Raserverry Cake

Bang a Raspberry into a cigar box, call it a server. Piece of Cake!

Reminiscences of the GDR

I ordered my Raspberry a few weeks after the release. They said it would be shipped within three months. Well, after four Month, they told me it would take another three to deliver. Two month later they said it would take some weeks more. Their cake was a lie, i canceled the order. Then i ordered by a German re-distributor, because they said they had them on stock (but with a hefty price tag: 40€, ca 55$). Four days later i had my Pi, and a serious case of wtf. Maybe we puny end users are of no interest for the big ass shops.


I decided to build a server with the Raspi, mostly because it seemed to be pretty easy. Besides, my former desktop based server consumed nearly 30W, the raspi should be happy with only a fraction of that. But to replace my old server, the new raspi based one need to perform all the same tasks, some of which requiring extra hardware:
  • Router/Firewall -> second Ethernet port
  • Wifi AP -> Wifi
  • VPN gateway
  • file/web/ftp/dns/dhcp and tftp server -> lots 'o space
  • media player / console -> Display, Keyboard, Speaker and more lots 'o space
  • downloader, streamripper and alike -> even more lot's o space

Thats a lot for such a small device, but the Raspi is actually faster and has more ram than my former Server, a 433Mhz (sic!) PIII with 256MB of ram. Since it took me some time to tame the software (although i would call me computer geek, i'm kinda bad with network stuff), i had enough time to gather and hunt all the hardware i needed. Until i started to bend the cigar box i had the pi in a small cardboard box.

I had a nicely fitting Hub already, and build the whole thing around it. After a few Month the Hub died, probably because of the wonky power supply. Luckily i found the exact same model for 10€ in some kind of magic store (if you are searching for something, you can bet to find it in a shelve you would swear you'd never seen before). Due to its strange shape (three ports to one side, one port to the other), replacing it with something else would have been hard. I opted for a way better power supply though.

This is what i finally gathered, aside the Raspi itself:
  • cigar box (1€, flea market)
  • tiny 4-Port USB Hub (10€)
  • Atheros AR9271 based Wifi Stick (TP-Link, 9€ on Amazon)
  • Ethernet USB Stick (7€, Amazon)
  • big 'n cheap USB Stick as /home (15€)
  • fast SD Card as / (15€)
  • USB HDD for media (mu€)
  • noname HDMI adapter (15€, eBay)
  • 15" TFT (0€, trash)
  • Keyboard with USB Hub (1€, flea market)
  • modified crappy USB powered Speaker (mu€, diy)
  • 433MHz transceiver module (3$, aliexpress)

I managed to fit everything except the Disk and the VGA Adapter into the little cigar Box. The speakers are powered by the USB Hub of the Keyboard, which is connected directly to the Pi. First i thought that should trigger the polyfuse soon, but never happened. I only use this setup to watch video when I'm in bed, so i guess at low volumes the speakers don't draw enough power. Short peaks should be ok, polyfuses are slow.

the 433Mhz Transceiver is new, and i didn't fit it into the case now (it will fit, i just have to power my beloved server down). I have plenty of cheap remote controlled switched that i can control with it.

The case

I did not made any pictures during the building of the case. But it was pretty easy. I tried around a while until i found a way to fit everything in, then marked vaguely the position and shapes of the needed holes. Then i drilled holes and carefully widened them with a rasp drill and a knife.
The Hub is hold in place by its one off side port which fits snugly in its hole (insert dirty comment here). A fraction of the board was unpopulated so i could drill a hole to screw it to a metal nook as a second support.
The Raspi in screwed directly to the floor with some distance rings. The second Ethernet port is glued in place. The Wifi stick is just plugged to the hub and has a hole for the Antenna port.
The uplink for the Hub is soldered on, as well as the power cable to the raspy, there was not enough room for plugs. the old Hub had a tiny chip that went very hot, so i fitted a small heat sink to it and cut a hole in the lid.


I run Arch Linux, because i'm used to it. Although i frickin $hate their decision to use systemd. Anyway, i use iptables, hostapd, openvpn, unfsd/samba, lighttpd/php/mysql, vsftpd and dnsmasq. I hope i find some time to post some config files and shit.


The Terminal:

The weird white boxy thing is the speaker, its the box my cell phone came in. I had extraordinarily bad USB powered speakers, which i dismantled long ago to save space. The amp was based on one of the omnipresent LM-types. Since these are actually quite good, the problem had to be the speakers. Now i bought two small wide band speakers and fitted them with the amp in said box and stuffed it with foam. Sounds nicely now, and does not need much space.


It quite amazing what a humble raspberry can do. But what it couldn't do was NAT'ing with more that about 24MB/s. Which started to trouble me when we got internet via vdsl (50MB/s). I upgraded with a $file cubieboard. The raspberry became my $file music center, and basically everything else ended up in the new server.
total: 227.54ms (include: 2.45, request: 0.66, trace: 0.46, init: 3.49, load: 0.01, parse: 216.62, menu: 1.14, template: 2.61, minify: 0.09)