Rack Mounting Project

Well, as you can see, the shack is overdue for a seriously needed overhaul! Follow along as I tear this all down and rack mount it. It’s a BIG job, and will have to be finished before March 3rd. The Rack Mounting Project is officially underway!

K6HR - DM03xv
This will serve as the “Before” picture for the shack overhaul blog

There’s no room for any additional equipment, and trying to work with any of the cables behind the current setup is nearly impossible! I tried adding a TV riser so I could stack more gear, but I still ran out of space.

Rack Mounting Project
I’m out of space both horizontally and vertically. Time for a change!
Rack Mounting Project
Rescued from the scrap pile, this rack would eliminate my horizontal radio sprawl!

I came across this 44U server rack as it was heading for the scrap heap, and got the idea to “go vertical” and transform my radio room into a much more productive space. The idea for the rack mounting project was born!

Yes, this would involve significant planning…<grin>

I started with a measuring tape.

  • Will this rack even fit in my room?
  • Could my gear fit in this rack?
  • How many rack spaces will I need exactly?
  • What hardware will I need in order to mount everything?
  • How will I move it around?
  • There are Grounding and DC distribution considerations
  • Vertical Layout Planning

Once I could see all these numbers were falling into place, I made arrangements to get the rack dropped off. I got the idea sometime in September or  October and started measuring. I had the rack delivered in early November, and started ordering all the parts.

At this point I’ve resolved the mobility issue (Craftsman Mobile Base), rack mounted all 3 PC’s and removed all the unwanted furniture and clutter from the radio room so I’ll have room to start the build.

Unboxing the PC rackmount cases
L to R: Windows 7 PC, Ubuntu 13.04 Server

The PC’s went into the rackmount cases without a hitch. I’ll mount them once the shelves arrive.

Today I took a second look at WordPress and decided to install it on the web server here in the shack. It was easy to install, and appears to be up and running OK.

I plan to document the steps taken to complete this rack mounting project as I go along, while at the same time learning WordPress and planning the repair bench that will follow the rack conversion. Right now the rack is still in the garage and will likely stay there until after the holidays.

Ergonomic Layout

I have just enough space to rackmount everything. Considering I also have rear rack rails, some less important items can be mounted from the rear. This is all about the ergonomic layout. I may even build some breakout panels for the antenna and audio connectors. I’ll be using a combination of 2U and 3U rack shelves (special thanks to the folks at Gator Rackworks!)  I had to go 3U for some shelves in order to get a useable depth. Most of the radio gear will sit on shelves.

The current layout plan (from top to bottom):

  • ROTOR SHELF       4U
  • AT-AUTO HI           4U
  • AT-AUTO LO           4U
  • 2M RADIO / TNC   1U
  • FLEX VU5K            6U
  • 1K-FA                      4U
  • FLEX 6300             2U
  • FLEX 6700             2U
  • AC POWER             1U
  • PC#1 W7                4U  <<< DESKTOP
  • PC#2 W10              4U
  • PC#3 SERVER        4U
  • ASTRON RS-70      4U

I need the radios and amplifier close to the desktop, placing other ‘less touched’ items either down below or up above. I think the ergonomics are OK at this point.

Before I can start building I have to empty the shack so I can remove all the dust. I have a significant dust problem. And the problem was most apparent as I swapped out the cases on the two production PC’s. Choking on dust.

The plan is to empty the room, and mitigate the dust. I plan to use an air compressor to blow off the dust that’s embedded in the stucco-like ceiling, then, I’ll thoroughly vacuum before having the carpet steam cleaned. Going forward I will employ an oversized HEPA filter in the radio room which will run 24/7 to capture all particulates and hopefully eliminate or at least vastly improve my dust problem.

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