I haven't found any server cases which are affordable, or which do not require inventorying proprietary fasteners and parts to enable the use of many hard drives in a small enclosure. I also don't like the design of may different cases as they don't channel air properly. Most cases simply put mega fans everywhere with no conceptualization of where the air would flow to minimize the noise or to prevent needless hard drive barbecues. My 11 bay tower case was only equipped for use with 5.25" bays which limited me to using bay converters with each hard drive while wasting space between each drive bay and having a maximum of nine hard drives in my machine with nine cooling fans to maintain. I was shopping around to see if I could find a way to install multiple hard drives in the 5 1/4" bays with more efficiency and I could not find anything (Short of upgrading my case); As always, if I can't find the solution, I do it myself. I began to measure up everything to see if a prototype idea would work and began creating three prototypes from spare PC parts from a local recycling depot (CD drives, power supplies and what not..). I tweaked the measurements a little here and there and here is what I got:
I built my own 3 bay five drive tray with the ability to evenly space 2, 3, 4 or 5 drives so I could squeeze another six hard drives in my 11 bay PC case. I ran tests on four Hitachi 7200rpm 1TB drives and one Seagate 7200rpm 1TB drive all squeezed into the tray and found temperatures to be the same as running one drive all by itself inside my computer (25 to 35 Celsius depending on ambient and drive usage) For fun, I also added a fan speed control which I pulled from a failed Enermax PSU. I used the larger 92mm fan as I felt that it would create less noise and provide greater air CFM cooling. Even if you don't have five hard drives, it makes for a superb hard drive cooling tray in your computer. Now I only have three fans to maintain and the case will be far more quiet in operation prior to using the nine hard drive trays. I was so pleased with the unit I thought I'd share my design.
The templates I made up in Corel Draw as it was the only program I had to my dispense with some type of mathematical measurements in place for creating a "to-scale" drill and cut template. I also included PDF print-offs for those who do not have access to a Corel application for viewing them.
Corel Draw & Adobe templates with pictures:PDF Drill guide for holes can be found here:Code:http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=8bc195d421a16210d2db6fb9a8902bdaAnd TXT drill guides here:Code:http://www.irwin.com/irwin/resources/Decimal_Equivalents_Guide.pdfMy assembly steps are as follows. Mind you, you could assemble this differently depending on your materials at hand:Code:http://www.bjg-design.com/designbook/tapdril3.htm
(Measurements may not be 100% accurate, but worked well for me. Use trial and error if assembly needs corrections)
1: Print off the first three pages from the provided templates in the attached zip file above. The fourth page is for reference only.
2: Measure out 5.75" by 14" on a piece of sheet steel and cut the square out of the material. Make sure to subtract from the width measurement the thickness of two square brackets you will be using.
3: Using the baseplate drill template and Front bay Panel template, mark where you will be drilling holes with a steel punch and where you will be later making bends in the steel. Make sure to subtract the thickness of one square bracket plus an additional measurement from the 1/8" pop-rivets for the bends on the front panel.
4: Drill out 5/32" holes on the baseplate for the hard drives and four 3/16" holes for the fan.
5: Mark the circumference of the fan opening and cut it out using a Dremel or a steel nibbler.(this step is difficult)
6: Bend the steel using a Vice and hammer, or a steel bender if you have access to one. I drilled 1/8" holes where I was making my bends so I could bend the material without fancy bending tools. This also gave way to making adjustments to my bends later on in the game to make the tray fit snug in the computer.
7: Cut lengths of aluminum angle bracing for the front and bottom of the bent steel.
8: Drill 1/8" holes nearest to the edge of the material to attach the brackets to the steel. Add 0.1" to the width of the front face of the adapter by placing an additional bracket on the left and right edges.
9: Using the side bay template, mark and drill two 3/32" holes for tapping with a M3 tap. If you don't have a tap, you could always force a M3 screw into the aluminum with some machine oil to prevent the aluminum from sticking to the screw. You also could use a 6-32" Machine screw if you feel it would work easier.
10: (Optional) I heavily modified a large heat sink for attaching to the top of the hard drives for maximum cooling efficiency using the baseplate template. Ensure that any brace material on the top of the drives do not exceed a height of 1". I cut mine 0.9" just to be sure I wasn't bumping into anything which may install above the drives. You may also decide to build another baseplate and cut it to size for placement over the top of the hard drives as well. This will likely eliminate vibration and instability to installing the hard drives onto the base alone. Everything should fit well.
Note: On the bottom of the drive tray, use low profile screws to eliminate issues with improper placement in your case.
Again, most people don't need this type of adapter as most cases have enough bays for hard drives already. I however found this to be more than adequate for stuffing more into my case than it was designed to take, plus making the drives run cooler, quieter with using one fifth of the fans previously required for cooling. If anyone has any suggestions, I am open to them. I am sure there are a few people who have their own computer projects which you are proud of. Maybe someone already designed what I already did? who knows.