building a server room/rack for your HA equipment


Staff member
Right now, my basement isn't finished, so I just have 1 corner dedicated to all my servers and HA hardware. It's a mess! I need help! I want to build my own room, but am not sure if I should build a 19" rackmount cabinet on wheels, where several drawers will have the hardware mounted horizontally, or should I just mount all the hardware on the wall, and just use a regular rackmount cabinet for the machines I have?

The damage:

Some of the stuff I need to mount somehow:
  • 4 PC's (servers)
  • 1 2u rackmount server
  • 48 port leviton patch panel
  • 2 USB gameport adapters
  • several USB hubs
  • power strips, supporting many wall warts
  • 4 port cybex kvm
  • monitor, mouse, keyboard
  • punchdown blocks
  • soon to be run alarm wiring to each door / window / appliance
  • battery backup
  • usb - > serial port hubs
  • x10 adapters
  • ocelot
  • secu16
  • netgear & linksys switches
  • cablemodem
  • and much more ...
Thanks for the link TreeTop, that's a nice setup for sure, I was thinking about something that could rotate or open like a door to get to the back, this confirms that it's doable.

CFguy, that's what I envision my wall to look like if I go that route, I would run out of space pretty fast too, eventho you seem to manage so far, nice setup!
This is what I did with my audio/video equipment. Those are resturant type racks that have wheels on them. I bought them from a home decore store around town. They are pretty heavy duty and provide great ventilation. Cost about $100. each and come in various shapes and sizes.


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Treetop, you beat me to the punch, as soon as I read Dan's post I was going to post the same link you did.

Dan, I'd make something similar to what Treetop's link shows. And I'd make it so that everything was as high up as possible - well out of the way of any possible flood waters, with just your monitor, keyboard and mouse down at "people level."

The beauty of a setup like the one on the HTPC News link is that you can get to all you wires, yet still have a nice, tidy setup that you can mount up high or low or whatever. You can also choose to use conventional shelfs or 19" rack shelving (or a mix) for such a project. I've seen some prefab stuff that works like the DIY stuff for sale at Parts Express ( ) and other places around the net. But what fun's prefab when you can do it yourself?

PS: does your wife know you posted those pictures!
From my searching, Parts Express has the best prices around for that stuff. I'm going to be doing a similar project when I get to the states. I'm going to convert my entertainment center into a rack mount unit using those same rails. I like the added stability and ventilation that rack mount shelves give vs using the mdf shelves and pegs that the entertainment center currently uses. and I can use the rack mount panels to hid the ugly space between components - even if the components themselves are not rack mount. They also make "smoked-glass/plastic" panels that I can place my IR equipment behind (maybe on a sliding drawer-type shelf). I'll have to move my HS server out of it's current tower case into either an HTPC or 3 or 4U rack mount case so I can have it close to most of the stuff it controls - part of the entertainment center.
I'm using a couple pieces of 8-unit PennFabrication rail from Parts Express (like in the link above). They came from PartsExpress - I drove up there and picked them up. These are no-frills rails ("bent" steel) but they work well. I used them to build a very small rack into my somewhat large desk. Right now, it's holding a 24-port switch (of which I'm only using 4), a blank 24-port patch panel, a shelf, and a 12 outlet TrippWise power "strip." I built the rack primarily so that I could use the power strip.

There are much nicer aluminum rails available if you want something that looks prettier, but you'll end up paying quite a bit more (I think Middle Atlantic makes nice aluminum rails; Parts Express should have them and I think they're the ones that Smarthome sells).
I like the idea of the wooden "custom built" link that treetop posted. However, if you don't have that much ambition/time/talent (pick one or all :D ), go with commercial communication and PC racks. After the meltdown a few years ago, there were tons of excess ones on eBay. Hamfests are also good places to pick them up. That's what I did. There is a thread on the HS BBS with pictures. IIRC, it's in the "General Automation" part of the forum.
Yeah several times, and eventho it wasn't much money, it was their reaction which upset me, they pretty much said "too bad, nothing we can do", eventho PayPal had my money. I hate signing up for accounts just to pay for something anyways.
I guess I've been lucky, I've been using PayPal since 1999 (about 60 transactions) and haven't had any problems, but then again, I've never had an Ebay or other seller not deliver what they promised, so I haven't had to file a claim or anything.

What's funny (or bad) about PayPal is that when they started, their buyer's protection thing was automatic - sort of the whole reason for using PayPal. Now they charge you extra for it :D