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RAID on Rye

Parts, Pieces And Ingredients Of Toaster RAID

THG: I suppose there is more behind your projects than fitting in rails, right?

Dave Goeke: The hard part of building a Toaster RAID is finding all the key components. These are a suitable toaster, the single board computer (a good source is, rails for mounting the drives, short ATA cables, all the correctly sized screws, nuts, washers, capstans, etc. and brackets to suspend and mount switches and interfaces. Many of the key mounting brackets are hand-made using aluminum strips, sheet metal, nuts, bolts, screws, capstans, washers, etc.

THG: This sounds like quite a bit of work to us. Aside from these special parts, what are the differences between the toaster-sized PC and the systems our readers use?

Dave Goeke: The basic ingredients of a Toaster RAID, of course, are the same parts in any home-built PC - plus a toaster. So the difference between Toaster RAID and a home-built system are a compact motherboard, compact power supply, and, again, a toaster. :-) I've put together a complete list of the basic parts I used, for you guys.

The Toaster Recipe

  • Small motherboard with interfaces for video, keyboard, network, ATA, and power.
  • Processor
  • Memory
  • Small power supply
  • Power switch
  • Panel of LEDs if the motherboard has headers for it
  • Some number of drives, depending on room in the toaster, desired RAID configuration and user storage requirements
  • Short ATA cables
  • Wires and Y-connectors for connecting power from the power supply to drives and motherboard
  • A CDROM or other media for installing an operating system
  • A fantastic assortment of screws, nuts, washers, bolts, capstans, plastic spacers, tie wraps, mounting brackets, sheet metal, rubber pads and feet, cap screws, insulators, tie wraps, etc. Dumpster diving for components like this is very productive - in industrial parks, for example.
  • Aluminum strips sturdy enough to support the weight of several drives (see photo of aluminum strips). Some of the aluminum pieces pictured came from a file drawer and were originally used to hold hanging folders. From experience in building all these systems, aluminum strips like these are the most useful way to mount drives.
  • Sturdy, thick, heavy pieces of sheet metal for fashioning custom mounting brackets.
  • Several CPU fans, to vent the interior of Toaster RAID. CPU fans are best for the cramped space; chassis fans are too large and noisy.
  • A toaster