This project started off as being a cheap way to have a 19″ rack in which to mount my growing amount of equipment and future projects. It turned out to not be as cheap as I’d hoped, and it’s taken several months of intermittent work to (almost) complete, but I’m pleased with the results.
There are still a few finishing touches to be done, such as adding the top, adding the lock to the rear, mounting the new bolts to the front door, cutting out the bottom ventilation hole and adding some fans. Future modifications could include adding lighting and environmental monitoring/control.
Below is a photo log showing how it was done.
Phase 1 – Building the frame
The frame was constructed using 5 44x44x2400mm PSE timbers and 1 44x94x2400mm PSE timber to give strength at the base. Some small modifications had to be made to get the front rails installed (had to move one of the top cross-beams back).
Phase 2 – Making it portable
A base was added to make the frame portable and give something for non-mounted items (like the 2.2KVA UPS) something to sit on. The base consists of a plywood lower part with castors and an MDF upper part.
Phase 3 – The cable tray
One of the other projects underway is wiring the house up with Cat5 and speaker cable, and there are several other cables that need to cross the room to get to the cabinet. Initial thoughts were to lay the cables under the floor but this was going to be too much work. The cable tray was built from an MDF off-cut and some left-over battons from another cupboard. It’s not the best looking thing, so it might get painted or replaced with guttering.
Phase 4 – Adding the rear doors
The doors are mounted on some thinner PSE beams which are attached to the uprights on the frame. This provides sufficient distance between the rack rails and the doors to allow for protruding handles and cables from the equipment. The doors were made from 18mm MDF (the same as my wardrobe doors), and hinged using piano hinge in the middle to allow it to fold. This gives access from one side while reducing the amount of space required behind the rack. The doors were attached to the frame using cupboard hinges (no cut-out required). At this point a hole was drilled in the base to allow cable access while the doors are closed – be careful not to get the drill stuck in the whole like I did, forcing me to take part of the frame apart to be able to lift the base and release the hole saw.
Phase 5 – Painting
Matt black blackboard paint was used for the frame, base and rear doors. 2 coats was enough to give a good finish.
Phase 6 – Adding the side panels
3mm MDF was used for the side panels. Originally it was intended that the panels be much thicker and stronger to allow direct mounting of equipment (e.g. an LCD or Plasma display) to the sides, but this would have added significant weight to what was already quite a heavy structure.
Phase 7 – Adding the front doors
The front doors were constructed from 18mm MDF and veneered with ash. Acrylic glass sheets allow direct viewing of the equipment within, whilst keeping the noise contained and the hardware secure.
Phase 8 – Adding the top and improving ventilation
This is the next phase, cutting a hole for cool air at the bottom and adding the top with 120mm fans.
The full gallery of photos from this project is available.