nice rack!

In October of 2004 I undertook a semi-major project – turning part of our basement into a Network Operations Center.

One section of the basement is a small room, about 6 feet by 15 feet, not counting the area under the stairs, which is only usable for storage of oddly-shaped things. The conduit that we had the electrician install in the house all terminates in this room. I have placed a bunch of pictures online:

taken during construction in October 2004
taken today

I had written lengthy descriptions for each picture, but due to misleading options in the upload program, they were truncated to a shadow of their former selves. I edited them so they didn’t look stupid… perhaps one day I will revisit them and add more detail.

A few months after the rack was installed, Kathy made me a bunch of large shelves to complete the space. As you can see from the second set of pictures, it has collected crap and is now due for a major cleanup effort. I also have severe wire management issues on the rack.

For the most part, this project was fun. Punching the wires took a lot of effort. I punched down all 384 wires on the distribution side, then used a tone tool to locate each wire on the rack side so it would be punched to the same port. I’m pretty sure that if that small break wasn’t built in after each cable that my arms would have died from working over my head continuously. When I was done with all the punching, the cat5 test unit I borrowed from work only revealed a handful of wires that had been mispunched. I managed to fix one of those wires wrong, which left the cable too short to fix again. Luckily, I had run 8 extra wires just in case. This turned out to be a wise idea.

10 responses to “nice rack!”

  1. Wow, nice rack indeed! What kind of servers do you have sitting in it!

    I toyed around with the idea of making a home-made rack. Now, after seeing yours, I’m motivated to put my plans into action 🙂

  2. In the set of pictures taken recently is a picture named “servers” … the four servers are, from top to bottom: Old firewall. Will be the firewall again soon.
    p2-400, 128MB ram
    8GB IDE drive My primary server.
    p2-400, 512MB ram
    9GB SCSI boot drive
    two 40GB IDE drives (software RAID1, not recognized by BIOS) Web proxy for the kids, debian mirror.
    AMD Duron 650
    256MB RAM
    20GB IDE drive Primary server for
    Celeron 1.7Ghz
    256MB RAM
    8GB IDE system drive
    200GB IDE data drive

    In the “wide view” picture, you can see a server on the shelf above the monitor. It is a huge Compaq Proliant server. Here is its info: 1fn PBX
    P-III 1.4Ghz
    1GB RAM
    RAID1 mirror, two 18GB SCSI-3 drives.

  3. Nice Idea. I don’t mean to criticize, so don’t take offense (installing stuff like this is what I do for a living). The 19″ rack and all that to be up to building code it needs 3′ in all directions around the equipment, you could use some more cable managers in between your patch panels and your devices, and it looks like you used shielded cable to punch to the back of your of your panels…I hope you used solid core cable for that considering the type of cable that’s used in patch cords is stranded, and meant to be bendy, where the station cable is solid core so you can get a positive termination with less attenuation. (and cisco 2900 series are iffy…I’ve had nothing but problems with them at work, though we use them mainly for carrying voice and trunk traffic, and not data). Flex conduit is nice, but it’s only really necessary for fiber optic. Do you have surge suppression on any of your incoming cabling? You should at least have an entrance block with some carbon fuses for the telephone line carrying your data signal into your pad, which should be grounded. In fact, everything should be grounded, including the patch panels, and the rack on a copper bus, using 3/8″ grounding cable, with the bus attached to an outside ground bus and a mechanical ground bus (usually attached to the main power box in your house), and the resistance to ground should be less than .5 ohms…to bring it to code because now it classifies as a communications site.

  4. Oh, yeah, and the space between the 110 punches on the patch panels, I use that to zip-tie the cables flush to the patch panel, makes them neater.

  5. Don’t take offense? I’m doing my best, but your comment essentially says “you’ve done it all wrong, you’re a bad man, and you’re going to hell, without the handbasket.”

    All of the cable is unshielded solid-core Cat5e. The RJ45 ends are made for solid core cable. Stranded wire is too expensive.

    As for building code … we’re talking about my basement. It’s not likely to ever need to be inspected by a professional. I have no plans to ever finish the walls and ceiling in this room.

    The UPS units already provide filtered power. I think I will look into surge supression for the incoming phone lines. Any chance you’d send me two of them and a couple of spare breakers? (: I know that good ones aren’t terribly cheap, and I have two phone lines to deal with.

    Is separate grounding really that big a deal for my basement? I can certainly do it, as the breaker panels are right in the same room, but this really isn’t meant to be anything other than my hobby space.

    The conduit was installed by the electrician subcontractor who built the house. We didn’t want them installing permanent cables into the walls – I couldn’t have told them in advance what I wanted run, and the price difference between conduit with no cable runs and their standard set of cable runs was only $400. I would have been happy with any kind of conduit, the flex stuff was what the electrician chose to use.

  6. Not really the effect I wanted to give…but it’s a hell of lot better than I could do in my own place, or even afford…still very cool. And you are a bad man (meant as a compliment).

  7. With the cost of the equipment alone, I’d at least get one grounding rod installed outside…Utah gets lots of lightning, and I know the prices on a lot of the stuff you have installed, and it isn’t cheap. I ground rod and little bit of cable to ground it could save you headaches and money if crap hit the fan. The UPS does do pretty good filtering, but a lightning strike hits with about 20,000 Amps. You have an expensive hobby, it’s very cool.

  8. Now looking back at what I posted, it was very rude of me. I’d like to apologize. The services you provide from your hobby have provided me with hours of entertainment, a vital link to home, a place to vent, and a place to be creative. I really do appreciate what you do. It was wrong of me to judge by pictures and dissect something that you’ve put a lot of effort, money and time into, and all I did was offer criticism when I should be offering my thanks for your hard work. It’s easy for me to be critical where I work for a government entity where I’m expected to do this type of stuff up to code, and am provided with the means to do it, and I know I stepped beyond my bounds by doing it and regret it. I think part of it comes from where basically every bit of work I do gets judged harshly by my coworkers, as well as where we judge each other harshly, and it’s wrong of me to do that to anyone outside of my workgroup. Please accept my apology – I’m a bastard.

  9. It’s all good. And you are a bastard (meant as a compliment).

    I gave it some thought and I think I will see about getting some ground wire. Would that braided copper work, or should I go for more traditional wire?

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