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Old 08-02-2007, 06:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Ohio
1.3TB freeNAS box built & corked

I built a 1.3TB freeNAS box a while back. I used 4 x 250GB drives in one array, and 3 x 120GB drives in the 2nd array, with an old 80GB for the freeNAS OS.

The case and IDE controller card was purchased for the project, but the PSU, mobo etc, and all the drives were stuff I had laying around.

It's an old Gigabyte board with an AMD Athlon XP 2600+ running at 1919 MHz, plus 1.5GB of RAM (which is stupid over-powered for a freeNAS box, but hey, it was left over stuff). On the upside, the system is *never* sweating for CPU power. It's got a built in 10/100 NIC. There's a video card in there, but only because the thing won't boot w/out a video card in the slot.

The OS is freeNAS 0.684b, which I'm pretty happy with. This thread isn't about setting it up, but that's not really hard to do. If this board would have booted off USB (which I just could NOT get it to do) the freeNAS OS would have been running of a 64MB USB flash drive I had lying about. Since the thing wouldn't boot of USB, I threw in an 80GB drive and ran the OS off that.

Roughly 34MB of the drive is in use, lol....

Anyway. I stuffed 1.3TB of drives in there, and then created 2 separate RAID 5 arrays. The reason for that is that freeNAS can use different size drives in one array, but it'll pick the smallest to set the stripe size with, and you end up with 7 x 120GB drives instead of 3 120's and 4 250's (because it pretends the 250's are 120's, which is a huge waste).

I end up with (after RAID 5 parity losses) one array of 677GB and one array of 216GB. freeNAS does RAID 5 in software, so the CPU is doing all the work, but who cares? It's a dedicated box, so if the CPU hits all of 20% sometimes, it's not a problem.

The NAS box is hooked up to the router and is essentially a file server/backup machine for the house's three PCs. My laptop, her laptop, and my desktop.

The small array holds all of our music, and every night SyncBack SE runs on all 3 machines to do incremental backups of our "My Documents" directory (more or less that's what it does; this isn't about my backups, it's about the NAS). The end result is that any of the 3 PCs can lose its HD and I don't really care. Pop in a new drive, reimage, copy over the appropriate files and all the user data is still there.

The big array is all video. We'll hook her laptop up to the DLP projector (which we temporarily will set up) in the living room and stream video/movies wirelessly to the 100" diag tripod screen, or to the laptop and hook it to the TV in the bedroom via a S-video cable. Or I'll watch movies on through my PC streaming from the NAS box.

I've actually stress tested the NAS box/network by streaming music to winamp, watching movies simultaneously on 3 different players, on two different PCs at the same time. (That's 2 music streams and 6 video) No problems.

The arrays are both roughly 60% full at this time.

I've actually gotten to test the redundancy of the RAID 5 implementation already. One of the 120GB drives didn't work after I'd shut the machine down when we went on a vacation. When we got back in town, and in the house, I fired things back up to find the small array was dead.

Well, I went to MicroCenter and picked up another Maxtor (the drives are all Maxtors) 120GB and popped it in the machine. Following the freeNAS documentation I inserted the new drive into the array and it happily rebuilt itself. No pain, and no data loss.

The project tonight, and the reason I'm finally posting this project, is that I quieted the damn thing down a bit. The whine from 8HDs is pretty annoying.

There are only two fans in there, three if you count the PSU fan. Thereís a 120mm on exhaust duty, the CPU has a thermaltake silent boost, a front 80mm intake, and an 80mm exhaust on the PSU. The drives report theyíre running at 34-36C, and it never really changes. I have no idea what the CPU or board temp is, but Iím sure itís fine. AnywayÖ
I had a bunch of cork panels left over from making a corkboard in the kitchen. I got the idea, after a few beers, to try lining the NAS case with cork to see if itíd quiet it down. Corkís good acoustic deadener and I had a bunch. That and some foam double sticky tape. SO, nuts I went.

This is the result.
Itís actually a good bit quieter now. The most annoying high-pitched frequency HD whine really is cut down and that makes me very happy. I donít have a dB meter, so I canít validate noise levels, but itís a lot less annoying to have next to my desk now than it used to be. So far as freeNAS reports, nothingís any warmer than it used to be.

Hereís the pics! Comments and questions welcome.
PS: You can click any pic to view larger sizes.


Front of case.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/992291588/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1063/992291588_2722733360.jpg" width="312" height="500" alt="front" /></a>

Front of case with flash.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/992289954/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1326/992289954_3fa5b373c1.jpg" width="294" height="500" alt="front" /></a>

The 120's and OS 80GB drive up top.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/991421055/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1115/991421055_a0a1ba37ac.jpg" width="375" height="500" alt="front open" /></a>

Needless closeup of the front fan opening.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/992273492/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1134/992273492_431fcf61f6_b.jpg" width="1024" height="768" alt="front" /></a>

Front panel corked. That big bit of cork is a double thick layer. I figured in front of 4 drives it'd pay to have extra thickness.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/992276040/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1022/992276040_f598fa0bb1.jpg" width="500" height="297" alt="front panel" /></a>

Side of case.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/991439257/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1169/991439257_096b81eb76.jpg" width="500" height="449" alt="side" /></a>

The guts.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/992284272/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1017/992284272_5a2b346862.jpg" width="375" height="500" alt="inside" /></a>

The guts again. As you can see, it's got a power cord and a network cable. Headless is good.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/991430641/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1222/991430641_0df61b9cd0.jpg" width="500" height="418" alt="open case" /></a>

The side panel. (sorry it's fuzzy)
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/992286296/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1024/992286296_eef73648a2.jpg" width="500" height="450" alt="side" /></a>

The other side, behind the mobo.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/992294968/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1398/992294968_7f4ebb30b9.jpg" width="375" height="500" alt="behind mobo" /></a>

The other side corked.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billege/992298208/" title="Photo Sharing"><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1384/992298208_c62e5af338.jpg" width="500" height="468" alt="behind mobo sidewall" /></a>

As you'll notice, some of the cork doesn't go all the way to the edges. That was to accomodate the insides of the case. It all snaps on and off with no additional effort vs stock.
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Old 08-02-2007, 09:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Ain't FreeNAS great?

Nice case for that, btw. Those coolermasters have great airflow and filtering. (without the cork ) I use a couple of those in blue for my home & shop servers. Just barely one step up with these bays:




8 fairly solid hotswap bays in 5x5.25" slots.
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Old 08-04-2007, 07:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thats a sweet setup, wouldn't mind one of those!
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