Ikea: Purveyors of neat, inexpensive things.
Ikea NAS: Way-Cool, Low-Power, High-Capacity, Network Storage or general use computer.
Update: A little more can be found at my website post: http://aaroneiche.com/2009/03/31/my-diy-nas/ - hardware is the same, but this contains a bit more about it's use.
Update 2: The NAS has been in regular use for a few of months and has not had any heat issues. It does get occasionally warm on top. In hindsight, I think I would have preferred to put a small vent in the front to improve airflow, but apparently It's not necessary. The air that comes in through the port panel may be enough. Also, I've seen a number of people other places state that this costs too much compared to commercially available options. Please note that my price (about $310) includes a 1.5TB harddrive, because a NAS is worthless without a drive in it. So at under $200, I think it's a pretty good value, especially considering it's flexibility.
A long time back I stumbled across a website where a guy had put together a cheap DIY computer for $200. His costs went up and down a bit, but in the end he had a computer that he could not only experiment with, but also use as a back-up storage device. This was the first time I ever heard of a NAS.
Network Attached Storage is like an external hard drive. Instead of plugging it into your USB or Firewire port, you connect it to your local network. This is useful because it's accessible from each computer on the network. Given the right OS and permissions, you can control who can access it when, and even for what purpose.
Additionally, This little unit is a way to be a little nicer to the environment. All the electronics are RoHS compliant and the unit is Low Power, saving you some cash and the Earth some life.
This instructable will show you how to Build the NAS I built, and point you in the right direction for getting it up and running.
Step 1: Parts and Supplies
1x Stainless Steel Box from Ikea (Emu) - This actually comes in a set of two. I wanted something small, so I chose the use the 7x10 box, but the larger box will work just great.
1x Mini-ITX motherboard - The Mini-ITX form factor motherboard is really brilliant. Compact, powerful, low-power, and usually the processor is integrated right into the board, so you don't have to worry about anything. I'm using the Intl D945GCLF2
Hard drives - depending on how much storage you need, this will vary. I went with a 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11. I'll warn you that this drive has a bad reputation for RAID setups, so if you're going to do something like that, make sure you get a drive that has a better track record.
Power Supply - The Pico PSU120. This is quite a bit of power in a little package, 120w to be precise. I love these things. There's no way you'll need more power than this thing can dole out.
A Fan - I had an 80mm fan from another project hanging around, and I realized that I'd probably need it if I didn't cut some vents in the top. My fan is extremely quiet. I'll warn you that the fan onboard the motherboard is not very quiet. DON'T TRY TO RUN WITHOUT IT. The video chipset will not survive with passive cooling.
Ram - 2GB, it's the max this board will take.
An ATX power-switch - This a little power switch to turn on and off.
2x Right angle mounting brackets. You'll use these to mount the Hard-drive.
Assortment of screws and nuts - 6-32 thread screws are the standard hard drive screw, and I found that those screws of different lengths worked great for everything. I did use 8-32 for a couple of things, but there was no difference practically speaking.
Cost for Project:
Kingston Ram 2GB: $22.99
Intel D945GCLF2: $83.99
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB: $129.99
Ikea "Emu" boxes: $6.00
PicoPSU 120 60W kit: $54.95
Various Screws, Mounting Hardware: ~$10.00
Total: ~$308 not including shipping. No doubt you could get a NAS for cheaper than this, but you won't get the expansion or flexibility.
Step 2: Cut Up the Box
Break out the Dremel!
I highly recommend that you do some measurements, make some templates and make sure you've got everything the way you want to lay it out.
I chose to put my motherboard towards the back, point out one of the longer sides. The corners of the box are rounded, and because the 6.75" is a tight squeeze in this 7" wide box, you'll need to do something similar. I considered cutting just a small opening for power and the network card and then mounting it internally with the ports pointed towards the shorter ends. I decided though that I wanted the option of this being a regular computer.
I'll warn you now that this is stainless steel, not aluminum as it may look. It's not easy to cut through and requires a lot of patience. Take it slow, and buff and sand everything.
Step 3: Mount the Motherboard
Did you clear out the metal shavings and left-overs out of your case? Really? I cannot stress the importance here. One little shaving could short out your MotherBoard. Short-out/$85 down the drain.
Take some time and clean out the case after you've completed all of your cutting and drilling. Method I recommend:
1) Get a strong magnet
2) Wrap it in a tissue
3) Go around the edge of the box.
4) The filings (which have magnetized upon cutting) will stick to the tissue.
5) Empty into a garbage can by taking the tissue off of the magnet.
Repeat that several times. also take a brush and go around the crevices and the edges of the box. Clean out the box, and make sure it's in good shape. You'll save yourself some potential trouble.
Okay. Now that the case is clean, The motherboard. I cut my case to have room for the metal insert. I recommend it if you can.
The screws I put in here are 6-32 thread 2" long. I have two nuts. one which secures the screw to the case, and another which supports the motherboard. Initially I planned on putting another nut, but my holes weren't drilled perfectly, so the slightly off pressure of the screws is enough to hold it in place.
Step 4: Add Harddrive Hardware and Hard...drive
To resolve, this, I decided to mount the drives vertically. This will assist with heat ventilation as well. The method is to have two right angle brackets attached to the case which will mount on the top of the drive, and then holes on the bottom of the case to mount on the bottom of the drive.
If you choose to follow my design exactly, make sure you get yourself a right angle SATA connection. The straight connectors won't fit in that tight space.
Step 5: Fan, PSU and You're Ready!
Really you just need to tuck the Power Supply in and make sure it doesn't get in the way of any of the air circulation. With the PSU120, you'll probably need an ATX extension cable. The Pico has a pair of capacitors on one end that just don't with everything so tight. If you're going with the Pico PSU90, those capacitors aren't there and you can plug it right into the board.
The fan I've attached at the far end of the case just on the other side of the motherboard. It turns out that because of that rounded edge, you have just enough room to put the fan in.
One thing not pictured here: Power switch. I picked one up for a few bucks. I decided to save myself the trouble and not drill a hole. I don't think I'll be turning this off and on everyday, so I decided to just keep it in the case and open the lid when I need to access it.
Step 6: You're Done! + Post Steps
Personally, I wanted to be able to use AFP with my system because I'm using All macs in my household. Because of that, I chose to go with FreeNAS. The current version is mostly there, but doesn't quite work with the Network hardware. I ended up using the version based on FreeBSD 7. You will need to test it to see if it meets your needs. Alternatively, you can add a PCI card and not worry about it. I intend to leave that slot open for potential drive expansion.
You may also want to try OpenFiler, or NASLite.
I can't vouch for either of those, but they have a dedicated following each, so will probably serve you well.
This project ended up taking me longer than I wanted, but I love the way it's turned out. It even looks nice, and doesn't need to be hidden away like so much of the equipment we have.
I hope you enjoyed, and I hope you'll give it a shot. I grant that it's not perfect, but for a small network, the price is pretty unbeatable, and there's nothing like putting together your own hardware.