Home>Computers>“Military Rack”: Deployable servers and full network with wireless in a flight case.

“Military Rack”: Deployable servers and full network with wireless in a flight case.

One thing is for sure, we love our data. In modern society people use / need their data for various reasons. I have always been an advocate for personally keeping all my data and working from local copies versus storing stuff online. I have no problem with interacting online and sharing that information here, but if for some reason I were to no longer have an internet connection for any period of time how the hell would I get anything done? This is why for years I have kept a hard drive array with all of my data, with a certain fault tolerance and back up that has actually saved my ass a few times. I have found a bullet proof server, but what about ruggedizing that? not just readability and fault tolerance, but actually portable. How about bomb proof?

[coming soon video update on how it has held up]

What about connecting my computer to others out in the field, I couldn’t just depend on others to necessarily have a network switch, cables, etc. We cannot always depend on wireless these days, though it’s included in this package. Lets take this zombie apocalypse, doomsday case world ending scenario and then rebuild from the ashes. What’s the quickest way to get computers connected back together and share information? Deployable network, canned network, network in a box. Turns out, I am really good at putting this together and with a little money thrown down on some solar panels and modern day hardware I can make this baby totally off grid including integrated batteries for nigh-time operation. I am taking this idea further with being able to provide area wide wireless deployable via quad rotor heli. (more about this at the end of the article.)

Everything you see here is used hardware / old generation stuff. It allowed me to create an example of what this could be like without breaking the bank on a students budget. Using modern day mini-itx would allow me to pack in batteries and package solar panels. Everything could even be web accessible and controllable. You could immediately provide gigabit twisted pair to 40 or more people, and a wireless network. There is a fiber optic backbone to further expand the network. [and deployable wireless modules] There are several servers which can use pre-configured images for any variety of situations. in the modern day BSD of course would be the most secure way to go. I could even get you data storage in extreme cold temperatures outside what hard drives would ever run in. Anyways, here we go, this is what we got exactly. Lets start with the old video, this was when I first brought the rack home and a new in box server that I decided to put into it:

The hardware currently in use in the rack is as follows:

  • Sun Microsystems SunFire V240 Server – 2x 1.3GHz Ultrasparc III, 3GB Ram
  • Sun Microsystems SunFire V240 Server – 2x 1.5GHz Ultrasparc III, 8GB Ram
  • 14 drive Fibre Channel Hard drive array. (currently has 10x 500GB Drives, and 4x 146GB Drives)
  • Cisco Catalyst 2950 48 port Switch. 10/100 Twisted pair, gigabit fiber backbone.
  • Linksys WRT-54G, running DD-WRT Firmware for additional configuration flexibility

This setup creates an instantly deployable LAN party space with a file sharing space, and a web server that hosts websites in any configuration desired. 40 clients can plug in via Ethernet, and more clients can connect to wireless.

The idea of this is being a base station, a deployable network for base camp. What about extending the reach of the network out wirelessly, even out several miles?

Solar network range extender concept.

I have come up with an idea, basically pack a WRT-54G Router a solar cell, and a Li-Po battery back into a singular waterproof case. This is a completely self contained repeater extending the range of the deployed network indefinitely.. They are deployed either by hand or via quadrotor helicopter. These routers can be placed on top of structures such as buildings and bridges. They can be made completely silent without lights to be deployed covertly. I would like to one day do a kickstarter to create these, after I have spent the money and built a couple of them for fun, or maybe we could do a research project? This could ultimately be a way to deploy a community wide intranet quickly and easily, and potentially create a secondary internet in an emergency. The best thing about this is how it can be done with current off the shelf components. With a little design effort, and if I was able to coordinate a team of hardware and software engineers I could come up with a pocket sized solution.. About the size of a wallet, maybe 3.5″ hard drive at most. outsourced to china and the manufacturing costs might bring the price down to something like $20 – $40.

The layout below demonstrates a possible use case for a network such as this for remote monitoring / infiltration of a target. The rack or home base could be setup in a motel room, or even built into a surveillance van. The wireless network repeaters are deployed on the buildings adjacent to a target structure. This would allow the operatives to monitor or infiltrate a target without having to necessarily be close to the target. They could be miles up the street. The deployable network maintains a stable high speed link for data collection / transfer. Another wireless repeater, with firmware allowing it to capture and inject network packets is deployed on the roof of the target’s building.

deployable network survelliance
Illustration of network deployment for a surveillance type of situation.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you are interested in seeing more development of these deployable networks please drop me a line in the comment box below. If there are further updates to this, I’ll be sure and link them in at the top.

If you are interested in a custom tailored rugged network system to suit your needs please send me an email here.

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