Home Networking Upgrade V3

I’ve seen a lot of posts on ‘te interwebs about home servers recently and It made me think of my home network.

Most people who know me are well aware of the beasts in my house, more commonly known as “Ainsey11’s Datacenter” and the power they use,  I have 3 Dell 2950’s specced out with 32GB ram, and 5 * 1tb Drives in each. All servers have dual PSU’s and when running pull just short of 4 Kilowatts of electricity. The servers are in my garage and connect to the house via some gigabit fiber under the drive and some sfp’s on 2 24 port gig switches.

When I fire up my other servers (3* supermicro’s) it spikes to 5KW, after a bit of maths and a mega electric bill, my parents decided for me that it might be time to downsize….

So I started looking into my options. I used the servers for Vhosts with Veaam on a supermicro for backups. The majority of the VM’s run mysql and apache instances for my bitcoin mining pool.

(see my Crypto section for more)

The other servers are for my domain controllers, file sharing, media streaming etc, standard stuff really. But nothing was going to be cheap to replace the beast of the 2950’s in my garage. so I can consolidate them onto some less power hungry boxes without too much hassle. I also decided that I was going to upgrade my core networking whilst I was at it. So I decided to rebuild my network as below :



not the best diagram but hey ho. Anyway – went a little off topic there. I looked into buying a couple of micro-servers but by the time I had spent the money on ram and disks it would be more expensive to run. So I thought about building my own box. I had some old motherboards and ram, and tonnes of hard drives I could make use of. So I drew up a quick plan to build one. As one server wouldn’t be enough to run everything I would need two. However to save me building two servers I picked up a cheap dell optiplex tower, kitted it out with 16GB ram and 2 * 4tb hard drives.  I installed windows server 2012 on it (student licence like a boss) and configured it as a domain controller and hyper V server. I then moved my VM’s from my esxi vhosts in the garage onto this without a hitch. So, all the VM’s are now being ran on the optiplex. As these aren’t mission critical to my network they don’t need to be in HA or anything special but If I really wanted to I could set that up in seconds with Hyper – V.

As for the other server, I wanted to mainly use it for file services and backups and my other low power applications. So I wouldn’t need a hugely powerful set-up but I want room to expand if need be. From hunting around in the PC parts in the garage I settled on (you’ll laugh)

  • Pentium 4 2.8GHZ processor
  • 4 GB Ram
  • Random Dell motherboard (1.80 in an ebay auction!)
  • 220W Dell ATX Powersupply
  • 2 * 3Ware Raid Cards (4 Ports Each)
  • Standard 3GB/s sata cables
  • Standard IDE cables
  • 4 * 2TB Sata HDD’s
  • 4 * 500GB IDE’s
  • 1 * 250 GB for OS
  • 3 * 120MM LED fans
  • Some MDF Board and sheet aluminium for the case

I chose the above because it isn’t built for speed. Its going to be low tier storage for my VHOST and I had all those parts readily available. So I did a few doodles of what I wanted to build and showed my dad, as he’s an engineer he took one look and came up with an technical plan of action, All parts were going to be as modular as possible and easy to remove.

Here is a base spec of the chassis :

  • 3 fans at the front to increase airflow on removable board
  • 8 Hard drives are to sit in an removable bay behind the fans
  • The motherboard is to sit on an tray that clips onto the main chassis
  • PSU will be fixed into place at the rear
  • The chassis will be made from aluminium cross section and heat resistant painted MDF

After we decided this I worked out the costs for the parts

  • MDF – £7.80
  • Aluminium – already owned
  • Fans – £12
  • Cables £5
  • Plexiglass – £3.50
  • Total Cost – £28.30

Exactly what I was hoping for, under £30 for a storage tier server! so, time to build….

I don’t have pictures of everything so I’m going to pop them all below with a little description.




This is the overall server, without any hardware :

the fan cover made from the plexiglass, the holes in the top are for RAID lights and power lights


the side panels


The rear panel from an old dell case :


The top :


with the motherboard and PSU added :