General Technics Leads University of Texas at Austin Through Tradeoffs for Precisely Designed, 3U Short-Depth Rackmount Chassis
Client: University of Texas at Austin
Project: Design and production of 3U rackmount chassis with LCD
Challenge: Creating a short-depth, low-noise 3U rackmount chassis with specific LCD
Solution: Precise rackmount controller design, prototype, and production of 50+ units
The University of Texas Center for Agile Technology approached General Technics to create a 3U rackmount chassis design with a specific, built-in, 7” LCD touchscreen.
The 3U chassis needed to be as short of a depth as possible, between 12-15”, and the configured system also required three 3.5” bays for removable SSDs, an optical drive, and two eSATAp ports on the front panel.
Because every application is different, General Technics designs rackmount controllers that meet specific application demands. The University of Texas application needed to prioritize:
- Space requirements
- Performance demands
- PCI/PCIe slots
- Future flexibility
- Customizable connections
The General Technics team created several layout sketches to offer solutions that would meet the most important space, performance, and noise requirements before moving on to CAD designs.
Prioritizing Key Functionality
In environments where noise level and space are critical, nothing is quieter and more efficient than the ultra-quiet 3U rackmount controller. Ultimately, the University of Texas at Austin decided on a 3U, short-depth design that would minimize noise, fit the footprint requirements, and still allow for three removable bays. The short chassis depth was imperative, so General Technics configured the system to measure 13”, ultimately making different recommendations for placement of drive bays to achieve the overall size.
Fans were a significant issue for the chassis. Because both noise and cooling were an issue, General Technics identified that a slower moving fan could both give airflow and meet noise requirements. The UT team wanted two fans in the back of the chassis, so General Technics designed those into the overall system so that they would be removable later if the chassis didn’t always require them.
UT also had a specific LCD screen that would be central to the overall design. From a precise layout that organized cables and buttons to a custom frame to secure and protect the screen, every aspect of the screen enclosure was carefully thought through. The final system included an LCD mounting bracket to incorporate mounting for controller boards, a digitizer, and cable routing, in addition to five flush steel buttons matched with the OSD tactile switches.
The final, fully custom chassis measured 13” and included the integrated, 7” touchscreen LCD with front panel controls, a full-size ATX board, small form-factor SFX power supply, quiet recessed 120mm intake fan, optional rear exhaust fans, two eSATAp ports on front panel, a slimline optical bay, and three 3.5” bays. For mounting, the chassis included additional brackets for internal storage and removable 3U rack brackets. General Technics designed the chassis to be flexible – as a 3U rackmount, desktop or tower case.
For simple user operation, General Technics designed a light pipe to reroute status LED lighting alongside the buttons, and created a lid that interlocks in six places for simple access with just one single screw.
Finally, General Technics created detailed renderings and drawings of the custom design for future University of Texas presentations and the organization’s internal communication.
- 13” chassis
- Integrated 7” touchscreen LCD with front panel controls
- Full-size ATX board
- Small form-factor SFX power supply
- Large, quiet, recessed 120mm intake fan
- Optional rear exhaust fans
- Two eSATAp ports on front panel
- Slimline optical bay
- Three 3.5” bays
- Additional brackets for internal storage
- Removable 3U rack brackets for alternate mounting
To complete the project, General Technics produced, assembled, and tested six prototype units ahead of the larger production order of 50+ units to ensure accuracy upon delivery.