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Picture of Build an inexpensive Ikea NAS/Computer
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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rogriff made it!1 month ago

sleek media center and expandable nas - works great, super fast on over-clocked raspberry pi b+ http://www.ebay.com/itm/xbmc-Portable-Media-Center-Expandable-NAS-/171709257100?

rasp1.jpeg
diy_bloke3 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_bloke3 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
ElvenChild4 years ago
Is it ddr2 or ddr3 type ram
v3l05 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.
v3l05 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.
You could mount the ATX swich so that if you press on the lid, the computer starts :D
godofal5 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)  godofal5 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)  ChiefSleepyBear5 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.
Irin11786 years ago
Where can you find Right angle mounting brackets for sale?
aarone (author)  Irin11786 years ago
I got mine from Home Depot.
Irin1178 aarone6 years ago
Ah... thank you
andyt316 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)  DallasDeckard6 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!!6 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
N1CK4ND06 years ago
The first time I walked into IKEA... I thought they were going to rule the world.
osgeld6 years ago
"I sometimes wonder why they even include these anymore." but they come in handy if you have a tiny work area and want to program a micro controller using a cigar box, and a cute lcd heh!
sukkeggs6 years ago
Does the fan suck air from the box or blow into it? I should think you'd need another vent at the opposite end for airflow.
What kills me about these tiny motherboards is:
1. There is no excuse for VGA!
2. Most low power CPUs should be coupled with low power video with no fans.
3. There is no reason to include PS2 ports because you can't even buy PS2 periphials anymore.
4. There is no reason to include serial or parallel ports because almost everything is USB. For what isn't there are USB to Serial/Parallel kits.
Mini-Itx was designed for embedded applications. Its is FAR easier to program for a parallel port than anything else. You can even use the parallel port as a group of serial-like ports, if you needed to. USB and serial ports require the hardware to have a chip JUST to translate the serial commands back to parallel to be used, like a 232cpe or the like. An extra level of complexity for no additional gain! Except the usb is a much nicer shaped plug. And people always coo and swoon over usb. Also, if you are honest, you have to pay to build circuits for USB (an annual fee). But for limited run projects, why do that? Just use parallel. And you want a ps2 port bec. not all usb devices are modern enough to be recognized at boot. This is a huge problem with a usb keyboard - no way to get into the system bios without plugging in a second, ps2 keyboard. Again, not normally a problem, but a big problem in the embedded world, where you have to design everything, and everything designed is a hack job. I still want the motherboard manufactures to bring back the game port and the BeBox geek port. But that's just my two cents.
I am an Arduino developer, so I agree with you 100% about the ports. You have to agree though that you and I (and all the embedded system engineers) are not the average consumer of mini-itx boards today, even if we were the original target. Even if the board didn't have any of the ports I mention on the back, I can't imagine an x86 platform without and RS232 header on it. Can you? And that would be enough for embedded applications. One point I'd make is that the FTDI chip is super simple... but I understand your objections.
aarone (author)  RichardBronosky6 years ago
If you're interested in a slightly more advanced board, you can try the Intel DG45FC, it doesn't have a chip onboard, but it ditches all the legacy stuff and crams a whole bunch of other things in there, including HDMI.
It is a bit spendier though.

In retrospect (and against my earlier comments in the Instructable itself), there is some value in the legacy ports. Mostly from a hacker perspective. It's nice to have ports you can just send data through without much worry.

For this project though, these things serve nearly no purpose at all. The board is advanced enough that it boots off of and talks to USB with no problems. There are two wires that go into this thing in it's normal operation: Ethernet and Power.

And I agree with you, VGA has no excuse.
jwesty6 years ago
aarone....yes there's many ways to do it and different mobo's...many ways to skin a cat.... Still good instructable though.....
hdr6 years ago
aarone (author)  hdr6 years ago
Holy Cow! I had no idea that someone else had done this before... Here I thought I was being original. I should've known better :) This person clearly had a bit more experience cutting metal than I did. His edges are quite a bit more finished. Looks like he's using a 2.5" drive though. Good find!
trgz aarone6 years ago
great minds...
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