xxredxpandaxx

UnRaiding an Apple Xserve RAID

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I started a new thread with my 2.0 server case. You can find it here.

 

 

Alright first off I would like to say sorry for how long this first post is, but I wanted to make it as in depth as I can so that if anyone else wants to do this the can have sort of a guide on what I did.

 

So I built an UnRaid server about a year ago to hold all of my media and I love it. at first it was just a bunch of cables and components laying on a table, then I built a case because I don't really like the looks of any server cases on the market (except the Apple Xserve RAID) and most were pretty expensive. The case I built wan't anything great, it was just 20 dollars worth of angled aluminum and rivets from Lowes that I had put together. (I will post pictures of it tomorrow) So I thought to myself that I could probably modify an Apple Xserve RAID to do what I want (all of them are IDE by the way), so I started looking on the internet if anyone had done this before and I couldn't find anything on it so I said "ehh maybe I won't do it" but then I was looking on eBay and saw a great deal on one ($150 free shipping) so I bought it and said "If I can't do it, at least it will look cool still."

 

So I got the Xserve and started taking it apart to see what I needed to do, I figured that I could use the old IDE connections to run my power and data SATA cables through, and I was right. If you know how hot swappable server cases work these are the "carriers" (sorry don't know what they are actually called) the HDDs sit in. Here is what the boards looked like before and after my modification.

 

HDD "carriers"

Left: IDE

Right: (modded) SATA

1808692

 

"carriers" with covers off

Left: IDE

Right: (modded) SATA

1808693

 

Closeup of IDE

1808694

 

Closeup of (modded) SATA

1808695

 

 

Now only 13 more drives to go ;-)

 

 

So Before I just went and soldered on my cables to random places I first mapped where those connections would end up. I am going to try and explain the following pictures as best as I can so that you can under stand it, if you guys don't get it just say so and maybe I will make a video and try to explain it better. 

 

So the first picture is of the sata cable soldered to the "HDD carrier board" which is plugged into the backplane, I will call is plug the "HDD carrier plug" as it is a custom plug that apple made I assume. You can see in the background the other connections for the total 14 drives this case holds.

1808696

 

The second picture is of the back side of the "HDD carrier plug" and the pins marked with orange are where the 4 data wires of the SATA plug go. The 4 ground wires of the SATA plug I don't have marked in the picture.

1808697

 

The third picture is the cluster of pins where the original RAID controllers of the server connected to the drives. If you look closely (at the top center of the cluster) you can see 4 pins marked with orange and that is where the 4 marked on the back of the "HDD carrier plug" go to. In the background you can see that I marked the data pins on the rest of the "HDD carrier plugs". I am going to use these pins and connect a sata cable to them and that will plug into my motherboard. P.S. you can click on the image to get the full sized one if you want to zoom in.

1808698

 

 

Here are some pictures of the front of the case and what I want to do with it.

 

Front of the server case, you can see the 13 HDD "carriers" (I had taken one out).

1808699

 

Close up of the center columns of LEDs which are for network activity, but because I am doing this modification that won't work so I plan on repurposing it so that the left side is power usage (each LED will be a certain number of watts, I'm thinking 20 watts per LED) and the right side I'm not sure what I'm going to do with yet. Suggestions are welcome! :)

1808700

 

This is a closeup of the status LEDS, there is one on the left side and one on the right side, from left to right they are power, fans, temperature, and I'm not sure. And again because I am doing this mod they will not work unless I make them work with an arduino or something like that, which I plan to do of corse. You can also see the green "ok" LED on the HDD carriers and the other led on the carrier is an activity LED I will have to do some custom stuff to make these work correctly of corse ;-)

1808701

 

This is all I have so far but I will be posting some more pictures and progress soon!! And please feel free to ask for any additional pictures of what I have so far!

Edited by xxredxpandaxx

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What are the limitations of this chassis?  I don't imagine it can handle hard drives greater than 2TB?  How noisy would you describe it?

 

Looking forward to seeing more info for sure!

 

 

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What are the limitations of this chassis?  I don't imagine it can handle hard drives greater than 2TB?  How noisy would you describe it?

 

Looking forward to seeing more info for sure!

 

the only limitation it has is that it can only hold 14 drives, With the way I am setting this up it is just like plugging the drive into a sata port so if your motherboard/controller can handle 4TB drives you could use those. It isn't using any of the original RAID setup, I am just using the hardware that is there to pass the signals along. (hope this makes sense)

 

Very cool mod. Look forward to seeing more!

 

BTW, the last status light is the "RAID Controller Status Light".

 

Thanks! I am working on getting the other hard drive carriers set up for sata. and waiting for some connectors for the pins in the back. Also thanks for letting me know what the light is :)

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What are the limitations of this chassis?  I don't imagine it can handle hard drives greater than 2TB?  How noisy would you describe it?

 

Looking forward to seeing more info for sure!

 

the only limitation it has is that it can only hold 14 drives, With the way I am setting this up it is just like plugging the drive into a sata port so if your motherboard/controller can handle 4TB drives you could use those. It isn't using any of the original RAID setup, I am just using the hardware that is there to pass the signals along. (hope this makes sense)

 

Makes perfect sense, I wasn't sure if you were keeping the internal guts of it or using your own motherboard/cpu/etc.

 

That's too bad the limitation is only ~14 drives, it's a gorgeous piece of hardware, probably pretty quiet as well.  I suppose you could stack two of these on top of each other and link them with a SAS cable (or whatever that cable is that can link several of the boxes together without requiring redundant motherboard/CPU/memory/etc).

 

Ogi

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at the moment 14 drives will be ok for me as I only have about 12TB of data on 3TB drives. but My plan is to at some point buy another one of these and then move the motherboard to a regular xserve and just have two of the xserve raids for hard drives.

So it will look like this with one more set of drives at the bottom.

FaLu12S.jpg

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at the moment 14 drives will be ok for me as I only have about 12TB of data on 3TB drives. but My plan is to at some point buy another one of these and then move the motherboard to a regular xserve and just have two of the xserve raids for hard drives.

So it will look like this with one more set of drives at the bottom.

FaLu12S.jpg

 

Was just thinking, if you had a M1015 in the xserve (which has 2 SAS connectors on there) and you have one RAID expander card in each xserve RAID enclosure, the entire setup would work quite well, not to mention look amazing (and give you 28 drives of storage).

 

You'll have to post the detailed guide for getting the LEDs working the way you want and everything :)

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That is my plan! I'm hoping that unraid expands the drive limit to 31 so I can use all the drive space available (3 more in the Xserve I believe). And I will be sure to post the led stuff once I figure it out haha.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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That is my plan! I'm hoping that unraid expands the drive limit to 31 so I can use all the drive space available (3 more in the Xserve I believe). And I will be sure to post the led stuff once I figure it out haha.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Worst case you have some drive bays for virtualization ;)

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Well I have a little more progress to show you guys. I cleared out the back where the power supplies, fans, and raid cards were so that I can put my motherboard and power supply in. Also I took some measurements for anyone wanting to know what kind of motherboard can fit back there.

 

g40gNBIl.jpg

 

laid out my components, not sure about the fans though I think I have to figure out a way to put more in there.

SdyBuVel.jpg

 

you have just over 11 inches (wide) of space for a motherboard if you are using a standard ATX power supply.

waxgxfLl.jpg

 

You have just over 10 inches (deep) of space for a motherboard, but that doesn't leave any room for connections to the backplane. A micro ATX motherboard is 9.6 x 9.6 so you have room for one of those and if you have a little bit smaller power supply you can fix a full size ATX motherboard which is 12 x 9.6 I believe.

HNgvHkIl.jpg

 

Here are the original power button and alert/mute button that I will use for power and reset I will also use the LEDS in them for power and HDD activity. I am not sure what to use the mute button for yet, maybe I will think of something later.

qaAWggtl.jpg

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I think you may benefit if you are able to rotate the black fan so it is at an angle, going from the corner of the motherboard to the corner between the back-plane and the case (hope that makes sense). 

 

You are right though, the fan layout here is not optimum, I don't know how realistic it would be to attach the fans to the top cover of the tray (the part you have removed in these pictures) so they sit above the motherboard, but have a long enough power cables so you can connect them and then put the cover on.

 

What mATX board are you using?

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I actually nodded an old apple xserve raid case into an unraid server with data drives earlier this year. I didn't bother keeping the backplane. I just used long data cables. Not as elegant but it worked OK. The real issue was heat. Even with the fans sucking the air through and some fans blowing air onto the front of the case the drives were getting up 60 degrees centigrade when active vs. 30 degrees centigrade in the case I normally used.  Because of the heat issue I scraped the project and went with a 4ru antec server case I got off of eBay for $30.

 

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

 

 

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I actually nodded an old apple xserve raid case into an unraid server with data drives earlier this year. I didn't bother keeping the backplane. I just used long data cables. Not as elegant but it worked OK. The real issue was heat. Even with the fans sucking the air through and some fans blowing air onto the front of the case the drives were getting up 60 degrees centigrade when active vs. 30 degrees centigrade in the case I normally used.  Because of the heat issue I scraped the project and went with a 4ru antec server case I got off of eBay for $30.

 

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

 

Wow, that's a major temperature difference, and that occurred even with the backplanes removed?

 

 

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Yep the backplanes were removed. I think the issue was poor airflow through the drove caddies.

 

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

 

 

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Yep the backplanes were removed. I think the issue was poor airflow through the drove caddies.

 

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

 

Just looked at the drive caddies and oh-lord, not sure how/why I didn't think temperature would be a problem. 

 

xxredxpandaxx, you're going to have to perform some wizardry to keep these hard drives at appropriate temperatures.  As a mechanical engineer, I don't envy that task at all.

 

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Yeah. The case has some pretty heavy duty blowers by default which must force some air through,  but I think the xserve case has been designed to be in an air conditioned rack in a a sound proofed room or cupboard...

 

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

 

 

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I think you may benefit if you are able to rotate the black fan so it is at an angle, going from the corner of the motherboard to the corner between the back-plane and the case (hope that makes sense). 

 

You are right though, the fan layout here is not optimum, I don't know how realistic it would be to attach the fans to the top cover of the tray (the part you have removed in these pictures) so they sit above the motherboard, but have a long enough power cables so you can connect them and then put the cover on.

 

What mATX board are you using?

 

Ya that makes sense. I will try that out as one of my fan layouts. And I am using a CPU Motherboard combo and I don't remember what it is. I know it is a single core 1.5 ghz CPU though. And it's a mini itx motherboard.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I actually nodded an old apple xserve raid case into an unraid server with data drives earlier this year. I didn't bother keeping the backplane. I just used long data cables. Not as elegant but it worked OK. The real issue was heat. Even with the fans sucking the air through and some fans blowing air onto the front of the case the drives were getting up 60 degrees centigrade when active vs. 30 degrees centigrade in the case I normally used.  Because of the heat issue I scraped the project and went with a 4ru antec server case I got off of eBay for $30.

 

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

 

:/ that is not good news about the temperatures. But hopefully I can think of something.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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i contacted c3-xtech and have to admit that the prices are a little crazy

 

$70 for just the hardware (not the drive sled). that is for EACH drive.

 

there is a 10% discount if you order 14 or more of them.

 

i will continue to follow this as i really do enjoy the look of the xserver raid.

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i contacted c3-xtech and have to admit that the prices are a little crazy

 

$70 for just the hardware (not the drive sled). that is for EACH drive.

 

there is a 10% discount if you order 14 or more of them.

 

i will continue to follow this as i really do enjoy the look of the xserver raid.

 

An entire 10%? I'm surprised they've not gone bankrupt offering that... >_>

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Hey sorry I haven't updated in a while, I just got a new car (83 vw rabbit gti) and I have been working on that. But I am going to start working on this project again towards the end of this week and then I will have some updates for you all then.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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