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Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

The Man Cave (Part 1 of many…)

I am lucky enough to have a big cellar room to myself in our new house. It’s the den that I have been dreaming of for months, or ‘The Man Cave’ as it has become known. It is properly moisture-sealed and boarded out with plasterboard walls and dark wood floors, and painted a rather aggressive shade of red.

It is going to become a little geek palace of spectacular sophistication, and I’ll document as much of its transformation in these pages as I can.

The first thing it needs is a proper equipment rack — a rather larger version of the one in the Toy Cupboard in the old house* — and all the feeds to support it.

So far I have added broadband (BT Infinity), piped into the relevant corner of the room, and I’m in the process of adding satellite and DVB aerial feeds. Getting cables through old damp bricks, insulation and sealant layers is proving trickier than hoped.

The next step is to get power sorted. The new house has all of the sockets in the cellar and ground floors on a single 15 Amp breaker: not good. Put the kettle on when the washing machine and a few other things are running, and the whole lot trips out. The fuse board is pretty aged so we’re going to have the whole lot replaced, plus a bunch of dedicated sockets put in for the rack equipment.

Then we get to the business of actually building the rack. I looked at a load of options for this: various second hand racks and custom racks from a supplier on eBay, but they either didn’t fit the space I had available, or quickly became very expensive.

So for the time being I’m going to make a rack from 18mm MDF and off-the-shelf 2mm steel rails. It will have about 38U on the front and later on, about 26U on the back for mounting rails so that equipment can be slid out for easy access. The whole lot will be held together with screws and dowels and bolted to the wall for extra support.

It’s not an ideal arrangement — I’d rather have a welded steel frame to support the cantilevered weight of the servers on rails — but it will suffice for the time being and will only cost around £50, including a big pack of cage nuts for mounting everything.

I’ll document the construction and get some pics up.

*My post about this seems to be broken but you can still find a pic onAutomatedHome’s Node Zero gallery.

Tom Cheesewright