The Start Of My Homelab

"Discover my thrilling journey from a $50 server find on eBay to a heartwarming eBay seller's rescue. The highs, lows, and surprises of my home lab adventure!" #eBayServer #HomeLabJourney #HeartwarmingStory

The Start Of My Homelab

The begining of my home lab started with me cruising around Ebay just looking at servers and wishing I could justify to myself spending the money on a rack mounted server. That is when I came across a Dell R820 listed for $50 dollars. The server had no hard disk drives but it had something else. A great price for what it was. 4 Intel CPUs each boasting 10 cores and 20 threads, 512 gb of ram, and so many network interfaces I could not hook all of them up to my Ubiquiti Dream Machine with what I currently had plugged in running my network. I placed a max bid of $75 dollars and went to bed.

The next morning I woke up to a congradulations you are the winner. My bid never went beyond my inital first bid. That much server for just $50 bucks no way. I clicked the link and the seller was all the way across the US and the shipping was $157 dollars. Yes, three times the amount of the server just on shipping. I hurridely payed the total due and waited. About 5 days later it was here. I also had nowhere to put it, nowhere to play with it, and the look on my wife's face was shock.....what did I just buy? Excitement washed over me. I'm going to have a homelab!!! Little did I know that getting a server was just the tip of the iceberg.

I didnt want to boot it up without hard drives. This thing had room for 16 2.5" drives and I wanted to populate some of them prior to the first boot so off to ebay I went again. This time to find hard drives. I quickly found Samsung SM863 960GB sata drives with drive caddies. They are only rated at 6 Gbps but so is the HBA that came with the server, and the more hard drives I bought the cheaper each unit was. So I added 16 of them to my cart and purchased them right away. A few days later they showed I threw all 16 drives in and booted up the R820. Everything turned on and lights flashed and I felt the excitement once again. I configured a raid and rebooted.

This is where things took a downward turn. The iDrac and Bios were severly out of date. Looking up the procedure on updating these I began version after version update of the firmware. Going slowly to make sure I got it right. I should mention that there were wildfires in my area and I had been having brown outs due to them the previous day. AND I know battery back up! But in the middle of a firmware update to my iDrac disaster struck. The power flickered off for less than a second and that was enough to brick the iDrac of the server and set me off on a spirl of research and discovery that led me to know that the only option was a MotherBoard replacement.

This is where the heart of ebay sellers comes in. I contacted the seller and informed him of what I had done. He informed me he had a spare board and he would mail it to me no charge. I agreed and waited.

This is where this blog ends and the next one will pick up with the story of a server motherboard swap and an ebay seller with the heart of gold.