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Old August 21, 2012, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 15
Lightbulb My next "case" mod, need some ideas!

So, this is a bit of a general introduction thread too, I guess. I've poked around the networking section and browsed here and there, but haven't had a chance yet to dive-right-in.

I've been using computers since before my teens, back in the early 80's with a clone Apple ][+ w/ no disk drive (audio tape used to save/load programs), and pretty much haven't stopped since, although I have slowed down a lot l8ly.

Never been able to afford the best-of-the-best myself, and have spent lots of time recycling older stuff for my own personal use. Have been networking things together since about 1995ish, highest professional level would be Jr. I'd have said. Most of my computer 'work' had been internet related, WWW-programming for a large advertising industry during the tail half of the 90's. A few years ago I was involved with Freegeek Vancouver, but my wife's maternity leave ended so I quit and went back to being full-time stay-at-home dad.

I haven't done much traditional case-mod stuff, other than a few cases for a friend who wanted some nice blingy lights. I do have some cases that would be great for modding, but I have one particular 'case' that I think needs some sort of mod first:



I got this half-height rack a few years ago, empty and with no information. I've slowly learned about it and racks in general, built up a supply of cage nuts + bolts, and have used it enough over the years to figure out some things I'd like to do to it:
  • Wireless antenna egress: I was wondering about mounting wireless plugs somewhere out-of-the-way, so I can just screw any antenna into them. I'm not sure if wireless cables have issues with length, and if there are ways to mitigate.
  • Scanner/printer on/in top: Running power/usb somewhere to the top of the rack, with a scanner, label printer and regular printer connected to a host machine inside and of course networked and shared
  • Better internal wiring and through-body wire transit in general, so I can plug cables into the outside of the rack, and inside it's all routed and shared properly. I'm thinking things like incoming ISP cabling (Shaw cable in my case), with the proper amplifiers and splitters inside to share that connection between cable 'modem' and TV/Radio tuner(s). A network 'out' will also be provided, since I'm running a cable to the trandnet 8-port gigabit switch in my entertainment center. I'm also a bit concerned about if various power/data cables interfere with each other, and so should be physically or at least electromagnetically separate/shielded.
  • Workstation Setup: I'm not exactly sure yet how I want to setup a keyboard/mouse/lcd workstation, connected to the internal KVM. I hope to be using my IBM Model M5-2 as keyboard/trackball, and some sort of flat screen (current candidate my older 17" LCD). I have thought of some sort of movable arm on one side or the other, but that limits where I can put the rack having stuff on the outside. I've also batted around the idea of just using one of the trays, if I can find one that suits my existing hardware.
  • Liquid Cooling: Something I've thought of a lot, if it's even reasonable to do. I have no experience in this area, just long-term interest and jealousy from afar!

Being a newbie to the 'mod' part of this, I'd love some recommendations/ideas, tool recommendations, pointers, whatever!

The rack itself is hosting my file/database server (white beast up top), virtual host/tv tuner box (1U penguin, holding up the VCR that will be hooked to it's TV TUner when I get there), and general netboot/dhcp box (1U grey dell). There's a 4-port KVM on the left on top of the grey dell, and the shaw cable modem box on the right, and hiding on top of the fileserver is the new Asus RT-N66U router that seems to have fixed my networking woes.

Eventually the file/database server will be a hot-swap case (3-4U, when I can find one I like that's not a stupid price), mounted right on the top. I'd like to cluster the rest, but I haven't found a way to run the VM's on top of a heterogeneous cluster like the kind I'd have with my mishmash of bits.
There'll also be a Raspberry Pi in there somewhere, I'm not sure what for exactly. And I'd like to figure out which traditional analog modem can also do voice and fax, so I can setup an answering machine and networked fax into the mix too.

And in the deep dark night when no one's watching, I dream of giving it it's own arduino brain and motors.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old August 21, 2012, 02:12 PM
Top Prospect
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 58

My System Specs


Make a computer out of a Coca cola mini fridge :|
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old August 21, 2012, 06:29 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 15

That's an old trick, been around the internet since I first got here in 1992. I can't remember which school's engineering department (Caltech, MIT, something like that). The machine was located in the basement in their common room or something, but the computer labs were up on the 3rd or 4th floor. They hated walking down the stairs only to find the pop freshly replenished and warm.

So they hooked up a computer, put it on the internet, and programmed it to tell them temperature/etc, and eventually allow them to 'drop' a pop if there was enough money sitting waiting to be used. When I first started in university, you could 'finger' the machine (internet command no longer used much, was used to query public information about individuals) to get it's status, and even see a web page about it after the WWW was invented.

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