a rack

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Computers need a permanent home. A computer in a data center is mounted in a 19 inch rack. A rack costs at least £600. I have at most 600 pence. I will create a rack out of string and wet cardboard.

what it is

A rack is a framework for holding objects. In mediaeval times (difficult word, spelled correctly) officials of the ecclesiastical court of the Inquisition used racks to hold heretics. I want a rack to place all my computers on. If I lay all the computers horizontally they will stretch from my data center building (my shed) across the lawn to my neighbor's house and he does not want that. I need to stack them up vertically. This stack of computers must meet a few criteria.

  • Each computer must be accessible. Occasionally I will need to replace computer hardware. I am afraid the one to go bang will be the one at the bottom of the stack.
  • The stack of computers must not topple over and squish me.
  • Computers on top must not crush the computers underneath.
  • I want easy access to the rear of the stack. All the sockets are built into the rear of a IBM PC. That's where the I/O plate is.


A big data center uses 19 inch racks to hold computers. I am using crap steel shelves from the local DIY store (£60). I end up with this.

  • Total size is 1250mm high x 1750mm wide x400mm deep.
  • Each shelf is 1750mm wide. Plenty wide enough for about eight computers.
  • Each shelf is about 400mm deep. This is a little shallow: a typical PC will overhang by about 50mm.
  • The bottom shelf is 200mm off the floor. That will save the lower computers from freezing and floods.
  • The shelves are 500mm apart. Even with the folded metal lip on each shelf a half-height tower will fit with no problems.
  • I left 500mm space between the shelves and the back wall. Cables will hang into this space. This allows rear access for me as long as I don't end up in a wheelchair.
  • Six sharp metal legs rest on the wooden floor. I put a piece of 6mm plywood under each to stop them digging into the soft pine shed floor.