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The New Server Cabinet

December 20, 2008 02:12

I wrote most of this several weeks ago, so if it seems like I'm referring to already completed projects in the future tense, just bear with me

Sometimes, it seems that I like to make things complicated. Of course, sometimes they just ARE complicated and you must play the game. No matter though. That's just how it plays out. Such is the case for my new server cabinet. I'll start at the semi-beginning.

My office is cold. Everything boils down to that. Well, it's also a mess, but mostly it's just cold. No problem, drag in an electric space heater or three, along with one to three 14 ga extention cords and the office feels moderately acceptable... while wearing long sleeve shirts and maybe a blanket... and all for the reasonable cost of $25 per heater, plus $600 a month in electricity. Installing central heat downstairs would help, as would insulating this room, but I can't do either until I'm done with the rough-in on the addition which I have yet to start building. So I need a shorter term solution. I could set up one of those nifty gas heaters that I already have and it wouldn't add more than $30-40 a month to my gas bill, but that would require me to rearrnage the office a bit. Problem, every wall is occupied by horizontal surfaces, and try though I might, I can't seem to justify eliminating anything that currently occupies those surfaces.

Enter the server cabinet. Since I have one table covered with 3 servers, a monitor, several USB drives, and a bunch of power supplies, wires, hubs, and a printer (some of this stuff actually encroaches onto other tables in the room as well), I figured I could solves some of the horizontal space issues by simply creating more horizontal space. With 10 ft high ceilings, I was able to build a server cabinet with a 2' x 2' footprint and 6 levels (if you include the very top). That gives me 12 feet worth of space that no longer needs to occupy the tables.

The yellow dresser will get relocated into the closet, where it should just perfectly fit, the one table on the east wall will move all the way back, the table on the north wall will slide over to butt up against it, and the heater can then occupy the now 4' of space on the north wall that will be available. In addition, the 6 feet worth of space for my workbench will now be 12 feet and I SHOULD be able to minimise clutter from that point on. I'll probably need to build some more shelves or maybe another cabinet. We shall see.

Now, zoom forward a few weeks. The dresser is in the closet and I've put a few shelves above it. I've got one side of the closet stacked to the ceiling with bins. The other side is filled about half high, but just stacked so far. I'll add shelves in there soon as well. The one gas heater is now installed in here as I've installed the gas line. There's room! And the tables are still cluttered, but much less so than they were. I actually have a bit of room to work over there now.

I wanted to do a nice Xmas display THIS year, but it once again didn't happen. Of course, doing an outdoor display depended on various other projects being completed first, and those projects haven't been accomplished yet either. Anyways, I'll shoot for next year. I HAVE solved the site based music syncing issue, even though I need to do some hardware for it. That part is no longer a mystery. Still looking for a decent way to do flash streaming, but maybe the new year will present a solution to that problem.

I've fixed some minor issues with the critter, so it's ambling around again. I'm now working on designing the next incarnation. Instead of wood, the next one will be designed with thick plexiglass. I'll also use a wheel configuration that won't cause problems with spinning. In this vein, I'm looking for a few things. First off, I need a combination of motor + gearhead + encoder + wheel all at a decent price (preferably less than $50 per unit). The wheels need to be at least 4" in diameter.. maybe 5", the motor needs to be 24V and have a gear ratio of preferably 1:100. It doesn't have to go fast. One revolution per second is plenty fast. However, it needs pretty decent torque. If it finds a ramp or bump, it needs to be able to get over it. And that's assuming it's carrying 20 pounds of weight. I need an encoder, or at least a decent shaft to attach an encoder onto.