2010-12-20

The Problem

My little home server, affectionately named miniserver is a mini-itx machine with a 400Mhz processor, 512MB of RAM and a 60G harddrive; all in a nice little case that sits on top of my bookshelf. Unfortunately, 60G isn't enough room for my purposes and the extra 250G drive I have won't fit within the slim case.

Fortunately, a new computer case is just $5 at the thrift store; which means I spent 5 bucks for a box that I was going to turn into a new computer case.

Get Hacking

In hindsight, I should have taken some measurements of the motherboard before I dropped my fiver on a box I thought I could stuff a computer into. Oh well, it all worked out.

Here is the new box next to the old case. Yea, that's a VHS tape for size comparison.

pull the guts out

After pulling all of the parts out of the original case, I had a decent collection of old slow gear on my floor.

smash!

All of the stand-offs from the original case were removed. This was the "point of no return" because I smashed them out with a hammer.

If you've never hit a computer component with a hammer, I highly suggest giving it a go. pure joy.

chop it up

With surgical precision, I cut a hole in the box so that the various ports of the motherboard can be accessed from the outside.

By "surgical precision" I mean that I drew some hasty lines and used a drill and the saw on my pocket knife to create the access hole.

drill baby drill (that's bad)

A couple of holes were drilled for the power switch, reset switch, and some status LEDs. So far, so good.

getting close

The interior of the box with the stand-offs hot glued into place and pairs of shims hot glued to the lid and wall of the box. The shims will be used for mounting the hard-drives.

mounting the hard-drives

Remember those cumbersome plastic cases that Video Rental stores kept their VHS tapes in? Well I chopped one up to get a few lengths of flexible durable plastic. The hard-drives were bolted to the plastic and the plastic was screwed to the shims. It's easier than bolting the drives directly to the case, and it leave a but of room for airflow.

all set and ready to go

Well looky looky; it's all of the components (minus two USB ports) in place and ready to be fired up.

Amazingly, everything worked just fine. It is also quite amazing that I didn't burn my fingers with the hot glue gun, or smash my fingers with the hammer, or cut my fingers with the saw, or damage myself in any way, shape, or form. weird.

sitting pretty

All closed up and sitting on the bookshelf next to the linksys router and DSL modem thingy.

what does it do?

It runs Ubuntu server edition and :

  • it serves files via NFS and SSHFS, so I can access my music, movies, and pictures from any machine on my network
  • it runs Apache webserver and MySQL database, which allow me to develop and test websites at home
  • it is a backup for my various coding projects and has a centralized Bazaar repository

What the machine doesn't do is process a lot of data, so the 400Mhz processor is just fine (and quite energy efficient). Actually, this entire box could be replaced by a nice little plug computer.
Note to self: write a letter to the manufacturer of a plug computer.

Alright, quit reading, and go spend 5 dollars at the thrift store.

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