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Help with CFA-635 for compact server

TrickyDicky

New member
Hi, first post, so be gentle ;)

I've been given an original Shuttle SV25, which I'm turning into a small and silent Linux server for my home. The silent bit is proving harder than expected, as this was a LOUD machine, producing a huge amount of fan noise. However, reducing the noise with better/slower fans is leading to issues with temp, and still not making it quiet enough for my planned needs. To solve that I'm going to switch out the motherboard for a passively cooled mini-ITX unit, but with 2x320GB mirrored data drives and a little laptop system drive all crammed into that little case, I'm still very concerned about heat, and want to keep an eye on it. Since its going to run completely headless, a case-mounted display seems sensible.

But then I thought it would be good to add a couple of extra (warning) indicators, and some buttons, to allow me to select different screens of information. Originally I was looking at a Matrix Orbital module (which has keyboard and GPIO support) and some fabrication, but then I came across the CFA-635, which looks perfect for me. However, although I like the 635 a lot (fits in my single 5.25 bay, sensible buttons, reasonable size LCD, USB connectivity) I've got an issue with it. I really don't like either of the display colour combinations :(

I like the black on grey look of the CFAH2004A-TFH, and the PLED look of a negative backlit LCD like the CFAH2002A-YMI (though not the colour - I really don't like that yellowy/green at all). Which made me wonder if it would be possible to change the white backlighting LEDs on the CFA-635-TMF to get a true black background and coloured pixels, achieving more of a PLED effect :cool:

If so what colours would work? And is that something that I could do myself (it looks unlikely) and if not, could it be done as a factory mod, and how much extra would that cost ? Alternatively, are there any plans to offer alternative colour combinations or a PLED/OLED/VFD version of the 635 any time soon?

Thanks for any and all advice.
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CF Tech

Administrator
Thank you for your request.

Sorry, but we cannot change the color of the LCD for small orders.

However we have a "TFE" (dark characters on a light background--looks very similar to the TFH you mention) version of the CFA-635 available. Please write sales@crystalfontz.com and inquire about ordering a CFA-635-TFE.

By the way, that sounds like a pretty neat project. Good luck with the silent bit--that looks like it might be a challenge.

Here is a commercial solution:


http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/49/products_id/566

The original design only has a single 2.5" HDD. You can make a small mod and fit a single 3.5" SATA drive, but I do not think that it would be possible to get two of any drive in there. Maybe you could fit three laptop drives in,but you would need some kind of a custom harness.
 

TrickyDicky

New member
Thank you for your request.

Sorry, but we cannot change the color of the LCD for small orders.
No problem. I assumed that would be the case, but there's nothing to be lost by asking :D

However we have a "TFE" (dark characters on a light background--looks very similar to the TFH you mention) version of the CFA-635 available. Please write sales@crystalfontz.com and inquire about ordering a CFA-635-TFE.
Thanks, that sounds very interesting ... If I've worked out the codes correctly, the only difference being a lower temperature range (which won't matter to me) and the View Direction being 12:00 rather than 6:00, which might actually be better for me, depending on where I site the final system. I assume that that will look something like this:

In which case what is the life going to be like on the white LED backlight, given that this machine will be running 24x7?

By the way, that sounds like a pretty neat project. Good luck with the silent bit--that looks like it might be a challenge.
Thanks! I think switching from the original motherboard with its power-hungry (hot) Pentium 3 with its fast fan, to a new mini-ITX with a low-power passively cooled Via C7 will both resolve the heat problem and get rid of the noisy CPU fan. I can then just use a "silent" case fan to keep the air moving gently through the case.

Here is a commercial solution:
http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/49/products_id/566

The original design only has a single 2.5" HDD. You can make a small mod and fit a single 3.5" SATA drive, but I do not think that it would be possible to get two of any drive in there. Maybe you could fit three laptop drives in,but you would need some kind of a custom harness.
Yes, there are a few examples of systems like this. But having had a hard drive fail on me in the past, I want a robust solution. As 300GB is difficult to backup my thought is to run a mirrored pair of data drives. If one fails, I can power the system down, find another drive, and rebuild the raid set, and not lose the data. Having the separate 2.5" system drive is for ease of booting, upgrading etc.

For such a small case, the Shuttle is surprisingly spacious ... 2 x 3.5, and a 5.25 bay ... so it should all fit. However, if I need to install drive silencers on the 3.5" drives then I'll still need to resort to custom metal-work, as I won't have enough 5.25" bays :(
 

TrickyDicky

New member
If you`ve not already got the address, then these guys are dedicated to shuttle computers. I have an SN45G which is fairly quiet, until I switch on the external 120 fan I added.

http://www.sudhian.com/index.php?/forums/viewforum/4/

Reider
Thanks for this ... I'd never heard of these people before, so will spend some time reading up on what they're doing. I was given my Shuttle "out of the blue" last week, so I'm trying to get up to speed with what's possible, but at the moment I think getting rid of the old motherboard has to be a good starting point. I don't need the raw performance of the Pentium 3, and the heat it's generating is causing me most of my problems. Switching to a new mini-ITX is going to be expensive (£110 for the motherboard/CPU, and another £30 for a 1GB stick of RAM) but it gives me SATA raid, lots of USB2, a pair of 100Mb nics, 2x parallel, 2x serial, hardware accelerated cryptography etc etc ... and it only draws 12W at full load. In some ways it seems a shame to replace the original motherboard while it still works, but technology has moved on ;)
 

reider

New member
Thats the same size as my SN45G. You`ll have a hard time keeping that cool with two drives in. I know of someone who forced a liquid cooling system in one but not with two drives. They`re a brilliant little machine when set up right. Mine has a 2500 Barton in I overclocked to 3200 and a Radeon 9800 I overclocked and turned into a Pro. Hence the 120" fan on the back, tried it in tandem with the internal 80" fan but the harmonics made my ears bleed! Only needed the big fan on in summer. Those guys at Sudhian will have any info going that you need, no problems...... Must look in there again one day.......

Reider
 

TrickyDicky

New member
Well, only one way to find out for sure :)

But the new motherboard/CPU is only 15W under load (using a 7W CPU). Each 3.5" drive peaks at 10W according to the specs. The 2.5" drive is 2.5W according to its info-plate. Add in a case fan at about 2W, for a total of 45W. The PSU on these is supposed to be about 75% efficient, which means it's adding another 15W of heat itself. So, in theory that's 60W total when it's under load. Plus whatever the 635 uses - which has to be less than 2.5W if it's self-powered from a USB port.

The current Pentium 3 CPU under load is 35W on its own, so just the motherboard swap ought to "pay" for all my drives. I'm optimistic that it ought to be possible, if I can keep the path for airflow reasonably clear. But if not then swapping to a DC/DC converter, and an external power brick should see me good ... at the cost of more clutter :(
 

reider

New member
Going back to the display being on 24/7, we set up a screen on the 635 which turns the contrast/brightness on/off at the touch of a button in CC2, and utilising the 635 keypad. I`m sure you could do the same in Linux. There are a few knowledgeable Linux users on this forum too, if you get stuck for anything or need to compare notes.

Reider
 

TrickyDicky

New member
... we set up a screen on the 635 which turns the contrast/brightness on/off at the touch of a button in CC2, and utilising the 635 keypad.
D'Oh! I'd forgotten that everything about the display/keypad is under software control ... for what I need I can probably run with the backlight off, only switching it on when one of the keys gets pressed, or an alert is generated, and then turning it back off again after a timeout. Thanks - that solves that issue :)
 
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