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Home lab update for Christmas

by Philip Sellers

This Christmas, I stumbled upon a full height rack at a local closeout warehouse.  My wife and I like to shop second-hand or closeout stores – we have a couple in our area that deal in merchandise from big box stores that didn’t move at clearance or were slightly damaged.  We have had good luck finding deals in the past – like my HD video camera (still worth more on eBay than I paid 4 years ago), my TV/Mac Pro 27″ monitor (under $100 a year ago) and toys for the kids.

Saturday, I had one of those finds.  I had seen an ad on Craiglist and I thought the photo showed a server rack, but I wasn’t sure.  The description was generic and so my wife and I decided to check it out.  This was a new business (to us) we had not been to before, but we will be returning.  They seemed to have a lot of nice quality stuff and tucked in a back corner, I spotted the rack.   My hunch was confirmed, it was a metal 42U rack with door.  It was clear the owners didn’t know what they had – the wife even asking what I planned to use it for – she said she had so many ideas. We should have asked how she would use it!  It was priced at $100.  It included two generic set of rails to hold a rack-mount server and two slide out shelves – an additional bonus.  The metal alone was probably worth over $100, if recycled…  So, we bought it and brought it home.

I was able get it into the house – thanks to a neighbor’s helping hand – and it is very well made and heavy!  I rolled it into my office and it cleared the door with just a millimeter to spare.  I’ve mounted some of my lab equipment in the rack and some other pieces are still works in progress.

I didn’t really have room in my office for a full rack, but at that price, it was difficult to say no.  I like having the door for noise reduction and it gives me plenty of room to expand.  I’ll probably run out of power before I run out of space.  A rack has been on my wish list for a while for the home lab I’m slowly building.  I had searched eBay and other places and I could fine 12U or 18U racks – mostly audio racks – for around $150-$170, but not a server depth rack.  I’ve found some really cool vintage racks and equipment that has been removed from use on eBay – unfortunately, most racks either ship freight for a couple hundred dollars or are local pickup only in locations on the west coast.  I had not been able to find anything relatively local on eBay.

I rearranged my office to make room for the new rack and so far, its working really well.  The sliding shelves inside the rack were perfect for holding my HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 and PS1810 switch.  I need a pair of mounting brackets for my Procurve 2510 switch.  I had also found a SuperMicro 1U rackmount chassis on eBay for under $50, so I picked it up a few months ago.  Now that I have the rack, I decided to move my whitebox server into a rackmount chassis.  Although I like my PowerMac G4 mod, the cabling inside did not work out like I wanted and the wires were hitting the cooling fan on the processor from time to time – not a good situation.

Happy New Year!

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