Home Server Hardware Construction Lessons Learned

I’ve learned a few lessons learned while building my home server. The biggest thing I’ve learned is no matter how much you research you’re going to miss a few things. My original thought was to use a pci-sata card with 2 internal and 2 external sata slots. Combining the two on-board ports with the two internal ports would give me the four maximum sata drives supported by my hot-swap case and would give me two external slots that I could potentially connect drives to either to expand storage in the future or as a quick way to transfer files to/from the server.

The biggest problem of course is that this case does not expose the pci card to the outside of the case. This rendered the esata ports useless and actually a bit of an impediment since it just slightly hits the case. It works just fine, but I did end up ordering a new sata card with 4 internal ports instead of the 2e/2i. That was a $46 dollars whoopsie. Not so bad and it’ll allow me to compare performance of two on board and two on the PCI card versus all four on the PCI card. I think that will be interesting.

The next lesson that I learned was don’t order a part that you realize you forgot to in a hurry. I ended up ordering a 1U Left facing PCI riser card when I needed a 2U Right facing PCI riser card.

Once I realized the mistake I found that finding a 2U Left facing single pci slot riser was quite difficult. I found pretty much all of them ended up being made by the same manufacturer. I ordered this and it arrived from hong kong in about a week. Which leads us to the most valuable lesson learned.

When the 2U Left Facing PCI riser arrived I found that it caused the motherboard not to boot. It was noted that this happened in the original blog that I read about building a similar setup. Since I knew not too many people made this card I decided to read up on what he did to fix it. Using a copy of the pci standard and a voltmeter I found that pin A40 was grounded when it shouldn’t be. I cut this trace and like the blogger it seemed to work properly afterward.

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