Build your own wooden open-frame rack

My “networking” closet was a mess, so I decided it was time to build a rack of sorts to better organize everything.  I could buy a rack, but I decided to build one out of some scrap wood I had laying around instead.  This way I can size it for exactly what I need, plus customizing it just involves screwing stuff into the wood where ever I wanted.

Wood isn’t perfectly straight, so you need to leave some room for warping.  I used to cheap grade 2×4’s for the rear posts and higher grade 2×4’s for the front (I only had 2 laying around).  For the sides and top/bottom I used some 1×6.  The frame opening is 17.5″ wide, and I decided a 20″ depth worked well for the equipment and space I had available.  For putting it all together I used 2″ drywall screws.

My main piece of equipment is a Cisco Catalyst 4503-E chassis with a GBIC fiber card and POE gigabit card. Air flows right to left through this chassis, so having the sides open is nice.  I plan on adding more venting to this as I have time.  Also the fans are pretty loud, so adding vents should help muffle the noise too.

Rackmount ears would probably hold in wood, but I decided to build a makeshift shelf by adding two more 2×4’s along the sides where I wanted to mount the chassis.  This way the chassis just sits on these 2×4’s at each end.

Wire routing involved using some open frame panels with keystone jacks, plus some wire conduits of various types I found recycled at work.  The photo shows what I currently have complete.

Wire routing in open wooden frame rack.

There is a vent loosely attached to the intake side that runs to the ground. This helps somewhat with circulating air from bottom to top of the closet.  Eventually I’m going to add more permanent vents.

There’s also a few other pieces of equipment that will be added once ventilation is improved.

Does the Chelsio 110-1040-20 Support 10GbE Ethernet?

I’ve been playing with FreeNAS, as well as upgrading to 10Gb Ethernet in a few areas where it makes sense in the home (including on the server that houses this website).  I’ve read that FreeNAS has the best support for Chelsio cards.  It wasn’t clear whether this particular card was simply a Fiber Channel only card, or if it was also capable of supporting Ethernet.  Since it was only $23 on eBay (including the optics for both ports) I decided it was worth a shot.  Here’s a shot of the part number on the board.

I plugged it in and at first got some red lights on both ports, plus my switch port didn’t light up.  It wasn’t promising at first.  Once FreeNAS started booting and detected the card, it displayed a message saying that it was downloading firmware to the card.  A few seconds later the lights lit up green and I had network activity!

The card shows up as cxbg0 and cxgb1.  I haven’t tested throughput yet, but it does obtain an IP and I can communicate with the FreeNAS control panel through it.

Showing that the device shows up.

So it looks to be like a success for this very inexpensive dual-port card.

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