Freenas Update

The goal is to migrate the Windows Media Center (WMC)–till now run from a home office computer into two separate applications–one being powered by Freenas.

After studying online guides and making setup adjustments to Freenas version 9.10.2 over the last couple months, I decided to upgrade the server, originally featured in Freenas Server with a four bay, SATA backplane mini tower.

Original Build plus Changes:

  • 2X Western Digital, 3TB Red NAS Hard Drives
  • SanDisk Cruzer Blade CZ50 8GB USB Flash Drive
  • 16 GB Kingston KVR1333D3E9SK2/16G DDR3-1333 ECC Server Memory
  • ASRock E3C226D2I Mini ITX Server motherboard
  • Intel Core i3-4170 Haswell Dual-Core 3.7 GHz
  • From: In Win CE685.FH300TB3, a micro ATX desktop
  • To:       In Win IW-MS04-01-S265, a four bay mini tower case

After reviewing options on cases the IW-MS04-01-S265 mini tower, made more sense after rushing to get it going and stuffing everything into a desktop case. 

Transferring the motherboard to the convenient slide-out tray, relocating two Red NAS drives onto the hot swap caddies and connecting to the MS04’s 265 watt 80 Plus Bronze power supply, it was up and running in short order.  The MS04 was a bit more expensive then the desktop case but allows expansion in the future.

With this server, I created ZFS mirror with two (3 TB) drives for shared SMB data-sets.  Now the laptop and home PC have backups at the home office.

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One the entertainment side, the next phase includes experimenting with Plex media server available as a plugin with Freenas.  Initially I converted Microsoft .wtv recordings into MPEG4 and now able to tax the Haswell i3 CPU with transcoding to Plex clients.  Otherwise I noticed the CPU sat pretty much idle from only moving backup and image files around.

Also added a new WMC Recording folder on a Freenas iSCSI drive connected to the Media Center computer.


Brewing a Golden Ale

A 11-gallon batch of fresh home-brewed ale makes for a long day.  Despite a stuck sparge, in about eight hours I was able to transfer 10 gallons of chilled wort into the 45,000-milliliter, glass-carboy fermenter.

This high-gravity batch was mashed from 21 pounds of grains and 1 pound of candy sugar.  The final gravity after boil was 0.065–a little high, so added a gallon of fresh bottled water for topping the carboy up.  This beer should finish at a nice 6-percent ABV drinkable product.

Reelbox Avantgarde to Freenas

This dissembled Reelbox Avantgarde died a while back and I tried to revive it thinking the power supply was bad.  I bought a similar fitting ATX size, 250-watt unit and rewired it to the Reelbox circuit which has some wires tied into the power on function of the unit.

Most of the documentation for the Reel Multimedia and Reelbox is written in German.  If you’re not familiar with the Reelbox, it is a European satellite receiver containing a mini ITX, based HTPC featuring a Netceiver–a networked DVB tuner board, connected over Ethernet.  It came with a lot of support at one time before Reel went insolvent.

But a freestanding Netceiver could be optionally mounted in the attic next to the dish and connected to the main unit with CAT 5.  When located inside the Reelbox enclosure, a short Cat5 jumper is used to bridge the two on the back of the unit.

So the Netceiver that remained on my unit, the cool part, actually was salvageable until it may have gotten damaged while wiring it up wrong somehow on the power header.  TBD.

While reading about the Freenas project, the simple tenant of it was “use old hardware”  you only need 8M of RAM, old hard drives laying around, etc, etc.  So I had this Mini ITX Kontron motherboard from the Reelbox thought I’d use.netceiver_jpg

The photo below is a closeup of the Reel Netceiver.  It has a CAM slot to make subscription satellite reception possible in the EU.  Don’t get me started on how paid TV programming gets distributed in North America–and why TV providers didn’t also adopt the CAM/smart card system.  The picture also shows a RS232 driver hooked up to trouble shoot from the terminal messages sent from it.2015-01-16-564

So I was hopefully trying to use the Kontron mini ITX for the basis of a FreeNas system.  More information on the Netceiver from the developer here: Baycom Netceiver