the dual bay (and ignore my old lady hand).
Note how thin the top and bottom bars are. That's why the fit had to be so darned precise. Adding insult to injury, those bars were pretty flexible. I was dreading to make the second one since getting the hole to match the hole on the other adapter was going to be an even bigger chore. Sorry, I'm too old for this stuff.
On to plan B. Lian Li makes a 3.5" floppy bay to 5.25" bay adapter but the hole in it is too big. They apparently made it that way so one could slide a 3.5" bay device into the bay from the front while the adapter was installed in a 5.25" bay (how they thought you were supposed to install the screws into the 3.5" bay device when the adapter was installed in a 5.25" bay is beyond me
). However, that left a gap all the way around the opening when the 3.5" device was installed, allowing for one heck of an air leak. The solution was to "pad" the perimeter of the dual bay's faceplate with strips of plastic that would cover the gap.
First, I had to cut some 5/16" wide (more or less; this isn't rocket science, folks) strips of 1/8" black Plexiglas I had knocking about for another project (I had a to buy a piece far larger than I needed for the other project; that's why I rarely throw away scraps...and my home looks like a junkyard
The short, side strips were a chore to get to just the right length since their fit was critical but I cut the longer strips a little over length to make positioning them less critical. Here is what the strips look like after being glued onto the dual bay.
To position a 3.5" device in Lian Li's 3.5" to 5.25" adapter where Lian Li felt it should be positioned, Lian Li left a couple of little "peaks" in the front of the front screw slot to keep a screw from moving back when inserted at the front of the slot.
Since Lian Li failed to consult with me before determining where to put those little peaks, they put them right where I needed for the front screws to go (the noive of 'em!) so those pesky little peaks had to go. A flat jewelers file made short work of them. (Sorry for the lousy photo; that was a tough one to take due to tight quarters.)
Here is what each one looks like after being assembled.
They don't look any better than the first attempt (at least they don't look any worse) but I was able to do both of these in two hours without killing my hands instead of the four hours for just one and they both are identically matched. This shot kinda sorta gives an idea of what they will look like when mounted into the 5.25" bay of Roisin Dearg.
And, as the pig says, that's all folks...until I'm ready to install them in Roisin Dearg. Then I can finish modding the cables.
I don't know what I'm going to do next or when I'll get to it. I messed up the PSU bump out so that needs to be replaced. I also didn't allow enough room for paint on the insides of the 5.25" bay panels so I may need to replace one with a thinner one, use less paint, or even try filing a little more clearance on the right side upright (It has a slight inward taper at the front that is causing the problem). I'll have to shoot some primer and color on both sides of a couple of spots to see if I can still get the bay devices into the bay without trouble. I need to deal with the bay issue before I can replace the PSU bump out. Once those are settled, I can start on that power strip I've been talking about. That is going to be one tedious project. In the meantime I need to reconnect all my SATA data cables from the HBA card in my current rig to the SATA II ports on the MOBO (I found out the HBA cards doesn't allow me to enable TRIM on my data SSDs) and replace my router (the one I'm using now drops the internet connection occasionally Also, I still have another section of bathroom floorboard that needs removing and replacing, a couple of whole house surge arrestors that need installing (one for the house and the other for the AC; the latter will need an 8' ground rod driven into the rock that passes for soil here).