Rack mount HDD enclosure, part 4

Build Log:

Time to admit defeat. Well, sort of.

Over the last couple weeks I’ve tried several options for mounting hard drives inside the rack mount enclosure I had purchased. And so far none of the options had really worked well. First, let’s look at the layout of the enclosure.

Recall that I was trying to work in the Bud Industries PRM-14462 enclosure, which is a 2Ux8″ plastic enclosure — there is a 1U and 3U option as well. If you look at the technical drawing for the enclosure, you’ll see that there are 4 posts in the middle of the enclosure with about 8½” between them. 3½” HDDs are 4″ wide.

I could have the HDDs mounted fairly close together, but the trouble was figuring out how. I bought acrylic sheet from my local Home Depot with the intent of trying to make HDD mounts from scratch, but trying to drill all of that by hand without a drill press (one of the downsides of living in an apartment) only proved frustrating. So I ultimately gave up on that mark.

By the way, if you’re wanting to drill holes through acrylic, get a glass-cutting bit. It works like a charm.

Another material I considered, and which probably would’ve worked well, was aluminum angle bar. But after trying to use acrylic to get want I wanted, I didn’t want to custom build something if it could be avoided.

With that in mind, I found a product from Agestar that intrigued me. I first saw it listed on ModDIY, but as out of stock, then found it listed on NewEgg as in stock. Thinking it would work like a charm, I ordered 4 sets, one for each HDD that’d be going into this. Things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped though as they wouldn’t fit within the vertical posts in the enclosure.

There was another problem with the enclosure that ultimately led me to believe what I had planned would not work.

3½” HDDs are not only 4″ wide, they’re 5¾” long. Subtract out about 1″ for the fans I’d be having in the front to draw in air, and that leaves only 1¼” of space for figuring out how to neatly route cables. The lack of SATA power connectors on the drives means I need to use splitters, which would take up a significant chunk of that leftover space, meaning cable management would be interesting, to say the least. Plus I’d need to run cables to the port multiplier and fans, along with the other cables coming off the power supply… it’d get messy quickly.

So what I need ultimately is just a deeper enclosure, preferably at 11″ or 12″. It still needs to be 2U depth, since everything else I’ve bought is for that configuration. The deeper enclosure, preferably one without vertical posts, should allow for a much better configuration of everything. The only trouble is finding one for a reasonable price, as most of the ones I’ve found are either too expensive or available only from an overseas supplier.

One company I am considering, though, is Protocase since they are here in the United States, namely New York, and I’m using their designer software to make an enclosure that will support 4x80mm fans in the front plus a 22mm anti-vandal switch. For the back, I’m not sure what I’m going to do there. I may stick to my original plans to leave it open with the exception of thin mesh, or I’ll see how much I’m quoted to have a proper back panel on it with ventilation holes.