FreeNAS Xeon L5640 Project

About 12 months ago I decommissioned my FreeNAS based file server in preference of a Synology DS918+. While this device has been fantastic, and I do recommend it, it’s a bit boring and not fitting my theme of DIY and putting retro hardware to good use.

The main considerations for this build are:

  • As much retro hardware that makes sense.
  • Low power draw.
  • Reliable and very long lasting hardware.
  • CPU performance and feature set that will future proof this build for FreeNAS.
  • RAM upgrade capacity.
  • Plenty of physical drive capacity in the case that is easy to access.

So here is a sneak peak of the project while I wait for the remainder of the parts to arrive.

Parts List

  • Intel Xeon L5640 CPU @ 2.27GHz, 6 Core HT with 12MB Cache, 60W (2010)
  • Super Micro X8STi Motherboard (~2010)
  • Fractal Design Define R6 in White with Glass Side
  • Kingston 4GB ECC non-Reg x3 (one per channel) for 12GB RAM
  • Corsair RM550x PSU
  • Cooler Master H411 Cooler

Continuing the retro theme, all the working parts are second hand and out dated from their usual intended purpose. Although in this build the parts are still reliability new, this is for power consumption, performance and reliability and also for certain feature sets on the CPU.

The board was chosen because it was relatively cheap to purchase with a CPU included (US$80 plus shipping). The CPU for its instruction set and very low power consumption. ECC RAM for reliability of data storage. New PSU to help protect the nice hardware. Drives because they will be carried over from my old NAS. The Case for style, to show off the hardware, drive capacity (more than 10x 3.5″) and overall quality. And lastly the Cooler as they are quiet and long lasting.

I’m hoping to do a video of the build, so stay tuned.


Dual Slot 1 Celeron Project


The first PC projects for the site. The aim is to setup a Dual Slot 1 Celeron as a router. I’m not sure if the performance will be enough for my 50Mb VDSL connection, so will have to wait and see.

The Slot 1 Celeron does require some modification to work with SMP (Symmetric Multi- Processing). CPU Central have details on this modification here.

The plan is to try and run OPNsense on the machine and use it as a gateway/firewall for my VDSL connection. Failing that, Windows NT and some retro gaming!

All the retro parts will be wrapped in a nice new case from Corsair and powered by a Corsair Rm550x (overkill, but I wanted a quality PSU to protect the hardware).

Parts List:

  • 2x Intel Celeron 333 (SL2WN)
  • IBM Netfinity 440LX Motherboard
  • TNT2 M64
  • Corsair 275r White Case
  • Intel Pro 1000 Dual
  • 512MB PC-133 ECC RAM
  • Vantec CPU Coolers
  • Corsair RM550x PSU


GeForce2 Pro Cooling Upgrade

Back in the day I used to own a Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 Pro. This, at the time, wasn’t a bad 3D card for the PC. The cooling solution on this card wasn’t fantastic and soon failed.


Using whatever I had laying around at the time I had a solution. Basic, crude and dodgy, but worked very well for about 12 months until I upgraded the card to a GeForce4 Ti 4200 8x. The cooler used was a Silver Orb, a great CPU cooler at the time.

VK6 Hub – DMR

The VK6 Hub now has a bridge to DMR on the Brandmeister network.

Node 42716 is bridged to Brandmeister Talk Group 505005. This node is generally connected into 42732 (the VK6 Hub), so you can talk to all the folks on that network via DMR.

Also listen via your web browser using Hose Line.

Feel free to use this at any time – the more active the better!


VK6 News Hub – VoIP

The News Hub can be listened to by using a VoIP client (such as X-Lite on a Mac or PC or Groundwire on a smartphone). This will allow you to listen from any device that has VoIP client. To connect:

    • User ID: 42719
    • Domain:
    • Password: VK6News!
    • Disable the “Register with Domain…” or similar as this is not required.
    • Once connected simply dial 42719 and select 1 for the live loop or 2 to start the playback from the start.
    • Please hangup when not in use to help save bandwidth.

news hub - voip

185W 36V to 18V Solar Panel Conversion

Got given a 36V solar panel a few weeks ago by a friend. Not much use for a 12V system, so I set about rewiring it.

Originally it was three 12V arrays in series. I’ve split the middle array in two and given half to each of the remaining 12V arrays. Paralleled them both up for 18V.

Sealed it all up. Perfect!


VK6RX gets into VK6ROT

Last month the Rottnest 70cm repeater came online (

Getting into the repeater should have been easy for me at my QTH with nothing but water between, but due to some teething limitations of the new repeater a challenge has been set.

Firstly I tried my flower-pot dual-band antenna (pictured at the top of the mast) with no luck. Sometimes I could open the repeater, but that was about it.

Next I tried a home-brew 8 element co-linear. I could consistently open the repeater, and had reports of carrier with some modulation, but not enough to hold a QSO.

So then, just the kick I needed to build a Yagi! I settled on a modified design of the Bow and Arrow dual bander (…/1478-qbowq-and-qarrowq-satell…) utilising a gamma match to feed it, negating the requirement for a balun.

For less than $50, including mounting hardware, here is the result.

My first contact was with Will, VK6UU where my signal was reported to be a readable 5.

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