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Storage solution: Mass E-sata cage

Mussels

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#1
Basically this is about the E-sata cage mentioned in my sig - i have been getting lots of PM's lately, so i am going to post images and details now, and slowly update this thread as i mod the cage (a long term plan)

The original reason for getting this was i had a storage server, but due to hardware and software costs i ditched it. Running out of sata ports, replacing/cleaning fans. virus threats and such all made it too costly. Storage PC was also a real ass to carry to and from lans, since it required a mouse, keyboard etc to get running at full capacity (sharing and unsharing files, people with firewall problems etc)
This unit was my solution. The model is a ViPower MobileRack SubSystem, Aluminum, 5 Bay, model # VPMA-75511R.

details of the stock unit start here:
Cage is almost a micro PC. Its an old 300W AT PSU (no, not ATX). The unit is 5x 5 1/4" bays with 'hotswap' SATA-II cages, connected to an E-sata Port multiplier - this means that all 5 hard drives run off one E-sata port on the PC. Upside is one cable for 5 drives, downside is that running all 5 drives at once could cause a problem with speed.

it should be noted that not all E-sata works with multiple drive enclosures that use port multipliers, I know first hand that intel controllers and sata I controllers in general dont, with silicon image sata II controllers working the best.
PCI-E 1x cards seem to work quite well for two port e-sata cards.



Intended mods are:
Quietening the unit. Deciding how best to do that as i get used to it. First to go will be the 40mm fans.

update: 17th dec 2009

For the old box, all i ever did was unplug all but the PSU fan, and sit blu-tack between the handles of the drive bays and the bays themselves to prevent vibration.

The new box however, was a much better deal from the start :) (see post below for pics)

It contains one less drive, but its smaller, lighter, and more convenient with its USB connection as a backup (and its also less than half the price i paid for the 5 bay unit)


Edit 1st nov:
Just to keep this updated, my current drive status with the cage is the following:
2x Samsung F4 2TB drives
3x 1.5TB Seagate drives (louder than samsungs, comparable speeds)
3x Samsung F1 1TB drives (quiet, fast, cheap these days)

Total of 10TB external storage, via 2x e-sata cables

update: 30th oct 2013

1x 4TB seagate USB 3.0 drive
1x 3TB seagate USB 3.0 drive
4x samsung 2TB (e-sata 4 bay)
3x 1.5TB seagate + 2x 1TB samsungs (5 bay e-sata)

for a total of 21.5TB
 
Last edited:

Mussels

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#2
Images!


Each bay in the unit came with a packet of screws, 2 keys and a manual. i have 5 manuals and 10 keys now. lol.


Closeup. Image looks a little distorted, thats just my camera bending things.


Rear of the unit - shows that its got a standard PSU, 80mm fan, and half-height bracket for the E-sata port.


Drive installed in the cage. There is also a silver metal cover that goes over the top, in order to 'direct' the airflow the 40mm fan provides.


Rear of the drive.


The inside of the unit - and the aforementioned 40mm fan.


Fuzzed out parts due to the content being material not suited for display on TPU - but the speed of the unit has no problems from one drive to another ;)


update: 17th dec 2009

I got a new E-sata cage (this one only takes 4 drives, but its a lot smaller) so heres the new pics :)

Outside view


View of the buttons/front (poor shot, sorry) - Buttons are Interface, Sync and Fan


Rear of the unit. You'll notice it has an 80mm fan, USB2.0 and E-sata - but the power isnt located here.


This is the completely boring right hand side of the unit, showing where the power goes in


The unit uses a 60W laptop style power brick


To install drives into the enclosure, you push down on the front piece and it opens - lift it, and it comes right off


This bad picture shows the second piece, which you have to push down onto two spring loaded clips to remove. This is the piece that stops the drives coming loose when installed.


While its not needed, the enclosure came with brackets for the HDD's - the handle makes it easier to remove HDD's after they're installed.


hard drives simply slot right in - you can see in the back where the sata connectors line up. No locks or tools are required to insert or remove drives.


A more close up shot - you can see the black metal bar between the two HDD's, that seperates them from touching (and guarantees your HDD to be in line with the sata connectors)


This large picture, is stolen from where i bought the unit - it covers angles/details i didnt get


This final image shows the size difference between the two cages :)
 
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Mussels

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#3
I have now removed the power to the 40mm fans. huh. the damned thing is inaudible. WIN!

Now its all drive noise, and windows powering the off after a while at idle will fix that no problems.

Other options i would like comments on for reducing noise:
Swapping to HDD silencing enclosures, sound absorbing padding. Anyone have any ideas for what i can do with 5x 5 1/4" bays and 5 hard drives? :)
 

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#5

Mussels

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#6
cool

i wonder what temps they hit.
cant tell, everest wont read any drives on my e-sata controller. They dont get very hot, as there is 2x80mm fans behind them. i'd say <40c, in the cold ambients i'm getting now.
 

Mussels

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#7
see atm i have 2x coolermaster 4http://img.techpowerup.com/forums/images/editor/separator.gif
http://img.techpowerup.com/forums/images/editor/separator.gif in 3 device modules for 5 drives ( 3 in one, 2 in the other) and this sits next to the comp, but the annoyance is all the cableing, i really want just one data cable to the pc.

http://www.coolermaster.com/products/product.php?act=detail&id=2542
the cage cost me $500. it may not be suitable for your needs...

Also, not all sata ports work with port multipliers even if you can buy one seperately and they definately use E-sata cables so you'd need to get a sata to e-sata adaptor cable as well.
 
K

kyle2020

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#8
How are the 500GB F1's? im considering purchasing one, possibly next week, just wanted an insight on what they are like?
 

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#9
Hmm..I've seen units like this that offer some form of RAID..though it can't be real per se, though..
 

Mussels

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#10
some of the units do offer RAID, this one is RAID only when your E-sata controller supports it.

Kyle2020: i dont have F1's. i have the older model 500GB's. From what i've heard, they're quite good drives.
 

Mussels

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#11
oh as an update to this: not all sata controllers support port multipliers.

Intel for example, do NOT. Only the first drive shows up. Jmicron and silicon image controlers do as long as they are sata-II, so keep this in mind if anyone intends to follow me with this.

Also, i have to have the unit powered on and connect the E-sata cable later - powering it on with the cable already connected results in only the first drive being detected.
 
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#12
"3250MB from one cable"

Is that supposed to be "3250GB from one cable"?
..or perhaps "3.25TB from one cable"?
 
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#13
Hey Mussels, is your onboard e-sata flaky on your ASUS P5K-e? When I turn on or use my computer with the e-sata plugged in, it is only a matter of time before my system locks up. When it works, it works great though. I haven't had much time to fool with it so I've just used USB for the time being (it's enough for listening to music).

Back on topic, that cage looks pretty slick! How much vibration is there? The only thing I would maybe do would be to stick some rubber washers under the hard drive, if your case allows it. A suspension kit would be best for sound, but that would defeat the purpose of a hot-swap and easy to move setup since it would make temps worse and could become unstable. You could get away with a really tight suspension, but you'd need to have some airflow on the back as a precaution.

Sound padding... where would you put it? The only spots I see would be within each bay and at the back of the unit, but that would really screw with airflow. I don't know how hot yours get, but my Samsung 750 gets really hot in my enclosure since it partially blocks two of the air holes.

EDIT: I just saw your post about your temps and airflow, so ignore anything I said ^ that you have already done.
 

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#14
thats cool i might follow you in this eventually but iwould build my own cage i think
 

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#15
Fatforester,i had a p5k-premium before this p5q-e,on the p5k i could not get raid to work,it always fooked up,and my caddy for my 160gb backup drive(it goes into a 5.25" bay and has sata power and data connectors on the back) would not hot swap without crashing my pc.

It now works fine on this new board,the p5k boards do have problems with raid,i think there is a thread coevering the issue on XS forum.
 

Mussels

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#16
several posts here:

xvi: yeah that was a typo. fixed.

fatforester: once i removed all the fans, its very quiet. the cage actually has some rubber feet that remove almost all vibration (and the samsungs are quiet drives, which is why i chose them)

In order to get the E-sata working right you should make sure its set right in the bios (make sure its not in RAID mode) and there is a procedure i have to follow. i have to have the drive powered on, and THEN connect the e-sata cable. The system DOES NOT like having the E-sata cable connected before powering on the cage - i think it messes with the hot-plug detection.
 

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#17
so this thread was just a guinie pig in your test for hdd. 5 hdd's to spare sounds like fun.

samsung 750gig sata II - inexpensive and fun to use but long time to format (i'm using my laptop to format mine right now) stupid i know but i have time?

was the cage aluminum? easy to carry around? get hot without the fans? my hdd doesn't even make that much noise but my external enclosure is crisp and quiet. barely any heat coming from it also but i couldn't say much about having 5 hdd's in one cage all at once. good job though

so if its not set to raid what should it set to be then?
 

Mussels

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#18
my 750's make no real noise at all. 5 of them is audible, but its not annoying.

The cage does appear to be aluminum, its fairly lightweight.
Formatting took 10 seconds. Why wouldnt you use quick format on a new drive?
The fans are off - the hard drives dont get hot. The fans would be needed for say, raptors.

Its not raid, so it shows as 5 individual drives.
 

Mussels

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Rebo&Zooty

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#21
my 750's make no real noise at all. 5 of them is audible, but its not annoying.

The cage does appear to be aluminum, its fairly lightweight.
Formatting took 10 seconds. Why wouldnt you use quick format on a new drive?
The fans are off - the hard drives dont get hot. The fans would be needed for say, raptors.

Its not raid, so it shows as 5 individual drives.
one reasons, a full format does an integrity check, I normaly format new drives SLOW the first time, that way if they have a problem i KNOW and can return/rma them and get ones that are "flawless" or as close to flawless as i can manage :p
 

Mussels

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#22
i've actually got myself a second e-sata cage now :)

will update thread with new pics soon
 

Mussels

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#23
bump for thread update, since someone asked about E-sata cages.
 

Mo0n0

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#24
Hi everybody!

I just wonder, Where did you get that cage??
haha have been searching on google and ebay and I cant find anything :(
but i did found the cage homesite but no pricetags :(

Sorry for my bad english too ;)
 

Mussels

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Memory 16GB 2133 generic @ 2800
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Case Fractal Design R5. So much room, so quiet...
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Power Supply Corsair HX 750i (Platinum, fan off til 300W)
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#25
Hi everybody!

I just wonder, Where did you get that cage??
haha have been searching on google and ebay and I cant find anything :(
but i did found the cage homesite but no pricetags :(

Sorry for my bad english too ;)
the large one isnt for sale any more, the smaller one i got from www.pccasegear.com.au - they now have USB 3.0 models as well.