Network Attached Storage aka NAS is a storage device consisting of a Storage chassis(consist of the chassis, circuits and I/O ports) and Hard drives(2, 4, 6 or more depending on the chassis). NAS lets you connect your drives to your network and make it accessible from any device within the network. A typical NAS with 4 storage bay costs more than 30,000 INR and a 2 bay NAS costs more than 15,000 INR, these costs are not including the cost of the drives. Here we are going to build a 2 bay NAS using old laptop, spare hard drives and bit of carpentry, this way you can re-purpose your old laptop and get your own NAS. :D
Step 1: Things Needed
- Old laptop (board must be working we don't need the display or the plastic chassis of the laptop)
- Hard drives (spare or new ones depending on it availability)
- 3 x 120mm fans (cooling system as this is a system that is going to be up 24*7)
- Wood and tools to work on it OR a carpenter
- A HDD casing if you want to make it 3 or 4 bay HDD but its will increase cost and those drives will be slower
- 2 x SATA Male to Female data cables
- 1 x SATA Male to molex power cable
- 1 x Molex to SATA Y power cable
- 1 x Push button switch (press to close and release to open)
- 1 x 240v normal switch which will act as Master switch
- 1 x Ethernet extension with screw holes
- 1 x 16GB Flash drive as boot device for Ubuntu
- Screws, insulation tapes and 4mm heat shrink tubes as required
Step 2: Getting the Laptop Ready for Our Project
- Take your old laptop and test its functionality, my laptop had a broken display so I hooked it up to an external display and checked if it POST.
- Get the Flash drive ready and install Ubuntu (x86) in it.
- Install SAMBA file server, Teamviewer and SSH and configure them. Remove any unwanted applications like office, music players, etc. to keep the resource usage to a minimum.
- Test all the installations and shut down the system to proceed with the rest of the project.
- Disassemble the laptop and get the main board out, be careful not to damage the board or any cables. The ports we will primarily use are the 2 SATA ports on the board. One is your normal hard drive slot(7+15) and the other is your DVD drive slot(7+6). The only difference is in the power slot which is a 6 pin slot for DVD and 15 pin slot for Hard drive.
- Tap in to the cable for power switch and extend it so we can connect it to the push button switch we have.
- Remove the speakers, display cables, etc. we don't need those.
- Now we have to get the chassis ready so proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Chassis
This is the most important part and this is where you can go wrong easily. Plan every thing according to the size of the board, the position of ports and the CPU fan exhaust, you don't want the CPU fan exhaust working against the flow of air inside. Make a drawing with everything in place and take the measurements. You can go creative with the case design but I kept it simple. The material I used was fireproof wood and gave it a glossy spray paint finish (I am not happy with it though so I am going to sticker it with Star Wars custom made stickers). Wood work is the most painful job but if you know how to do it and enjoy doing it you will get good result else you can find some professional help. Make sure you make the drive trays too, I forgot about it and made it later. Once the chassis is done you can start assembling your NAS.
Step 4: Assembling and Finishing the NAS
Install the board and fans and screw them in to their places. Make sure you use the Top-Rear fan as exhaust and 2 Front fans as intake and do not connect the fans to the same molex as hard drives, get a separate 12v adapter and connect the fans to it just make sure the adapter is connected to the master switch along with the laptop charger. You will have to do some wiring changes because of the master switch so this is where you will be using the heat shrink tubes and insulation tapes to secure the connections. screw every thing in place and fix the adapters using double sided tapes. Once this is complete it is time to install the hard drives, connect the SATA data and power cables and secure the drives in to the drive tray, the drive tray I built is removable so handling the drives were easy. Connect the laptop power switch cables to the push button. We are done assembling now. Turn on the machine, connect the lan cable and test the working, log in to Teamviewer, connect and start sharing the drives to the network. Once the sharing is done you no longer need Teamviewer to manage the system you can do that via SSH to send commands to the terminal, I use Putty for SSH. I prefer Ethernet connection over Wi-Fi because its faster and more secure. You can have more drives connected but that will require USB ports as a normal laptop will only have at max 2 SATA ports, you can find lot of converters online and use them to connect more drives to the system but it will be slow if yo do not have a USB 3.0 connection.