Sunday, October 27, 2013

Layout Computer Shenanigans

Snowy is the Ubuntu machine controlling my layout with JMRI. I used an old Antex Sonata multimedia case for this machine.

Last Saturday, there was an "electric smell" in the garage. It took us a little while to locate it, but, you guessed it, the power supply in Snowy was dead, and I immediately suspected a popped capacitor in the power supply. Time for a new one. I got the old one out, drove down to Central Computers and ... learned that this power supply is specially made for the Sonata case, and no longer available. Well, at least they didn't have any that would fit. So I ended up spending a little bit more and got a new CoolerMaster case with power supply included.

While at it, I decided to do what I always wanted to do and mount a computer screen in a corner above the layout. Big daughter is abroad for a year, and she's mostly using her laptop anyways, so that nice 17" monitor got mounted to a wall bracket and installed above the Emsingen roundhouse.

Today I put it all together again. Here are a few shots of what the setup looks like now.

The screen is mounted to the beam above the Emsingen roundhouse. The cables for power and video signal go down the server in the triangular channel in the corner.

The screen is big enough to show the JMRI layout editor view of the whole layout, plus imagery from hidden staging. The red lines show occupied tracks in Emsingen.

The server cabinet underneath the layout. The Emsingen roundhouse is right above the right hand side of the cabinet. The cabinet is normally pushed all the way into the corner like on this photo. However, it's mounted on wheels, so it's easy to pull forward and work on cabling at the back of the computers. 
On the left is Chef, our home server. On the right is the new Snowy case, and the UPS on the far right.
With the old case it always bugged me that I had to open a server cabinet door to turn on the computer. For the new setup, I took the power button socket from the old case, extended it and added a push button at the far end. The button is now mounted to the shelf on the side of the cabinet and conveniently accessible.

Snowy's power button is the small black push button mounted to hard board in the center of this picture.

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