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NSF Shelving and Server Equipment
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ghporter
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Sep 27, 2020, 05:26 PM
 
I’m revising my home network, and I have a dilemma.

I have an 18” x 48” x 72” NSF wire shelf unit supporting all of my network equipment. I’m looking at “doing it right” with a patch panel and making the network more conceptually as well as physically structured.

Is there an existing NSF wire shelf solution for attaching formal network equipment like 1U patch panels and/or switches? My Google-fu appears weak in searching for this stuff...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego
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Sep 28, 2020, 06:29 AM
 
I don’t think this exists. You can ziptie the rackmount stuff to the shelf to keep it from sliding around, but that’s not what you’re looking for.

The best I can think of to tidy things up is getting an enclosure and having it sit on the wire shelf. How many rack units do you think you need?
     
ghporter  (op)
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Sep 28, 2020, 10:12 AM
 
Thanks for the input. Sometimes I run into search issues due to "it's not called that" making my searches more than a little frustrating. Having someone else come to a conclusion similar to mine is welcome!

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go with a rack mounted patch panel or not. And if I not, then I wouldn't pursue a rack mounted router. And then...why bother with any rack stuff. After I posted, I spent lots of time measuring my room and planning what to connect and where.

I did find a two-rail comm/server rack on Craigslist for $30, but that just opens a huge pit of expensive add ons, so I have reconsidered.

I was batting around the thought that I could make the shelving more effective and more accessible if I could just fasten some standard stuff to it, including things like monitor mounts, keyboard drawers, etc. But it turns out that just about all rack hardware is also pretty pricey, (and not so friendly, even for small networks), so now I've reconsidered.

Since it's no longer Death Valley hot in my attic, I can reasonably manage to drop cables inside the walls. Looking at the patch panels I've found online leads me to think that I do not want the room I have that stuff in looking like a wiring closet. Especially since I won't need to connect that many pieces or hardware. I have plenty of experience with wiring closets, and the more I've thought about it, the more I dislike the whole idea.

For now I'm thinking I'll terminate the router end of my new drops in a keystone wallplate (I may add 6 drops at most), and just rearrange the stuff on my shelves to make that work. I certainly need to rethink how I have the rest of the stuff on those shelves arranged; two printers, my Linux box, the fancy UVerse modem (Google has yet to hook up my neighborhood ), and so on... While the shelves are sturdy and easy to adjust, once stuff is on them, it's a pain, so my main thought is that I need to empty the whole thing and rebuild - with a plan! - one shelf at a time.

And it's also time to start planning to replace my 4th Gen AirPort Extreme, since one of its router ports is sketchy. So now that I've directed my thought away from "wiring closet" to "useable and functional", without any real need to rush anything.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Waragainstsleep
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Sep 28, 2020, 11:29 AM
 
Whats the full list of gear to go in this stack?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
ghporter  (op)
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Sep 28, 2020, 02:12 PM
 
The shelf unit is 48" wide, 18" deep and the uprights are 72" long. There are 4" (I think) wheels on the uprights so I can move the thing when I like. It has 4 shelves.

It houses a UVerse modem/router (with its wifi turned off), a 4th Gen AirPort Extreme (handles PPPoE through the modem), a small switch, and a USB hub (to connect an older inkjet printer through the network, and maybe a net drive when I get around to it) as the network hardware.

The AirPort Extreme is mounted on a PVC riser on top of the uprights on one end to get it above the metal shelving, and to provide a bit better wifi coverage throughout the house.

My my Linux box (a Dell Optiplex 780 USSF, taking up not much space) is on the second shelf down, along with the modem/router and some file storage. The next shelf down has the inkjet printer and a networked laser printer (both all-in-one units). I need to increase the height of this space so I can open both printers' scanners farther - thus the thought to tear the whole thing down and rebuild.

I couldn't find a decent way to set up a keyboard for the Linux machine, so I have a miniature NSF shelf unit in front of the big one with the top shelf supporting the keyboard and a mouse (with some minor other stuff on the lower shelf). The monitor is on an arm attached to a front upright of the large shelf unit.

I should also mention that all of the network stuff is on a dedicated, 550VA UPS (that's WAY bigger than it needs to be). The printers are not on any UPS.

Yes, it's as chaotic as it sounds. That's why it needs work!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Waragainstsleep
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Sep 29, 2020, 04:30 AM
 
Patch panels are most conveniently mounted in proper 19" racks be it a 42U monster or a wall mounted comms cabinet. The latter should be easy enough to find quite cheap if you look around for one. Racks are one of those things that can be quite expensive when you need one, utterly worthless if you have one to get rid of. Scrapyards and office clearances are a good source. If you wanted to find one big enough for everything you can find them with wheels.

The router, patch panel, switch, Airport and USB hub will easily fit into a small comms cabinet. If the Dell is small maybe you'll squeeze that and the UPS into a medium sized one. Theres all sorts of sizes available. What isn't practical to put in them is printers. And if you're going to have stuff outside the cab and want things tidy then you'll be trunking some cables down the wall and installing sockets for the printers. If you had ideas about doing that around the house anyway it does give you the convenience of installing the printers anywhere you want and moving them around in future. As well as whatever other gear you have.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Sep 29, 2020, 09:56 AM
 
When my parents built their house I had them install an Ethernet jack and power jack in the hall closet. The closet is centrally located and hides the WiFi router well. Of course the walls will block the crazy high freq WiFi that only works in 1 room anyway.
     
subego
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Sep 29, 2020, 10:40 AM
 
I kinda don’t understand patch panels for a small scale network. Everything needs to go into a switch anyways. Why bother?
     
ghporter  (op)
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Sep 29, 2020, 01:21 PM
 
I’m not going to use a patch panel. Right now I’m getting by with a 4-port switch off the AirPort, so really anything beyond some simple neatening is excessive.

I’m going with terminating my drops in a keystone wall plate, as much to keep the wall looking neat as to “organize” it.

I have 1,000’ of Cat6 on the way, and when I have a chance to get started I’ll update. I may even provide pictures!

And I’m thinking that maybe this thread needs a different title, since it morphed from NSF shelves into something else...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
   
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