Computer Rack

The Problem

    It started out simple enough.  A computer next to the desk, a printer and a connection to the phone line for the modem.  A phone rested nicely on top of the computer.  Then came the new computer with stereo speakers.  Next, the satellite modem followed by the addition of a wireless router so the other computer (and later computers) could share the "high-speed" internet connection.  The satellite modem was replaced by a DSL modem, but the wiring nest was becoming a mess. A UPS was added to the existing surge protector.  A USB drive added another power supply and cables to the rat's nest.  Finally, this year added a new computer accompanied by the decision to transition to Linux; the old computer stayed to act as print server and also to keep access to Windows programs for those applications not available in Linux or compatible with Wine.  Now, the mess was completely out of control and something had to be done.

               


Computer Rack Solution

Goals and Design Considerations

    I had several goals for this project:
  1. Design a rack to hold 3 computers (includes an older machine being used as a test system for Linux upgrades and changes before applying those changes to the main computer)
  2. Fit in the same area, moving the desk to allow for the additional machine
  3. Provide a place for the printer, a telephone, external disk drives and for a cell phone charger
  4. Piece must be moveable to allow access to the back of the rack for future changes
  5. Use lumber and materials already on hand using this as an opportunity to use some of the pieces left from other projects in order to free up some shop storage space
    One of the other design considerations for this project was the knowledge that in the world of technology, nothing is forever, so I didn't want to spend a great deal of time designing a unique piece that employed elegant joinery and solid lumber construction that would consume a significant amount of time.  I was looking for something that would go together in a few weekends, meet the desired design goals, and look reasonably good.

    The resulting design has shelves in the back that hold the UPS and the surge protector along with space for the sound system sub-woofer.  The project used some plywood left over from the entertainment center and that had also been used as the temporary headboard and footboard for the Captain's bed project.  The top frame was made from 8/4 cherry pieces that were left over from another project and the inner panel used a small piece of cherry plywood left over from the entertainment center project..  The faceframe was constructed using off-cuts from other projects and the interior shelving used plywood from both the Captain's bed project and the the workshop drawer project.  The wheels were candidates for a previous project; they weren't suitable for that project but worked well for this one.

    The end result achieved the design objectives.  I was able to use some material in the shop and make room for other things and got a functional piece that should be useful for the forseeable future.

 

Result Prior to Installation

          





    Note the cable pass-throughs from the top and through the middle shelf.



Installed

  The rack with the computers installed and in place.  A pair of Belkin KVM switches are daisy-chained to share the monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

 

      


Progress Log
  Time:  36 Hours
  For those interested in a chronological use of that time, the following Excel spreadsheet tracks the time required from design through current status:
  Progress Log File


Last Update 10/06/2007  mkl