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Cheap Rackmount Enclosures/Systems? 172

Posted by Cliff
from the racks-for-the-home? dept.
gasp asks: "At work, our computer rooms use high-end rackmount systems. At home, I use the '8 year-old folding table piled high with computers held together by daisy-chained power-strip rat-nest' system. I find plenty of ATX and AT style midtower cases for about $30, but I haven't found any simple rackmount cases for less than about $200. Does somebody make the equivalent of a midtower-size case turned sideways with a couple of 19" rackmount brackets? It sure would be nice to find an affordable solution for home." Man, with four and soon to be five boxes sitting in my living room, I sure could use something like this!
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Cheap Rackmount Enclosures/Systems?

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  • Seems to me that the solution is fairly simple. The main requirement is to find a PC case that is approximately 19in wide. Then hop along to RS [rswww.com] and search for rs stock number 223-792. This is "L" shaped rack mounting strip that can be cut to the appropriate length.

    Drill your case, bolt on, then bolt into the rack. Add a simple rack mounted 8 way extension lead, wire up and forget about it. Sure it's not elegant but it is cheap. If the case is a little short, buy some cheap thick metal to widen it with.

  • You can generally pick one up from eBay for about $100 or so.

    If you don't really need a server style rack,
    an inelegant soloution would be to place the towers inside a utility cabinet, or like I'm planning to do, a wooden armoire. Some of them fetch ridiclous prices, but many hardware places as well as the odd Pier 1 type place usually have okay versions in pine for about $200. That may still seem high, but for that price, you'll be housing all your decks in one shot, as opposed to $/each.
  • I just picked up a Yeong Yang Cube Server for my new Linux box and I liked it so much I bought another for my 98 box. The case is about one foot by 1.2 foot by 2 foot. It is about as tall as a mini tower and twice as wide. The beauty is that it holds the mobo and all IO cards on one half of the case while all the drives go on the other. It was built as a mini-server case so it has a lot of functions and LEDs for up to six drives and a network connection. Total cost including a 300 watt PS was about $200 from Case Outlet [caseoutlet.com]. Not cheap, but you can stack two of these puppies and they come about to the height of a full tower, but wider. With rackmount cases starting at $200 for the case and $x for the rack, not incuding PS, this isn't that cheap. Even mine are expensive.

    Enlight makes a mini-tower [192.216.185.10] that can be used in a rack for about $140. It is deeper than a standard mini tower so your drives are seperated from your mobo. Not bad looking, but the Yeong Yang is far cooler.

  • This reminds me that I have a similar problem to solve. We need to find good rack-mounted, slim servers (1" high or so) to use as 'internet appliances' - firewall, TCP redirectors, cache servers, and so on. It may run any kind of *ix - Linux, BSD, Solaris, it doesnt matter. Just to make things harder, I need to find it for sale in Brazil...

    I know that companies like Penguin computing have this kind of gear. Sun have it also - they have a pretty nice Netra series of servers, including a 1" high Ultra 440 Mhz. However, it seems that all this gear is targeted for the high end of the market - expensive, high performance servers. I would be very pleased to find a mid-performance inexpensive box - even a Celeron makes for a pretty good proxy box, you see.

    I think that there could be some kind of standard for this class of computer, just like we have standard ATX towers. The power supply needed to be modular also -- an optional -48 Vdc would be nice for telcos, including colocated equipment.

    For now I would like to knwo more about this, including some recommendations...

  • by Andy_R (114137) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @02:45AM (#1339634) Homepage Journal
    The hi-tech music industry has pretty much standardised on the 19" rackmount format for synthesisers, samplers etc. so your best bet might be to look in the specialist music press for rackmount PC boxes. I'm not in the US so I can't give you the relevant title, but in the UK it would probably be "sound-on-sound". You'll also find this field to be a good source of the racks themselves, and even 19" rack-sized flightcases (should you need a bit of portability).
  • Enlight makes at least one rackmount 'file server' case. Model #EN-8950. It is likely the -8960 will have a rackmount kit also, but the 8960 is $750 whereas the 8950 can be had for $160.

    I haven't checked what the prices are for the rackmount kits for these cases though.

  • I have a similar problem - I'm drowning in cables! I just rebuilt my "Data Center" in my basement and it still looks like a snakes nest. A rack might help with some of the clutter, but not the cables going everywhere.

    Also, if you put things in racks isn't it hard to take the cover off and tinker? I find my self constantly changing IDE cables, swapping out cards, setting jumpers, moving hard drives, etc. Or am I just weird? :)
    Later...

  • I've done some searching and it's not easy finding good cheap rackmount cases. I've bought good cases from http://www.sliger.com/ [sliger.com] but I don't think they sell direct any more. I've recently ordered a 1U rackmount case from http://gtweb.net/ [gtweb.net] and I'm eagerly waiting for the delivery! They were the cheapest I was able to find.
  • I myself, tired of all my machines lying around, took it upon myself one day to go to the local metal shop. I bought some of those L-bar things (those l-shaped bars with all the holes in them so you can bolt just about anywhere on them) and some sheet metal to cover it with. I bolted them together and covered it with sheet metal to make it look all pretty. From there I threw out my old cases and made my own rack-mount cases, complete with hotswappability via the removal of a bolt or two from internal mountings. Those L-bars come in handy too, cause then I can just slide the new cases in and bolt them at the front. Of course, the back of the rack is still open so i could easily hook up the wires. All topped with a converted deskfan on the top to pull air through and keep things cool. This works well and came at just the fraction of the cost of a "real" rack and cases. I wonder how many other handygeeks out there have done something like this. :-)
  • Seems to me, that if someone started a small internet startup on this one, throwing AT and ATX powersupplies into a simple metal box, they might make a fortune... but alas...

    If you talk to local machine shops, the smaller ones can sometimes make you custom cases for little more than the cost of the sheet metal. Try looking them up in the phone book, you will have to spec out your own power supply / fan etc, but they can make the holes for you to add stuff to later.

    Once you have the case, get yourself some Krylon spraypaint and have at it (you can even do designer cases then!)

    If all else fails, someone else mentioned buying some L brackets and drilling some holes, an unsightly but effective solution.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sure there's a little thing you won't like about those, but some other users might find it interesting.

    Marathon Computer (www.marathoncomputer.com) makes racks for a lot of Apple and Apple-clones computers, including the latest G4.

    Oh...in case you were wondering, they also have (not shipping yet) the 'iRack': racks for (guess what) the iMac.
  • I also have a Yeong Yang Cube and I love it. It has space for everything. It has 8 3-1/2" drive mounts, plus 6 5-1/4" mounts. Probably the best feature is that you have complete access to the motherboard. Nothing is in the way.
    I love my Cube!
  • by EnglishTim (9662)
    I'd have thought that the cheapest option would be to do it yourself - you might not get something quite as neat or good as a professionally-built system, but you might be able to make it fit your needs better.

    One of the things I'm looking into at the moment is working out how to make my computer much quieter. The first thing I intend to do is to vary the speed of the fans to react to the current internal temperature of the system. However, I'm wary of doing anything to the fan in the power supply as the computer will be on all day, and I'm worried about the risk of fire if I start tampering with it. I was thinking about the possibility of using an external power supply (or supplies), as they don't normally have fans...

    thoughts, links, anyone?

    cheers,

    Tim
  • by Anonymous Coward
    IKEA do a matal TV stand that will take 4 tower cases and has a shelf on top for a monitor or printer. Best of all it has casters on the legs so you can spin it wound to get at the wires...
  • I saw a 6-foot tall enclosure on sale in
    a local fleamarket (Blackberry Fair, if anyone
    from Dublin is reading) for 50 quid, and I was
    very tempted.

    Unfortunately getting it home would have been
    difficult, as I don't drive. But it wasn't
    the first such that I'd seen, is the point.

    Spend a couple of Saturdays in RL(tm) and you
    stand a good chance of finding what you're
    looking for.

    K.
    -
  • by rdl (4744) <<moc.anonev> <ta> <nayr>> on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @02:55AM (#1339645) Homepage
    Good question.

    Most of the reason the cheapest rackmount case out
    there is the Antec 4U IPC rack (ipc 3480 with
    pp303x 300watt power supply, $239 at McGlen Micro,
    here [mcglen.com] is the target market: servers.

    People who are buying a server and putting it
    in colo don't mind spending a couple hundred extra
    dollars to get a high-quality case; they usually
    go in high-vibration, high RF environments and
    thus need to be substantially more durable than
    desktop/tower cases. Additionally, they
    generally have dust/cooling requirements which
    are substantial -- adding 6 fans to a system
    raises the price. Rackmount cases are all-metal,
    just like the best desktop cases, rather than
    plastic; plastic would disintegrate rapidly in
    a datacenter.

    The ATX/rackmount form factor is rather complex
    to engineer, compared to a desktop or tower case;
    it has to support a lot of weight. There are
    some tower case with rails conversion kits, like
    for the macintosh minitowers, but those are
    rather specialty. They also tend to come with
    higher-end power supplies, something which also
    adds to the cost, and locking doors over drive
    bays.

    Also, the number of units of rackmount case sold
    is much lower than desktop and minitower, raising
    the price.

    If you want cheap racking, I'd suggest using rack
    shelves and putting minitowers in, or using
    wire shelves and regular minitowers. Most of
    the beowulf systems out there use shelves and
    minitowers, rather than racks, for cost reasons.
    Unless you're going in a facility with existing
    19" racking, there's no reason to do racks.
    Stainless steel wire shelving looks almost as
    sexy as 19" racks, and can actually fit more
    machines per unit volume than 4U rackmount boxes.
    The shelving itself is cheaper, too.

    Additionally, if you're putting a machine in colo,
    the prices are usually such that spending $500
    on one of the 2U cases rather than a cheap 4U
    case will pay off in the long run. It's for
    this reason that Yahoo originally designed their
    2U high custom case -- they have thousands of
    machines in colo, and when you pay $50-150/U/month, saving 2U per machine adds up
    quick! People are even going to 1U now; there's
    allegedly a Compaq DS10 in 1U rather than 3U on
    the way, which I plan to buy in quantity for colo
    use.


  • Yeah, I was initially attracted to the Yeong Yang myself, in the "Black? Check. Cubic? Check. NeXTish? Check. Cool, I want one" kinda way, but the rather cheapo construction of its door panel hinges and the case as a whole sorta turned me off.

    ObOT: At the moment, I have two computer desks (one for my wife).
    My wife's one has a Mac, a 17" monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, a printer and a tablet, and it's pretty much full.
    My desk has a full tower case, three half tower cases, a 20" monitor, an 8-port rackmount-size Ethernet hub, four keyboards, four mice and a whole pile of books, and I've still got a fair bit of space left.
    It all depends on how you pack it in...
  • BTW, that "ObOT" is On Topic, not Off Topic. Shoulda left the "n" in...
  • Sounds kinda nifty, but I'm not sur ei'm picturing it right. got any pics up anwhere?
  • Truly a cool cube, but is the weight from the spec correct with 13.x kilograms? Can you confirm this?

    sounds a bit heavy to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not quite what you are searching for, perhaps, but useful nevertheless...
    There exist rackmounts for hifi equipment like cd players. A small desktop or minitower case (not too heavy) should fit there. You can find one at http://www.conrad.de [conrad.de] (enter the number 301400-62 in the "Produkt-Suche" field and click on "go").
    The price is about $25. Similar equipment should be available in the US, too.
  • Got a pile of those across the room from me now. However, since they're "for music" (ie: rackmount effects, amps, etc.), they cost about twice as much as the ones "for business" (ie: computers). Just like "ADAT" tapes cost twice as much as "SuperVHS" tapes, and blank data cds at the music store are $6 when they're $1 or less at Staples or OfficeMax.

    A high-quality "flight case" that'll hold a few pcs will cost you in the low two-thousands if you buy it "for music." Never let them think you're a musician.



  • by Lev_Arris (60782) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @03:05AM (#1339654) Homepage
    void my_two_cents(void)
    {
    It depends on the cases/system you have. We have several IBM Netfinity 5000s in a 19" rack here and they come with a cabling fixture on the rear. (ie you attach your cables in there, make sure they are long enough and then you're off.)

    Fiddling around with them is no problem either. The mounted cases are sitting on rails so you can slide them in and out of the rack and the server case can be opened at the top. (Just slide out the server, remove the top and you got the innards of your machine right in front of you ;)

    As I said, it all depends on the system you're using. With a little keyboard/mouse/screen switching system and lots of looooong cables you can easily put multiple servers in there and still be able to use them normally. (Of course the prices for such solutions can rise sky-high ;)
    }
  • Interesting viewpoint - however if I had that number of machines at home I'd probably want a rack mount too!

    Just cause somebody wants their kit neat doesn't make them anal... imho properly organised kit is usually easier to access than a rats nest of wires.

    As for advocating messy code in in OS enviroments I think you are wrong - clean code is easy to maintain - the advantage of OS is to have multiple people working on a project - if the code is "intricate" then there are fewer people who can join in.

    Make stuff simple - make it clean. But of course that is just personal preference.

    Tom
  • I am in the lucky position of having my entire computer room fully racked (well, almost, there are three odd boxes, but other than that, lots of a machines in racks). I have to say, it would be next to impossible to have achieved this without creating my own private firetrap. It was possible to cut many of the cables to length (as all items are securely fixed) and cable tray anything else. My problem now is switching the outputs and inputs to a central source. The cheapest Keyboard/Video/Monitor switch I can find is somewhere in the region of UKP 800 for 12 machines. (That's about $1350). To me this seems outragous. Any ideas for that?
  • You're unlikely to find anything shorter than
    1U (1.75"), since the U is the standard of
    19" rackspace.

    1U high machines include:

    * Cobalt RAQ [cobalt.com] for approximately $1k

    * Soon, a DS10 (466mhz alpha 21264) from Compaq
    for approximately $2-3k

    * Various 1-PCI-slot celeron-based PCs:


    Altavista comes up with a bunch of links for
    +1U +Rackmount +MicroATX Use the web.
  • by dr_strang (32799) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @03:17AM (#1339660)
    Rackmounts are going to be expensive, no matter what. Outside of the corporate computer industry, rackmounts are most commonly used by live sound & lighting production companies to mount amplifiers, effects, etc in sturdy cases to protect them. I know, I used to do it. So, the best place to find affordable rack-mount equipment is from the places that cater to the production industry, such as Middle Atlantic Products (among others).

    One such solution is to buy a rack frame (by the way, a standard rack is 19" wide. and racks are measured in Units, 1U being approximately 1 3/4" tall, the average component size is 3U, like tape decks, amplifiers, etc.), get some flat rack pans, and simply place your ATX cases on the pans, you can fit 3 towers side-by side.
    With the frame, rails and pans, depending on the height you need, this will end up costing you (sans puters) about 100-200 bucks.

    If you're cheap like me, you'll go to Sam's/Office Depot and buy a set of adjustable steel shelves and put all your crap on them, organize to your heart's content. I think they go for the outrageous price of $20, no additional equipment needed. I have 3 towers, 2 cable modems, a hi-fi system, printer, and other assorted crap (omniview) sitting on the shelves, flanked by two smallish computer desks. It's neat, organized, and impresses the hell out of your non-nerdish friends (although they will probably leave with the feeling that you are a mega-geek with way too much free time) without spending a small fortune on enterprise-class gear. I mean, we ARE talking about home stuff here.


    doc
  • I don't know its exact weight, but yes it is heavy. Which makes it fun for taking to LAN parties.
  • Errata:

    I meant to say you could fit 2 servers side by side on a rack mount shelf/pan.

    doc
  • A variation on this theme is to purchase rack shelves; these let you mount all sorts of items in the rack - great for modems, transceivers etc. Desktop PC's are usually under 19 inches wide, so also fit on the shelves (watch out for U=shaped shelves with sides - these can be too narrow.)

    The rack units can still be expensive, though; ladder frame bookshelves might be a cheaper equivalent solution. Ikea make a few styles of these; being modular and you can add as many shelves as you need.
  • That is just not true. One's views on software licensing has nothing thing to do with the fact that they want their hardware mounted neat and secure. Geez, man. Just because your room's a mess don't try to put a guilt trip on the guy for wanting to clean his up.

    In any event, I'm afraid you're gonna be hard pressed to find a "cheap" rack mount solution. One possibility would be to use "utility shelves". These are simply rack mounted shelves that you can then set two tower cases on. Depending on the height, they generally run anywhere from $40 to $60 each. Three shelves and a 6' open rack would run you about $300 to $350.

  • I bought a Gorilla Rack from Costco. It's 6 feet tall, four feet wide and about 2 feet deep. I set it up with the monitors at eye level, keyboards a little higher than usual and all my boxes at the bottom. I have a KVM switch and that makes all the difference.

    jas
  • This link has some Rackmount Cases in the $240-$1200 range. I own two of the $310 model and am very pleased with the performance. http://store.yahoo.com/jinco/19raccas.html
  • Well, building such rack case yourself can be fun, but needs some basic mechanical skills and proper tools for the task, and that's not allways the way things are.
  • Naw, man. I'm the biggest procrastinator in the world, my desk is a rats nest, and there's trash on the floor of my car. But my systems are racked up, everything is on a KVM switch and all wiring is labeled and tie-wrapped and routed.

    The reason: well, you pick your battles, and the one battle I don't want to have is the one with the spaghetti in back of a table full of machines. Yesterday the power went out and I had the luxury to relax, knowing that every single system was on a UPS, because all that is planned out. Instead of worrying about getting a maverick box up and running after the outage, I could worry about more important battles.

    I even bought a Brother P-Touch and labeled all the boxes with their addresses. The first day I'm on vacation and someone else has to yank one of these boxes, what if they get it wrong?

    The anal ones are the people who buy the enclosure racks where all four sides are enclosed, for $500, instead of a cheap aluminum rack for $100 (or used for $50).

  • MilesTek [milestek.com] has quite a bit of cheap rackmount equipment - racks, shelves, cable routers, patch panels, power strips, etc.

    the web site isn't great, but the print catalog is excellent.

    no PC cases listed, but a 20U 19" rack ($106), with some rack shelves ($25 - $45), a keyboard / mouse shelf ($70), and a power strip ($45) could handle a couple of minitower cases.
  • by cvincent (99204) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @03:46AM (#1339672) Homepage
    How to Build Your Own 1U Rack Mount Server and Save a Bundle [linuxtoday.com]

    CS 440 1U Rack Mount Chasis $268
    Intel CA810 Motherboard $119
    Intel Celeron 466 MHZ processor $85
    Single Port Adapter $20
    64 MB DIMM $80
    13 MB Hard Drive $125
    CD Rom and Floppy add $75 (Optional) -0-
    Total $697

    It also has links of where to buy all the stuff. Interesting article too.
  • I read a review of a midtower that can be made into a desktop unit by changing the drive bay cage and cover plate(see link to story below). It is $110.00 online from the manufacturer. Review [arstechnica.com] at arstechnica.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wow. Great search results you provided, too! I checked all for links... One was for a rack-mount cabinet for $300. I can understand how you could have assumed he was looking for the cabinet instead of a case, though his question seemed clear to me. Nonetheless, since he already said $200 was to much, why would he be interested in a $300 cabinet? The second link was to a mailing list-- admittedly one for people wanting to but ISP equipment. The remaining two were close, but the cheapest case on either site was $250! If you're going to be a asshole, at least try to be an intelligent one, OK?

    (Personally, I found the question quite helpful & your response quite the opposite.)
  • Why spend all the money on a rackmount case, when you can just go to the hardware store, buy some cheap supplies, and make some rails?

    If you have access to a machine shop, you can even make metal rails. If not, a few sturdy pieces of wood screwed into the mounting holes inside the rack should make nice rails. Then just get another piece of sturdy wood the size of the rack (19" by 22" or whatever) and you've got a shelf.

    To see an example of our cluster's custom built rack stuff, check here [purdue.edu], and here [purdue.edu]. (Note these are ~650k images)

    Granted, it won't be extremely efficient on rack space, but it's not THAT in-efficient. If we needed to, we could fit another row in there; space for 16 computers.
  • ... I just spent the whole yesterday cooped-up in a large walk-in closed with routers and hubs and servers.

    The hubs are mounted on such a poor man's chassis, cheaply done:

    Two parallel vertical plywood boards 19 inches apart (you could use 2x4s, actually), with one of those bolted "meccano"-like angled sheet metal strip with holes.

    Voilà. Cheap rack.
    --
    " It's a ligne Maginot [maginot.org]-in-the-sky "

  • by Anonymous Coward
    And speaking of cheapest rackmount chassis, I have tried both the Hawking and the Antech/Suntech cases. Both can be had for about $200 from the pricewatch [pricewatch.com] vendors, but the Antech/Suntech cases are far superior. Bigger fans, better power supply, anti-vibro DD caddy and a locking translucent panel over the disk drives and power switches. The Hawking cases are cheaply constructed, not to mention ugly. Rackmount fetishists, I implore you. Pay the extra $20 and buy the Antech/Suntech.
  • AFAIK The Blue/White G3 and G4 PowerMacs can be rackmounted by just removing the 4 handles at the corners and bolting them via the holes remaining to a rack..........

    Troc
  • I can't help you with cases (I've been looking for one too) but, in the unlikely event that you live in the Seattle area, check out Boeing Surplus in Renton. I've seefull height racks (7'?) with doors in the neighborhood of $50. The ones I've seen were well worn, but still quite solid. Often they've included casters. Their stock changes constantly, & they won't quote stock over the phone, but if you can get down there, you'll usually find SOMETHING interesting.
  • I was looking into this myself for a while, and found quite a bit of stuff priced decently on ebay [ebay.com]. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything selling in my area and obviously shipping on this kind of thing would be outrageous. But maybe you'll be able to find someone in your area, in which case that's probably the way to go.
  • I managed to find a bunch of these shelf-slides (the ones that are ridiculously expensive at office depot) at a local industrial supply company. They were less the $10/set. They're increadably strong, cheap, and easy to install.
  • Hey, those fully enclosed racks look TOO damn cool with the smoked plexi front door... though we've found that many of the hardware items (Big Cisco Routers, NetApps) don't fit right inside the rack, or if they do - you can't close both the front and back door. So we make trade offs... keeping the front door on and the back door off :) They look so wonderfully cool... and the racks cost $1500 - not $500. :)
  • Here is a diagram [prohosting.com] I just made of how I constructed my own rack-mounting enclosure from cheap and readily available components: the most expensive components were the telescopic drawer rails. The drawer rails are mounted to the enclosure and then the runners are simply screwed to the side of the machine chassis; if you then leave the lids off the machines, you can easily pull a machine out for maintenance.

    WARNING: you must either counterbalance or attach this assembly or it will tip - over when you pull out a chassis!

  • Display Electronics [distel.co.uk] in the UK is "Europe's Largest Surplus Supplier". They have 3U 19" racks available for £39.95 Sterling or $65.91US, plus a lot more besides.

    I have bought 2 units off them for work: a 42U for £345 and a 32U for £245. Both came with all the fixin's, lockable doors and side panels, elecricity distribution panel, etc. They have been in place about a year now, and no probs

    Please note, I have no personal connection, yada yada yada, only a satisfied customer, blah blah blah

  • A 1U unit might be more expensive now, but after a year in a colocation, it will cost you more to host the same processing power in a 4U factor. Space is money. Spend a bit more now and economize on the rack space you can afford.
  • Actually, I think the music industry is quite fair regarding pricing, as long as you use online stores such as Musician's Friend or Sweetwater. Regardless, I chose a rackmount case from ICS/Advent recently http://www.icsadvent.com/products/chassis/c4chassi s.html and I am quite pleased with it. Very sturdy, 4 drive bays, 240 watt power supply, two 104mm fans, etc. You have to get a quote from these guys...they are used to bigger companies buying in bulk, but they sold me an individual one for about $330. I have a personal studio and rackmount is definitely the way to go for computers and all equipment.
  • Yup, thats it... and two pieces of inexpensive pressboard ...

    The stand used to hold a 75gal freshwater aquarium. It now holds 6 systems, ups ... etc. The bottom shelf is plenty tall for those big towers. It really works well, and if you keep your eyes peeled I bet you can snag one cheap at a garage sale this spring.

    BTW corrugated black plastic tubing is great for cleaning up that plate of spaghetti you call wiring. But make sure you plan it well, its kind of a pain to rearrange it once you have it all tidied(sp?) up.

    total cost around $50 (usd).

    oh yeah, anyone know a good electrician? I beginning to think that one outlet in my office isnt enough... :)


  • I have a similar problem and I'm going to be getting $15 shelves made for a 19 inch rack. Then you can put your machines in the rack, just don't move it with the machines inside.
  • You think YOU have problems? I have 15 computers (mostly pre penitum) and 1 10 foot folding table from 1980 and 1 7 foot folding table from 1980. This is in a room thats about 7x7 with a walkway thats adds about 6 feet to it (10 foot table takes up from far left to 2 feet from door). I also have 3 chairs in there (for guests) and an inhouse network w/adsl. I think I'd be a prime candidate for the rackmount excuse. :)

    I can't believe the crap hardware manufacturers get away with. Prices for custom motherboards are way to expensive. Private R&D only goes so far and the increased cost are grossly inflated... Just look at Kevin Mitnick and the amount of money company's "lost" because he had some data sitting on his hard drive (that he copied from their system, not destroying the previous data). Microsoft proved that R&D is a perfect excuse to up the price on the next product (upgrade. yes, win98 IS an upgrade, ask any dumb end user or tech... break them into a thousand pieces.)

    No more coffee for me.
  • RFI shielding is the first thing that comes to mind. The second thing is controlled cooling air flow.

    Then again, I have to agree that mass produced sheet metal boxes suck. Now you've got me thinking about putting my 6 or 7 computers all on a single piece of plywood, motherboards on thier side like a server. Enclose that whole thing in a large sheet metal box (for RFI) and tuck it all in a nice wood cabinet. Kind of like a 1920's or 30's radio receiver. Now that could be done to look classy, keep all the equipment in one place, and be very tidy. I can do the woodworking myself and have a friend do the sheet metal.....hmmmm, should still be under $200 per computer and look one hell of a lot nicer.
  • Get a couple of pieces of heavy (1/8" thick) aluminum 3/4" angle at the hardware store, as long as you want your rack to be tall, a 10-32 tap, the correct size drill bit for the tap (the store should be able to tell you), and a drill and tap wrench. Draw a marking line 1/4" from the edge of one side of one of the angle pieces. Starting 1/4" from the top (which end that is is up to you ;-) drill holes in the spacing pattern 5/8" - 5/8" - 1/2" and repeat all the way to the bottom. Tap all the holes (C-9 is a good cutting fluid for aluminum, BTW). Make the other piece a mirror image (except for thread direction, of course -- duh!) of the one you've made.

    Get a couple of 1U blank plates from the music store or the computer shop and attach the two rails together top and bottom (this will give you the right rail spacing -- use your rackmount case to make sure you leave enough space between!) and build a plywood case or metal frame around them.

    Guess what? You have a homemade 19" rack. ;-) Cheers.
  • If you are starting from scratch (no rack equipment at all), forget using rackmount. You don't really need it in a home environment (unless you really start to get HUGE numbers of computers).
    1. All of your computers should already be in tower cases (full or mid).
    2. Go to your local hardware supply and pick up some wood to make shelves (whatever you can afford), sliding drawer hardware, screws and small hinges.
    3. Build a set of shelves a little wider than your largest tower case using the drawer hardware. You now have shelves that slide out or can be removed altogether to make room.
    4. Use the hinges and small pieces of wood to make folding bridges on the back of the shelves. The bridges should be fully extended when the shelf slides all the way out. This is for your wiring (you can use whatever you like to secure the wires). Now when you slide out the case to work on the machine, there is always enough slack in the wires and they don't get tangled.
    5. Paint, laminate or stain (as appropriate) your wood so that you wife does not demand the unsitely thing be burned.
    6. The unit can be expanded by simply adding another vertical board and more shelves to one side.
  • Being a bit of a Quake nut with a penchant for traveling to distant LAN parties, I've created what I think to be the ultimate in portable LAN party systems. Portability, ease of setup, power, and of course good looks all being of primary importance. To start with, you need a portable rack. SKB cases makes just such a thing, shock mounted for your computing pleasure. If you get one, I also suggest picking up the caster set, cause once you load all your stuff into it, it's gonna be heavy. Check out
    http://www.skbcases.com/cases/racks/shockmount.h tml for the racks. Next, you can find ATX rack cases for about $150 new on pricewatch. One PII 400 running win 98 and one dual PPro 200 running Mandrake 7 fill the bottom 8 RUs of a 12 RU rack. The 98 machine for Quake (of course), and the linux box for running game servers, file sharing, etc. A rackmount KVM you can find for $100-$200, depending on the features. Some of the more expensive ones fit into one RU, which I'd recommend as it leaves you more room for other stuff.

    You might want network electronics in the rack - I chose an 8 port 10/100 switch that again fits into one rack unit. Cable management is nice to have (and looks good too), and it's cheap! Pick up a one unit cable management tray from Mid Atlantic for 20-30 bones. Finally, the system just won't look good enough without the Fhurman power conditioning and light module. The power conditioning you can get with any power strip, but it won't be rack mounted, and it won't have those two pop-out dimmable lights to illuminate your rack. For $20 more, get the unit that also displays the incoming line voltage - more blinking lights are good! With all this, I'm out of rack room, which is a shame as I'd like to get something mounted in there for sound....

    I found most of these pieces at Full Compass (http://www.fullcompass.com) a pro audio mail order outfit in Wisconsin. I only mention this because my customer experience with them has been great, and they have their full catalog online in .pdf. Their prices are good and their service is great, and they have all sorts of nifty rack mount stuff (cases, power conditioners, and more...)
  • I did recently an lookup about rack chassis
    in Web and here are the results:

    http://www.gtweb.net/rackmount.html [gtweb.net]
    http://www.sliger.com/ [sliger.com]
    http://www.famous-computer.com/ [famous-computer.com]
    http://www.inco.de/ [www.inco.de]
    http://www.pcwmicro.com/Rackmt/compare.h tm [pcwmicro.com]
    http://www.rackmount.com/ [rackmount.com]
    http://www.aberdeeninc.com/abcatg/r ackmount.htm [aberdeeninc.com]
    http://www.technoland.com/chassis.htm [technoland.com]
    http://www.ittools.com/Products/ap ollo_cases.htm [ittools.com]
    http://users.cwnet.com/fotra/CHASSIS/
    http://www.vatyx.com/rackmount/rackmo unt.html [vatyx.com]
    http://www.uslogic.com/igc/igcrackraid. html [uslogic.com]
    http://www.dcsis.com/rack.htm [dcsis.com]

    I don't know prices - go find yourself. Some of
    those are pretty expensive, but there is cheap
    ones also.

    I prefer my local dealer's (in Finland) chassis, since those are pretty good and nearby me.
    Pages are only in Finnish, sorry about that.

    http://www.damicon.fi/rakki/index.html [damicon.fi]

    And sorry about possible Slashdot-effect-meltdown to every site in this list ;-))))
  • ...since I own two 1.6m Hewlett-Packard racks. I got the racks for free (well, I got mine for the price of using my truck to move the other four), but I've never come up with a decent solution for rackmounting machines in them-- always too expensive. However, from what I have been able to do, I found a few things you need to think about:

    1) Cooling. If you come across a cheap rack and it's enclosed, it ought to have some sort of power supply and fan. And if it does, make sure it handles the kind of power you've got-- I've run across a couple that expect 220v power. This is a solvable problem, more of an annoyance.

    2) Sides. Sides look nice, but get in the way. I'm currently using one of my racks as a stereo cabinet (funny, all my stereo gear is, oh, about 19" wide...) This looks cool, and has plenty of space-- in fact, it has enough space that I can climb in underneath the equipment and connect cables from the other side. I would not have to fight that fight if a) the rack was sideless, or b) I had longer speaker wires. I really ought to solve that latter problem-- once again, in most cases, this is also merely an annoyance.

    3) Space. I suspect this is not a problem for most of us-- the rack would probably take fewer square feet than the current solution we've got for our entirely-too-many machines.

    4) Is the rack really going to help? I've found at the office that for normal hardware (workstation-sized machines), a good set of shelves works better than a rack could ever hope to. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is that you can get into the machine without having to unplug everything and un-rack the machine. If you're like me, and find yourself swapping components around willy-nilly, this is a huge plus.

    Having gone through all this, I've found that at least for my home-use purposes, a rack is the wrong answer. I use one for stereo equipment. The height allows for much extra storage-- I've got the cosmetic front panels for it, so I have a pair of copy-paper boxes full of stuff below the shelves with the equipment hiden behind the panels. They can be easily removed should I need to climb inside the rack to swap cables around. The other that has a front door is being used as a sports equipment cabinet-- it's tall enough for a hockey stick!-- and the computers live on desks and shelves instead of in racks. I don't seem to swap out components so much from my stereo gear than I do from my computers...

    -F
  • Well, cheab rackmount chassis is just not to be found :(

    For DIYers: look at ATX specifications: http://www.teleport.com/~ffsupprt [teleport.com]. That should help a lot.
  • Be aware that for $106 you are probably getting an open-frame rack that MUST be screwed to the floor. The center of gravity with rack mount computers is about 2 inches in from the back leg. It's way way way to easy to tip over. I purchased my last rack from Mendelson's Electronics (www.meci.com) but they didn't appear to have any enclosed racks at the moment.
  • We just rebuilt our entire network including 3 white-boxes with Enlight cases. They are very nice with dual hot-swap power supplies, RAID capable hot-swap drive enclosures etc. They will cost a couple hundred $$, but they are worth the money.

    ~Nate
  • Sounds like you need a nice KVM switch... that'll get you down to one mouse/keboard (or trackball in my case). I've got three full towers and one half-tower plugged into a Cybex 4-port, with a 21" monitor, cable modem, 8-port net hub (gotta keep my roommate connected, too), speakers, inkjet, joystick, gamepad, and assorted stacks of various media on my computer desk (the cases are actually off to the side)... the switch ran me just over $200 with all of the cables, and well worth it... Belkin also sells KVM switches (as do many others whose products I've never used). Quality cables are a must for good imaging, though...



    I've got the mo
  • After my 2nd bedroom freed up, I had a computer room, but I needed some good way to hold the computers. So I went to the local Home Depot and found a set of shelves that work very well. While I don't have pictures of my setup, i recommended the same set to a friend and he did this [nacs.net].


    I'm sure that a trip to your local home improvement store will yield a whole bunch of shelving units that you can use.


    ** Martin

  • A friend of mine ran into the same problem recently. His solution was a heavy duty stainless steel number. It's 6' tall, about 5' long, and 3' deep. Or there abouts. It has four shelves. It's not a solid shelving unit, it's one of those ones with criss crossing bars. I've seen them used before, but I can't remember where he got it, so I can't point anyone to it. But it only cost a couple hundred. He's got four servers, a kvm, monitor, laser printer, deskjet, and tons of files on the thing. It's a great space saver. Anyway, the problem is it isn't grounded. He's a one man show working out of an apartment complex, so he can't really play with the electrical wiring. I don't think the owners would go for that. Is there an easy & safe way that it can be grounded? With all that stuff on there, it gives off a pretty good shock pretty often. He already lost one P90 mobo because of it, too. I'm sure a lot of people have come across this problem while using alternative racks.
  • by Zen (8377)
    Oops. That's sposed to read office complex for you legal sticklers (can't run a business from most apt complex), and just to make it clear, he is using APC back-ups & smart-ups for the machines. It's only the rack itself that isn't grounded.
  • Try cascading the CS144 KVM switch from Hawking Technology [hawkingtech.com]. Buy.com sells [buy.com] them for $104. You'll also need to buy the cable sets for each PC and each cascading switch. Should be less than $600 for 12 machines. Plus, there's a nifty foot switch available for cycling through machines.
  • Well, if you're in the states you'll have a ground on your power outlets that you should be able to use. The third prong (the round one) should be grounded both to the electrical box (if it's metal) and to earth ground somewhere in the building.
  • Metro Rack [metro.com] is a great choice for shelving computers. The shelves are relatively inexpensive and very strong, along with be adjustable.
  • Cheapest source of cases in the UK I have found is Scan Computers [scan.co.uk]. They are selling for £150 apiece.

    If you want fully built systems, Transtec [transtec.de] do nice 19" systems for approx 1200 each.
  • Check out "http://www.gtweb.net" They have 1U rackmount chassis almost identical to what is shown by Penguin for 278.00. They are the smallest ATX chassis you are going to get. They have room for a standard ATX motherboard, low profile memory and heatsink/fan, 500MHz Celeron and can support up to 512MB RAM, CDROM, Floppy and one hard drive. It also has one slot available and comes with the adapter to mount the card sideways. It looks like a really good deal.
  • Weird. I was just looking for exactly the same thing yesterday, and the question just shows up on Slashdot.

    Is this part of Slashdot's repetoire of evil powers?

    At anyrate, my roommate n' I have just set up a rack we snagged that our University was throwing away. Check it out, here [greeny.org].

    Slightly off topic, but I doubt my askslashdot question is going to get published because I just noticed the other day that a similar question was asked a while back. -- so here goes:
    Has anyone figured out a way to run multiple displays off a
    console linux box? I don't want to run X, I just want to be able to have multiple monitors show different things (logs, top, cmatrix, etc) We've got a pile of old b&w monitors and vid cards and I'd love to put them to use.
  • I noticed that a number of people seemed interested in going down to the local sheet metal shop and getting a custom case made up. I have read the ATX specs for some previous case design work, and have had a hand in producing a custom ATX case that is mounted inside of another system. In hindsight, I should have pushed for making the case be a standard rackmount dimensions, but I didn't. Is there any interest in producing a public domain set of rackmount ATX plans (and part lists, similar to the LinuxToday article that was previously quoted) that someone could take directly to a metal shop and have a few built? I have seen a number of "Open Hardware" ideas mentioned, but I haven't actually seen too many products of a discussion.

    I would be happy to work with my current case supplier to have a test run produced, as I wouldn't mind having a couple of cases built for myself. Our current custom case is the size of a full tower system, and is made of very sturdy metal. It is coated steel that could be painted, or left as-is (a shiny golden color). It costs us about $150 in quantities of 20, before shipping and with no power supply. It certainly isn't significantly cheaper than buying it from an existing rackmount vendor, but it does give the opportunity for customization.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Jim Walters

  • Yeah, I've been thinking about getting a decent KVM switch. Actually, though, having four keyboards means you don't accidentally type "rm ./*" on the wrong box, so it's not all bad.

  • Hey; Here's something I kinda thre together to handle cables: 1. Put your cables together, then measure the diameter with a tape measure. 2. Go to your local hardware store, and purchase rubber tubing of a similar diameter (you want something pliant here). 3. Cut the tubing so that you wind up with a helix shape (basically, cut diagonally down the length, around the tube. 4. Wrap the tubing around the wires. Some plastics work well with this, if they're thin enough to ben with your hands. Hope this helps.
  • I just bought 2 IBM netfinities. They're 1U, dual PIII 500, 512Mb ram, dual NIC, 2x*Gb disk. Still for $6K I was a bit surprised they came sans OS. They run Linux and NT. Great application server engines!
  • I took a very sweet 6' rack home from work when we actually baught steel shelves for our server room. I'm not about to buy $200 cases for all my boxes (well there aren't that many) but I would like to get them in there because if I don't use it, it takes up alot of room.

    With some 1" Angle iron, a drill, a hack-saw and maby a roto tool (for those sexy rounded corners), customizing your rack to hold your boxes in whatever configuration you want is a snap.

    If you didn't get your rack for free, I think you would be better advised to purchase a set of steel shelves... A rack that can hold four or five cases is going to be pretty big, but very expensive.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    Full info on Boeing Surplus can be found at http://www.boeing.com/assocproducts/su rplus/ [boeing.com].

    They always have something cool. I bought a big roll of yellow and black "Caution Do Not Enter" tape for just one dollar!

  • forget racks, say hello to ikea! their ivar shelving is GREAT for tons of computer stuff. buy whatever height racks you want, buy however many shelves you need, get a cross-brace to keep it stable. you can even get multiple racks, and build an entire wall shelving unit. they also have a pull-out keyboard/desk shelf, so you can put your monitor/kbd there. in the future, you can add to the system, no problem! also, everything is made of wood, so you can easily nail power strips to the shelves.

    i especially like this shelving b/c i can stain/paint it to look nice. yes, i hate to admit it, but i don't like my computer room looking like crap.

    this is what i've done in my home, and it works/looks great.
  • Do you have pictures of this? I'd like to see how you handled the drive mounts and power sources.
  • go here [technoland.com]. Racks are dumb for end users, unless you have lots of machines with extended lifetimes (ie: your crappy p2 doesn't deserve to be in a rack, but an SGI, SUN does, or >$5k PC server does). Even if you have a bunch of computers, if they are all desktop class, 4U will be wasted in a year when desktops go to 2U vcr style size.

    For the person that has four soon to be five computers in his living room, put them in a closet. Or at least start to buy NLX, mATX motherboards so you can get the smaller cases now.

    That's not to mention that racks themselve are pricey. What's the goal... coolness or organization..
  • The low end of the case market has always bugged me, I usually cut my hands to shreds when installing the motherboard, last 2 cases have been from a UK vendor, all bits fitted perfectly ! But while your at it.... get rid of the power rat's nest by adding a +12V output panel from the PSU... gets rid of the transformers for the scanner, modem, camera and speakers !
  • For anyone who is in the Chicago area, I have a 6.5 foot Schroff Enclosure for sale. It is in perfect condition, has a glass door with a lock, internal dual fan, wheels, the whole deal. This is a $1500 enclosure meant for factory conditions so email me if you have a reasonable offer. I am a reasonable person and would like to see it find a nice home.

    -Adam Hull
    adamhull@yahoo.com
  • Looking at your post reminded me of what we do at work with lengthy runs of CAT5 or whatnot. All we've got is some velcro rolls (fuzzy one side, hooks on the other) and just cut to length and wrap. It keeps all the cables tidied up, but allows you to rework something if a line is bad or you just simply need to replace something. I've seen the plastic corrugated tubes used for fiber optics and such, but they're still a pain to get all the cables situated -- and they probably cost more too.

    LoopBack
  • Most general hardware stores (Home Depot, Hechinger, etc.) have electrical ducting you can buy for pretty cheap. Get some large ducting, some outlet boxes, a whole lot of extension cables (power, VGA, keyboard, mouse, ethernet) and run all your wires through the ducting. We have 7 mid-to-full-tower cases sitting next to each other with all cables running through the ducts. It makes life a lot nicer.
  • Be careful when buying a 1U chassis. The biggest challenge when designing a 1U computer is cooling the darn thing. It's possible, but requires some very good design and analysis work. Take a close look at how many fans are being used and the airflow path through the system. Also, think about what will happen if one or more of the fans fail (which is likely at some point in the computer's life, especially with those small 40mm fans).

    Does anyone know of a website with an independant review of 1U chassis, including data like operating temperature?
  • I too have been working on the same type of setup for quite awhile and have had about the same results. Forewarning, if your anything like me, the $200 you planned on spending will easily turn into $1000.


    First off, the rackmount chassis. Although you made no mention about cabinets, I think it's on topic and others might be interested as well. My only advice: check Ebay. I spent months looking for EIA rails to mount in a custom desk/lan station I was building but I couldn't find them cheaper than $100 for a pair. I was so close to buying them when I found a rackmount chassis on Ebay for $150. It wasn't the prettiest but it was exactly what I wanted. $300 later and countless hours, I was sick from getting paint in my system but I had a beautiful painted rackmount cabinet. However, I'm still looking for doors :( .


    The cases I'm currently still working on. For right now, I have some telescoping rails that I bought with the cabinet with some melamine screwed in between as a shelf. I religously check ebay for used rackmount cases. Do a search for rack and rackmount. The stuff seems pretty popular because it usually get's bid up pretty high.


    I pretty much gave up on looking for a case to buy. They're just too damned expensive. $300 times 5 computers adds up real quick. Within the last couple of days I've been talking to a buddy who works in a metal fabrication shop. He seems to think it wouldn't be too expensive to build a _simple_ case. If you decide to go this route, consider looking at some old computer shops for some ATX cases. You can rivet in an ATX back panel to a flat piece of sheet metal perfectly. The cost alone to get that fabricated I'm sure would be at least $50. You can also get power supplies in old cases, just make sure they don't have the fan sticking out 'cause you need all the room you can get. I was lucky enough to be able to bastardize all the old computers at work here, so I got most of the complex pieces for free. I'm hoping my case will be a couple of simple folds, some riveting and I'm done.


    Too make a very long story short, BE PREPARED. It's a hell of a lot of fun to build, but it gets _extremely_ expensive, _extremely_ quick. There are a lot of things you have to buy. Cabinet, cases, power supplies, new motherboards, ps/2 extension cables, moniter extension cables depending on where you moniters are, old ATX cases for parts, fans or air conditioning units to remove the heat from the rack, everything. A good place to find misc rackmount parts is Bud Industries [budinc.com]


    Have fun and good luck!!

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @09:22AM (#1339735)
    >Racks are dumb for end users

    Hmm, you leave out the musicians from your "end users" set.

    Most musicians have rackmounted gear: PA Amp, EQ's, Effects, Signal Processors, Midi Synth, power conditioner. It's extremely nice to have the computer on the same rack.

    >What's the goal... coolness or organization..

    Having your equipment in one piece when it arrives. If you've ever had otherwise, you know the value of that.

    For the "end user" who already has some rackmounted equipment, which is far more commonplace than you seem to think, it makes a lot of sense to have everything on the rack, and not have some stuff on the rack, and other stuff that has to be lugged around, put on a table, shipped in a separate crate, etc.

    The "living room" comment that you made seems to imply that everybody who is on a budget is also merely a hobbyist, with trivial needs. Believe me, there are many professionals who are also on a budget, yet have real needs for certain things; rackmouted equipment being one of them.
  • Enlight ATX mid tower cases are almost exactly 17" tall, which means that they will fit sideways in a 19" rack if you add the appropriate mounting ears/rails. These cases run around $65-80, made entirely from metal, and have good cooling.

  • Try the Netra t1s. little under 4k. Nice box, very peppy. Has a sparc 400, up to 256m ram (I think) and is generally pretty cool.
  • Some good posts already about the much cheaper
    price of music racks on the web. There is a
    good on-line site to browse this stuff at:
    http://www.sweetwater.com/equip-dir/cases/

    I actually like some of the portable plastic molded
    cases which are rock solid and great if you ship your
    computers a lot. The main issue Ive come across however
    with most rackmount cases is there depth, which can be
    huge (like 3 feet!).

    ION
  • They're not PCs, but the Sun Ultra 5/10 systems are tower cases that rackmount sideways, exactly as you specified.

    Ultra 5s start around $2000,
    and the Ultra 10s start around $3000.
  • Looks like you can find a list of vendors that support certain form factors here. [teleport.com] I choose chassis and got a list of vendors that's huge. I'm not sure how ready most of them would be to sell to the enduser, but they should be able to get you in touch with their distributors.

    -buster
    ---------------
    insert snappy sig here

  • The affordable solution is to take the minitower boxes and put them on a wire rack (aka baker's rack). I got mine from one of those large CostCo places; it's chrome, has 5 shelves and only cost about $60. Just be sure to get the one that's got the deep (18 inch) shelves. You'll find you can get machines packed in pretty tight if you do some planning. For instance, I have one shelf of just pizza boxes, another for minitowers, etc.

    Of course, these are the machines I *run*. If I need to mess around with one, I still need to pull it out of the rack and bring it to the bench. But you'll end up doing that with a real rackmount too.
  • I understand that the third prong is ground on electrical outlets. However, this 'rack' is not meant to be a server rack. It is meant to be used as a shelving unit, and as such, does not have a plug attached to it that you can slap into the wall. Making one would not be safe, as it would mean bare wires. The only thing I could think of is to just run a wire from the steel & bury it, but that's not feasible.


    The problem is the static electricity building up. It's quite possible that one of the power supplies isn't working correctly, because there's quite a few old machines on the shelf. It's not electrical current running through the rack, that would actually hurt. This is just a shock like the ones you get rubbing your feet along the carpet, except slightly stronger, and very often.
  • Make your own! A buddy of mine bought some mid AT cases(the sides come off), turned 'em horizontally, and attached four 3-inch metal L brackets to them with epoxy and 1/4-24 stub bolts. Two brackets were placed flush with the front of the case on the 'upper edge'. The other two went on the upper edge of the back, but protruding an inch. The 'cage' was nothing more than four 7 1/2 foot lengths of perforated stock. The back of the rack was spaced off the wall with chunks of 2x4, and secured with machine screws and heavy-duty wall anchors. The front was double bracketed to the floor and ceiling, and secured by standard sheetrock fastners and lag bolts into the floor joists. Bolt the cases onto the perf stock. I'd suggest using 1/4-20 carraige bolts secured to the frame with SAE lock washers, then slid through the case 'L's and held with some push-button Fas-Nuts or wing nuts.
  • Another way to go is adjustable wire shelves. I have a couple different setups in strategic locations in my house. I have a 72"high by 18" deepby 36" wide 5-shelf unit that sits on casters and is in the corner of my computer room/study that basically has my cable modem, masq box and a hub that functions as a walk-up LAN workstation and cd burning center. I got a $20 slide-out kbd that fits unser one of the shelves and a cheapo vga monitor to go with the whole deal. Think I paid like $60 at Sam's for the wire shelf kit.

    I have a 72"Hx48"Wx18#D 4-shelf that I have in my converted walk-in closet that I use for the servers. I have 3 boxes sitting on the bottom shelf, the next one up has a hub and some other equipment and the other 2 are basically storage and bookshelf. This one cost a little more, maybe $150 but not nearly as much as some of the rack units I looked at that were $800 or more.
  • My employer makes a Celeron-based (300-433Mhz) SBC here in the states, and I've been prototyping a 1U high chassis that is now being used as my company's firewall.

    We're pretty much following Intel's embedded roadmap, so while we're not that fast, we can still sell you the exact same kind of board 5 years from now with the same 433 MHz processor. Telcos and the govt. really prefer this to Dell and Gateway's "flavor of the month" where the models and choices change by the day almost.

    Drop me an e-mail if you want more info.
  • There's a few things to consider when you look at the $200 (and up) cost. ObDisclaimer: My company makes SBCs and chassis.

    1) Many of them are built in the US. The down side is the cost (of labor, etc), but the up side is that the chassis is desinged and built here. We had one industrial customer come to us and say "well, that's great, but can you make it 16" instead of 17"?". So we look at the customer, go back to our engineering group, and pump one out in a couple days.

    Compare this to the headache I went through trying to find a power supply that fit my needs. Call the US rep. US rep calls taiwan. Taiwan sits on it till I bug the rep again. Rep confuses message from taiwan. We threaten having a UL inspection of their manufacturing facility. They say "Oh yeah, *that* power supply has a problem with it."

    2) Many of these are nice thick metal through and through. Take a look at your typical PC and see how much metal is in it. The metal is there for FCC/CE stuff. In a rack-mount, the metal is there to hold the thing togetherand make sure it stays on the rack. Thicker metal. $$$$

    3) Quantity quantity quantity. Do you know how much engineering goes into making one of those things? You need to amortize the cost over only a few thousand chassis instead of a hundred thousand that you'd get from a typical PC case.

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada

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