This Old Server, Part 4: Finished!Posted: October 19, 2013
Following up from last time. Here’s the new front panel mounted in the Dell case. The ugly patched-up component on the right is a old USB front panel that has been much abused. Part of it is taped off because it is an audio panel I don’t use and don’t have connections for in the server. The other part is taped off because I snagged a thumbdrive in the port one day and the port broke off to save the drive! The hard disks are already mounted in their cage. On top is a Blu-Ray drive from my old server. You may have seen a DLT drive in the old machine earlier in the series, I didn’t install it because it is SCSI and I have no card for it. I also wish I could have saved the original PERC RAID card, but it does not fit. Maybe eBay, someday.
Here’s another shot of the inside:
At this point, the system is just about complete. There are two USB connectors on the original Dell. I’ve wired extensions to these with an old USB cable that I cut up for the purpose, so I have 4 USB ports up front. The small card in the foreground is an external SATA controller that I use with my backup drives.
There are just a few loose ends. I mentioned before that I used my old Tyan board to mark out holes to drill for standoffs. The Supermicro is a mini-ATX board and some of the mounting holes did not line up. The board is secure for now but I want to fix this by marking new holes and removing the board to drill new ones, so that all seven screws will secure the board.
I also have to work on the fans. The Dell 1800 used two large (120mm) fans. One was a case fan—it’s the black plastic casing on the bottom right; the other fan mount can be seen on the top left. This was originally part of a air shroud that cooled the CPU. (Again, I forgot to take pictures, but most of Dell’s servers have elaborate shrouding and air flow management.) I haven’t mounted that fan. I’m wondering if a thin-profile 120mm fan would fit in the drive cage; it does get hot in that area.
The Dell 4-pin fan wiring will work on a modern white-box server board, but the connectors aren’t compatible. Also, these are big fans that draw 2.5A, much more than the 0.5-1A fans that most white-box boards have, so I don’t dare try running them directly from the motherboard. I did get one fan working on plain 12V without tachometer control but it is loud so I disconnected it. The Supermicro already ran much cooler than the Tyan, and even more so in the new, roomier case, so I’m not worried for the moment.
(Fun fact: When I took the old Tyan board out of my old server case, it was still hot in my hands!)
My server, complete! Notice the white LED for power:
There used to be Intel Inside, but not anymore!
A case like this would have cost me well north of $200; when I originally spec’d out my machine earlier this year, I was really worried that I’d have to house it in a cardboard box because suitable tower enclosures were either unobtainum or expensivum.
I may not be cut out for casemodding, but the results seem to be good enough. Happy casemodding!