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Author Topic: [GUIDE] How to build your own open air chassis on the cheap...  (Read 7345 times)
Meatball
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July 10, 2011, 03:46:09 AM
 #1

I've seen some great chassis and setups out there and found that it's extremely easy to build your own open air chassis for next to nothing.

First, for your base, go out, get a scrap or square of plywood for a few bucks at your local hardware store.  Mark the plywood with your motherboard hole layouts and then drill out the holes with a 1/8" drill bit.  The small metal motherboard standoffs will screw right into those and you can mount the motherboard to that.

Your power supply can rest right behind the board on the plywood.  As for the GPU's, it depends on whether you want to leave them on the motherboard or pull them off the board with extenders.

If you want to keep the cards on the motherboard, you should be good to go.  If you're worried about the cards seeming to be loose because they are being held up only by the slot, pick up an aluminum bar from the hardware store (you only need about 6 inches, so see if they have a scrap.)  Cut the bar to fit the width of your cards by lining it up to the top of the brackets and then use some self tapping screws (about $5) and attach the top of the card brackets to the bar and it'll hold them extremely securely.  

You can also pull the cards off the motherboard with extenders.  This is my preferred method just for better cooling and airflow.  I bought these 1X extenders on eBay and with a pair of snips you can trip the end off of them in about 5 minutes.  They're cheap (~$3.50 each) and ship from China in about a week.  Then all you need is to find a simple wire cabinet shelf to support the cards.  I found them at Walmart for around $7 USD each.  It's sturdy enough to hold up the cards and the legs should be wide enough to straddle the motherboard.  You can easily space the cards out to give them some good airflow and the extenders will feed right through the wires.  To hold the cards sturdily, just pick up a small spool of bendable metal wire.  You can wrap it around the rack and then loop it around the top of each cards metal screw bracket in turn and then back down and around the other side of the rack.

Here's part of my setup with 4 rigs.  2 have the cards off the boards with extenders, the other two have the cards on the boards using the aluminum bar support.


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Bitcoin Swami
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July 10, 2011, 04:15:04 AM
 #2

cool so those little extenders will work on all the cards? I have a 6950's

the plugs seem small, the other part not really needed?
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July 10, 2011, 04:18:18 AM
 #3

I have three rigs in a similar setup - 2 GPUs per motherboard.  I was concerned a bit about a fire hazard so I put the power supplies on pieces of ceramic floor tile, and I elevated the motherboards 1 inch above the plywood, with small spacers at the corners.  But I use 5770s so altogether the rigs draw at most 860 watts through a UPS from the socket.

Noise and airflow are not problems with 2x5770 per motherboard - for me, as I put them in the crawl space under my house.
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July 10, 2011, 04:30:28 AM
 #4

Yeah, I haven't had any problems with those extenders, even when they are plugged into an x16 slot.  You of course have to cut the ends off yourself with a small pair of snips and be very careful.  Since it's about 7-10 days for those to get shipped/delivered, making a mistake could put you out of commission for a bit. 

That's a great idea about the ceramic tile, I think I'll add that to my setup.  As for the elevating the motherboards, the standoffs you'd usually use in a regular case work just fine if you put them in the right pattern and screw them right into the wood.  One thing I didn't mention that I should of, is make sure you line the back of the motherboard up with the edge of the plywood so the bottom of the GPU bracket doesn't hit the plywood and actually hangs over the edge.

I used and old GPU I had and stuck in one of the x16 slots on the board.  I could then use the bottom of the bracket to hold the board in place against the edge of the plywood while I marked my hole pattern.
Meatball
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July 20, 2011, 03:48:00 PM
 #5

Picked up a few 6x6 ceramic tiles at the local hardware store for under a $1 each and the PSU sits perfectly on it standing up on it's end.  Great call Slippery...

Tools Needed:
  • Power Drill
  • 1/8" Drill Bit
  • Pair of pliers/wire cutters/hack saw - (If you are going to cut off the end of PCI extenders yourself, you need something with an extremely sharp and small cutting end that you can work with like these.)
  • Phillips head drill bit


Materials and Cost to make a single open air rig:
  • 2x2 Sheet of plywood - $6.99 (Check out the scrap bin at home depot, you can sometimes find a scrap piece for a buck or two)
  • Pack of Brass Mobo Standoffs - $4.99
  • 6x6 Ceramic Tile - $1

For above board GPU mounting:
Or for on board GPU mounting:
  • Aluminum Flat Bar - $11.27 (Check again for maybe a scrap piece you can pieck up cheaper.
  • Box of Self Taping Screws - $5

Final Costs:
Above motherboard GPU mounting: $46.84
On motherboard GPU mounting: $29.25

I'm sure you can get these prices even lower if you have some materials lying around or can find scrap materials at the store.  You can certainly cut costs if you are building for multiple rigs.  For example, a 2 x 4 piece of plywood can easily fit 3 motherboards.


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July 20, 2011, 07:55:19 PM
 #6

Picked up a few 6x6 ceramic tiles at the local hardware store for under a $1 each and the PSU sits perfectly on it standing up on it's end.  Great call Slippery...

Tools Needed:
  • Power Drill
  • 1/8" Drill Bit
  • Pair of pliers/wire cutters - (If you are going to cut off the end of PCI extenders yourself, you need something with an extremely sharp and small cutting end that you can work with like these.)
  • Phillips head drill bit


Materials and Cost to make a single open air rig:
  • 2x2 Sheet of plywood - $6.99 (Check out the scrap bin at home depot, you can sometimes find a scrap piece for a buck or two)
  • Pack of Brass Mobo Standoffs - $4.99
  • 6x6 Ceramic Tile - $1

For above board GPU mounting:
Or for on board GPU mounting:
  • Aluminum Flat Bar - $11.27 (Check again for maybe a scrap piece you can pieck up cheaper.
  • Box of Self Taping Screws - $5

Final Costs:
Above motherboard GPU mounting: $46.84
On motherboard GPU mounting: $29.25

I'm sure you can get these prices even lower if you have some materials lying around or can find scrap materials at the store.  You can certainly cut costs if you are building for multiple rigs.  For example, a 2 x 4 piece of plywood can easily fit 3 motherboards.

Hello Meatball, how do you turn the motherboards on since their case less? I saw in the picture I believe to be a power switch from a case but I wanted to make sure I was correct.

I know some people built their own and you can get the parts from radio shack but I wanted to hear how you did it in your setup.
Meatball
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July 20, 2011, 08:35:15 PM
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Hello Meatball, how do you turn the motherboards on since their case less? I saw in the picture I believe to be a power switch from a case but I wanted to make sure I was correct.

I know some people built their own and you can get the parts from radio shack but I wanted to hear how you did it in your setup.

I had the same question when I first started, but there's actually a few ways to accomplish this.

Some motherboards actually have a power and reset button built right onto the board.  For example, 2 of those motherboards I'm using are the MSI 890FXA-GD70's and they have that feature.  That acts exactly like the power/reset switches on your case.

For the boards that don't have buttons right on the board it's simply a matter of shorting out the two power pins with anything metal.  That's how the power on switch for your case works, when you depress your power button it completes the circuit between those two power on pins on the board and cycles the power.  So, touching those two pins at the same time with a small screwdriver or even a paperclip will do the exact same thing as pushing the power button.  Check your motherboard manual and figure out which are the pins you'd normally connect the power switch to and just touch them both with something small and metallic.  Use something that is small enough to only touch the two pins so you don't accidentally hit any of the others.  A narrowly bent paperclip or one of the small mini screwdrivers work perfectly.  If you're not comfortable with that you can pick up a separate power switch (like this or this) or use one from an old case if you have one.  The only reason I have the switch on that one board is that it's just in an awkward position for me to reach, so the switch was easier.  The others I just use a small screwdriver and touch the two pins when I want to simulate a power button press.

Another thing that has made my life much easier is configuring some of the power settings in BIOS.  Most BIOS' have a setting where you can tell the machine what do do after a power failure, Turn On, Stay Off or Whatever state the machine was in when it lost power.  If you configure that setting to always "Turn On" after a power failure you can just unplug or cycle the power switch on your PSU and it should turn the machine off and then back on.  I found that helps a ton when I have a machine that's locked up and I don't feel like fiddling with a screwdriver and the pins.
Big Time Coin
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July 21, 2011, 08:48:28 AM
 #8

That's one spilled supersize soda away from being a big, shorted-out, sticky mess.  An animal or small child could also quickly reek havoc.  And I bet its a bitch to move it around.
But it does look kinda cool in a ghetto jury-rig way.  Thanks for the post!

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Meatball
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July 21, 2011, 11:21:20 AM
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That's one spilled supersize soda away from being a big, shorted-out, sticky mess.  An animal or small child could also quickly reek havoc.  And I bet its a bitch to move it around.
But it does look kinda cool in a ghetto jury-rig way.  Thanks for the post!

Heh, yeah, but we don't have any kids and I put a gate up in the door so I can get in/out easy and the dogs can't.  It's a side room we don't use that much anyways.

You bring up a good point though.  Make sure you consider the environment you're going to put any open air rigs in.  If it's extremely dusty or prone to kid/pet abuse it may not be a great spot.
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July 21, 2011, 01:06:05 PM
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Hello Meatball, how do you turn the motherboards on since their case less? I saw in the picture I believe to be a power switch from a case but I wanted to make sure I was correct.

I know some people built their own and you can get the parts from radio shack but I wanted to hear how you did it in your setup.

I had the same question when I first started, but there's actually a few ways to accomplish this.

Some motherboards actually have a power and reset button built right onto the board.  For example, 2 of those motherboards I'm using are the MSI 890FXA-GD70's and they have that feature.  That acts exactly like the power/reset switches on your case.

For the boards that don't have buttons right on the board it's simply a matter of shorting out the two power pins with anything metal.  That's how the power on switch for your case works, when you depress your power button it completes the circuit between those two power on pins on the board and cycles the power.  So, touching those two pins at the same time with a small screwdriver or even a paperclip will do the exact same thing as pushing the power button.  Check your motherboard manual and figure out which are the pins you'd normally connect the power switch to and just touch them both with something small and metallic.  Use something that is small enough to only touch the two pins so you don't accidentally hit any of the others.  A narrowly bent paperclip or one of the small mini screwdrivers work perfectly.  If you're not comfortable with that you can pick up a separate power switch (like this or this) or use one from an old case if you have one.  The only reason I have the switch on that one board is that it's just in an awkward position for me to reach, so the switch was easier.  The others I just use a small screwdriver and touch the two pins when I want to simulate a power button press.

Another thing that has made my life much easier is configuring some of the power settings in BIOS.  Most BIOS' have a setting where you can tell the machine what do do after a power failure, Turn On, Stay Off or Whatever state the machine was in when it lost power.  If you configure that setting to always "Turn On" after a power failure you can just unplug or cycle the power switch on your PSU and it should turn the machine off and then back on.  I found that helps a ton when I have a machine that's locked up and I don't feel like fiddling with a screwdriver and the pins.

Ahh it all make sense now Cheesy Thanks Meatball !
Big Time Coin
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August 10, 2011, 07:09:07 AM
 #11

old thread..

I noticed no kb or mouse or monitor attached to any, just the ethernet cord.  What OS are you using and how do you get the miners going without having any input or output devices attached?  Is that a just a normal cat5 ethernet cable?

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August 10, 2011, 07:26:47 AM
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why would a miner need a mouse, keyboard, and monitor connected to it at all times? you only need things that for the initial setup, then you can use remote softwares to control it. this works with just about any OS

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August 10, 2011, 11:58:40 AM
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I just use a KB/Monitor/Mouse for initial installation & setup.  After that everything runs headless, though I am using dummy plugs in all the cards.  I'm using Win7 on all those machines and have the bios to boot automatically on power failure/restore and windows set to automatically log itself in.  You can then use any type of remote control software to manage the machines.  I've found that Teamviewer works the best since Remote Desktop and VNC seem to much around with the video drivers and cause some problems with mining.

That's a CAT6 cable on those machines, but there's no reason you can use CAT5, 5e, whatever.  There's not a ton of network traffic going on during mining.  I'd bet you can even use wi-fi, but I've not done it myself, so can't speak to how well that works.
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August 10, 2011, 02:04:39 PM
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I'd bet you can even use wi-fi, but I've not done it myself, so can't speak to how well that works.

I setup my mining rigs in the garage connected to a wifi-g bridge before moving them to the server closet, works like a charm, and no effect on hashrate that I could detect.

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August 10, 2011, 06:43:32 PM
 #15

most of my mining rigs are on wifi as well. more convenient and less cable clutter

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August 17, 2011, 11:10:23 AM
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You need a decent Wifi connection though. Building a USB header into an aluminium open frame rig, having a USB Wifi dongle *inside* the frame, and the nearest Wifi access point two walls away, does NOT lead to good results. Trust me, I've just re-wired my frame rigs with cabled ethernet (using powerline networking - only way to get cabled ethernet up there) precisely because of this.

Perhaps my rigs need more network bandwidth - I've written a few Ruby scripts for fun which sit on each miner analysing the Phoenix and aticonfig output every 5 seconds, these write stub HTML to a file, and I've installed Apache on each miner to serve the HTML to my central server. This tacks the stub HTML (basically table row records) together and produces a very simple single page with a table, showing salient characteristics of each GPU on each miner (instance number, device spec, results accepted, results rejected, megahash/sec, temperature, last result, etc.)

It's probably even available on the internet... try http://www.catfsh.com/bitcoin/miners/minerstatus.html - however the server hosting this is part of my business network, all Mac kit, so any slowdown there shouldn't affect the miners. It's still in development... the auto-refresh doesn't work well because of caching considerations, sometimes a full refresh is required.

When I had the miners on Wifi, this web-based simple monitoring solution was a nightmare - the web server on the Mac often had trouble getting a response from one of the individual miners, and this would lock up the page. I'm sure it'd be OK if there were Wifi repeaters around, or a proper line-of-sight connection to the access point, but when the mining rigs are in a closed room, a floor higher than the access point, and there's a metal frame around the dongle, with three mining boxes competing for the same channel, it's not *that* successful...

I tried using USB extension cables to drop the USB Wifi dongles *outside* the frames (thinking there may be some Faraday cage effect - though the wavelength is surely too short for a 60 cm cage to be a problem...) which helped marginally, but there's too much Wifi noise in my area to make this work.

...so I give in to the rhythm, the click click clack
I'm too wasted to fight back...


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meebs
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October 18, 2012, 11:26:05 PM
 #17

To bring this back from the dead....

I recently build a 'wood board' computer and this is what I used:

12x24" shelf. Only $5 each, and looks a lot better than a standard plywood board and a lot less risk for splinters. Also an ATX motherboard legnth wise almost perfectly fits the width of the board.

6-32 sized threaded inserts. these go into holes drilled in the board and provide the threads for the motherboard standoffs.

plastic L shaped shelf supports. This goes on one+ sides of the power supply to help support its weight if you want to store the board in a non-horizontal fashion

velcro. This goes between the power supply and the board (hard drive as well if you so desire). This will of course fasten down the components and keep them from sliding around.

Ive not yet gotten around yet to finding a good solution for the wobbly video cards.. this rig only uses 7770's so its not a big issue.


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