Heat problems with iStar BPN-350SAS 3×5.25″ to 5×3.5″ SATA Trayless Backplane

Recently I posted about the use of an iStar BPN-350SAS in my RAID 6 array, well due to Australia’s extreme summer temperatures I have had a number of drives in the enclosure fail due to overheating.

Whilst I like the design and build of the BPN-350SAS there are some extreme flaws in the cooling design must likely due to implementation costs or interference with the units cosmetics.

Firstly, the 2x 60mm fans do not provide enough airflow; secondly, there are simply not enough paths for the air to flow. If you look inside the unit you will see 5 slits behind the PCB, and that is all there is for hot air exhaust. If you look at the front bezels, beneath the locking key hole plastic are 3 air vents, and this is all there is for the cool air intake.

Now, my solution has improved all off the above by first, removing the 60mm fans and installing 2x 80mm fans, these are connected via a molex connector. You can observe that 2x 80cm fans protrude 20mm on one side so it was necessary to install the protruding fan once the unit was installed into the case. Secondly, additional air holes on the back of the unit and on the top and under side of the unit to allow more air to circulate. I also removed the 5 springs that popped the drives out, but this was more to improve the backplane’s connection with the drives.

iStar BPN-350SAS modified - top air intake holes

iStar BPN-350SAS modified - top air intake holes and 80mm fan

iStar BPN-350SAS modified - botton air intake holes and 80mm fan

iStar BPN-350SAS modified - installation in case with 2 80mm fans

Dell PowerEdge SC430 with 8x WesternDigital 1TB drives in RAID-6

Sometimes a man just wants to show of; this is one of those times.

My latest project was upgrading my full 2TB server (Adaptec 2410SA with 4x Seagate 750gb drives in RAID-5) to a 6TB server (Adaptec 3805 with 8x Western Digital 1TB drives in RAID-6).

Dell SC430 with installed iStar BPN-350SAS

Obviously, the Dell PowerEdge SC430 wasn’t designed for 9 drives (an extra for the OS) so it was quite challenging fitting it all on. It was made significantly easier by purchasing an iStar BPN-350SAS which allows for five 3.5″ drives to be squeezed into three 5.25″ bays. Plus it is tray-less, and looks very sleek. There was a significant problem in that the SC430 only supported two 5.12″ bays, after quite a bit of hacking the case up, I then realised that the motherboard was preventing the BPN-350SAS to fit in horizontally, with extreme luck and millimetre clearance, it did manage to fit in vertically, but with the extension of the P4 connector and two capacitors that were in the way. Refer to the following pictures.

Dell SC430 motherboard original

Dell SC430 motherboard modified

Dell SC430 showing motherboard clearance of iStar BPN-350SAS

The SC430 now had the two standard bottom hard disk drive cages and the five from the BPN-350SAS which meant I was still two drive spaces short. I removed the drive cage from a Dell Optiplex GX270, which I managed to luckily remove easily with a long stemmed drill to remove the rivets. I removed the SC430’s card fan, and riveted the GX270’s cage in place. This allowed me to still use rails for easy removal of drives. The SC430’s card fan was relocated as an exhaust fan to the back, mainly to stop BIOS from pausing on fan fault during boot-up.

Dell SC430 with new Optiplex GX270 HDD cage

Minor problems were; cable protrusion and the side panel not closing. This was fixed by using SATA power cables which had clip on connectors forming a natural right-angled connection, and also by carefully whittling the SATA cable connections so a tighter angle could be formed.

Dell SC430 cable management of 9 drives