3D Printed NAS

July 20, 2015
I have been working on my own 3D Printed nas for the last two or three months. I have taken a few pictures of the process and prints and I thought this is a good time as any to start putting a page together.

To begin with, I have owned a nas for a few years now. The current nas is only getting older and since I finally got a 3D Printer I wanted to start on my own build. Now, you don't need to do this as there are many nas boxes out now which is a good thing. The reason I decided to design and make my own was because I always wanted to make my own parts and the 3D Printer allows me to do this now. The other reason is because I wanted something that could use more off the shelf components that I could choose and replace if needed. Most nas boxes are proprietary which is fine as some also have some really nice software included, not to mention small and compact. I just wanted something a bit more flexible in terms of the hardware that I could choose and install myself.

My current nas only has 4 drives which is nice but I'm limited to the space since it won't allow me to use larger hard drives due to it's older hardware. I still have a bit of space but the hardware is my concern at the moment more than the space. With all this in mind, I also wanted something I could design to support either 3.5 and/or 2.5 drives of any type of plug. When you buy an off the shelf nas you get sata connectors now which is fine, but if you have a few older drives like I do, I can just get a card and still keep using those until they die if I really want to.

Another aspect of my system is that I want it to be modular so that I can change it to fit my needs. For example I wanted to also use the same bottom enclosure to make a simple computer without the nas part. I'm still working on the parts but that's the idea anyway.

Now the reason this is taking a long time is for the fact the 3D Printing has its own learning curve. The software is also still in BETA for it and I have found somethings print well and others not so much. Add the price of filaments and you can see why too.

The other part is the CAD software that also seems to act funny or refuse to work at all at times.  So I have basically ran into a few things which have also slow down my progress, but so far I have been able to get closer to completion.

Here are my latest prints of these parts. Don't mind the ugly colors as I was just using my leftover green and purple filament. I will update them as I get my final prints. But you can see the overall nas in these two pictures. The nas is 3 large sections. The bottom where the motherboard sits, the middle where the cd rom and one 2.5 drive fits and lastly the top where 5 3.5 inch drives can fit or 10 2.5 inch drives. Yes I decided to make that 10 since those drives are still barely getting to 2 terabytes and the build allows me to do this. I could probably squeeze a few more drives but I want to keep it sensible. The catch here is that the most sata connectors on a budget motherboard are 6 connectors. So I guess if I want to set a nas for just 2.5 drives then I need to find another adapter. Either way I'm including the holes in anyway.

 I'm throwing these two pictures here so that you can see I have printed plenty of these parts and I'm still working on getting it the way I want it.
Each of the large prints takes between 18 and 24 hours. I have made many changes. The cd section takes between 8-10 hours each. Yes 3d printing is a very slow process Which is another reason for this taking long but at least I'm getting what I want. My goal was more functional than visual. I decided to start from the inside out and bottom up. So the motherboard size set my overall perimeter for the other parts.

At this point I still need to make more changes to some dimensions and move a few holes to make sure they align correctly. The software started acting up yesterday so I gave up for the day.  I'm also low on my filament so I will be putting this aside for a bit since I also want to wait for the software to get updated on the printer itself.

September 1, 2015
I had to keep making more changes every time I print this so here are a few more pictures I have taken. The progress has been slow as these take a long time to print. Not to mention the fixes I needed to make to the CAD files. I really want this to be printable and usable from the start so I am taking care to do my best to make it happen. As you will see I have made quite a few prints. Every print has been an update with minor fixes or changes but I think I got the two lower parts done now. As for the colors, I just used what I had on hand so this is the reason for so many colors. I'm also testing different filaments too.

 I printed a glow in the dark top. So far it worked great. The glow in the dark filament is brittle so you can't use it with more detailed parts. I found it works great on large parts like these. This is a good thing because I wasn't sure what else to use it for since it didn't work out too well on the actual bottom part when I tried it.

 I printed some buttons to try out and get those figured out before I finalized things just to make sure they would work. A lot more work on those, but now I just need to get the infill right.

The two square holes in the middle are meant so that two usb ports can be added to the front of the case. Both of my metal cases have them and I find them very convenient so this is why I added them. Due to the many different types of connectors I didn't make any other holes so that they can be made according to what ever type I get later. If they don't work out I can always make plugs for them. I'm just leaving them as they are for now. It's easier to make screw holes vs a square hole for the usb so this is why I decided to keep them on there.

 The red parts are my latest which is doing better with the latest printer firmware. It's still beta so that's another piece that's still in testing.

You can see I have added some actual buttons, but I found out that they shrink cover both wires together instead of separately in order to prevent them from shorting out. I will need to get all the buttons I bought fixed unfortunately. There's always something which is the reason I have been focusing on the bottom mini itx case instead of the nas part. I want to at least get this case done so I can concentrate on the other parts. It has to be done anyway to make sure everything fits correctly.

October 5, 2015

I have done a bit more work on this case and I finally got some longer screws for the front.

 The longest metric screw I could find was a 50 mm long screws. I have some of these stainless steel socket cap screws so I just decided to stick with these M3 screws all around. These are the slots I created for the nuts to go into. As you can see I was hoping I could hold everything at the front with one long screw and just use the nut under the case. The short slot is there because it's at the same height with the rear screws. I first created these since I had shorter screws that I could use. I think they are 30 mm long, but I wanted the longer ones for the front to hold more material. It turned out find though as the same shorter screws can be used all around if I only use the two lower pieces to make just a mini itx computer since all they would hold is the cover for these two.

 I bought a few of these regular computer switches, but unfortunately they were not individually heat shrink so I had to go and fix them myself.

 And undo the solder and redo that again. Not fun. Unfortunately I didn't even think about this until I used them and noticed they were basically shorting here.

 The end result and how they should have been done to begin with.

Fortunately I used most of my switches and wiring to make my own LED plugs. The good thing too is that I went to ebay and found these single sets with both switches and LED's which with the red and green which is the basic components that I'm sticking with. So now if I need any more I'll just get these instead of the single switches and won't have to make any LED soldering either. You can find these for .99 cents or less there so that was a nice surprise. This will just make my setup much easier and quicker too. They are also individually soldered. This is also the reason I decided to stick with these common parts as I knew they were easy to find.

Now for another surprise, here's a video I just made on the case I just put together, well just the case so far.

Update November 1, 2015
I have been working on a slim power supply case so that I can use a larger power supply with the nas since that will need to handle more drives. The length from front to back seems to be long enough for one. The reasons for having a separate case is because one, I can't print that large of a case on my printer, and two it makes this very modular. Think legos, I can add and take off parts as needed. Anyway, here's what I have so far. I need to get this case finished before I can add the nas.

These rear covers have been a lot of work to make them fit just right and to make sure things were lined up correctly, but I got them just right and really like how they fit now. I ran out of green so I started using the leftover yellow.

This is the only slim power supply I have here which is from another case I bought a few years back. This one doesn't have as many leads as I would like, but I think most are about the same thickness so this is what I used. At least a longer one can also be used. The ruler below shows the approximate space I have for one. This case runs the length of main case as well.

This is the second one I have been able to print. So I started working on the power supply case. I have made a few more changes to it too. It's getting there, but I want to make sure the fit is just right without any problems.

The screws fit was just spot on. They fit great.

The hex nut spot also worked as intended. The two parts mate so well I don't have to do much more to this part.

Here's a top view and why I made two different rear covers. Depending on the wires I may need to flip it one way or the other and I wanted to have that option.

Finally, this one got installed and as you can see it's attached well. The whole thing is getting a bit heavy, but that's expected.

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