Thinking of building a server farm?

Subject: Systems | October 13, 2015 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: server farm, linux, DIY

Phoronix recently built a server farm and bar, a perfect use for a basement.  In building the server farm they learned quite a bit about the process of creating your own server farm as well as the costs involved.  For instance their power bill has gone up somewhat, including the air conditioning they are seeing usage of 3,000 kWh a month so you might want to do some calculations before setting up your own.  Take a look at how the mostly finished design worked out and if you are interested you can find a link to the original article covering the build on the last page. 


"It's been just over six months since I completed construction on the large 60+ system server room where a ton of Linux benchmarking takes place just not for but also the new daily performance tracking initiative and testing and development around our Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and software. Here's a look back, a few recommendations to reiterate for those aspiring to turn their cellar into a server farm, and a few things I'd do differently next time around."

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Source: Phoronix

Everyone needs an automated elastic band turret

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2015 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: DIY, turrent, arduino, 3d nand

With Black Hat in full swing anyone with even half a mind on their systems security is already depressed and likely to be even more so by the wrap up.  That is why you should all stare at this 3D printed, Arduino powered elastic band turret.  At the very least it should cheer you up and at best get you downloading the Thing Files to start printing your own.  The full load of 24 rubbers can be launched in a very short time, either automatically if you program the Arduino appropriately or manually with an optional joystick.  Head on over to MAKE:Blog to see this new step in desk defence.


"Looking like it would fit in perfectly in the smash hit game Portal, this little turret can launch a barrage of rubber bands on command. Designed by Kevin Thomas, this perky little gatling gun is mostly 3D printed, with an Arduino for a brain."

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Fan Creates Pip-Boy and Released 3D Printing Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 2, 2015 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: maker, fallout 4, DIY

Yvo de Haas, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle, Netherlands, creates props, robots, and other objects as a hobby. Previous creations include a joystick-controlled turret from Portal, GLaDOS, and a Fallout 3-style Pip-Boy.

The latest project was a Fallout 4-style Pip-Boy that accepts a smartphone, with an LG Nexus 5 shown in the demo video, above. It also contains a (non-functioning) cassette player at the top, which take Fallout-style tapes... so unfortunately you cannot pretend that your Vault Dweller is obsessed with Thriller. This model is currently available on the website for anyone with time and access to a 3D printer. The work is licensed under Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution ShareAlike, so you can use and modify the model however you like, as long as you share your alterations in a similar fashion (and assuming that you also don't violate Bethesda's trademarks in any way -- even though Haas' license permits commercial usage, Bethesda won't).


A second model (the “Accurate version”) is still in progress. This one is supposedly intended to be used with an embedded computer like a Raspberry Pi. It sounds like you will need to install a bare display and other components to make it work, but that will probably be more clear when it is published.

Source: Ytec3D

That's not a USB charger, this is a USB charger!

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2015 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: usb, DIY

Bask in the glory that is this hacked together 33 port USB charger, created in the Netherlands as a workaround to connet the charges to the three rounded prongs used in Schuko sockets common in Europe.  This would of course work with NEMA plugs, just line the welding rods up appropriately and connect your USB chargers up to it.  Keep in mind that they use 220-240V whereas we use 110-120V so your total workable amount of plugs will vary.  If you are considering building your own version of this massive USB charger, you might want to seriously consider installing some sort of circuit breaker in addition to the non-conductive cowling unless you are a fan of dead devices and house fires.  Check Hack a Day for other projects from this event and others around the world.


"The Hack42 hackerspace in Arnhem, The Netherlands had collected a large number of TP-Link 5V USB chargers – but all of them had the North American NEMA plug (flat, 2 pin) which wouldn’t fit the Schuko sockets prevalent in The Netherlands. [Simon “MacSimski” Claessen] decided to whip out his giant soldering iron and use it to solder two long pieces of welding filler metal rods to 33 of the chargers, effectively wiring them up in parallel."

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Source: Hack a Day

Corsair Unleashes the Bulldog, an Upgradeable, Liquid Cooled 4K Gaming PC For The Living Room

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 1, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: steam os, living room gaming, liquid cooling, gaming, DIY, corsair, computex 2015, computex, barebones, 4k

Today at Computex, Corsair unveiled a new barebones gaming PC aimed at the living room. The compact Bulldog PC is an upgradeable barebones DIY kit that offers gamers an interesting base from which to build a living room PC capable of 4K gaming. The chassis resembles an overbuilt console in that it is a short but wide design with many angular edges and aesthetic touches including stylized black case feet and red accents surrounding the vents. A hidden panel in the lower right corner reveals two USB 3.0 ports and two audio jacks. It looks ready to fight in the next season of Robot Wars should you add a flamethrower or hydraulic flipper (heh).

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room_Front.jpg

The Bulldog kit consists of the chassis, motherboard, small form factor power supply, and a customized Hydro H55F series closed loop liquid CPU cooler. From there, users need to bring their own processor, RAM, and storage devices. There is no operating system included with the kit, but it, being a full PC, supports Windows, Linux, and SteamOS et al.

As far as graphics cards, Corsair is offering several liquid cooled NVIDIA graphics cards (initially only from MSI with other AIB partner cards to follow) that are ready to be installed in the Bulldog PC. Currently, users can choose from the GTX TITAN X, GTX 980, and GTX 970.

Alternatively, Corsair is offering a $99 (MSRP) upgrade kit for existing graphics cards with its Hydro H55 cooler and HG110 bracket.

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC Kit.jpg

The Bulldog case supports Mini ITX form factor motherboards and it appears that Corsair is including the Asus Z97I-Plus which is a socket 1150 board supporting Haswell-based Core processors, DDR3 memory, M.2 (though you have to take the board out of the case to install the drive since the slot is on the underside of the board), a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, four SATA 6.0 Gbps ports, and the usual fare of I/O options including USB 3.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and optical and analog audio outputs (among others).

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room H55F CPU Cooler.jpg

A mini ITX motherboard paired with the small from factor Corsair H55F CPU cooler (left) and the internal layout of the Bulldog case with all components installed (right).

User purchased processors are cooled by the included liquid cooler which is a customized Hydro series cooler that mounts over the processor and exhausts air blower style out of the back of the case. The system is powered by the pre-installed 600W Corsair FS600 power supply. The PSU is mounted in the front of the system and the graphics card radiator and fan are mounted horizontally beside it. Along the left side of the case are mounts for a single 2.5" drive and a single 3.5" drive.

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room Liquid Cooled Graphics Cards.jpg

GPU manufacturers will be selling card with liquid coolers pre-installed. Users can also upgrade existing air cooled graphics cards with an optional upgrade kit.

The liquid cooling aspect of the Bulldog is neat and, according to Corsair, is what is enabling them to cram so much hardware together into a relatively small case while enabling thermal headroom for overclocking and quieter operation versus air coolers.

I am curious how well the CPU cooler performs especially as far as noise levels go with the compacted and shrouded design. Also, while there is certainly plenty of ventilation along the sides of the case to draw in cool air, I'm interested in how well the GPU HSF will be able to exhaust the heat since there are no top grilles.

Corsair is marketing the Bulldog as the next step up from your typical Steam Machine and game console and the first 4K capable gaming PC designed for the living room. Further, it would be a nice stepping stone for console gamers to jump into PC gaming.

From the press release:

“Bulldog is designed to take the 4K gaming experience delivered by desktop gaming PCs, and bring it to the big 4K screens in the home,” said Andy Paul, CEO of Corsair Components. “We knew we needed to deliver a solution that was elegant, powerful, and compact. By leveraging our leading expertise in PC case design and liquid cooling, we met that goal with Bulldog. We can’t wait to unleash it on gamers this fall.”

The Bulldog DIY PC kit is slated for an early Q4 2015 launch with a MSRP of $399. After adding in a processor, memory, storage, and graphics, Corsair estimates a completed build to start around $940 with liquid cooled graphics ($600 without a dedicated GPU) and tops out at $2,250.

Corsair Bulldog DIY PC 4K Gaming In The Living Room.jpg

Keep in mind that the lowest tier liquid cooled GPU at launch will be the MSI GTX 970 (~$340). Users could get these prices down a bit with some smart shopping and component selection along with the optional $99 upgrade kit for other GPU options. It is also worth considering that the Bulldog is being positioned as a 4K gaming machine. If you were willing to start off with a 1080p setup, you could get buy with a cheaper graphics card and upgrade later along with your TV when 4K televisions are cheaper and more widespread.

At its core, $400 for the Bulldog kit (case, quality power supply, high end motherboard, and closed loop CPU cooler) is a decent value that just might entice some console gamers to explore the world of PC gaming (and to never leave following their first Steam sale heh)! It is a big commitment for sure at that price, but it looks like Corsair is using quality components and while there is surely the usual the small form factor part price premium (especially cases), it is far from obnoxious.

What do you think about the bulldog? Is it more bark than bite or is it a console killer?

Source: Corsair

Now that is small form factor, a PC in a mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2015 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: DIY, mod, mouse-box

Inside the red and black striped body of this mouse is a quad-core ARM Cortex processor of unknown pedigree running at 1.4GHz and 128GB of flash storage; no information on how much RAM might be available.  It has inbuilt WiFi, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a single micro-HDMI port for output and it will charge wirelessly when placed on a pad via Qi or a similar solution.  As well the regular mouse input the Mouse-Box will also have an accelerometer and gyroscope, perhaps a revival of the 3D interface mice which appeared and quickly disappeared a few years back.  Check out the video at The Register to see the team's pitch and a way to get in contact with them.


"The specs aren't going to excite gamers, but Polish developer Przemysław Strzelczyk and his team have built a decent working computer into a Mouse."

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Source: The Register

Chromecast meets Linux

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2015 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: linux, chromecast, DIY, stream has put together a quick tutorial on how to stream content to Chromecast from a machine running Linux, giving you an incredibly inexpensive and effective way to stream your own capture media.  With the use of a Samba group in openSUSE you can send data to the Chromecast dongle attached to your TV, something that was not initially possible with Chromecast.  The author took this a step further, showing you how to set up your Android devices to stream to Chromecast as well.  Learn how to here.


"Chromecast is one of the most used devices in my household. After using it for over a year now, I believe there is no longer a market for the so-called 'smart TV'. Inexpensive devices like Chromecast can turn any HDMI-enabled TV into a smart TV with immense possibilities to expand its features."

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One way to build an inexpensive yet speedy storage server

Subject: Storage | December 15, 2014 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: SAS, hdd, DIY, LSI, Seagate, icy dock

You may want to build a server consisting of enterprise level SSDs to make sure it provides the best possible speeds to anyone accessing data stored there but the chances of you getting the budget for it are slim going on none.  That is why reading the guide on building servers from Modders Inc is worth your time if you find yourself pondering the best way to build a storage server on a budget without making it abysmally slow.  You have many choices when you are designing a storage server but if you are not quite sure where to start the list of components and the arguments for their usefulness will get you headed in the right direction.  For example the LSI MegaRAID SAS 9271-8i is an impressive RAID controller and with good SAS HDDs you can expect to see very good data throughput and will be more important than the CPU you select.  Check out the article right here.


"IT infrastructure and storage has always been part of serious conversation between IT engineers and their bosses. As always IT Engineers want to use the best of the newest technologies while their bosses want to keep every project under a tight budget. It's always an ongoing battle, however both sides always come to some mutual agreement that benefits both sides."

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Source: Modders Inc

Make your own backlighting

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2014 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: dvorak, led backlight, DIY

You have refined taste when it comes to keyboards and have exacting qualifications as to the models you want but have now developed a taste for LED backlighting.  The models you find acceptable don't incorporate LEDs or do so in a way you find distasteful.  There is a solution but it is one that will take a long time to pull off.  MAKE:Blog has linked to a project which will take a lot of soldering and more than a little effort but if you want the coolest Dvorak or Sinclair ZX keyboard on the block it might just be worth it.


"Regardless of the hesitation to recommend this project, the final result is quite nice. The final keyboard layout is a Dvorak simplified keyboard, and the wiring is hidden under the keys."

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Source: MAKE:Blog

A second helping of Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2014 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi B+, DIY

Tinkerers and developers received a nice gift today, an updated Raspberry Pi B+ which adds extra I/O to the existing platform which will allow you more functionality without needed to relearn how to program it.  The Broadcom BC2835 SoC is still present and still overclockable along with the 512MB of onboard RAM and most important the $35 price tag remains.  What has change is the number of USB ports which have double to four, a click in MicroSD port and an increase in the GPIO header to 40 pin, though it remains backwards compatible with 26 pin by plugging in on the left hand side which means you have not lost the work you put into the previous Pi.  Check out the introductory video at The Inquirer and feast your eyes on the new board layout below.


"Although it's not touted as Raspberry Pi Two, but rather "the final evolution of the original Raspberry Pi", the firm has tailored the Model B+ to include all of the additions that Raspberry Pi users have requested."

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Source: The Inquirer