Making a Supermicro 826B Chassis Out of an 826 Chassis

This post is a little bit niche, but I hope it helps someone out there. First, a little background. If you do not care about this, then skip to the section titled “On with the Mod.”

With the rapid pace that technology is evolving, I wanted an environment that I could use to play around with various tools and techniques. Thus, my homelab was born. It was a small ITX box with a dual core Sandy Bridge Celeron and 8GB of RAM. Nothing fancy, but enough to run a few low powered VMs. You do not need a supercomputer or a rack full of equipment to learn. You can set up VirtualBox or VMware Player and get a few VMs going to play around with. The important part is that you are making an effort to learn.

As I got more and more into it, I was hitting the RAM limitations of the platform (I put 16GB of RAM in the box and maxed it out). In 2016, I purchased parts for a dual Xeon server and stuffed them into a tower case. Even though that has been working great, I wanted more. So, earlier this year, I bought a small rack from a company moving to a new building and I wanted to put my tower into the rack. I could have bought a shelf and put the tower on that, but that would take up a lot of space in the rack, and I wanted experience with rack mounting a server.

I searched eBay for a few months looking for a Revision M Supermicro 826 chassis. The Supermicro 826 is a 2U, 12 3.5" bay rack mounted chassis. There are various revisions, and Revision M is one of the newer ones that is made specifically for Supermicro X9 (Intel LGA2011) and X10 (Intel LGA2011–3) motherboards. There are two models of the Supermicro 826, A and B. I do not know if A is an official designation, but I will use it to keep the two separate. B models are newer and have support for two 2.5" hot swap drive bays in the back (in addition to the 12 3.5" bays in front). You can check out the B model on Supermicro’s site.

I found a B model chassis on eBay, but unfortunately, it arrived damaged. Instead of returning it, I was determined to fix it. Unfortunately, the damage was too much for my limited metal working skills, so I stripped the chassis down to the bare metal and saved all kinds of pieces, including the smaller “window” (the piece where the IO shield and card slots live) and the two hot-swap drive bays. I found another 826 chassis on eBay, but it was an A model. Fortunately, this one arrived in one piece, and I wanted to see if I could get the rear hot-swap bays into the A model.

In theory, you cannot put the two rear hot swap bays in an A chassis. This post is about how I was able to make it happen.

You might think that all I would have to do is take off the larger rear window of the A chassis (it is held in by screws), put on the shorter window, screw in the drive bays, and that’s it.

I wish it were that simple…

On to the Mod

First, let’s take a look at some of the differences between the 826A and the 826B that impact this mod. The first picture is of the 826B. You can see that there is a rectangular metal box on the 826B that is not present on the 826A (bottom picture). That is where the rear drive bays go.

Supermicro 826B Rear
Supermicro 826A Rear
Supermicro 826A Top View

There is a standoff that is permanently attached (indicated by the arrow) on the 826A that is not present on the 826B. The standoff that is unique to the 826A interferes with the drive bay module.

There is only solution to this…

Power Tools

I had to drill a hole in the drive module to accommodate the standoff. I used progressively larger drill bits until I got to 5/32". Fortunately, even with the standoff poking into the drive bay module, it does not interfere with the drives. I could have drilled out the standoff, but I did not want to make any unnecessary permanent changes to the chassis itself.

Hole in the Drive Bay Module for the Standoff

Next, I needed to drill two holes in the side of the drive bay module so that I could screw the left side of the smaller window through the drive bay module for stability. Same idea here. I marked the holes with a Sharpie, and started with small drill bits until I worked my way up to 3/32".

Yes, I am terrible with a drill. Luckily, the really ugly hole will be covered up by the window.

One of my goals with this mod was to avoid making permanent changes to the chassis. I wanted to be able to put the old back window in if I wanted to put a larger motherboard in the chassis (you cannot have an EE-ATX motherboard in the chassis with the rear drive bay module).

In order to be able to screw in all of the screws in the smaller rear window, I had to make a hole in the chassis. Fortunately, that was the only hole I had to make.

I screwed the drive bay module to the rear window and installed them as one piece, and I think it looks pretty good. It is very stable. There is a tiny bit of wobble, but I can live with it.

You probably do not need the smaller window to make this mod work. I imagine you could cut a hole in the larger window where the grid is on the left.

Parts List

  • MCP-240–82608–0N: Smaller rear window or a modified larger rear window (MCP-240–82506–0N)
  • MCP-220–82609–0N: Rear hot swap drive module
  • A drill
  • Drill bits up to 5/32"
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