Dashcat2 Build

A few boxfarm photos from moving. Most of these pics were taken on the 3rd, five days ago.

First things first after moving. I needed a place to crash. Maybe this will be a future cooling loop project?

Ikea desk from my workshop. The laptop was the first thing I set up. Even without an internet connection.

Herman Miller desk from my former workshop. Seen here full of boxes.

My daughter's room. Her grandma set it up.

Let's go downstairs, shall we?

Boxfarm living room.

Boxfarm dining room, featuring Dashcat2... and a photo within a photo of me dressed as Mario for Halloween when I was 10.

Uber boxfarm kitchen and dining room.

I'll be making another post with more photos later of the situation so far these few days after the fact and the networking project of Dashcat2.
Hey man, moving is tough. Been there many a times. I hope you are able to settle in alright.
Hey man, moving is tough. Been there many a times. I hope you are able to settle in alright.

It has been a huge pain in the ass. While I could have finished unpacking already, I wouldn't have had the network cables run or Dashcat2's massive amount of power, KVM and network cabling re-installed.

I'm running the whole rig off of one almost-dedicated rail. I only share the branch with the dining room light. I took the five 60W bulbs out of that light and put 10W CFLs in to drop consumption from 300W to 50W and free up 2A on the circuit. With Dashcat2 at full load and the light on, I touched the wire for that circuit straight off the breaker and it was barely above room temperature after three hours.

I'm pulling some overtime at work so my time is limited during the week, but I have this weekend all to myself and should be able to get the job done.
I haven't made much progress. I wrecked my bike on Sunday and bruised the hell out of my left foot and ankle so I have to heal before I can do very much. Getting up and down the staircase is challenging enough.
MisterDNA, let me say a few things...over the past three days I've read every page and every post of your thread. My heart dropped into my feet yesterday when I read that your marriage was broken, and the circumstances pertaining. I lurked here for close to three years before I ever decided to register and make a post. I feel your pain almost identically. Mine was 6 weeks after my daughter was born, the night before Easter, when my (now ex) wife decided she wasn't happy and wanted out. Long story short, 10 days after the divorce was finalized, she started seeing someone else.
I was going to school in the evenings, and I think that was the straw that broke the camel's back for us.

But I really wanted to tell you it's awesome you're continuing on with all this, getting on with life (which has been difficult for me, but I deal), and finishing what you started. I very much look forward to future posts.
First, thank you, navyblue2000, for the kind words. Rest assured I will finish what I started.

Now, another update. I just received my monoprice.com order. What was in the order? The main portion was a trio of 15ft Mini Displayport to VGA adapter cables. These are to connect the Eyefinity 5 card in my IBM workstation to three Dell 1800FP monitors during development and three NEC MT1050 projectors during exhibitions. The system is called Serverus. The name is meant to be a portmanteau of "server" and "Cerberus" (the three-headed dog at the gate of the underworld).

I don't know how widespread they were, but my mind was blown as a 7th grader back in 1992 when Bose did one of their three-screen "motivational media" shows at my school. It was the usual "Kids, don't do drugs" type of message. Years later, they did such a show at my high school during my senior year. My friend, Jon, was a stage tech and was supposed to help them tear down all the gear for travel. It was a lot of work so he asked me if I could help. I did and learned a lot about how they did their shows. It was low-tech, but impressive. Slide projectors with the lamps on dimmers, film projectors, sound gear.

Today's technology allows the same variety of thing to happen on a much smaller budget.

I believe that kids are more tuned to fast-moving media like that since it holds their attention. Hell, the Bose shows broke through my childhood ADHD (before it was cool). What I want to do is spread the message of science and technology, eventually.

Dashcat2 will be used to render the animations.

Speaking of Dashcat2, I bought a thin client with an 8.4" SVGA touchscreen yesterday that will be turned into a remote control/monitoring station for the system. Actually, I bought two of them since the price was right and a third display without a thin client that I believe would be fun to have mounted on the front of the rack at some point, or just as a spare.

The thin client isn't really a traditional thin client. It has a DDR333 memory slot and a CF card slot for the OS instead of some disk on a chip arrangement. According to the datasheet, I can put a 1GB SODIMM in it and up to an 8GB CF card. Right now, there's 128MB RAM and 256MB flash.

Just for grins, I want to get the second one running Doom or something like that. It will run a lot of different stuff since it's based on an AMD Geode LX 800 running at 500MHz. Bonus is it's passively cooled.
They're turning. Believe me.

It looks like Linux doesn't support Eyefinity yet. At least, not under Ubuntu 10.04. For some reason, the three Serverus exhibition displays won't enable all at once. I can only have two displays (any two) enabled at a time. I think I'll be moving the Eyefinity 5 card to my i7 machine and just running Windows 7 since Eyefinity is plug and play there. It means spending money on video editing software (Vegas Pro), but I'd rather focus on content than hacking.

Dashcat2 will still be Linux-based. I have had zero problems on that front and I can issue render jobs to the cluster from Windows.
What were you using software wise for the distributed rendering? Sorry if you've mentioned already, this thread is enormous.
What were you using software wise for the distributed rendering? Sorry if you've mentioned already, this thread is enormous.

A lot has changed. Blender now has built-in distributed rendering. I'm tinkering with that.
oh right how are you healing up man? any hope for the bike?

I'll post pictures of all that, too. My left foot was heavily bruised inside and out. That kind of happens when a 500lb motorbike ends up sitting on top of flesh. It's the right color now in most places. My small patch of roadrash on my left forearm is healed, and my left knee must have regenerated the chunk of skin I lost because I can't see any scar tissue so far.

The bike already had scratched fairings so I wasn't too concerned there. Although they are worse now. I lost a turn signal I hated because it wouldn't stay together and took odd bulbs. My left mirror was also broken clean off. But since it had already been repaired with JB Weld before I bought the bike, it was no big loss. It's about $40 in repairs to get back on the road again. Well, and the cost of some glue to get the headlight projector lens back in place.

I'm not stopping there, though. I lucked into a bunch of parts and some functional stuff like the jerry rigged shift linkage is going to be replaced with the real gear. It turns out my left footpeg wasn't just missing. The whole bracket for it was gone and the previous owner drove a bolt into one of the mounting holes for the bracket to act as a crappy footpeg and mount point for the jerry rigged shifter. My foot was resting an inch above and almost three inches forward of where it should be. That explains why sitting on the bike felt weird.
Update so far:

I've got photos I'll post this weekend.

My injury was deeper than I thought. I've still got bruising inside my foot.

I fixed the bike enough to ride it across the border to Idaho last Sunday. I did end up JB Welding the mirror and it's holding like a champ. On my ride, I learned that my shift linkage had a bad bushing that made shifter pull awkwardly wide. Good thing I had that new assembly on the way.

I received the shipment yesterday and it turned out my random bolts kit I ordered had a lot more to it than I expected. Along with the bolts for the footpeg/shifter bracket and the bolts for my sissy bar, it also came with a bar end to replace the one I was missing, a replacement kickstand killswitch, a headlight wiring harness and a bunch of extra goodies.

The windscreen that came in my order is in good shape. I'll give it the works with rubbing compound to polish it up. I'll wait to install that since I have a gauge shroud coming that will replace the spraypainted one on the bike.

I haven't been able to test the bike with the new, proper riding position after the footpeg install because I have my daughter for the next week while my ex gets re-married in Vegas (I'm not even kidding. Four week engagement.) and at the moment there's an inch of snow outside.

At work, there's a Biggest Loser type of contest we do every 12 weeks. Highest percentage lost wins. I won this round with 16lbs gone. A new round was started three weeks before the end of this last one. That round will run for almost nine months total with Memorial Day as the end date. At 5'10, I physically only have about 50lbs I can lose, but it's still about 25% of my body weight. The prize pot is up so high first place would take home about $900 and there are still people entering.

The way I see it, Winter is going to happen whether I'm ready for it or not. I may as well take on a long-term project of the physical sort that will benefit me around April when the weather is better.

Now, Dashcat2. Hardware is all but done, but the house is too messy from moving clutter to focus on that build. I took on a lot of projects to turn to when I reached showstoppers with Dashcat2 or any other major work. I took on those projects because I ultimately wasn't happy in my marriage. It was a variety of hoarding, really. With the marriage gone, the drama done, me having realized why I was doing it and my life now back on track, it's time to get rid of the standby projects and their associated clutter.

That's where I'm at right now, a humanoid typhoon.
Photo time.

Condition of Dashcat2's living space as of October 15:



Aftermath of my motorcycle wreck:

My foot took the worst of it. Here's a little before and "after" (not fully healed, but almost there after three weeks):



Now three weeks in


My knee.

Three weeks in

Believe it or not, this little patch of roadrash hurt worse than the other stuff.

Three weeks later, it's actually almost healed

That's blood, baby. I was thinking these jeans were salvageable but on turning them inside out, this is what I saw. That's from my knee in normal position. The hole is from where my knee was as I was sliding due to my jeans being pulled upward.

Changing things in the home office:

Docked laptop and i7 gaming rig in original position

Serverus system in original position and awaiting cables from monoprice

Notice the desks switched sides here?

Serverus (Intellistation A) is still under the desk on the left. I was planning to just switch inputs to use Serverus with the 3008WFP and have the 3-up dedicated just to Serverus.

Ah, MDP to VGA cables from Monoprice.

It was after screwing around with these on the Intellistation that I realized Linux didn't properly support Eyefinity. I didn't want to waste any more time so I got an idea. Two GPUs in my i7 rig with the 5770 Eyefinity 5 dedicated to just the 3x1 array. This photo was taken before I enabled Eyefinity.

The more the merrier. I put my sidecar 2001FP back on. The display on the left is my 8" touchpanel connected to an embedded system that will be the remote control/monitor for Dashcat2. It still has the cardswipe terminal software on it at the moment. The terminal and display only pull 15 watts so it's an easy way to keep tabs on render jobs without starting up the beast.

This photo requires a bit of explanation. The view outside my window before I moved consisted of nasty dead trees, a vacant lot, white trash and zero inspiration with bad vibes all around. As you can see, that has changed. Outside my window now is the only roundabout in the valley, badass mountains and constant reminders that my life no longer sucks. My daughter is inclined to agree.
Glad to hear that the priorities are realigned...the last pic is actually the most important.
And take is easy with the bike hobby. She'll appreciate a dad who is mobile and has all his limbs.
The apartment looks nice. Yeah, you'd be amazed how much a nice view can help you on a shitty day. I figured that out this year.
I didn't realize how many people on [H] live in Logan! Small world man. :D
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I didn't realize you too where a proud owned of a NZXT Khaos.

That is cool, But your foot is bumming me out. I feel your hurt in my foot lol. Hope you make a speedy recovery.
What do you have a Zebra printer for? We use them at my hospital to print pharmacy labels for patients (inpatient).
What do you have a Zebra printer for? We use them at my hospital to print pharmacy labels for patients (inpatient).

shipping labels. The printer was $5 so I figured it would be better to peel and stick than to print, cut out and tape.
I only just heard about the lost-then-found Jack the Cat at JFK Airport passing away.

The embedded system acting as remote controller/monitor for the Dashcat2 cluster still needs a name.

Any in favor?
My wounds from the wreck have almost healed. There's only one small tender spot left and I have full range of motion back as far as I can tell.

It sounds like the break my girlfriend and I were taking is going to be permanent. It feels like I became her rebound. This is sad because she was such a motivator for me, but since I don't know the whole story I'm reluctant to pay much mind to it, nothing is ever set in stone and there are others out there who are maybe even better.

Being stagnant is no way to go through life and I'm getting things turned around in that respect. One room of the house is utterly clean and this weekend will allow me to do the same to most, if not all of the rest of the house.

I have a feeling Dashcat2 won't be running the way I want it to until April because I've got so much going on. April 1, as I may have mentioned, is the T+1yr point following finalization of my divorce and has been a milestone point for me since the start. That's the point where I want to "have my shit together" and I'm definitely on track with the sore muscles to prove it, among other things.
there are so many posts in this thread i want to click a "like" button :-P

and that view is great!

Motorcycle crash wounds are effectively healed. I've been working on a fitness program to get my strength back up.

I have a 4-day weekend because of Thanksgiving and while it might have been spent with a girl I like, she shot me down. Why? I snoozed. I lost. That'll teach me I guess. But(!) I'm using the time I have to work on finishing the move-in operation at the house, clear my storage bay and set up Dashcat2. In fact, right next to me, I have sixteen 1GB PC2700 RAM modules. Every node is getting an upgrade from 3.5GB at PC2100 to 4GB at PC2700 with four empty slots for a later boost.

Time to hit this like a boss. I'm sure there will be photos.
The task right now is making Dashcat2 easier to coexist with. The nodes are quiet, but the server isn't in the least. The four mid-plane fans have been swapped out for the same low-speed fans I use in the nodes and I've undervolted the CPU fans to 5VDC, but there are other fans to worry about.

Right now I am enjoying some well-earned ground turkey nachos while figuring out how to configure the four 40mm redundant PSU fans of Dashcat2's server for 5VDC operation. This is more challenging because the insides of the PSU modules are so densely packed. I have located the 5V rail inside the PSU module. Tapping into it will take tricky soldering.
I've just finished rewiring the PSU fans in the server for 5VDC. They still move quite a bit of air and the midplane fans, which I changed over to the 1W fans I use in the nodes, are actually louder than the PSU fans now.

After mounting and powering the server for a test run, I noticed it's no louder than a desktop computer. When the nodes are running, they now drown out the server instead of being a whisper on top of a scream.

The switch still needs fan work, in fact, this part is going to be a bit more difficult. The PSU inside the switch only outputs 12VDC. I can't pull 5VDC directly from the PSU so I will either need to track down some 12V fans I have that run at a lower RPM or wire a 5V DC-DC converter to step the 12V supply down.

The fans in the switch are Delta EFB0412VHD model. I looked up the specs and they run at 9000RPM and move 10CFM. They are overkill for this application. The heatsinks inside the switch are gigantic and I'm not running a datacenter with the switch cooped up in a dense farm. In the event a fan upgrade isn't enough to quiet the switch, I can build a shroud to keep the noise from broadcasting over the whole house.
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Just wire up a 7805 in your switch, you could even heatsink it (not that it'd need it) on the chassis. 12v to 5v no problem!
Shoot a small rheostat or resister will do the trick nicely to quiet them down.
Just wire up a 7805 in your switch, you could even heatsink it (not that it'd need it) on the chassis. 12v to 5v no problem!

While I normally hate to use linear regulators because of their inefficiency, the fans pull so little current this is actually a very good solution. I was able to pick up a pair of 7805s at Radio Shack today despite the Black Friday blitz. The salesman was actually surprised I was doing "regular shopping".

I shouldn't even need input/output capacitors in this case. Though I do have some available if my o-scope says I'm wrong. 5V here I come.
7805s are installed and fans run perfectly, but I found a problem:

The case of the switch must have a resonant frequency around the "cogging" frequency of the fan motors because the casing vibrates. The fans are directly mounted to the case with screws so I might be able to rig isolators with some O-rings or rubber pads.
Done. I cut up one of the bags the regulators came in to act as isolators. The damping effect was surprising.

The switch is reinstalled and running.

I'm reluctant to say the hardware side of things is done, but it's certainly functional and easy to coexist with.

While I normally hate to use linear regulators because of their inefficiency, the fans pull so little current this is actually a very good solution.

Not the most elegant solution, but considering how little current was being pulled, I figured it would work as a quick-and-dirty solution :D Good to hear you got everything working.
Small update:

Server and switch have been up 24/7 since the mods. The fan mods have proven to be effective and the system is still perfectly easy to coexist with. I've added some... other stuff... to my dining room so I'll need to set up a desk and workstation for the next phase: Install Etherboot/gPXE onto the compute nodes and see if I can get remote booting to work.
Done. I cut up one of the bags the regulators came in to act as isolators. The damping effect was surprising.

The switch is reinstalled and running.

I'm reluctant to say the hardware side of things is done, but it's certainly functional and easy to coexist with.


Thanks for the idea! I have an old 3com switch I bought for $5 that does the same thing, even after I put in new Scythe fans.