I’ve always wanted to own a server rack, but most racks have a glaring problem. They aren’t cute. I want my server to be cute. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently it is; I ended up making my own. My wee little rack has a server module w/ a tiny screen, a gigabit switch, a two-drive hot-swap bay, a centralized PSU, and a USB expander. Traditional rack units are 19in across with 1.75in-tall units. My rack is 125mm across with 15mm-tall units.
The CAD for this project is a little unique when compared to my other projects. I decided to use a nested master-model structure to make every unit. A top level master-model controls the fundamental dimensions of each unit while a nested master-model defines the shape of individual units.
All of the units are made out of a combination of 3D-printed parts and waterjet plates. I’ve been somewhat of a 3D-printing ludite in the past, but I’ve started to embrace them more and more; using 3DP parts allowed me to avoid making finger joints and simplified the CAD by a lot. The splash of color doesn’t hurt!
I recently discovered the magic of heat-set inserts and went through a whole bag of them on this project. They’re just so…satisfying.
The RPi unit is the heart of the server rack. A tiny 40mm fan provides cooling and an integrated PiTFT that I found in a trash can gives it an ~adorable~ monitor.
The rack’s power comes from a dedicated unit that hosts a Mean-wells 5V PSU. XT60s are used to distribute power to the other units.
Nothing says “datacenter” like hot-swappable drive bays - and this wee server has two for some reason! This unit accepts 2.5in drives mounted in actual HP drive caddies and has two internal SATA-to-USB3 connectors hidden inside of it.
I ran out of ports in my room, so I decided to include a tiny 5-port gigabit switch unit. An integrated 5V-12V boost converter gives it the appropriate level of juice.
I figured that reaching behind the Pi module to insert USBs would get old quick, so I added a small USB port module to take care of that.
The actual rack structure is made out of Misumi 1515 extrusion - which is, in my opinion, the most adorable of the extrusions.
The final rack stands a foot tall and fits perfectly in a corner of my desk. I’m currently using it to host my Nextcloud server (since Dropbox just wasn’t cutting it anymore) and a few other things.
After installing the rack, I immediately realized that having a bunch of blinking lights in my room while I was trying to sleep sucked a little. I made a tiny acrylic cover to fix that - and as an added bonus, it turns my rack into an intimidating featureless box.
Well, not that intimidating - I still know how adorable it is on the inside.