Building an ALIX firewall

June 20, 2012

It’s been a long time since I updated my firewall. Right now it’s a PC Engines ALIX 2c2 that I’ve been really happy with. I used flashdist and put OpenBSD 4.4 on it.

I think that’s a winning combination, but it’s time to upgrade. First, I want to go to OpenBSD 5.1. Next, flashdist has been replaced with flashrd, which is easier to install and use, and more appropriate for larger CF cards.

I started by getting an ALIX 2d2 (just one more IDE header than the 2c2, not much change). I bought it from mini-box.com, and I also picked up the custom enclosure for it and a power supply.

I already had a 4 GB CF card: a Kingston 4GB elite pro 133X, which was new when I built the original firewall. Make sure you have a good CF writer. I’ve had failures with cheapies, but got a Kingston FCR-HS219/1 and that worked.

There are a number of steps to get a working firewall. They are:

  1. Getting OpenBSD 5.1 on the ALIX
  2. Setting up networking for the ALIX firewall
  3. Setting up PF for the ALIX firewall
  4. Setting up BIND on the ALIX firewall
  5. Final cleanup for the ALIX firewall
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Building a quiet MythTV box – selecting a case

April 20, 2012

I’ve started looking around for a quiet but thermally good case for a MythTV box. My first thought was to do an HTPC case – the Lian Li HTPC C60 looked good.

But then I started worrying about airflow around the case. I’ve got a fairly narrow spot to put it in – about 46 cm – so a PC that’s 44 cm wide doesn’t leave a lot of room for cooling.

I decided to look into mini towers instead. The Lian Li V600F looks like it would be nice, but it has these ugly blue fans.

I also looked into the NZXT H2 (some were saying it was too flimsy), Antec P183 (too tall, not a mini tower) and Silverstone TJ-8e (an 18 inch fan in front, but only that. How hard to get a replacement when it dies?)

Now I’m leaning towards the Lian Li B10. It’s too bad that SPCR hasn’t reviewed it – they seem to know a thing or two about quiet and heat.


Building a quiet MythTV box – step 1 – thinking aloud

April 1, 2012

Due to decreased WAF for the old MythTV box, I’m looking into building a quieter one. I’ve decided to do a couple of things differently:

  • Use HDHomeRun for capture cards. That way, I won’t be stuck to a particular bus architecture. It also means the capture cards won’t be generating heat in the case.
  • Use a pair of 5400 RPM hard drives (maybe a 2.5″ one for the OS, and a 3.5″ one for the recordings? Need to have fans on all of them to cool them down.
  • Replace all the fans with FDB or maglev bearing fans
  • Use an external PSU like the PicoPSU or something like that. Here’s an adapter to make it fit in a standard fan bay. (This might also be a good idea for ham radio PSUs…)
  • Use an HTPC case or at least a quiet PC case
  • Probably end up with an nVidia video card.
  • I think I want a core2 duo 3.1 MHz or so motherboard/ processor combo
  • Does the Pico PSU mean I won’t be able to drive a DVD player? Maybe another external one (eSATA?) Am I going to end up with a bunch of individual set top boxes?

The CPU cooling fans, video card and hard drives should generate most of the heat (and noise). Need to figure out how much power a video card uses.