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XSERVE RAID MOD the Ultimate NAS

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#1
XRaidAlex

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Hello Folks,
Almost a year ago. I read a forum post on another website of of a guy named xxredxpandaxx modding an old apple XRAID. Essentially Gutting the unit and painstakingly soldering sata through the mother board to allows the caddies to hold SATA drives. It was a great idea and it got me thinking of undertaking such a task. I however have no soldering skills. And with say 14X 8TB I don't trust my soldering when data is at stake. Also nothing on the outside was functional. It was just a case mod, nothing more.

Link provided https://forums.lime-...le-xserve-raid/

SO I had an idea, redesign boards for both the XRAID and the Caddies. So that at least the drive lights worked in front of the caddy.

If you are having a hard time picturing this I will provide pictures.

But basically my idea entailed making a Daughter card which would accept multple sata and power wires from a mother board and power supply and then transfer the leads through the XRAID style connectors (SCSI 80) into the Caddy and then back to a sata connector to use with sata drives inside the caddy. I wanted the lights to also be functional.

Again I hit a road block I don't know much about making PCB boards. So I enlisted the help and expertise of another forum member, an electrical engineer. Not only was he able to make new caddy boards for SATA, and make the large daughter board to accept the sata from a pc motherboard. He also was able to get the caddy lights to be functional.

So the caddies are done. We are now in the final stages of the large 17" daughter board. I will also have pictures of the progress.

The third task which will be started soon is getting the throughput lights to work in the center of the machine. My hope is to have it register network bandwidth. Also rewiring of the power button from the back to the front is also on the list.

The second part of this project is aesthetics and airflow. I again have no knowledge of how to cut aluminum or design mother board trays. So I enlisted help from someone in the UK. And let me tell you he designed the most beautiful pc tray and top. The tray will have holes for risers for mitx, or matx. and the top will have a cutout that will make it easy to swap cards out so you dont have to unscrew everything to get to them.

I will have more pictures and will be editing this post to make it a little bit more linear.

I think this will be the best looking NAS out there. Perfect for holding all your data and transcoding plex videos provided you buy enough horsepower under the hood.

#2
XRaidAlex

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Video of led lights working:

The first photo shows the caddy with its plastic on top.
The second photo shows the new improved sata caddy board.
The third photo shows the 2nd revision of the new 17" board. The 3rd revision containes cut outs for powered fans for pasthru airflow.
If anybody is interested kits will be for sale.

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#3
XRaidAlex

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Glimpses of the aluminum case top and mobo backplane/mobo tray being designed by david chugg of thelaserhive.com

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#4
XRaidAlex

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The Backplane Daughter board is finished. Notice the place settings for (24) 15 mm fans to help keep the hard drives cool. 

 

Attached File  0321170627b.jpg   88.53KB   10 downloads

 

Attached File  0321170627a.jpg   108.84KB   6 downloads



#5
Randomguy1911

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Nice Work.

How much would those kits be?



#6
XRaidAlex

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thank you... i am looking forward to finally having a large raid that looks amazing, and works flawlessly.

As for cost, i will let the talented engineer give his input.

#7
Randomguy1911

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pm made public for the engineer

 

I got inspired by the limetech forum post as well and am in the process of modding hdd caddies right now. I found your project and have to say: nice job so far.

How did you get the hdd LEDs to work and are they Drive specific; 

Will all activity leds on all drives blink simultaniously or (hopefully ) per disk?

 

And may i add some ideas?

1. You could make the ventilation holes bigger to allow for more airflow. 

2. Relocate the sata Ports to the top to allow for atx mainboards to be installed.

2.a if possible: group all the sata ports to the left or right side of the pcb to reduce cable mess. In Blocks of 4x sata for 8087 mini sas to sata cables

3. include mounting holes for 80mm fans (hole for pcb standoff attached to the Fan).

 

If it helps i could model it in sketchup how i imagine 'my version' of backplane. 



#8
XRaidAlex

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The engineer wil explain that the caddy led's will all be independant and functional. If the drive is be accessed it will blink, with activity of the led directly proportional to the activity of the drive.

#9
PRS-TECH

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See my answers in bold.  

 

Due to the amount of time it will take to assemble the kits and the cost of components we plan to ask for $1000 for a complete kit.

 

This seems like a lot, but in reality a 14 bay Raid does not come cheap in any current form.  

 

pm made public for the engineer

 

I got inspired by the limetech forum post as well and am in the process of modding hdd caddies right now. I found your project and have to say: nice job so far.

How did you get the hdd LEDs to work and are they Drive specific; 

 

The sata power connector on most drives has a pin that is connected to an open drain output to indicate drive activity.   This pin is usually just lumped in with the grounds and not broken out.   I found a cable that has this pin broken out to use an activity light.   I'm not sure how many drives have this pin as i have limited number of drives to try.  I have read that it is usually there. 

Will all activity leds on all drives blink simultaniously or (hopefully ) per disk?

 

Activity indication is per disk.

 

And may i add some ideas?

1. You could make the ventilation holes bigger to allow for more airflow. 

 

This was my original idea, but we decided to make them the right size for 15mm fans.  We will have to revisit this if the fans do not move enough air.

2. Relocate the sata Ports to the top to allow for atx mainboards to be installed.

 

The ports were put where they are to keep the runs as short as possible.  We are already passing the SATA data through a lot of connectors.  I wanted to do as much as possible to help maintain data integrity.  

 

2.a if possible: group all the sata ports to the left or right side of the pcb to reduce cable mess. In Blocks of 4x sata for 8087 mini sas to sata cables

 

Same as above.

 

3. include mounting holes for 80mm fans (hole for pcb standoff attached to the Fan).

 

I like this idea if i can manage to make them line up in a way to not interfere with anything else.

 

If it helps i could model it in sketchup how i imagine 'my version' of backplane. 



#10
XRaidAlex

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Welcome Prs-tech... gents and ladies... this is the genius behind the board. Many engineering firms said it couldn't be done.... prs-tech, said to me... "i think i understand what you are trying to do... send me a few caddies, let me take a look. And a few months later here we are!

#11
Randomguy1911

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"$1000 for a complete kit."

 

What does that include?



#12
PRS-TECH

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"$1000 for a complete kit."

 

What does that include?

 

Backplane board, Caddy boards, and Caddy power cable/sata cables.  


Blank boards or solder it yourself kits could be offered for much less.

#13
Randomguy1911

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That's quite a lot. more than i would be willing to spend to be honest.

How much would the Diy kits be?

I would prefer to solder them myself

 

Right now i have 2 whole chassis here, 3 original backplanes and 40 caddies. 

And i was originally planning to get at least 2 whole systems complete in the foreseeable future

 

I did a little modelling in sketchup and Fusion 360 for ventilation holes and fan placement.

 

http://imgur.com/a/wYBAs

 

Maybe you can give me some feedback whether or not this design is possible.

I will make an acrylic version of it on my cnc in a few days.

 

I intend on using 5x 80mm Noctua fans so the whole unit doesn't have to be louder than the HDDs themselves







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