I have been a long time xpenology forum follower. I have wanted to build my very own xpenology for quite awhile. I even bought a HP Proliant sevrer at one point. Then realized I wanted something more.
After scouring the internet, i came across a forum post from unraid (I know Blah), about a forum member xxredxpandaxx modding an old Apple XRAID. Essentially gutting the unit and painstakingly soldering sata through the mother board to allows the caddies to hold SATA drives. It was a great idea and it got me thinking of undertaking such a task. I however have no soldering skills. And with say 14 X 8TB drives I don't trust my soldering when data is at stake. Also nothing on the outside was functional. It was just a case mod, nothing more.
Link provided https://forums.lime-technology.com/topic/29324-unraiding-an-apple-xserve-raid
I love the look of the Apple Xraid.
I really wanted some if not all of the Apple Xraid leds to function. So I wondered if it was possible to redesign boards for both the XRAID and the Caddies. So that at least the caddy drive lights worked in front.
So I got in contact with an electrical engineer who makes pcbs for nes gameboy retropies. He said he thought it was possible. So I gutted the Apple Xraid down to the bare metal, and sent him caddies and the server and he went to work.
He first designed the caddy pcb, and was actually able to get the front panel leds to work.
Designed Caddy PCB
Caddy with oem cover.
Youtube video of the led's working:
Once that was done, the next task was the large 17" PCB which would become a daughter board, accepting 14 SATA cables from a PC motherboard, and 4 Molex power cables from pc power supply. This is the second revision of the large PCB, the final revision will have cut outs for 26X 1"fans which will connect to the pc fan control to allow for exception air flow for the drives.
Hopefully this will be done soon. This daughter card is just a clean way to connect the drive caddies using original dock connectors.
We are hoping to also figure out a way to get the center LEDs to work which originally were for fiber throughput. Obviously this wont work with a custom system, so we are going to try and make a custom pcb for the center leds and possibly use a microcontroller to represent bandwidth and processor power in the center leds. (this is a future project).
The last piece to the puzzle is being able to hold the motherboard and components. The apple xraid has no normal standoff that most cases do. So I reached out to a custom aluminum case modding company who makes backplanes for old Apple G5s to PC case mods. And what he is working on is absolutely stunning.
You can follow his build blog here
So once everything is finished, I plan on creating an Xpenology 14 drive server. I will continue to post progress for those that are interested.
Sure there are easier ways to do this, but maybe not as pretty.
Could I have just gotten any server case and made an xpenology out of it? sure I could, but I always wanted an Apple Xraid.
The engineer will be selling kits if anyone wants replacement PCBs once everything is finished. Apple Raids sell on ebay for around 100-150 USD.
Thanks for reading.