Revision 10: November 2001
Coming off a messy month like October, November looked to be all peaches and cream. And for the most part, it was. I was able to send back the DSL component of the Cisco 3620 to recover some costs, and moved my attention to the Nexland's ISB Pro800 turbo. This little NAT router is able to do what the Cisco 3620 couldn't do - handle two separate Internet connections (in my case, DSL and Cable), with both load balancing and fail over options.
The Nexland soon replaced both my LinkSys NAT routers and started into full time duty.
Around this time, a new problem cropped up - the freshly rebuilt Cartman, after much pain and agony, was finally working perfectly, but drawing too much power for the UPS that it was connected to! The result was that the UPS would regularly trip into overload mode, which causes loud beeps and blinky red lights. The problem was simple, the APC 450VA UPS provides about 300 watts of power, and the file server was drawing more than that. It was time to bite the bullet and get new UPSes: black, rackmountable, less-than-22 inch deep UPSes.
Minuteman's Enterprise Series fit the bill perfectly, their largest units required 30amp circuits, and my breaker box is just plain full (gonna need a new one when the basement gets renovated). The largest UPS they make in a standard 15amp circuit is the E1500. Committed to the idea of getting new UPSes, now I had to actually do it.
Turns out that the supplier in Canada is different from the one in the US, and when we finally tracked down who the supplier was, they had gone bankrupt. After a week of begging, Minuteman themselves sent up four E1500s - two for me, two for a friend of mine.
Each unit weighed 80 pounds! They're essentially one solid block of lead (with a bit of sulphuric acid thrown in). Being ever so careful with my back, I removed the UPSes from their shipping boxes, bolted on the rack ears and slid them into place.
My caution paid off, I didn't hurt my back, I did however tear an abdominal muscle, which meant no more heavy lifting for me for a couple of weeks. And now that I had a new UPS solution and a new Internet connectivity solution, I was plain out of reasons why I shouldn't rebuild the rack - except that I couldn't actually move the hardware around.
Fortunately, my nephew Chuck was happy to assist me in a complete gutting and rebuilding of the rack - he did all the heavy moving, I did wiring, repairs and direction. We shut down the entire rack 9am Saturday morning November 17th.
The revisions to the bottom half of the rack were relatively simple - the two new UPSes go on the bottom, then the servers: Cartman, Chef, Stan, Kyle, Mackie (the DB/2 server). The task was pretty tedious - Chuck pulled the cables off the back of each machine, the remove each device (computer or UPS) from the bottom working up, and replacing each machine sans UPS. Then the whole thing has to be wired up again.
While Chuck was working the bottom of the rack, I was shuffling hardware - moving the DB/2 server out of the black desktop case, into the 2U case that Cartman used to live in. I also took the opportunity to tear out the network wiring - time to retire that 16 port switch!
The 24 port switch cabled up gradually - only one cable from the networking gear ran to the switch (the Nexland). As computers were installed their cables went with, the patch panel was the last to be connected. The Belkin KVM went all at once, hanging from the front of the rack. Once everything was installed in it, getting it to slide back into place wasn't easy, especially since the Sony receiver moved up with it. In the new configuration, all non-computer components are above the patch panel.
Finally, after six hours, it was finished. Time for some detailed photographs, top-to-bottom.
Think everything was roses and sunshine? Of course not! The addition of the 5U server and a pair of 80 pound UPSes had added rougly 200 pounds to the rack, and the cantilever legs were showing the strain. The rack now leaned backward at a precipitous angle!
Some carefully cut and precisely placed 2x2 wood blocks propped up the E1500 UPS, leveling everything back out again.
Then the next problem cropped up - the heat alarms in Cartman (the file server) started to go off. But the high power fan never spun. After taking the machine back out of the rack again, I determine that the problem was the heat sensor on the motherboard, not the actual heat in the case - the fan had separate heat sensors that weren't that warm. Disabling the motherboard alarm did the trick, just have to keep an eye on things can make sure it doesn't fry.
Actually, I think heat is becoming an issue all around - the DSL modem is failing almost daily, needing to be powered off and on to perform. And its very hot to touch - should get a replacement, and/or some sort of active cooling on the 2U shelf.
I swear, I'm actually running out of things to do with the rack. I had some spare hardware that I put into the desktop case that still sitting in the rack, but really have no plan to do anything with it. Still haven't figured out what to do with the Cisco - with the essential failure of WEP, I'd like to use the Cisco as a firewall to secure wireless network connections. I'd also like to use the rest of my static IPs on the DSL line, the Nexland only supports one (like the LinkSyses did). And the Belkin is completely full - five servers, two workstations and one spare set for plugging machines under repair leaves nothing free. Dunno what I'm going to do about that.
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