Linux, Networking / VoIP

What do you need to build a disk shelf?

In a Homelab, disk shelves are a simple solution to add storage to an existing server. Just add an SAS adapter for some extra external SAS ports and you are ready. On the r/Homelab sub-reddit, older disk shelves, such as the NetApp DS4243 or the Dell MD1200 are popular, but noisy choices. If you want a quiet disk shelf, you will need to build it yourself.

The Titanus project was a simple project, build a quiet disk shelf. This required an ATX case, a power supply, an external SAS to SATA converter and something to switch the power supply on.

The case project started with a Rosewill RSV-L4500 case that was unsued and upgraded with three RSV-SATA-Cage-34, thus upgrading the case to 12 hotswaps 3.5" SATA drives. Connectivity for 8 HDD was provided by a Dual Mini SAS 26pin SFF-8088 to 36pin SFF-8087 Adapter and a pair of Mini SAS 36Pin (SFF-8087) Male to 4 SATA 7Pin Female Cable. To allow for 12 HDD, a SAS expander card would have been required. Two common solutions to start the power supply are either an external ATX power supply switch, or an ATX power breakout adapter with a power switch. Both can easily found on Amazon or Ebay.

Titan Disk Shelf Prototype, with 4 drives and ATX power supply breakout adapter in red.

The resulting Titan Disk Shelf prototype performed silently, even with several 120mm and 80mm fans added. A PWN fan controller was used to properly balance the noise to airflow ratio.

Those interested in building their own disk shelves should start on the previously mention r/homelab sub-reddit, and possibly check out the ServeTheHome forums, as both are excellent and up to date source of information for this kind of project.

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About Alex Denault

Veteran software developer / sysadmin and holds a PhD in Computer Science. Avid computer enthusiast (geek) who has been dabbling with technology ever since his Dad brought home an 8086 computer.
  • Canada
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