THE METAMORPHOSIS OF THE DARK TOWER

When it comes to a lot of things I am a do-it-yourselfer. One of those things has been a self made RAID. And the one I initially made gained me a little notoriety. This was called the Popsicle SATA. This all came from the need to play back uncompressed 10-bit footage, without breaking the bank.

Now that RAID didn’t hold up…structurally speaking. The rubber bands were wearing out. So I upgraded that RAID by using screws to replace the rubber bands.

But then the internal heat on the G5 was getting to be too much, so I then purchased an external PC case, and thus the Dark Tower RAID was born.

Now I have gone to the next level.

I was asked by Enhance Technology if I would like to try one of their products. I asked for the StorPac S35T…that is a 5 bay tray loaded unit that takes up 3 5.25″ slots on the front of the PC case. They sent it…I installed it…and promptly asked to keep it. Well, I said that I wanted to pay for it, because I liked it. A lot.

Here is what it looks like:

5 removable trays, and you can buy additional trays so that you can just have them on all the drives you need to put in this thing. Let’s look at the back:

Three ports for power (I have that), and then 5 SATA connections…the blue ones on top. Because these are direct SATA connections, you’ll need to get a Port Multiplier…like I did. I got this a while ago, so that I could attach the 5 drives I have in this thing to the CalDigit FASTA 4e I have. Works great.

OK, so I installed the unit, and attached the SATA connections from here:

To the Port Multiplier:

So I went from internal drives that were pretty difficult to swap out (which I needed to do a couple times as I backed up my P2 footage) to a case with hot swappable drives. From this:

to this:

Ahhh…much better. Now you see why I didn’t want to return it.

Now we run the AJA Drive Test on that and we get what I expected:

Those are the speeds that you can expect from a 5 drive Raid 0. This was how I played back uncompressed HD. Now…the scary thing is that, well, now two companies offer these speeds in a TWO drive raid. MUCH cheaper too…CalDigit and G-Technology.

I currently am using this Raid for two purposes. As my show backup (backups of all the shows I worked on) and P2 backup drives…then I remove them and put in four 1TB Hitachi drives that I am using to store the footage for a doc I am working on. All works pretty well. The fan is a little noisy…I can now tell that the unit is on. Before it was so quiet that I would forget to turn it off. But now it is a tad louder. Not good for audio editors, but fine for me. The fan keeps the drives cool and that is what I want. And it isn’t like it sounds like an aircraft carrier.

So if you are a do-it-yourselfer and want to build your own eSATA Raid 0 unit with PC cases and the Enhanced Technology enclosure…this is for you.