Today I'm going to show you how I can turn a simple job of replacing a dead hard drive into a monster job involving accurate measuring, fine tolerances and prybars.
Late last week one of the hard drives in my main system died. This was a 250GB Seagate disk that I'd bought for some reason about 18 months ago and it had somehow found its way into my PC. I kept it there because it was a handy drive to dump system images onto when doing benchmarking in the lab. All of a sudden my PC emitted a dozen or so "click-clicks" and the drive was dead. Seems like all the system restores that we'd been doing over the past few weeks had taken its toll on the drive. Fortunately at the time of death the drive was blank, so its passing wasn't a big deal.I didn't have a choice but to whip the dead drive out of the PC because it make the system intolerably slow during POST, so I whipped out my trusty Leatherman Charge TTi and carried out impromptu surgery. At some point during this procedure a thought struck me. Why am I messing about inside my PC like a sucker replacing hard drives? What would be cool would be one of those caddies that fit into the 5.25" drive bays!
I decided to put the surgery on hold and give my parts guy a call. He told me that he had just what I wanted - an Icy Dock MB455 5-in-3 multibay. Using this I could transform three 5.25" bays into caddies for five SATA drives. Sweet. I ordered a couple of these bays, finished removing the dead drive and closed up the patient (I then arranged to send the drive back to Seagate for an exchange). I went to bed that night dreaming about being able to swap out drives without ripping my PC to bits.
The next day the Icy Dock bays arrived and when I whipped them out of the box something struck me - they're huge. The enclosure itself isn't all that massive, but there's a huge fan on the rear of the assembly that adds a fair bit to the depth. Using my patent-pending "measure by eye, mark with tar brush, chop with ax and bang to fit" method, I guesstimated that the box would fit into my 9-bay Sharkoon case. I ruled out the top three bays because the Icy Dock would be fouled by the Galaxy PSU, and the bottom three I ruled out because while I might be able to get the dock past the two 3870's, I knew I had a 3870 X2 to fit, that that was almost two inches longer than the existing card. The middle three bays it was.
Now that I'd decided where the dock was going to go, I had another issue. Each of the drive bays features a couple of metal lip pressed out from the chassis. These needed to be bent back. The metal looked like it might give way to thumb pressure but that wasn't so and I ended up using something a little more persuasive - a small prybar.
Now that I could get the dock into the PC I had a new problem to deal with - the fan still fouled my RAM. This surprised me since my RAM doesn't feature any fancy heatsinks or LEDs. However, thinking three-dimensionally I realized that since the fan was offset, flipping the dock upside down allowed it to clear the RAM modules. I'd already hooked up all the SATA cables to the motherboard when I fitted it (due to the awkward location of the headers there was no way I could get my big hands with stubby fingers there once it was fitted) so installation was pretty much downhill from there - well, apart from the fact that I has to modify the front of the case with a saw because each bay was separated by a plastic strip.
I have to say that after all that, I'm really pleased with the dock. It has simplified the cabling layout inside my PC and it does mean that I can get at the drives easily, so overall it was well worth the hassle.
Thoughts? And remember, since it's a Friday, you can vent your spleen about anything tech-related that annoys you!