Paul-E
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:55 pm

4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:55 pm

Hi,

Following some interest of our Pi4U project at a computer show we were at recently (RiscOS London), I thought I'd take a look here and see if anyone was interested - and to see if anyone was doing, or had done something similar.

In terms of purpose, we are using a bramble to act as a linux gateway cluster for our app Concept2View. 16 Pis replace 16 physical 4U servers which would undertake tasks such as upload to YouTube and create QR codes. The brief was to reduce heat production and energy consumption - as well as having a chance to play with the Pis in a commercial sense! (Admittedly, this had nothing to do with RiscOS, but we were using the Pis at the show for another purpose).

We wanted to either source or produce something that filled our requirements:
* fits into our 19" rack,
* built to a commercial standard (lego is great but not viable for our project),
* holds about 16 Pis,
* was cooled as appropriate,
* didn't look like a box of wires from an IT cupboard,
* and more importantly, used a suitable power supply -as opposed to a hungry standard ATX or 16 individual pimples.

Having trawled the usual suspects (and I'm sorry if we missed anyone that has created something like this already), we decided to make something using commercially available parts.

So far, our project has involved:
* modding a new 4U rackmount ATX case (hence it's name the Pi4U),
* installing 4 aluminium rails on which to mount the Pis
* purchasing 3x 40w power supply modules - this will ensure that if one goes, two thirds of our bramble still works and keeps our app up!
* producing a power panel that fits in place of the drive and switch bays containing 3 PSU switches and 16 Pi switches.
* installing an ethernet switch so the case connects with one ethernet cable (suitable for our purpose)
* Installing 3 low noise fans, just to move the air around.

We only needed to power the device, use an SD card and access the ethernet. so we weren't worried about running the HDMI or audio out. The 4U case quite happily accepts the ethernet switch, and I'm sure that for other purposes, you could install an HDMI switch or other form of extension switching without exceeding the 4U space.

If anyone is interested, we can share the pics and videos of the buildup. We're also wondering if there is a commercial interest in this project elsewhere and also if anyone has suggestions or thoughts?

Paul.

Gary Littlemore
Posts: 327
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:52 am
Location: Cheshire, UK

Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:57 am

Pictures are alway nice wth a post. Let's see what you've done.
3b+, 2b, b+, b, Zero & Zero-W

Ravenous
Posts: 1956
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:01 pm
Location: UK

Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:37 pm

Here's a really small form factor I noticed recently:

http://erthenvar.com/store/blanktiles6hp

http://erthenvar.com/store/index.php?ro ... ry&path=65

Basically they're putting small modular synth modules into a 1U rack. I haven't been able to see if there's any special attachment to get them into the rack; maybe it's a proprietary thing. Maybe you could do something like that (would need to be 2U high I guess).

plugwash
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Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:49 pm

Paul-E wrote:16 Pis replace 16 physical 4U servers
umm

I find it hard to belive that 16 Pis could do a task that actually anywhere near that many regular servers.

Paul-E
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:55 pm

Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:00 pm

Hi,

We'll put some of the photos up. We've got 4 Pis installed so far and are awaiting for a delivery from Farnell for the rest.

Ravenous, thanks for the link - the tiles look like a good idea. We've installed rails into the 4U case and gone that way so we can install other equipment such as a network switch - but the tiles could be a handy way to expand or mount within.

Plugwash, whilst its true they won't handle the video processing that we're doing on the hex core machines, they work brilliantly as separate scripted gateways.

Following some education via the RISC OS Show London and some YouTube videos regarding the GPIO, we're going to add a tri-coloured LED next to each switch to give an 'at a glance' script status update. It started off as a novelty idea, but we quickly realised that it means we can easily monitor performance and check for errors etc.

One thing that we've picked out of the project so far is that there could be some demand for a standard ATX sized PSU with breakout for such tasks? We've fitted our 3 power modules including a fan, into what used to be a 300w PC PSU.

SniperPilotX
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:42 am

Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:16 pm

i am interested in combining multiple pi's, 2 for right now, into a portable tablet system? i am a noob at programming, so any help would be great

MarkJ62
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:55 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact: Website

Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:00 am

Paul-E wrote:Hi,

We'll put some of the photos up. We've got 4 Pis installed so far and are awaiting for a delivery from Farnell for the rest.

<snipped>

One thing that we've picked out of the project so far is that there could be some demand for a standard ATX sized PSU with breakout for such tasks? We've fitted our 3 power modules including a fan, into what used to be a 300w PC PSU.
@Paul-E - Did you ever get the photos up? If so could you provide a link.

I too am looking at a way to have multiple Pis in a single case, although I don't have a rack. I was thinking along the lines of a rail with them mounted onto it, but maybe a desktop style case or mini tower.

The power supply sounds like an interesting idea too rather than dozens of power bricks which gets very messy and probably isn't the most energy efficient either.

Paul-E
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:55 pm

Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:00 pm

SniperPilotX - we're looking at a cluster for server / processing purposes, so I don't think I could help with a tablet type deployment - but I'm sure plenty of people on the forum could.

MarkJ62, sorry we hadn't come back. We'd originally assembled the Pi's on a sort of 'rail' attachment - but this restricted the number we could fit in. Thanks to the revised board design with fitting holes, we've gone to a towered strut idea. The build is nearly finished - although one of the micro-usb cables that had been soldered into our switch panel had become defunct - and one Pi also appeared to be corrupting cards, so we're doing a couple of fixes.

The PSU is a strong part of the design - as 4-ways with micro-usb psu's tend to get messy and make switching awkward. And as you say, the energy efficiency / heat dissipation should be better.

Our prototype is nearly ready - and we're looking more 'commercially friendly' panel design options and Pi mounting. I'll get some photos up in a few days. We've kept the design to fit within an ATX case, including the PSU - so I think the same should be possible with a standard tower case form.

MarkJ62
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:55 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact: Website

Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:36 am

There are commercially available power supplies. Sure Electronics sells them via eBay in 3, 10 or 20 amp versions. Some wiring required.

The link: is here

MarkJ62
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:55 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact: Website

Re: 4u Bramble Case - (Pi4U)

Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:29 am

Hi Paul-E

Any update to the case, photos, etc?

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