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Adding rackmount rails to Electronics workbench

Now that the main construction of my Electronics Workbench has finished, I’m now starting to add on the supplmental parts of the build so that I can finish it off how I want it.

The next step I was going to work on was adding the rackmount rails to my electronics workbench rack area which I made to comply with a 19″ rackmount setup ( My measurements were off slightly as I didn’t count for ears on parts for holding them up, so I’ll need to do some modifications, but the main shape has taken place.


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Items used for this post

Creating the rack mount area

Whilst quite an easy part to do, I still had to do a small amount of work on my rack mount portion of my desk

What is going to be the purpose of this?

Part of the workbench I wanted to have a dedicated spot for my projects, where I could get Power, Networking, USB and POE functionality. Later on these sections will be added to the desk to expand on the features.

As part of Electronics projects that I’m working on, or when I’m fixing computers. Wther it be charging a battery, there was always something I’m looking for. Whether that is an exctra power socket, POE connection, a network socket to download the latest updates. Or USB for transferring files. I was getting irirtated constantly looking for something at a last minute. This part of the desk is in an idea location, so that I can get all of my network and other connections in one place. Need to test a POE device, plug it in. Need to download computer updates, plug it in. All of the devices are going to be connected to my main PC, it’s just something to boost the functionality of my setup.

What items have I got, or looking to install?

Already have

  • Cisco Catalyst 24-port 10/100 Mbps Network switch for simple networking and computer updates

Wanting to buy

  • POE Switch (for testing out POE devices, ideally one that supports high power) 4 ports or more
  • USB Hub (quite a few ports, whether that is for my RTL-SDR setups, not sure yet)
  • Power PDU (1u power mount of power sockets, simply for on the fly power or battery charging)
  • Power Switches (last minute thought, maybe something to independantly power devices by switches on and off)
  • 1U Tray / Cooling (more for storage and coolin, as there’s not much room at the back of the desk after components fitted)

Building the rack mount setup

First thing first. I know my rack can hold equipment built for a 19″ wide rack, but wasn’t sure on the actual height. The approximate space of the rackmount section is equivalent to around 6U in height, so I have enough to fit at least 4 or 5 1U pieces of equipment to maximise on storage. Working on rack mount principal, 1U of space is 1.75″, so accordingo the measurements I have space for 6.28U of space (or 6U).

Rack area height
Height of the rack area to work with, around 6U of space

Now the rails that I purchased for my kit are 8U in length, so I need to modify them (I already knew this when purchasing).

Rackmount rail kit
Rack rails, 8U in size

After working out how much space I had to work with, I marked up the rails, and then modified them to length with a hacksaw

Amending the length of rack mount rails
Marking up rack rails for modification
Cutting up sections of rack rail so they fit on my desk
Modifying the length of the rails

After the rails had been cut to length, I got out my box of cage nuts and screws purchased from Amazon (LMS Data), and then set about installing them with the appropriate nuts. They’re simply push fit so easy to install

Cage nut mounting kit
Amazon LMS Data cage nuts and screws
Box of rack mount nuts and screws
Box of rack mount nuts and screws

After I installed all of the cage nuts, they were ready for test fitting to my workbench

Rack mount rails with cage nuts installed
Cage nuts inserted into rails

Get out the old trusty box of screws that I have lying around. I keep almost everything like this that I harvest from Electronics and parts that I dismantle. You never knew when you will need that odd screw and it helps to reduce wastage of parts that you get rid of when you can reuse them for something else. It does involve a bit of digging around, but I wasn’t in a rush for anything when I was building my rack mount area, so I had the time to do this.

Spare screws and fixings drawer
Random drawer of screws and fixings

The rail kit conveniently comes with screw holes too for mounting. Find some appropriate shallow depth ones to screw into the wood and mount them to the desk

Rack mount rails mounted to the wood
Rails screw into wood
Rack rails mounted to MDF wood
Rail mounted to rack mount section

I then test fit my Cisco switch into the network area of the desk to see how it would look, and my setup was complete for the network side.

Cisco switch fitting to rack rails
Test fitting my Cisco switch to the rack rails

Rail fitted to desk with Cisco switch

Rack rails fitting with Cisco switch

What’s left to do on the workbench?

The electronics workbench is probably never going to be truly finished, because there will be always more and more things that I can think of doing to it which I want to work on. Firstly I’ll be completing the rack mount section. I need to get my dremel out and grind down the metal a bit, then get out my Chisels so that I can plane down the wood a bit. Equipment fits fine without ears for mounting. It’s just the ears add too much width. The purpose of this desk wasn’t intentionallyh designed for rackmount, it was merely an afterthought I had with it, and wanted to integrate this into the desk when building it in my Electronics workbench project

Next on the order list will be my power section. I need to order a couple of extension leads from Amazon, an 8+4 extension lead, this will be the main power section of the work bench. The seperate 4 way will power the rack mount area. I don’t need lo0ts of power, but it will allow me to control it seperately if needed. The 8 piece extension will power my main electronics workbench and future devcices. The seperate 6 way will power my conputer desk part. I’m putting everything on seperate circuits to minimise fire risk (Maybe I should add a fire extinguisher to this list too, you never know). After this I’ll work on the bookshelkves for even more storage.