Instructables
NAS: Network Attached Storage
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.
 
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diy_bloke2 years ago
very nifty. Have been looking for a case for my NAS.
Making th eproper holes for yr connectors seems hell though.
Need to look more into yr PSY solution. Currntly I use a psu board that plugs directly into the connectors on the mother board and only has one lead coming out, but it is meant for a double isolated device so I always sense some voltage on the metal parts (not a good feeling)

Used FreeNas in the past. quite easy to set up, but a bit limited and as I recall, it has a proprietory file system :-)

I use Ubuntu Server. The bad thing of that is that the latest versions do not run on older boards anymore. Darn. that was always the good thing of Linux
aarone (author)  diy_bloke2 years ago
The PicoPSU adapters are great for small spaces and mini-computers. They deliver enough power if you aren't looking to build a larger system. My current setup has moved out of this box as I needed more space and wanted some redundancy.

Currently, I'm running FreeNAS 8, with a ZFS ZRAID array. I don't believe that ZFS is proprietary, but its license is (unfortunately) incompatible in terms of including it with linux.

Ideally, I'd like to go with a linux system as there's so much more broad support, but afaik, Linux doesn't have a comparable FS to ZFS (I've looked only briefly at btrfs and trying to get zfs to run on linux and haven't had much luck.)

This solution worked for me for a while, but eventually I needed more space and ended up just buying a case with a lot of room in it.
tgood3 years ago
Thanks for the idea. I was able to squeeze a full size dvd drive and 1tb harddrive into the bigger box. I salvaged the dvd mount out of an old biege computer case. The harddrive is mounted under the dvd drive with one side floating.
http://bit.ly/emumediabox
ElvenChild3 years ago
Is it ddr2 or ddr3 type ram
v3l04 years ago
This is a low power board, the GPU hardly gets up when used as a NAS, the connectors bracket will leak some air too, he has another small hole in the case made by mistake so we can say that there is some small air circulation.
If the hard drives were 7500 10 000 rpm and more than one, than the space limitations and extra heat would have a chance to render the system unstable.
v3l04 years ago
Yes, indeed, they still include ancient ports, especially on theese small boards becau enthusiasts are not exactly the target buyers.
The usual clients for theese boards are industrial clients that use small computers to control technological proceses, automations etc.
Let's hope Intel will launch it's universal optical fiber connection and port diversity will be history.
daniel!4 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
aarone (author)  daniel!4 years ago
A NAS  (Network Attached Storage) is a hard disk that connects to your computer through Ethernet instead of USB (or Firewire, etc.)  Though it does not need to be connected to the internet, it can be, which offers some additional features that make it nice to have. A NAS is a type of server (although these days, Server more refers to software than it does hardware.)
daniel! aarone4 years ago
So if I made an HTPC, and then I made one of these, would I then be able to have the NAS sitting somewhere with all my movies, pictures, etc. on it, and then access all the files with the HTPC using something like FileZilla? (I'm completely new to all this stuff, so I'm trying to figure out how I would set all this up). Thanks for the help!
aarone (author)  daniel!4 years ago
It depends on what your HTPC was running. You wouldn't use FileZilla. Most HTPCs will mount the drive from the NAS when they start up. So you wouldn't actually have to do anything special, just make sure that the HTPC knows that it's supposed to look for stuff on the network when it boots. Beyond that, you'd just go to the media like you would normally on your HTPC.
daniel! aarone4 years ago
Wouldn't I have to install some software on the HTPC to make it look for the NAS? Sorry about all my questions, like I said, this is all new to me.
aarone (author)  daniel!4 years ago
Probably not. Most HTPCs are going to have software built-in to access the NAS. It depends on what OS you're running, but I'd be surprised if you had to install any software. Don't apologize. Questions are great!
daniel! aarone4 years ago
Yeah, I was thinking about turning an Acer Aspire Revo into an HTPC running XMBC live like the article on Lifehacker:
lifehacker.com/5391308/build-a-silent-standalone-xbmc-media-center-on-the-cheap
and then building one of these to store all the media and stream it to the HTPC. So would i just have to install FreeNas on the NAS right? But then how would I access the files on the HTPC? I was reading around and it looked like you can use Internet Explorer to access the files, but since the HTPC would be using XMBC Live as it's OS, would i be able to use Internet Explorer?
aarone (author)  daniel!4 years ago
It looks like FreeNAS is already supported with XMBC using SAMBA (a file protocol), so you don't need to do anything but setup FreeNAS' built in Samba server and XMBC would see it without any special setup. You just use XMBC's built-in media browser. Of course, you would need a way of getting media on to your NAS, but that's just browsing files through sharing and drag and drop.

Alternatively, if you don't want the NAS for anything else, you could just build this system and install XMBC on this. It'd cost less than putting together both boxes, and you could probably still access an XMBC box's drive.
daniel! aarone4 years ago
Yeah, the reason I wanted to make the two seperate boxes was so I could set up the XMBC box next to my tv, and then put the NAS somewhere else where it would be out of the way and so I could use it with my other computer too.

But so basically if i set up XMBC live on one box, and then set up SAMBA in FreeNAS' setting or wherever you have to set it up, the XMBC box should be able to find it? And would, for example, my regular laptop running Windows be able to find the NAS and get files from it too?
aarone (author)  daniel!4 years ago
Yes to all of the above.
daniel! aarone4 years ago
Thanks for all the help!
You could mount the ATX swich so that if you press on the lid, the computer starts :D
godofal4 years ago
this is a nice project, if the price was lower i would make one :D
i must say that i like PS2 keyboards better than the USB versions becouse with USB versions i have the experience that multiple keys pressed at the same time it doesnt take all of them (for gaming)

and those printer ports are great for programming attiny/atmega chips :)
aarone (author)  godofal4 years ago
Yeah, the price can be a bit of a bear, but the project is more about doing it than saving money. Do keep in mind that the price drops to around $200 without a new drive in there. If you have a spare hdd sitting around, then you're in good shape to start.

I found out last month that these boards don't respond to the new aluminum Apple Keyboards at boot, so I had to borrow an old PS/2 keyboard.

You're right, the serial ports are good for hardware programming/ low-level communication between devices. I didn't really ever expect to have anything connected that would need the port, but If I were using this as a regular boot machine, I definitely see the advantage to having it around.
I thought about doing this, but a nice little case is actually not very expensive.  After searching around for just the right parts, I decided it was easier to just get something already put together.

I got a little computer from MitxPC for about $300.  It includes 4 gigabit ethernet ports.  So, I can have NAS, network traffic control, wireless access, and host all the usual servers (subversion, http, wiki, samba, etc).

My goal was a low power (24x7) unit that could provide all the services (NAS and networking) that i needed for my house.  This little ITX running Ubuntu worked out perfectly.

I am using OpenWRT in an Asus router.  But, the router resources are too limited to host server software.  So, I added this ITX to my network.

aarone (author)  ChiefSleepyBear4 years ago
Sounds like a cool setup. On a few occasions I've thought about updating the hardware in this, but I haven't gotten there get. The MitxPC you got is right around the same price range, and a bit more bang for your buck. My project here doesn't always come out to be cost-effective, but it's fun!

Are you running your ITX 24/7? What kind of power consumption are you seeing?
tonyboy0075 years ago
That shiz is gonna over heat trust me
aarone (author)  tonyboy0075 years ago
I know it seems that way, but it's been running 24 hours a day for more than 2 weeks as of right now and it's never gotten even warm. The fan in the back pulls enough air through the case to keep everything cool. At the very least if the processor started to overheat the machine would sit down. So far it's been humming away nicely, and cooly.
and if it gets hot u can just take the lid off
vitozilla5 years ago
I'm going to do this soon. I'm going to try to mount the fan on the lid though. I'll take pics when I'm done.
awdark5 years ago
Would you possibly have a kill-a-watt meter or something similar to measure the power consumption? I have a buffalo linkstation and although I was very tempted by this route I was convinced the 20watts of a linkstation would be less than that of a dedicated NAS. Of course you can install normal windows on it or freenas and have all the sharing abilities and normal software and of the x86 architecture rather than the arm cpu.
aarone (author)  awdark5 years ago
That's a good idea. I don't have any kind of power monitoring device at the moment... I'll look into getting one as I'd like to see what the power usage on this is as well! From rough (very rough) estimations (info online of components) I'd say It consumes somewhere around 50 watts running full-tilt. The Linkstation definitely has the advantage there. As you mentioned, this machine has greater capability. As a single function device, the math for this machine doesn't work out very well. As a NAS, it can be beat by something off the shelf. As a computer, it can be beat by netbooks or similar machines. But for a combination device, I think it works very well. Most of all, I had fun building it, which is the best part.
tally3tally5 years ago
hi firstly nice work...BTW 1) If you add multiple drives to your project(provided that the casing has room for it)..can a RAID be setup with the setup you are using or is a seperate raid controller and a more powerful processor needed, 2) what else (apart from greater speeds ) are advantages of a NAS setup like the one you have if there are a only a couple of computers attached in a home network.
aarone (author)  tally3tally5 years ago
Thank you!

To answer your questions:
You can definitely do a RAID in the case, and FreeNAS has built-in software RAID support. I have not tried it, but I've been somewhat tempted. In my build, there's definitely room for at least one more drive, more if you get creative with space. If software RAID's not what you want, there's a PCI slot on the MB that you can use for a RAID controller.

On my home network (with only the two computers) we use it for backup and non-essential storage. We previously had an external drive we were using for this sort of stuff, and it would have been fine to continue to use that way. This does offer a couple of fun things:
  • Built in web-server and Bit-torrent server, both are accessible from the internet.
  • Broad file-access and control. FreeNAS supports a dozen or so different file protocols. I don't need to worry about disk formats, just user access and protocols. It's kind of nice.
Irin11785 years ago
Where can you find Right angle mounting brackets for sale?
aarone (author)  Irin11785 years ago
I got mine from Home Depot.
Irin1178 aarone5 years ago
Ah... thank you
andyt315 years ago
FreeNAS is great. I built mine about 6 months ago, and never regretted it! it serves files for my PC's, Mac's and other legacy type equipment like my RiscPC.

My FreeNas is also in a custom box. Look here http://retrocomputers.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/the-apple-lciii-nas/
Nice little box. I have a house full of Macs as well, but a PC or two as well. How is it configured? Do you do it from one of the machines networked to it? Or do you hook up a keyboard, mouse and monitor for a minute and configure it that way? I suppose I could Google all this, but if you have a link I'd appreciate it. My wife would love something like this, so I might give it a whirl. Thanks for the instructable!
aarone (author)  DallasDeckard5 years ago
Initially, you need to connect a keyboard and monitor to it to set it up. This is to choose an ethernet adapter (port) and to setup the IP address (or DHCP if you prefer). After that, you log into the machine via web browser and set it up from there. If you have a sense for what you're doing, it's a breeze and you're setup in less than 10 minutes. It took me a little longer to figure it out because I didn't know everything going in (AFP was troublesome, the docs on it are sparse)
How did you go about installing freenas on one hard drive ? did you have to partition it ?, and how did you manage to install it with out a cd drive? Thanks
aarone (author)  ghostman!!5 years ago
FreeNAS is actually running off of a USB key. It's easy enough to install it by booting off of the LiveCD and installing from there to the key on a separate computer. That said, I did hook up a CD Drive and install it from there using this computer.
Ahk thanks
N1CK4ND05 years ago
The first time I walked into IKEA... I thought they were going to rule the world.
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