Poor man's JBOD
A while back, my rusty Sans Digital TowerRAID gave up. Honestly, it had not been a very expensive investment, presumably, at the cost of reliability. Nevertheless, I got a few good years out of it. From the looks of it, it looked like the power supply failed and although, I could have replaced the power supply board, I decided to venture out for future proofing my storage requirements.
Upgrading from a 4 slot JBOD enclosure to 8 disks enclosure
Pretty much everything out there comes at a price of greater than $500 for a 8 slot JBOD. Most of them don't have decent reviews and the ones that do are usually more expensive. That led me to the other option.
I wanted to explore this option before I splurged on a brand name enclosure. Luckily, there were many helpful resources^1^2 available that led me to believe this is indeed a possibility. Below, you will find a BOM of what went into my DIY JBOD. The heart of the device is a RAID expander. Ofcourse, you also need to invest in a decent enclosure that houses everything.
RAID Expander ~$60
The item we are looking at is a discontinued Intel RES2SV240 that you can still find on Ebay and some other stores. This was more than enough for my needs – It supports SAS-2. it has 24 ports- 4 ports/1 socket connects to the cable, that in turn connects to the SAS initiator. The rest can be connected to disks – so, you can plug in 20 disks theoretically.
Power Board ~$70
This one's optional in my opinion but it does make the whole setup a little more polished. The one that I used is a SuperMicro CSE-PTJBOD-CB2, again, pretty easily available on Ebay. What this does is let you use the enclosure switch to control power to the system. This would not have been possible otherwise, without a motherboard.
Mini SAS SFF-8088 to SFF-8087 Adapter ~ $25
This will be our portal to the outside world. The SFF-8088 cable (that I already have) will connect the expander to the initiator on the server. The one that I got(CableDeconn) conveniently fits into a full height PCI slot on the enclosure.
SFF-8087 to 4 SATA ~$20
This goes from the RAID expander to the backplane in the enclosure that we will use. Since I plan to use 8 disks, I got two of the cables.
SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 cable ~$8
This cable connects the expander on one end and the SFF-8088 to SFF-8087 adapter on the other end.
Power supply ~$50
Nothing special here, I used a 430W 80+ ATX supply but that's more than what you would need.
This was the most expensive buy for the project but it's worth it. I decided on a SilverStone CS380B which doesn't have stellar reviews, to be honest, most complained about unsatisfactory ventilation but I was sure I would be fine because I wouldn't install a motherboard in it.
Fitting everything together
The enclosure already has a backplane for the disks. The RAID expander card as well as the SFF-8087 to 8088 adapter both went into a slot on the enclosure where a full height card would usually go. I had to drill some holes so that the power board could stay in place.
Here's a pic of the innards after everything has been fixed in place:
Total cost and troubleshooting
Total cost comes out to be ~$400 which is still a good price for a system that can house more than 8 disks (The Silverstone has internal bays for a few more).
There's nothing here that could go wrong. Everything's pretty much plug and play. The only thing worth noting is that the expander card has been discontinued and there's probably not a lot of them out there. You might end up getting a dead card. If things don't work out as expected, just blame it on the card and get a replacement! :)
My setup has been going strong for a few months now. I am glad I went this route!