Uncle Miod's machineroom
miod > machineroom > over the years > 2011

A tour through the machineroom in october 2011

Everytime I am relocating across the country, I need to bring the machineroom back. This usually requires careful thinking, as the herd of machines gets offloaded by the movers in the machineroom itself; the first step of the bringup consists of freeing enough room to assemble the first set of shelves. Once this is done, one can then put as many machines as possible on the empty shelves in order to make more space available for the other shelves, until they are all set up.
Now, that's theory. In practice things do not work that well because the machines one would like to set up are always scattered across the room, in the middle (or worse, at the bottom) of huge piles of heavy metalmachines.
Over the years, I have realized that the best requirements, to be able to set up a machineroom of a given size, are to use a room twice larger. Which is why the previous machineroom were in the 20-25 square meters range.

This time, things were much more challenging.

First, the machineroom was to be only about 12 square meters - the room itself being 3x4 meters. However I was able to lay my work table in the neighbouring room.
Second, as I had seriously injured myself while tearing down the machineroom in Toulouse (one set of empty shelves had collapsed on my left arm), with both motion and sensitive capabilities of this arm being impaired, I was reluctant to build shelves up to the ceiling as usual. By cutting the height of the shelves in two, I would need more floor surface to put everything.
Because of this, for the first time in the machineroom history, I ``cheated'', by storing some of the rarely-used machines in the corner of a different room. Over the months, I have found better packing arrangements to allow these machines to come back to their preferred location. However at the time of writing, there are still circa 25 machines still missing from the machineroom.

Nothing to see in the machineroom?

There is no actual door to the machineroom allowing the noise and the heat to be kept confined. Therefore, I decided to put a curtain to hide it a bit from view. The rings on the curtain rod, sustaining the curtain (a simple shower curtain, really) also act as cable guides for the 6 meters audio cable of my noise-cancellation headphones, which allow me to move freely into the machineroom while still listening to music (and protecting my ears), without having to check that the cable does not get stuck somewhere on the ground - as it is hanging from the ceiling (well, from the curtain rod), there is no risk of hitting obstacles...

A peek through the curtain

Don't let that curtain fool you. The machineroom is alive and kicking...
... but before we fold the curtain, you can see that, in addition to my work table, there is also a small netbook acting as the local jukebox (since the room into which my work table lies, is the livingroom).
A cable connects the headphone connector to the living room stereo, and the machine is used to play audio files. Of course I am using rustic, text mode, players. I don't need anything fancy with graphics, all I care about is the sound...

Folding the curtain

Folding the curtain only exposes about one third of the machineroom. Only one set of shelves running up to the ceiling can be seen, the others (which are on the right-side of the room not visible yet) only run up to the belt (90cm).
As usual, the shelves are heavily loaded. There is still some room for one small pizzabox in the upper left shelf, and for a few external disk enclosures on the right side.
Don't forget to look at what's immediately behind the curtain! The old Sun 4/260 is still there, next to its SMD disks cabinet, and both conveniently act as a table, on which more machines are stacked. The large RS/6000 machine is still there, too, and is kept pinned to the ground by the unique Octane Crimson.
Looking back into the room, to the right of the tall shelves, the largest and heaviest systems lie on the ground (well, over a wooden plank). On the left of this area, three AViiON systems are set up in a sort of pyramid - these machines have a fan tray at the bottom, and as can be seen in the upper machine, come with an annoying metal stool to make sure the tray is above the ground. Unfortunately, that metal part does not travel well when you're buying such a machine from a foreign country on eBay. As a result, I only have one undamaged metal stool, and had to put the other two machines on small wood ``stilts''. There are two pairs of strong 30mm wood blocks, one at the front of the machines, one (which can be seen protruding on the picture) at their backs, allowing air to flow under them where the fan tray is breathing from.
The smaller shelves are not as impressive as they used to be, but are nevertheless crowded. The idea was to put pizzabox-style cases on the shelves, and put minitower cases on the top. And when these minitower cases are about the same height, one can even put more stuff (such as the white fan on top of the two HP systems on the right).
That picture also reveals a ``hidden'' keyboard storage area behind the jukebox machine, under the stairs.
There are two other half-height shelves in the back of the machineroom. Heavily populated as expected - but not easy to take good pictures of, because there is not enough room to find a good view of the shelves without being too close to be able to take a non-blurred overview picture.
An attempt to take a picture of the top of the previous two shelves. Not much can be seen. On the other hand, you can now see that in the right corner, there are shelves up to the ceiling as well... but there are no machines in them, only boxes of spare parts and accessories. At the time of writing, 53 of them, full of surprises, from AUI (10base5) network cables to MCA boards, power cords, keyboards, mice, memory sticks in all styles, disk brackets, spare floppy disks, an old handheld scanner with its ISA interface board...
To be fair, there are so many things in so many different boxes, that I had to start maintaining an inventory file of all of them, and their position in these shelves (which turned out to be a good idea to make sure that the heaviest boxes are put closer to the ground).
Another attempt at showing machines. One can finally see that the dark bluish shape in the back, to the left of the previous picture, is actually two SGI O2 systems sitting on top of the SGI Fuel...

My work area

My work table is still the same mess. Some things did not change: I am still using the same mousepad, the same coffee mug, the same decorative trinkets near the monitors, the same computer desktop background. Some things did change: the postcard under the left monitor, the chair, the exercize balls are new!