Home Lab Update – Wall Mounted

Rack mounted servers take up a lot of room when flat in a traditional rack. The alternative? Wall Mount!

Looking around for wall mounted rack enclosures, there very few available commercially. For lightweight equipment, you can get wall mounts that hang equipment vertically. E.g. for example Rack Solutions make ones for up to 3U with 105lb / 48kg load bearing. This would pushing it for up to 3 x DL360 servers. I also was’t convinced on the merits of hanging servers by the ears that weight ~17Kg each. It also makes plugging in cables underneath not so easy. They are really meant for lightweight patch panels and switches.

There are also other wall mount solutions that can be mounted horizontally or vertically, e.g. again from Rack Solutions, they make 1U or 2U wall mount enclosures that would have done the job, however, you need the rails to mount the servers and I don’t have the rails, and also quite expensive – the 2U is $190!. These particular ones only go to 2U also and I wanted 3U to allow for expansion, although I am sure with a bit more searching I could have found 3U alternatives.

Wall mounting the servers horizontally seemed the way to go, so it was DIY time. A few photos below of what I ended up with. Read on below the gallery for more details of the installation.

I bought a couple of lengths of mild steel flat bar (50mm x 3mm x 1000mm) then took them round to a local metal fabricator to get them bent into shape. I did buy 3 lengths so I had one spare to give bending them a go myself, but soon gave up of doing a decent job in my vice! So £5 each for the flat bars and £20 cash to the local fabricator who used his large press to bend them and £30 later I had my brackets. I made the brackets big enough to hold 3U to allow for an additional server purchase in the future, and used two screws to fix to the wall at the bottom and one at the top, as could end up with approaching 55Kg of servers.

Mounting the Cisco switch was easier than expected, as thoughtfully, the standards ears can be side mounted so wall mounting not an issue. Click here for sample Cisco installation.

My Microserver ended up on the window sill for now. I had thought of putting a shelf for it to sit on, but the window sill is convenient.

For the power, I didn’t have a socket nearby in the garage, but as my consumer unit right there, I opted to put in an extra MCB feeding a double socket so the lab effectively on its own power circuit. I bought a 10-way PDU to provide enough power sockets for now and any future expansion.

To neaten up the install, I used 75mm x 50mm trunking to hide the power cables. You can buy pre-slotted trunking but this is expensive, so I just drilled out 9mm holes and cut a slot using a saw. The plastic is flexible enough to get the cables in and out without too much effort and wont be changing them around much anyway. I left a few extra holes for any future expansion to avoid having to take the trunking off the wall again.

All in all, pretty pleased with the result. It takes up minimal room in my garage which was the main aim. OK, so it would be nice to have a house with a basement, server closet, 42U rack, lots of kit and a house flood-wired with CAT6…  we can all dream!

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7 thoughts on “Home Lab Update – Wall Mounted

  1. Hi, excellent ide, this is the solution I was looking for, and I do plan to install it at my home as well, however my question is: how did you manage to seal servers to the metal? Also did you put something between servers (burrer,antistatic material) ? I plan to put on the wall, UPS 3000+HP proliant+microserver, almost the same equipment you have there. 🙂 thanks for sharing this.

    • Thanks for nice comment. The servers are just resting on the metal brackets. They are heavy enough not to move and the lugs that the sliding rails would fit on also stop movement should someone push the servers forward. There is just a spacer between the two servers waiting for number 3 to be added at a later date. Haven’t put any other foam or anti-static between them although would do if there was any vibration – but there isn’t.
      I thought of boxing them in with mesh at the sides for airflow, but not really worth it.

    • Thanks for the comments. The mounts were just metal bar from eBay (£5 each) and then local fabricator bent them for me. I did have a go at bending myself but didn’t go well! You can get the trunking with the cutouts all the way along which would save some work but the standard plain trunking is much cheaper. That rack solutions one is good, but I didnt have any rails with my servers, it was only 2U and was looking for 3U so room for expansion.. and it was £145+VAT. You are right though, very few options for wall mounting fall depth servers. The other option is to go for something much smaller like Broadberry Cyberserve short depth – these would in comms type wall mount cabinet – but cooling could be an issue in a small cab… and anyway I havent seen these cheap anywhere.

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