SlimNAS, T5700 Thin Client & 2.5″ 250 GB Hard Drive

The new HD for my SlimNAS box arrived last Friday. So the time to rebuild my SlimServer system is fast approaching. Right now it’s running on a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4, but since I’ve abandoned the idea of the Inguz on-the fly room correction in software it just doesn’t need all that CPU power. Nor does it need to be making all that heat & noise.

However, I don’t expect that the simplest solution will work. The T5700 has a 44 pin connector for the flash “disk-on-module” that it normally boots from. A reader in Denmark has indicated that he had some trouble getting the small HD to power-up when connected here.

Actually, I found this out by backtracking through the WordPress stats of those who link to this site. It turns out that I get a fairly regular amount of traffic from a Danish forum where people like to use SlimServer on the T5700. You can get the English translation via Google right here.

The trouble is that the laptop size drives get their power from the same ribbon cable as the data signaling. This is in contrast to 3.5″ drives that have separate power connectors. So you always need an adapter when putting a 2.5″ drive into a desktop case. I’ll see if I can find an adapter at Fry’s this evening.

A Monday evening visit to Fry’s sounds…

  1. Relaxing
  2. Frustrating
  3. Costly
  4. All of the above??

If I can’t make the on-board IDE connector work there are other options. I can use the expansion chassis to add an ATA-133 interface card, then use the adapter to run the standard IDE connector to the little HD. I even have the ATA card already from an old project.

In the worst case I could put the little HD in an external USB case and use the USB 2.0 interface card. The USB 2.0 interface card will power the 2.5″ drive so not further power is required. This is similar to what I did initially, but then I used a 3.5″ drive in an external case with a power supply. Big. Clunky. Cheap.

It may also be possible to get a USB 2.0 card with an internal port, then add a USB to IDE adapter designed for use with 2.5″ drives. That might all fit into the T5700 with the expansion chassis. That fatter case can hide a lot of internal wizardry.

One thing I’m hoping to get around is booting to the on-board USB ports. These are slow USB 1.1 and defined the speed of some of the devices function as a SlimServer. Since my first go around with SlimNAS and the T5700 I’ve build an Asterisk server using a T5700 and worked out a convenient way to blast the DOM module with a new OS. That’d be most ideal, that is if the HD can’t be connected there.

More news as it happens.

Updated:

Just back from Fry’s where I was not able to find the pieces of each of my solutions. They did have multi-format HD-to-USB interfaces, supporting 2.5″, 3.5″ IDE & SATA drives, but these looked like they would not fit into the T5700 chassis, even with the expansion module.

So I ended up buying a simple PATA IDE-to-USB housing for the little HD. It was only $12. If the USB 2.0 interface card that I have provides one USB port inside the box then I’ll mount the whole thing internally with the external sleeve removed. Otherwise I’ll just velcro it to the side of the T5700 and fashion a short USB lead to connect it externally.

Updated II:

Upon reflection I really would like the drive to be internally mounted. To that end I ordered a 44 pin IDE cable suited for use with a 2.5 ” drive on Ebay from an Asian vendor. It was only $1.99 plus shipping. Under $8 total. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe not. But I’m going to give it a shot.