04 April, 2021
03 April, 2021
If you are like me, on CPAP therapy, and have had experiences where you couldn't do therapy either because you were off grid by choice say on a camping trip, or you were without power because your electrical grid operator decided to pull the plug on you due to, whatever reason, you know the terrible burden this leaves on you. For me, one night of no CPAP means a night worse than if I had just not slept, and an almost guaranteed migraine level headache.
Medical grade CPAP battery packs typically run as much as the CPAP itself or more, They are little more than a battery pack, a charging circuit, and a 12V output for most CPAPs. And even with efficient travel CPAPs these battery packs rarely last a user for 2 nights sleep, so for extended outages you absolutely MUST have a way to recharge off of 110V AC power. So i your budget is tight, and your CPAP can run off of 12v DC keep reading. I have a solution that will save you a mess of money, and provide you with much longer run time between needing to be recharged.
I have multiple reasons to run it, but I do have a small, and I mean tiny small generator, a Harbor Freight Tailgator, which is a little 900w peak 2 stroke generator that will easily handle my battery charger for this rig, or a small 5K BTU window AC etc... So I have a way to recharge, but honestly nobody wants to try to sleep while a generator that sounds like a chainsaw is running. I needed a better, more efficient solution to the problem.
In my last blog post, I described the materials that would be used for a build like what I was doing. Today I present my finished product.
The project didn't come off perfectly, and I will explain below, but overall I am VERY happy with the results.
So if you see my first photo with the box closed, you will notice that on the group on the left, the 12V outlet is positioned a bit too far left, apparantly I didn't have things measured out was well as I could have liked. Oops.
The charging circuit, I.E. bench top battery charger seen in the second pic leaves a bit to be desired, but it is sized so that I have no issues running it off of my Harbor Freight Tailgator generator, and topping the charge off quickly at 25 amps @ 14v output. (peak I believe).
I want an onboard charger but they are EXPENSIVE, and typically max out at around 10 amps. I may upgrade my workshop battery charger at home and figure out a way to mount this thing to the box, and add ring terminals to it... Yeah that's probably not going to happen.
Anyway Upon testing, I find the Deyooxi 3 in 1 works, but the voltometers are innaccurate, and they don't even match each other, but rather they both read high and are .1v apart from each other. At best they are a good guess. Good enough, but not perfect.
I found the face plates the 3 in 1 sets came with don't fit accross the raised sections of this battery box. No shock there, So I left them out. This really doesn't need them, and with the oops hole, well...
Now during my hurried testing after the Great Texas Ice Storm and power outage of February 2021, I found that this battery, and a 12V power outlet can and will EASILY power my Z2 Travel CPAP for 4 nights in a row without recharging. Upon setting up to recharge I measured the standing charge in my battery with my multimeter and it measured 12.4V DC, which was still at a very high level. Mind you the Z2 is freakishly efficient. I would have had no issues or concerns running my Airsense 10 with the humidifier turned off during that time on the battery either.
If you want a great off grid power box for items like a CPAP, or USB charging, or even running a 12v compressor fridge, look at my last post as well. I go into the nitty gritty of what I did. It's all bound up nicely, and built in honestly as professional a manner as possible for a hand crafted item. And on the plus side, the skills needed to build this thing are minimal at most.
02 April, 2021
I assume for those that have watched my videos, or know me personally know that I am on CPAP therapy. I am also an avid outdoors enthusiast. And have found the 12v portable power packs typically pre designed and sold for use with CPAPs being $350.00 + and having extremely low run times of one night or less effective use before the battery is drained.
As you no doubt have heard, or even experienced personally, Texas suffered from an extended power outage in Mid February 2021.
In my experience, I was prepared, or so I thought. I had an Everstart 1100 amp peak jump starter / power pack. I had used it for a max of 2 nights while camping off grid. However during the power outage, and family members thinking this was going to be short enough they were charging phones on it. I didn't even get one hour of CPAP time on it.
I needed a solution. NOW, and I needed one with capacity. Plus I needed to be able to extend my run time off grid for more than 2 days.
While they were open prior to them being forced to close, I was able to run into my local O'Reilly auto parts and grab a group 27 Deep Cycle battery, on what charge they had it with, some crimp on alligator clips, and a 12V power outlet socket. I quickly grafted together a simple rig that had the alligator clips holding on to the positive and negative posts powering the port. This was a quick and dirty way to provide power to my CPAP for the duration of power outage. I did test with my multimeter, starting voltage was at 12.9v, ending voltage after 4 nights of usage of my Z2 CPAP (no humidifier) was at 12.4v. No more than 8 hours night use. The battery was the trick, but was not a permanent solution.
And I need a solution for camping, not just emergency prep, it needs to be portable.
To begin with, I know I needed weather protected ports. I wanted 2 12V ports that were switched. I found panels that provided that, AND a voltometer. HOWEVER, the switches wouldn't quite handle both 12v ports I wanted, so what was the solution? After reviewing, I am going with 2 of the 3 in 1 panels. They provide on / off switch, 12v outlet, 2 USB charge ports, with voltometers. There seem to be a LOT of brand names with the same thing. I opted for the Deyooxi branded one, seems like the same thing in all with the same features.
I am fusing these using inline marine grade ATO fuse holders I already had in my toolbox grafted inline and tied together as a harness. I needed fuses, if I needed new holders I would have ordered the ATO / ATC 12 gauge marine sealed holders and fuse kit from Amazon. ATM fuses are available and smaller, but the fuse holders have insufficient wire for this project. you want 12 or 14 ga, not 16 or 18 ga.
I needed crimp connectors, for butt splices and ring terminals, I wanted heat shrink models. I opted for the 300pc box from Amazon. It works, but quaility is spotty. But all of the options seemed iffy. I will link it here, but use at your own discretion. Metal thickness left me wondering how cheap they could get.
Now I have the stuff to put together, but I need a housing for it all.
I need a battery box, with enough space for a group 27 battery, AND the connectors in question. The only model I have found is the NOCO Group 27 battery box model HM327BKS.
Lastly, and since I can't find a fair deal on this online I am going to tell you about it. You will need a roll of electrical tape. Walmart has 3/4" x 60' rolls of electrical tape for $0.57 roll.
So the build and costs are like this.
Battery $99.00 + tax / core charge.
Battery box. $12.99
2 @ Deyooxi 3 in 1 output / switch kits. $16.99 each, $33.98 for both.
Fuse holders / fuses. $12.99
Heat shrink terminals / crimps. $16.22
Electrical Tape. $0.57
That gives me a total for this project of $175.75
Any added length to your wires is going to be out of your inventory and /or buy wire. Again 14 ga wire or better to handle the amperage.
The process I used was.
Disassemble one of the Deyooki sets, use panel for sizing. Attach using masking tape to allow for positioning and holding while marking goes on. Select appropriate sized forstner drill bit, and mark hole centers on 3 device holes. Move to second side, repeat.
Next using sacrificial board line up starter holes and complete drilling device holes using forstner bit.
Assemble devices to panel, panel and devices to box on one side using second 3 in 1 and a guide.Secure using provided backing nuts. Reattach wiring using second 3 in 1 as guide for where wires go. Temporarily attach wires to battery and test function. Disconnect, repeat process for second 3 in 1.
Remove inline glass fuse holder for 3 in 1 power lead, graft in ATO fuse holder loaded with 15 amp fuse using 5/16" ring connector and butt slice, careful to keep length apropriate. Shrink heat shrink tubing on connectors.
Replace ground side ring connectors with 5/16" ring connectors.
Tape wrap grounds together, and positives together to split off to battery terminals, bringing them together quickly but not too tight. Wrap all wires as a bundled loom until they split out to each side, wrap wires as loom per side. This step protects the wires and keeps them from being just loose and messy in the box.
Make terminal connections for grounds, and positives to the appropriate posts. Not previously mentioned, but assumed you had 5/16" -18 nuts to secure on the threaded posts. Slip positive side ring terminals over positive post, and run nut down / secure, repeat process on negative side.
Test function on both sides.
Expanding the art.
At some point down the road I am going to want to add a DC / DC charger, and terminal mount AC to DC charger (auto style battery charger with ring terminal attachment). To make this happen I do not want the charging side and the load side to be on the same post. I opted for lead top post to threaded stud marine terminal ends for $1.99 each.
I am not aware of online sources for this, but I HIGHLY recommend getting the NOCO terminal anti corrosion spray which I got from Walmart Auto Department for something like $3.00, it included a pair of the anti corrosion terminal pads, and a small can or anti corrosion terminal spray. This should be in your auto maintenance took box / supplies to begin with...
For the time being I am going to use my Black and Decker 25 amp (at 12v) output auto battery charger (max 4 amp at 110v AC) being powered by my Harbor Freight Tailgator 900w peak generator. This is NOT my ideal long term.
LONG TERM GOAL:
I am wanting to eventually build in a 4 battery bank for a long term overlanding rig.. But for the mean time.
I have not opted yet for a specific make or model, but I am looking into a DC to DC charger / charge controller. There are models on the market I am researching that will allow me to charge from both my vehicle alternator, AND solar power. I am not well versed enough in this to speak wisely at this point though...
My pending choice for generator is a 2000 watt peak Aipower SUA2000IV however that is beyond my budget at this time.
With my long term desire for a proper 4 bank battery setup, I am wanting again, long term, to use the NOCO 4 bank onboard charger.
At the point of the 4 bank system, I will want to add a 2KW pure sine wave inverter to produce clean 110v power. I have not selected a specific make or model. The idea is to power laptops, and some misc 110v devices while I try to provide most power via 12V.
As you hopefully can see, I am trying to design my system so that it works for now, and most pieces can be repurposed in the future when a large upgrade in my off grid activity abilities will be made.
11 March, 2021
Okay time to add another entry to the blog, and a recipe to enjoy. I will be adding this one to video soonest possible as well...
This one uses our camp dutch oven, coals, and time. Use the dutch oven heat guide apps (LOTS available) or bring a printed guide to help you determine how to maintain heat. This works best if you are camping lake / riverfront, and will be fishing it all day close to camp so you can keep an eye on, and tend the fire and coals... NEVER leave a campfire unattended, so don't even think about doing this unless you can commit to being there the whole long slow cook time... This is a recipe that is honestly a crock pot recipe converted time and temp for a camp dutch oven.
2.5 - 3lb beef roast.
1 packet dry ranch mix. Hidden valley, store brand really doesn't matter.
1 packet Knorr French Onion Soup Mix
1 stick pasture / grass fed butter.
Pepperoncini peppers drained. About 6 to 8.
Facility issue. You either need a cleaned up / ash removed fire pit, which you could be kind enough to do for the campground, or a dutch oven table. I don't have one of those. If the grate swings out of the way, you can use one of those campground standing grills as a dutch oven table pretty easily. Not all, or even the majority do this though. And do NOT violate any burn bans. I WILL not be responsible for any legal problems you get into for violating the rules...
You will need a camp dutch oven, the kind with a raised lip on the lid to keep coals from falling off, a hoop to catch the lid lifter on the lid, and of course at least 3 or 4 legs undernath to give you clearance for the coals. You want this pre seasoned, however this recipe will certainly help with seasoning it.
I am upfront about my Amazon affiliate links, but if they are not the best deals I won't post them. And in this case they aren't even close. Presently my local Walmart and I believe chain wide at least in the CONUS, have the Ozark Trail 5 quart cast iron camp dutch oven for under $18.00. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-5-Quart-Cast-Iron-Dutch-Oven-with-Handle/55208717 The least expensive one I can find on Amazon starts at over $40.00
Both Walmart and Amazon seem in the same range for thsese so here goes. Dutch Oven Lid Lifter. to help you lift the lid to rotate, and just, well open the thing up https://amzn.to/3qJ39EB
Cast Iron dutch oven trivet. This goes inside the oven and lifts the meat off the bottom to give, well a more oven experience to the contents. You want the kind that goes INSIDE the dutch oven, not the kind the dutch oven sets on. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Lodge-8-inch-Cast-Iron-Meat-Rack-Trivet-Pre-Seasoned-L8DOT3/15836674
Oven mitts, or something like an Ove Glove. You will want to pick up the dutch oven to rotate it by the bail handle.
Means of igniting charcoal. Do NOT use Match Light. I prefer to use a proper charcoal chimney but you CAN use lighter fluid.
BBQ tools including long stainless steel tongs to handle the coals.
Long burning hardwood charcoal. Kingsford or Royal Oak. Walmart's house brand I think it is called Master Grill seems to be rebagged Royal Oak.
Ignition source for the charcoal. In my case old newspapers.
A BBQ lighter.
Pre heat number of coals given by your dutch oven temp guide in your chacoal chimney, + 4 or so coals until the top coals are grayed over.
Place the trivet in and the lid on the dutch oven.
Place the proper number according to your calcuator for the lid of the dutch oven.
Let this heat up for 10-15 minutes, allowing the cast iron to get fully hot, and the inside air of the DO to get fully hot.
Remove the lid of the DO and set aside on a clean heat safe surface.
Place the roast on the trivet.
Sprinkle the ranch powder on the roast.
Sprinkle the French Onion Soup mix on the roast.
Unwrap and place the stick of butter on the roast.
Place the peppers on the roast next to the butter.
Carefully place the lid back on the dutch oven.
Cook for 2.5 to 3 hours maintaining the 325 deg F. Every 15 to 30 minutes pick up Dutch oven and rotate 90 degrees clockwise, Rotate lid another 90 degrees clockwise. Replace coals every 30 minutes or so. Place partially spent coals in campfire.
At 2.5 to 3hr mark, remove from heat. Let rest for 10 min before serving.
Serve with your choice, but we like foil packet roasted veggies, grilled asparagus or similar greens, a couple of small roasted potatoes, and some crusty french bread.
19 February, 2021
So according to Blue Rhino and the US Department of Transportation, propane cylinders have a good for life of 12 years, and then can be followed up with recertification that MUST be affixed to the tank in the form on a sticker.
During the massive ice storms and resulting power outage that clobbered Texas this week (Feb 15 on 2021) I used up my prior propane, and happened to be at my local HEB store when the Blue Rhino truck was there offloading, so I just went ahead and bought a new tank since nobody is certain we are out of the woods yet weather / power wise, and should I need to, I want to be able to run my Portable Buddy Heater to keep from freezing my kneecaps off.
So I get the filled to only 15lbs of propane tank (why don't these exchange programs fill a 20lb tank with 20lbs of propane?) and I got to looking at it. Mostly because it looks like it was repainted by some kid in 6th grade shop class.
Well looking at the safety collar of the tank, I see a manufacture date 02-03. Yes, that's right. February 2003.
It's February 2021 folks!
Okay so maybe, just maybe they recertified it.
Yeah that would be a nice idea.
No sticker, anywhere on the tank. Just the plastic sleeve Blue Rhino puts on them.
Call Blue Rhino customer support maybe I am misreading the Safety collar even though I did propane tank refilling professionally, admitedly decades ago, but I know the process.
I know they are trying to fill a MASSIVE backlog in fuel orders due to the storms. But why on earth did Blue Rhino keep this tank in circulation?
Something is massively wrong here. I am not sure but it looks like Blue Rhino is selling massively expired, and non certified tanks to retail customers who don't know SQUAT about DOT regulations, from retail establishments, so in order to get them home these same customers MUST transport them, after Blue Rhino transports the filled tanks to the store.
The fresh off the truck Blue Rhino Propane Exchange tank.
Date stamp 02-03. Nothing else resembling a date stamp is on
the Safety Collar.
12 August, 2020
21 June, 2020
Having been raised with a serious DIY ethos, it should come as no shock to anyone that my DIY includes cooking as well. And I am actually known to be a very good cook by my friends. I often get asked for certain dishes once folks try them. Yes I have had some duds, but I also have had some real winners. And some of them, not all of my secrets, I will share with you here.
One of my biggest issues over the years has been just the amount of time and effort some dishes take to prepare, so I tend to be a fan of time and labor saving devices in the kitchen. Enter the Instant Pot. I bought ours a few years ago honestly, with the main intention of being able to jam a whole frozen chicken in it with some broth, sprinkle some easoning on the outside and cook the thing for dinner should we forget to prepare or even thaw anything for dinner…
I have been struggling with various Instant Pot recipes, many of the recipes I find online are either horrid, or I am just too dumb to get it right, so I often end up with wasted food (money) or just a disappointing meal. It would seem that many folks just aren’t all that forthcoming with good recipes, or they are just bad cooks that share lousy recipes.
The BEST Instant Pot Refried Beans (I have found yet).
My beautiful wife and I are Texans, her a native, and myself blessed by God to be here in my adult life, and as such we tend toward Tex-Mex cooking. One of the items that used to be a shortcut for us was always a let down, canned refried beans. Even the best of them are just, meh…
Now with most of the Tex-Mex dishes we love, substandard refried beans won’t do, and we have tried so many different recipes, with so many miserable failures, that when we found one that was “close enough” and modified it to our tastes, the results ended up being delicious and more importantly, repeatable! We use these as a side dish for Tamales, and while we know not authentic, in tacos and fajitas, and on weekends, with Migas con Barbacoa… I’ll post up a recipe about Migas later.
Before I give you my recipe, I need it to be clear, I am assuming you know how to safely operate an instant pot, a hand / immersion blender, and know what the consistency of refried beans should be. It is very difficult to describe in writing, so I am trusting you just know this.
Now do you want to get on with the recipe?
Prep Time. 5 min.
Cook time. 45 min.
Post cook processing time. 15 min.
Total. 1hr 5 min.
Yields approximately 4.5 cups.
Serving size .25 cup
Calories per serving. 21.3
Tools and equipment needed.
- Hot pads or oven mitts.
- Instant Pot, you can use other brands, but I don’t know the controls on them, make your own adjustments. I have written this with the Instant Pot IP Duo 60 6qt model in mind, make your adjustments accordingly.( NOTE: If I did not already own the IP Duo 60, and was in the market for an instant pot, I would give the 8 quart DuoCrisp some serious consideration as it adds air fryer, and with the right accessories, dehydrator functionality https://amzn.to/3ehvMDD)
- Immersion Blender. Otherwise known as a hand blender, or stick blender. You can use a handheld potato masher as well, the idea is to smash the beans smooth and mix with the remaining liquids.(https://amzn.to/3hKaiS9)
- Measuring cups and spoons.(https://amzn.to/3hNBK1d)
- House power, generator, solar power with inverter, whatever it takes to reliably power your instant pot. (For those of you new to my Blog, I deal with Camping a lot. This recipe can be done in the camper, IF you have power).
- 5qt stainless steel mixing bowl and a stainless steel colander that fits inside of that.
- Clean fork.
- Sealable glass bowls to serve and store. The 2 cups of beans when done will slightly more than double in volume when done. Consider storing in a 4 cup container and using the rest when they first come out!
- 2 cups dried pinto beans sorted and rinsed. (sorted means to insure there are no bad beans, and no foreign matter in their midst that sometimes happens).
- 1 tsp natural sea salt.
- 3 Tbsp Fiesta Brand Extra Fancy Pinto Bean Seasoning. (https://amzn.to/3enncmW)
- 3 Tbsp strained bacon drippings.
- 7 cups water
- 3 – 4 bay leaves
- Take the inner liner from the instant pot and fill up with fresh, cool water to the 7 cup line. Return liner into Instant Pot.
- Using the colander if not already rinsed, rinse the sorted beans, shake dry and pour into instant pot.
- Add pinto bean seasoning, bacon drippings, salt, and bay leaves.
- Put lid on instant pot, and set vent control to the pressure / non venting setting.
- Plug in instant pot, and set it on the Bean / Chili setting. Adjust the cook time to 45 minutes.
- Let the instant pot go through its cycle, and come down on pressure on its own. I believe the manual calls that naturally depressurize.
- Once depressurized, typically at the 55 minute mark, remove the lid, and with a clean fork pick out the bay leaves.
- Take the mixing bowl, place colander inside.
- Using the hot pads / oven mitts, CAREFULLY remove the liner with the beans / liquid mixture and pour into the colander. Replace the instant pot liner.
- In one motion, lift, let the liquid drain just so that it isn’t pouring out, dripping is okay, move the colander to the instant pot and pour the beans back in. This should have retained just enough liquid, but set the mixing bowl with the liquid just in case you need some to thin the bean mix out a touch.
- Using the immersion blender, blend beans until smooth and creamy texture. If the final mix is too thick, slowly add no more than ¼ cup of liquid if not less at a time and mix until you come up with the right consistency.
- Serve with your favorite Tex-Mex dish as an ingredient, or as a side dish itself with maybe cheese and onions…
15 May, 2019
I am well into the remodeling and part of that is redoing the switches for the house mostly because the 35 year old original switches are literally falling apart and causing some serious concern for safety.
Given that and the price difference between some of the lower price point smart switches in high quality dumb switches we are doing a smart home project. And a key component of this smart home project is voice integration. Now I looked at the various voice platforms the leading contenders are Alexa from Amazon assistant from Google Bixby from Samsung and Siri from Apple.
I am not trying to start a flame war here so please forgive me ahead of time if anything I say here you disagree with these are my personal opinions and a for me and I would like to triple underlined me because I know it works well for other people but for me I am just not a big Apple fan so Siri isn't a choice for me. My Galaxy note 9 features Bixby and it tends to translate my voice commands to something roughly halfway between American English and Korean. Not gonna work.
So the 2 remaining competitors Alexa and assistant are really all that was left for me to choose from.
After reviewing the features the costs and the benefits of each including compatibility with 3rd party products the answer was quite clear. Amazon Alexa was my clear choice.
With solid voice integration and an ever expanding group of skills and they demonstrated solid commitment to 3rd party integrations which Google is killing off from their platform by removing the works with nest program we went and grabbed several echo devices on deep sale. For starters we wanted to get rid of our Satellite TV and go entirely streaming to save money and be able to better control what we are watching. We opted for fire TV sticks and purchase them as a bundle on sale around Christmas time with echo dot's. And a more recent acquisition was a full on echo that was picked up on Mother's Day sale.
Now there is a new feature that was fully opened up to us echo users as of May 14th 2019 which is called Alexa guard. This feature allows the echo devices to listen for sound patterns such as breaking glass or smoke alarms and then send an alert to your phone or mobile device. If you have very specific professional monitoring services most notably ADT pulse or Ring monitored alarm services then these alerts can be reviewed by your monitoring service and calls to emergency services can be placed then.
This is a feature I've been anxiously awaiting since it was initially announced in fall of 2018. When the initial early Beta was released it only supported 2nd generation Echo and 3rd generation Echo Dot devices. With the full release as of May 14th 2019 all generations of Echo devices are now compatible.
So as we continue to go through our build process we have to add a couple more echo dots to have a listening device in every area where there is glass. This will give us a full coverage and allow us better protection while we are out of the house.
I know there are privacy concerns with these smart speakers but I am not all that worried about them at this point and to me the benefits outweigh the risks
10 June, 2018
03 June, 2018
Part 2. Parts cut, and making space to work. What a mess!
Part 3, Sanding and Painting.
Part 4, assembly and loading it up!
And the completed rack ready to slide into place!
02 April, 2018
I have 4 of the same mainboards, and pretty much everything except cases, which are all very close in specs and dimensions, except one is a different make / model than the others. These were barebones systems from Newegg a few years ago. I am finally getting things put toget6her right.These will end up being the hypervisor nodes The specs are...
AMD FX 3.2GHZ Quad Core
Corsair DDR3 32GB
MSI 970A-G43 mainboards.
2 @ Intel dual port gigabit PCIe ethernet adapters.
single gigabit TrendNet PCIe Ethernet adapter
MSI Radeon 6450 2GB graphics cards.
512GB 6GB/s SATA 7200rpm Western Digital HDDs
Samsung SATA DVDRW
All 4 of these measure up to be just at 4u high when flipped sideways and put on the rack rails.
That consumes 16u.
Then there are the 2 TrendNet TEG-S16DG 16 port 1u gigabit switches. That brings me to 18u.
I will need 1u of space to apss cables from the front of the switch to the back. That means the switches plus the pass through space gets me up to 19u.
The head node, which will also be my storage filer consists of a slender desktop and an 8 bay eSATA RAID enclosure. The head node and storage enclosure will be racked together, but they take up a combined 5u of space
The rails being 20u, are 35" tall, the 1x4 lumber consumes 7" for the top and bottom spreaders, meaning that they use 42" vertical space.
Now go back 1.75" for the 1u already allotted, and that gives me 7.5" with the 48" uprights. Close, but not close enough. I need 10.5" or about 6u where I have just over 4u space to work with...
So the storage box can't go here. For now.
If you don't recall, the plan was to put a top on the rack, and place the UPSes there, well the RAID box is going to have to go there for now as well....
I have the lumber cut, I have the hole locations for hte screws marked and ready to go.
I am charging my cordless drill to do the drilling work. I am going to pre drill all my screw holes, mark off the locations where the pieces meet so I can mask them off, then I am going to pre paint all the pieces, and once cured, assmelbe this thing, with a considerable amount of glue to insure it doesn't ever give up on me....
My long term plan for this rack, is to lay my hands on 4 2u ATX cases that are compatible with a standard ATX 12v / PS2 style power supply. I have high end power supplies that I am not going to get into here, that I do not want to retire. Recall this is an office yes, but it is also a music room / studio. So even though it is going into the closet next to the room, I want to insure sinlence is the sound of the day!
25 March, 2018
So I have been tasked with a project. What was going to be a dedicated home office / study space for me, is now going to be a shared space home office, / guest bedroom. Meaning the big 48” wire bakers rack LAN rack has got to go! And the structured wiring rack on the wall? Nope. It needs to get hidden.
I have been directed to move all the network gear, AND my virtualization cluster gear, into the closet. But just how am I going to do that?
Simple. Improvise a server rack, and rack mount my mid tower servers. Measurements are good, so I know this is doable.
Credit for the inspiration:
First things first, I found a blog at https://thehomeserverblog where the author had done an open server rack out of wood, and it looked pretty decent, except he used full dimension 2x4s, which is going to be a bit bulky for my use, I need to be more space efficient in my build…
There are 3 critical dimensions. The mounting space side to side of the rack rails, the height top to bottom for the rack rails, and the distance front to back for the rack rails.
To reduce the overall weight, and space down of the rack build, keeping the costs down, as well as simplifying the build by reducing the number of steps needed to prep the lumber, I am opting for 1x4 lumber instead of my initial plan of using 2x4 and planing it down the thickness.
So critical dimensions here are…
Side to side 19-⅝” to keep the centers of the bolt holes at 19” spacing.
Rail opening 35.25” (20u, 1u = 1.75”). Add ¼” to this height for wiggle room.
Front to back. There are 3 standard depths, 19”, 23” and 30”. We are going to opt for the 30” depth to insure we aren’t too cramped for cables, or airflow behind the rack.
Once built, the rack will be populated, from bottom to top as follows.
1-4, 4U desktop converted to rack server.
5-8 4U desktop converted to rack server.
9-12 4U desktop converted to rack server
13-14 2U desktop converted to rack server.
15-17 4U desktop RAID shelf converted to rack RAID shelf.
18 & 20 2 @ TrendNet TEG-S16DG 16 port gigabit ethernet switches rack mounted. Cables to pass through to back of rack between switches. Due to mounting considerations, I do NOT want these switches rear facing as I want to be able to see the link / activity lights when in use.
There is a 7u 10” deep wall mount rack that will be mounted to a mount board immediately above the server rack. That will house from the bottom up.
1 1U rack shelf, housing 2 @ Obi100 VoIP adapters, and resting pigtails from above device.
2 1U rack mounted PDU, front switch, rear ports. Pigtails to allow for wall wart transformers, these will rest on the shelf below.
3 1U TrendNet TK-803R PS2/USB KVM 8 port. This will require a pass through setup from one side of the wall to the other to allow for the connection to the video, keyboard, and mouse.
4 1U TrendNet TEG-S24G 24 port gigabit ethernet switch.
5 1U open space to pass cables behind, and either down to rack, or up to ceiling penetration to pass through the rest of the house.
6 1U TrendNet 16 port gigabit patch panel.
7 1U 10” deep cantilever shelf housing cable modem, WiFi router, and Antenna rotator control box.
On mount board above will be housed.
1x8 amplified coaxial splitter.
4x6 telephone hub 110.
5 @ 1x4 whitewood common 8ft long lumber
48 1.25” wood / deck screws.
28 #8 .5” round head wood screws.
2 @ Reliable Hardware Company RH-20-SRR-A 20U Full Hole 20 Space Rack Rail Pair.
Rack conversion rail / partial shelves.
NavePoint Adjustable Rack Mount Server Shelf Rails 1U Full Depth 4-pack (These should come with the rack screws).
Rust-Oleum painter's touch gloss black spray paint & primer in one.
Measuring tape and marking pencil (Fine lead please!).
Saw that can cross cut in a straight line. Either a miter box and saw, electric miter saw, radial arm saw, circular saw with rafter square and clamp, or table saw and miter fence.
If cordless, fully charged battery, if corded, well… power...
Drill bit set to drill pilot holes.
Counter sinks to relieve for the screw heads and reduce chances of split out.
Phillips screw driver bit for drill.
Power sander hand sandpaper
Cut list for 1x4 final dimension lumber.
4 @ 19-⅝” for spreaders.
4 @ 21-⅛” for top UPS support
4 @ 29” front / rear runners top and bottom.
4 @ 43.25” uprights.
Measure, mark and make cuts for each component.
Lay out and mark upper and lower box joints.
Pre drill pilot holes for upper and lower box joints.
Relieve screw holes with counter sink.
Assemble upper and lower box joints making sure the boxes are square.
Set up boxes to uprights on one side, insure everything is square, mark, and pre drill pilot holes, and countersinks.
Assemble uprights onto boxes on first side, flip over repeat process.
Disassemble entire assembly.
Sand all assembly pieces relieving any sharp edges
Paint all pieces allow paint to fully cure add second coat if necessary
Measure, and assemble rack rails onto rack body.
14 March, 2018
As life progresses my requirements for the home office are changing fairly quickly. What was once going to be a shared office space, IT training lab, and music studio is being forced into being converted into a guest room and home office.
This means the large 4 foot LAN rack and the wall mounted switch rack just aren't workable anymore. What I'm going to have to do is move the computer armoire from the bedroom into here this will has the monitor keyboard mouse and printer as well as a docking station for the laptops.
The real meat of the matter and where massive things are changing is the entire structured wiring is going to stay on the mount board but the mount board switch rack and all are being mounted in the closet and the desktop computers are going to be converted to rack mount as is the RAID cabinet.
This is a fairly massive change as I have already started pulling the ethernet telephone and coaxial cabling as you would already know if you watch my videos.
Now I can fairly easily go out and buy a prefabricated 20u four post server rack for about $175 but that just wouldn't be Dave's Workshop. No I'm going to have to make one.
Now I'm not much for metal work it's just not my thing so what I did was I went out to Amazon and sourced up two pairs of 20u rack rails. They were less than $30 a pair after taxes. I have way more than enough screws for this job but I still need to go to Home Depot for some supplies.
It's hard to believe but I am down to only one 2 by 4 in my inventory so I need to buy three more that's straight and dry as possible. I will also need a can of brush-on gloss black acrylic enamel. Yes I could do this with spray paint but I don't really want to.
The dimensions that the frame has to enclose is 19 and 5/8 wide by 35 and 1/4 High by 30 in deep. The height is 1/4 inch over the standard however I am wanting a little bit of Slack to allow 4 Non standard size components.
My idea is to get some adjustable depth rails that will act as shelves for the desktop Pcs, and stack them up along the rack. The cheap cases I got actually come right in at 4u high, I have a small mini ATX based system that is being used as the storage controller and cluster front end and of course the RAID cabinet itself which will be placed on a deep 19 in rack Shelf.
The cluster switches will be moved into this rack so that all of the components for cluster are in this rack. That leaves the TV coax distribution the 24-port ethernet switch and its associated cables the telephone distribution the cable modem the Wi-Fi router and the VoIP adapters to go into the switch rack which will be mounted immediately over the server rack.
the server rack build will be the subject of a video on my channel and will be linked here. The process should be fairly simple however I want to show it being done with as minimal of tools as possible so my plan can be followed by pretty much anybody. I will be using a circular saw a rafter Square a clamp a cheap cordless drill drill bits countersinks a driver bit and a sander.
I will have to double back on this post to give credit for the inspiration rack build as this is not entirely my idea I mean yes I had the general idea in mind but I didn't really have the dimensions squared away right off the bat. There is a user that built one and use some Minwax dark stain of some kind is a finish for his I don't particularly want mine stained and unlike this other person I don't want mine on casters I want mine solidly on the floor.
So I will be posting up again somewhat shortly with some progress once the rails arrived from Amazon and the other stuff comes home from Home Depot with me.
And like always I will link the products I am using as much as possible if you would like to reproduce my project. Not all of the tools that I am using are on the market anymore such as my 1990's vintage skill saw has been replaced by a much newer model. And the Ryobi drill bit set that I have likewise has been replaced with a newer version I will however link that newer version. I am happy with the Ryobi bit set I should mention.
07 November, 2017
So it's time to get back to work.
I am pretty sure some of you read that and wondered if I have flipped my lid or not. I mean wainscotting? In 2017?
Yep. It's not my first idea, but it is the compromise I made with my wife (This kept the doilies out of the living room okay?)
Last time I had to deal with bead board, it was a thin gauge sheet plywood type product, but nowadays it comes in bundles of long sections, about oh what was it 5" wide or so maybe?
So I had to set up a production stop, run through pre processing the stock, marking and ripping to width so that I can have my stock ready for installation.
CHeck out the video...
02 October, 2017
I am seeing things with this hurricane response that make me both sad for people, and angry at FEMA for their typical lackluster response to natural disasters.
As you no doubt are aware, in late August, the Atlantic Hurricane season started beating on the United States with a vengance starting with Hurricane Harvey, which more or less parked itself over coastal texas, and dumped a years worth of rain in something like 4 days, over much of the Houston / Galveston metropolitan area.
With the massive rainfall, the reservoirs just couldn't handle the water, and teh Army Corp of Engineers elected to release water from the dam, rather than to allow the dam to break, or simply overflow. This flooded homes, and neighborhoods outside of the published flood plains, meaning people with no flood insurance, because they believed what the government told them about the flood plains.
And to make matters worse people that WERE insured for flood, are getting reimbursements that are pennies on the dollar for the value of their destroyed property, homes, and contents. These homes have been rendered unlivable, and yet, when insured homeowners try to claim temporaty housing benefits FEMA who manages the national flood insurance progaram, tells them they need to talk to FEMA, and of course the part of FEMA that doesn the emergency response says you need to talk to your insurance. Meanwhile people are stuck, in houses now growing toxic black mold top to bottom.
We spent time over the weekend with folks in one of the neighborhoods that the Army Corps of Engineers water release flooded out, and, well you can certainly tell the Army was involved.
The place looks like bombs went off in every single home. The debris field goes from house, across the street to the next house... The streets are white with the broken and now ground in remnants of what was at one time peoples walls.
Home furnishings, and electronics were everywhere, and it didn't matter if it was all high end super expensive stuff, or cheap disposable particleboard garbage, it all was on the curb waiting for the hiant claw to come pick it up, and throw it all in a landfill.
I know FEMA as well as pretty much every other government agency is stretched really thin at the levels that matter, the people that actually do the real work. And the folks in the field are doing the best they can, but let's look at some realities.
#1. In 2005 when Hurricane Katrian hit New Orleans, FEMA trailer cities sprung up all over the gulf coast to house Katrina evacuees. Now in 2017, FEAM is saying no temporary housing trailers for people because the Katrina evacuees trashed the trailers they were provided.
#2. The beaurocracy of dealing with FEMA is almost as bad as the storm itself. And folks need to know, if you don't have flood insurance, the ONLY help it seems like you are going to get, is an offer of a low interest loan, which most people can not afford.
#3. We hear about all these hundreds of millions of dollars that have been donated for the relief effort, and hundreds of millions more that have been allocated to the City of Houston by the state for Harvey relief efforts, so where is that money going, and how is it being used to help people?
Now I've got skils enough to hang sheet rock, cobble together cabinets, install insulation, replace sockets etc... But in working the volunteer efforts, to do the repairs and the builds, materials are in short supply or there is just no funding for what we need.
While I have no way of knowing for sure, I feel confident in saying that the people of Florida are experiencing much the same pain as we here in Texas are. And I can not imagine what the citizens of Puerto Rico are going through.
In so many ways, being one of the lucky ones that didn't get flooded, I can't explain to you the sort of, well like survivors guilt we have, and the frustration we are experiencing at trying to share our sweat and skills, and all of it seems to fall on deaf ears.
We WILL get through this, and I am absolutely confident that the resources that need to go to the right places will eventually get there. It is just painful, and frustrating to watch my family, friends, neighbors, and fellow human beings have their lives put on such a painful hold while they try to pick up the pieces and put something back together.