How to build your own mini data center @ubnt @STARTECHdotCOM

By | January 2, 2020

Moving to a new place has its advantages and disadvantage. If you are a geek, obviously you need to make a new home for your IT infrastructure 🙂 The advantage of a new location is that you get to have fun again in setting up a new mini data center. Due to some restrictions (do not ask …) this time I could not repeat the full rack experience as in my other location see Server Rack: Create your own low-cost rack console.

Being forced to minimize the footprint of the new data center, I got to the obvious solution: go compact 🙂

The rack:

What can be better than a mini open rack. The solution I choose was this StarTech made mini open rack: RK12OD 12 HE 19 inch Desktop 2 Post Open Frame Rack

It is small and compact and allows you to add up to 12 full width rack-able devices. It fits very well on a big desk so there is no extra footprint than your already existing big desk.

Now I had the issue of filling the rack with gadgets 🙂

The router:

First thing I added to the rack was a router. Because I am a big fan of Ubiquity routers and already had extensive work with them I had to go with the newest iteration an Ubiquity Edge Router 6P.

This router looks like an iteration of the Edge Router POE that I already have. It is updated to a 4 core 1 GHz processor that lets it handle up to 3.4 million pps. It also has an SFP port as eth5 interface that supports high speed adapters for fiber or cable.

• (5) Gigabit RJ45 routing ports • 24V PoE support on RJ45 ports• (1) Gigabit SFP port• 3.4 million packets per second for 64-byte packets• 6 Gbps for packets 256 bytes or larger in size• Silent, fanless operation• Compact, durable metal case

To be able to rack it, a rack adapter is also available:

The Switch:

The second important thing is to add a switch that will support all my devices and will allow me to go wild. I choose to go with Ubiquity again and added this bad boy, EdgeSwitch 24 Lite, in the rack.

• (24) Gigabit RJ45 Ports• (2) SFP Ports• (1) Serial Console Port• Non-Blocking Throughput: 26 Gbps• Switching Capacity: 52 Gbps• Forwarding Rate: 38.69 Mpps• Maximum Power Consumption: 25W• Rack- or Wall-Mountable• DC Input Option (Redundant or Stand-Alone)

The Patch Panel:

To efficiently use all the ports of the switch a patch panel is handy. This way I can avoid having lots of cables all going over the desk from the switch to lots of other devices. I chose a cheap and well build patch panel.

The Wifi:

There are also lots of devices that need wifi to be able to connect to the Internet. All my other gadgets: alarm, weather station, mobiles, AC, tablets, laptops need some sort of Wifi supplier. Due to this high density of WiFi devices I needed some reliable Wifi router so obviously I went to my preferred one: Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-PRO.
This is a professional level WiFi router that ensures high availability, signal strength and performance:

Data transfer rate (maximum) : 1300 Mbit/s
Wi-Fi data rate (max): 1300 Mbit/s
Ethernet LAN data transfer rates : 10,100,1000 Mbit/s

The KVM Switch:

Because I ended up with several laptops and a small farm of Raspberry Pis, a KVM Switch is needed to avoid juggling with monitors, keyboards and mouses.

A nice find was this JideTech 8 HDMI KVM Switch that somehow Amazon no longer has in store. The 4 port version is still available:

It is a very good KVM switch that has its own power supply and a surprising good quality.

To be able to add to the KVM switch two of my older laptops that support just VGA I found some very nice low cost but high quality VGA to HDMI adapters. I recommend them over the HAMA adapters that cost 3 times more.

The Gana VGA to HDMI Converter reaches all the HD resolution with a VGA format of 1920 x 1080 pixel (HD) that can be transformed into 1080p. Full HD1080P, HDMI output resolution up to 1080i/1080p/480p/720p @ 60Hz.

The Shelves:

To host my Raspberry Pis a set of shelves was needed. I highly recommend the Digitus shelves:

Perforated shelf with fixed mounting depth. Height: 1U, Attachment points: front only. Dimensions (H x W x D): 45 x 483 x 250 mm. Carrying load: 15 kg. Fits into cabinets from a depth of: 450 mm.


Other small stuff was needed: some 20 m of cabling, Cat6 plugs, etc. I highly recommend buying a big bag like the following:

To ensure higher link quality I used the SFP ports of the EdgeRouter 6P and the EdgeSwitch 24 Lite to make a connection between them. Two Ubiquiti U Fiber RJ45 – SFP transceiver modules and a 10Gtek SFP+ Direct Attach Copper Cable, Passive, 0.5m were used.

The total value of the mini rack is around 1000 EUR.

I hope I inspired you to make your own mini data center at home 🙂

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