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First Nano-ITX Project?

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December 03, 2004
The "TERA-ITX"

October 06, 2004
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August 26, 2004
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July 02, 2004
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The "TERA-ITX"
By Aaron Shephard
Posted on December 3, 2004
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Introduction

The intent with this project was to build a low-power (low-heat and cost-effective) file server to cut down on my electric bill, using as many parts I had handy as possible, to cut down on up-front costs. I have another more powerful machine to act as domain controller, database server, etc, so this one just has to serve MP3's, DVD video, and the like. (There's another Epia M10K in the process of becoming my HTPC machine.) I had many of the components sitting around from previous endeavours, including the Epia M10K mobo and the fancy drive-bay gizmo (which is why I used parallel ATA) Had I to do it over again I'd use SATA with a suitable SATA PCI card as it's soooo much easier to cable...

Construction

Digging around Silicon Valley's surplus places netted me this drive cabinet, which previously held four 5.25" devices. It used a standard AT power supply and even had a 3.5" bay up top.

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Though wide enough to fit a Mini-ITX board, the bottom drive bay had to be notched out to allow board to fit. The Dremel is my friend.

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The old PSU was punted in favour of a shiny ATX style. In a fit of industry, I disassembled the push-on-push-off switch for the old PSU, took out the latch mechanism, and reassembled it, making it a momentary style compatible with these newfangled ATX systems :D Rather than waste a perfectly good drive bay on the boot drive, some angle aluminum and more Dremelling later, one drive mounts to the power supply in the back.

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Some small 4/40 standoffs were collected from the hardware bin, but due to close tolerances, I couldn't fit a nut on the far side (the cover slides over three of the four.) After deliberation, JB Weld, the redneck's best friend, was employed to hold the standoffs down. In retrospect, I probably should have hot-glued them or the like, as JB Weld is prone to cracking :(

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Click to launch image viewer
Click to launch image viewer

The motherboard fits sideways with fractions of an inch to spare. I chose this orientation to fit a PCI card in without having to use a horizontal riser. This is an el-cheapo ATA card, to allow me to control more than four drives. I'd like to have used a real hardware RAID card, but my Adaptec 2400's are larger than the enclosure, so software RAID will have to do. My write:read ratio is so low, anyway, that I won't take enough of a performance hit to justify the hassle.

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Click to launch image viewer


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