3D Printed Computer case, twin esxi servers.

The case itself.

The case I designed in sketchup and printed it in 6 parts. The whole thing is put together via all thread rods. The exact dimensions are. 185mm DEEP, 240mm wide, and 185mm tall. Or in Standard measurements that would be 7 1/4 inch deep, 9 1/2 inch wide, and 7 1/4 inch tall.

These are my poor pictures of the case.

Hardware specs.

This server has dual low power quad core cpu's, a total of 32G of ram. A total of 6 network ports and two 4G micro USB memory sticks running ESXi 6.0.

Here is the hardware parts list.

Motherboards(s) = ASRock AM1B-M AM1 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
CPU's = AMD Athlon 5350 Kabini Quad-Core 2.05 GHz Socket AM1 25W AD5350JAHMBOX Desktop Processor AMD
RAM = 32G of memory (4x8G) split accros both boards.
PSU = SIngle 80w power brick. (pulls between 20-50w) from the wall depending on load. 12v.
PSU's = Twin 120w Pico psus. wired in paralel on the feed side of the power brick. (Fanless psus)
4G memory stick. = I used TEAM brand but cant seem to find the manufacturer pics anymore.
Intel dual port gigabit nic's - I used two of these twin port nics. They are easily recognized by esxi, vs the internal nic is not, this I had to perform a workaround to get it to work as well, why waste a nic when I don’t have to.

Here is the type of memory used. 4G is more than enough to store ESXI, it won’t allow you to store vm's on USB memory not that you would want to anyway.....

Here is what the PICO psu looks like. They can be had for about 15USD shipped to the door each.

ESXI Setup.

I setup esxi via a twin flash drive method. Meaning one flash drive for install and the other for storage. (see above micro usb memory stick)

The one thing that differs here is the network. I had to implement a workournd to install the inbuilt network drivers. There is a catch22 here however, you need network to install them unless you slipstream them into the install.

The workaround.

  • 1 - enable ssh on your esxi install.
    • This is the path to enable ssh. host -> configuration -> security profile - properties - ssh - options - start and stop with the host - start. (see visual representation below)

  • 2 - Download vib (think of them as drivers) this is for realteck base nic's Download link -> drivers

  • 3 - use winscp to login to your esxi server and drop them in a directory you remember.

  • 4 - install the drivers. Follow the commands below.

    • esxcli software acceptance set –level=CommunitySupported
    • esxcli software vib install -n net51-drivers -d /tmp/net51-drivers-1.0.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733.x86_64.vib
    • reboot the machine.

    • 5 - check if the nic is present. host - configuration - network adapters.

Final thoughts.

I am very happy with this setup. The cost of the server was minimal and the performance is pretty darn good. The power consumption is also minimal. This machine uses my home built nas as the back end and data store. That is why I put in the extra nics and configured multipathing to gain some performance while segregating my NAS and ESXI server. FYI my nas is 20TB worth of disk running on ZFS Raid Z1. It is capable of flooding 4 gigabit nics with throughput, with that said a fiber solution would allow for better iops. A blog post on the nas will happen on another day I hope.

If you have any questions, drop me a line engineerd3d@gmail.com

Bruno M.

Engineer, Tinkerer, Technologist, Maker.

New York

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