ThunderPack mini Solar Powered 8-Disk RAID

At The DIT House we’ve been testing a pretty nifty device from Motion|FX that packs a lot into a portable, battery powered solution. It’s a scaled back version of the original, and, while not perfect, it gets pretty close to what I want in a DitKit.

 It’s built largely from off-the-shelf parts and includes:
  • RocketRaid 3702 ThB2 HBA
  • BM UltraStudio mini monitor
  • 8-bay floating shock-resistant RAID
  • Power & charging controller
 That last bullet is the real selling point to me. The unit has 3 laptop-style battery slots, which can be hot swapped. It also has a DC PowerCON charge port, which can be used to charge from solar (we got a 150w foldable panel). We also made up an XLR4 pigtail to go to a block battery like vclx, or a gold mount in a pinch.
There’s an XLR5 DC out which we adapted to MagSafe for powering a MacBook Pro, and an XLR4 DC out for powering the LTO-6 sled if that’s you’re thing. Point is: that controller is doing all the electrical intelligence, and niftily always reports the net draw on it (which you can work to offset via the solar panel).
I like this because it represents the type of decentralized compute future I imagine. For straight data management and LiveGrading, this is it. Just add MacBook Pro and client shuttle drives. It’s already it’s own UPS.
For transcodes I picture a slightly more robust setup. Something like a 2016 MacBook Pro on a Studio Flyer 4U with a pull out shelf holding an Akitio Node packing an AMD RX 480. At that point you need to add in a small desktop UPS. No need to rackmount IMO.
About LTO-6: The HBA drives the raid off 2 SAS ports, and breaks another off into an accessible SAS 3.0 port for connecting the tape drive. I also tested with a Codex XR SAS Reader. It’s not compatible with RocketRaid, so don’t go thinking you can ditch your existing Atto HBA. SXR readers are Thunderbolt anyway so the problem worked itself out, just get on the new new.

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