For almost five years I had a trusty little custom built 2U server running OPNSense that managed my network. It worked tirelessly day in and day out, never complaining - just routing packets to and fro the internet.

This little guy, carrying the completely appropriate server name of "Protector" from Galaxy Quest, never wavered one moment while protecting us from that hostile world known as The Internet.

Sad to say, though, his long tenure has come to an end and he is totally on his way to a friends families farm that totally lives across the state so that's why you can't see him ever again. Yeah totally that.

Given that it was taken out of service I thought would be a good time to revisit how I put this little guy together as it had been probably close to five years since I last opened it up.

On first look nothing really looks too out of the ordinary:

  • The motherboard, CPU (in this case a i5-650), and PSU here came from an old Dell desktop PC in one of those super small compact cases.
  • The drive is actually the very first SSD I ever bought - an 80 GB Intel X25 I got back in 2010 for $175. It's seen a lot of stuff between then and now and still works great.
  • The RAM is from a four stick 16 GB set where the other three sticks eventually failed. For some reason I felt it was okay to trust the last remaining stick with something as mission critical as this. Or maybe I just like self sabotage.
  • The network card I bought on Amazon which is some 10Gtek dual port adapter. It works great but is not very interesting.

Digging in a little deeper we find the expected top notch build QA we have here at port53 with the RAM latches half set. Maybe keeping it half set is what kept this last stick of the from failing? The world may never know.

The hard drive was not mounted into any bay or any kind of mount as I don't approve of caging hard drives. I prefer my hard drives be free range.

I had mentioned that the PSU came from the compact PC as well. Well, given the very small and vertical nature of that case, the PSU cables were clearly very short.

The main ATX power cable was extended by using a weird 2 PSU adapter that is used for controlling the power on/off of 2 PSU's. I think it was used a long long time ago when I still thought crypto mining was cool and not an absolute waste of energy. I don't know where I got this and it's definitely pretty sketch looking but it seemed to work!

For the four pin power I opted for something a little bit more home brew because I don't think I ever considered searching on Amazon for an extender of which there are MANY. No instead we end up with me chopping off one from an older dead PSU and using wire nuts to tie it all together. My favorite part is how not a single wire color matches.

I am sure after doing this I audibly said "If it works I'll come back and do it proper with solder and heat shrink." I guess there's always tomorrow.

All things considered here this little guy ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for nearly five years. It survived two hurricanes, multi rack re-arrangements, and a physical rack server move (as in I wheeled the rack while powered up from one room to another).

With that we bid you adieu Protector. May your firewall remain strong even in the afterlife... er I mean have fun at the farm, yeah. Farm.