September 27, 2022


Having a big family means making sacrifices. I had my own closet in the house to run my noisy server. It paired nicely with the wiring drop for all the wires in the house (network/phone/audio visual/etc). But, alas, that room needed to no longer be the guest room once the girls were old enough to have their own place. So, my server (now servers) had to go to my office.

My office is where I've worked full time for 5 years now. Even pre-pandemic, I was one of the lucky "full time remote" types in MS engineering. My office has lots of sunlight, but faces west - so it gets warm. Add a few servers and it gets HOT. Like 93 degrees hot this past summer. And of course, there was the noise. Granted, I had taken the server fans out of both machines because they sound like an F16 taking off.

This "worked" well at keeping the servers cool, but the office was still noisy and more importantly, hot.

I had read about these really quiet fans that move air bigly from a company called AC Infinity. Had no idea they marketed so closely to the, um, hemp industry, but no matter - an amazing company that really helped me out as I was researching. Apparently they get a lot of asks for in home datacenter cooling type things.  Can't recommend them enough! Now, I needed to build some sort of "apparatus" to suck air through the servers and provide enough static air pressure without being noisy, or just buying my own rack and cooling system office. Behold!

Stop laughing. It's a homelab and it's mine. It's quiet(er), more condensed, and pulls enough air to keep things in the 45 degree (Celsius) range, except for the IPMI chip on SuperMicro server which is next to the NIC chip and it runs hot hot despite my best efforts. If that thing fails, I'll lose IPMI, but I can just drop a 10G PCI NIC in as a backup. So, what we have here is the box that is sealed around the rear of the servers. The extra vertical height is to contain the ancillary stuff and cables. Then there's the AC Infinity and an insulated duct that runs...well, out.

But it was still noisy, despite being cooler and more condensed. So, I needed a new "server closet." Looking around my house, I found really only one good spot that had all my new requirements:

  1. Good power.
  2. An exhaust vent/fan that runs outside (like you'd find in a bathroom).
  3. An easy way to drop a network run into without going between the two floors.

Behold part two!

Stop laughing. First a few things - the APC you see is JUST for the AC Infinity. The house itself is on a set of Tesla PowerWalls, so not really worried about it, but I had it and thought, cool above all else. There's also a massive Humless battery bottom left that I run the servers through, you know, in case the PowerWalls fail lol. Top right, you can see the duct work going up into the exhaust fan provided by the laundry room. I just hooked right into it, easy. Now, you might be thinking...dude...lint. You'd be right. Fortunately for me, the dust situation appears well in hand as I can monitor it from a static sheet I put near the servers. If it starts to get dusty, I can "engineer" a filter in front of the servers. Bonus, the circuit I'm plugged into is only used for that outlet and one other in that room which has nothing plugged into it, so nice and clean. Slight concern about magnetic interference, but...meh, it's not that big of a deal.

So, there you have it - my homelab. Someday I may grow big boy pants and build a proper rack/closet/cooling. Until then, I've got all my goodies loaded up, speed is lovely, and now, I can start regaling you of tales of what I actually use it for. Till next time, hope you enjoyed!