I'm looking to buy an empty rack-mounted enclosure (2U to 4U) to fill with some custom equipment. One of the requirements is that we can easily open the enclosure top and access the contents periodically. It seems like the best way to achieve this would be to mount a standard enclosure on sliding rails so that we can pull it out, open the top, then slide it back in.

I'm new to rack equipment, so I want to know if the enclosure we pick has to be designed to work with rails, or whether we can buy third-party rails and attach to most standard enclosures?

  • Does this have anything to do with computers? Can you be more specific about what you're doing? There is probably a solution for what you need, but there isn't much detail here. – ewwhite Jun 3 '16 at 16:35
  • The only relevant part is what's described above. Need to put some custom hardware inside a rack-mounted enclosure with the outlined details. It's custom and proprietary, so there's definitely not a specific solution already out there. – Josh Diehl Jun 3 '16 at 16:41
  • Call Rack Solutions or give more detail. – ewwhite Jun 3 '16 at 17:08
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Rail kits tend to be specific to the type of enclosure you're getting, since while the holes on the rack mounting post are standardized, the method of fastening rails to the case is not.

What you may find are L-shaped brackets that a server may rest on, but those are not able to support the server while slid out. Depending on your application this may or may not be sufficient.

  • 2
    In other words, if you want sliding rails, you have to choose an enclosure that has a sliding rail option. – DerfK Jun 3 '16 at 16:52

Short answer: It depends.

Long answer: This is going to vary a lot from one chassis/enclosure to the next or even from one sub-model of enclosure to the next.

Questions you need to consider:

  1. Are the rails designed to hold the weight of the chassis while fully extended?
  2. Does the chassis extend far enough so that any other equipment in the rack will not interfere with the proprietary removable top on the enclosure? In other words, will the top actually "come off" when deployed?

In general, rack mounting rails for chassis are proprietary solutions. For this exact reason, pretty much any chassis you buy for any rack hardware will come with its own rails. In most cases, it's safe to assume that they are designed to carry the weight of the loaded chassis when extended, so question 1 is usually not a problem.

On the other hand, it's very difficult to resolve question 2. In many cases, for full length chassis, there will not be sufficient clearance to remove the top if there is equipment in the above position. You may even need to reserve 2U above for clearance for your hands to remove the top, and you may need to reserve additional space beyond that if you intend to actually work in the back of the chassis while it's mounted in the rack. In general, don't hope for too much without a lot of planning for a full-length chassis in the middle position of a loaded rack.

If you don't have anything above it, then several of the SuperMicro chassis, such as the SC846 series have some sub-models that have removable tops that you can remove while they're in the rack. Even here, you have to be cautious, because some of the sub-models in "proper installation" have the top screwed down on the chassis. They all come with their own rails and extend pretty far.

Is what you want achievable? Definitely, but it's impossible to give a more definitive answer without additional details.

Buy sliding rails or simply place your equipment on a sliding shelf.

  • The sliding shelf idea is interesting. Would a standard width rack chassis (e.g. a 2U server) sit on top of a shelf with enough width clearance to slide without issue? – Josh Diehl Jun 3 '16 at 18:39

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