Server Closet

For years I’ve been complaining about the mess that external hard drives create. They’re amazing and convenient for someone in my line of work who needs to move a lot of storage around, but every manufacturer uses a different power cord. Some of them use wall-warts. Some of them use in-line bricks. Some of the higher-end companies like Glyph put the converters inside and use standard 3-pin power cords. They also keep the case a nice rectangular shape, but you pay a premium for those drives. I have at least five external drives connected to my computer at all times, and they tend to vary in both cord and enclosure style. What this has generally meant was a barely contained mess of wires surrounding my computer. When I installed an HD monitor and Blackmagic Intensity card, the problem got even worse. So this week I moved my computer into my closet. This solves the messy cable problem, and makes the computer easier to access. It’s on a shelf so I don’t have to crawl around on the floor to plug and unplug things. It also makes the office much quieter because all those noisy fans are tucked away in the closet. Of course it generates a bit of heat, so I’m currently investigating some cooling options. I’m thinking of venting the heat out the back of the closet into another closet that doesn’t have any delicate computer equipment. For now, the closet door just stays open a crack.

Since I was running 35-foot cables, I wanted to minimize the number of cables I had to buy. Once you get over 15 feet it can get expensive especially for DVI. I managed to get it down to an incredibly thick (1/2″ diameter) DVI cable, a 33-foot active USB repeater cable, a component video cable for the HD monitor, and a red-white RCA for audio. I was already running ethernet from the DSL modem right past the closet, so I diverted it inside. I put a little 7-port USB hub on my desk, and the computer monitor has 4 USB ports as well. I put my DVD burner in an external USB enclosure on my desk so I don’t have to go into the closet to burn a disc. All firewire and eSATA devices stay in the closet. The component and DVI cables are really thick, but the whole thing just barely fit in a nice little cable zipper so it looks like a single thick cable.

I have a multi-standard DVD player hooked up to the HD monitor, so I got a component video switcher to switch between the computer’s video feed and the DVD. It’s a neat little device that has IR Learning, so I can use any remote to control it. That lives under my computer monitor stand, which does a great job of hiding cables.

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