Homelab Pi Rack upgrade, just in time for AnsibleFest 2022

AnsibleFest is fast approaching, and this year it'll finally be back in person, in Chicago. Since that's a short jaunt from St. Louis, I'll be headed up to talk about my Homelab this year!

More specifically, I'll be giving a talk titled Ansible for the Homelab, and I'll walk through how I have at least part of my sprawling homelab environment automated using Ansible.

Raspberry Pi Rack Pro by UCTRONICS

I'll be posting a version of the AnsibleFest talk to my YouTube channel, but leading up to it, the folks at UCTRONICS sent me their Pi Rack Pro to test out. I've been running four Raspberry Pi 4 model B computers in my rack for the past year, each one assuming a certain amount of responsibility for my homelab:

  1. Pi-Hole, Prometheus, and Grafana for Internet monitoring, local DNS, and privacy control. Runs my internet-pi Ansible playbook.
  2. Drupal web server running the Raspberry Pi Dramble website, currently with the configuration from my drupal-pi Ansible playbook.
  3. Backup server managing my-backup-plan so I have a full 3-2-1 backup with offsite and offline copies of all my important data.
  4. Private VPN courtesy of PiVPN.

These four Pis have gone through a number of mounting solutions, from sitting atop a network switch, to my first 3D printed 1U Pi rackmount, to a MyElectronics hot-swap rack. This new setup incorporates many nice-to-haves, like captive thumbscrews for front-loading the Pis, a full metal enclosure, a built-in display and power button, a front panel push-push microSD slot, and an integrated SATA SSD sled, fitting four fully-outfitted Pis in 1U of rackspace.

I documented the process of upgrading to the new enclosure in today's video:

It's not perfect (ventilation is my biggest gripe, as I mention in the video), and I'm currently customizing the LCD display panel more to my liking, but if you're kind of insane like I am about Pis in racks, this is the best 1U solution available at any price.

Thanks again to UCTRONICS for sending me this rackmount unit for evaluation, and if you're interested (and the price isn't too high!), you can buy the Pi Rack Pro on Amazon for just under $300.

I'm not sure how long this particular iteration of the four-Pi-cluster will exist in my homelab, though—I noticed Uptime.Lab is getting closer to releasing the Compute Blade. That could provide a lot more Pi compute density in 1U of rackspace!


Really like the PI4 cluster, I am going to look into it and see if I can afford it.
Like what your doing here on your blog, keep up the good work.

Interesting case/shelf. I'm considering digging into the world of Pi clustering and I'm running the numbers between something like this and something like the Deskpi or Turing Pi boards.

Hi Jeff, absolutely great job on your YouTube channel! Thanks for all the experiments that I can't afford due to budget limitations 😪... pun intended 😜. But really, shame on you for making my hands sweat when you showed the UCTRONICS rack mount rebuild. I was ecstatic about getting the same model for my home rack. NATURALLY no chance, as it was immediately of stock 😢. But I still took one of the other models with SSD mount until mid October when they are back in stock. Good job though with all your explanations on so many different hardware expansions. It really makes watching your show worth it. Regards from the west coast.

I don't see the ansible code for setting up the LCD screens and power button on Github. Did you post this? This type on automation is exactly what I am looking for!

Unfortunately that's in my homelab repo that I haven't quite published yet (still working on making sure there's nothing that'll catch me off-guard in there!). Hopefully soon though!

Hope you are feeling better as you recover. Have scoured through your github repos, I was wondering if I missed something or if you have not published it yet. Very much looking forward to seeing how you've attacked this setup. I think I am close, but missing a few ansible pieces. Keep the recovery going forward!

Hey Jeff, have you tried the Pi Rack Pro with a Pi5? If not may you let me know if it fits, and can be used?