After starting my new job, I was given a number of servers, a switch, and one of our I/O virtualization appliances to be used for a variety of things like hands-on labs at VMUGs, or onsite customer proof of concepts, etc. Getting this kit was a small problem, as I didn’t have anywhere to put it in my house. I didn’t want to merely stack it up somewhere; I wanted something mobile, something that could be easily moved around in the house, or loaded up in a van for transport. At first I thought about building my own based on hardware I could get at Lowe’s, but I decided against it because I wanted the rack to look as professional as possible since it would be customer-facing. I asked around on Twitter, and was quickly pointed to Dantrak’s Skeletek line of 2 post and 4 post racks.
I really like the Skeletek’s modular approach, and the product does a great job meeting the needs of folks who need mobile racks for home or small lab purposes. They seem to focus a little bit more on the switch market, based on the used Cisco switches, SFP’s, and other various cables such as fiber optics & DTE/DCEs they sell. With that in mind, however, they do a great job meeting the small 4 post rack market with a variety of racks and accessories to choose from.
When shopping, I was a bit confused about the wheelbase requirements for a 4 post rack, so I decided to call their sales line. The Dantrak employee that answered was helpful, professional, and got me pointed in the right direction. If you want a 4 post rack, the simplest solution is to buy a whole one, instead of buying the 2 post model with the additional 2 post expansion. If you’re only buying 2 posts, make sure to get the 30″ wheelbase to convert it to 4 post in the future, as needed.
I decided to purchase a 4 post 16U/12U model, which would do a great job of housing my current equipment, plus the additions I have planned (FC switch & an older HP server for an Openfiler FC target). I placed the order online, and was notified that it had shipped later that day.
I received 2 boxes a couple days later. Both boxes were well packed in foam, and unpacking it was a snap. Although assembling the rack is fairly straightforward, there are a couple of places where getting the nut onto the bolt might be tough, especially in the corners where multiple bolts meet (see picture below). You’ll probably want to have a 13mm wrench or socket on hand, as you’ll want it to hold the nut while you tighten from the bolt side. Dantrak does provide two decent quality wrenches (not the terribly cheap and thin ones you might find when assembling kids toys, or whatever), but they don’t include a 13mm. I recommend, as Dantrak does, to not fully tighten everything until the rack is assembled. Keep everything finger-tight, as that will allow some room to shift around as needed. Assembly took about 3 hours total from unpacking to finished product.
I did hit a small roadblock while assembling the rack, as a number of nuts & bolts required for assembly were missing. I placed a call to Dantrak, and they shipped out the missing hardware in a timely manner, at no extra charge. I was a tad frustrated by it, as my goal was to have it all finished in one day, but they were professional about it, so no harm done. After assembling the rack, I decided to order a power distribution unit designed for the Skeletek, and a pack of 8 cable management rings.
I do have two minor complaints about the rack. One is that the finish tends to chip off easily, and is especially noticeable when you’re mounting hardware into it. Granted, it’s a small thing, but I’d like to see the finish be a bit sturdier if at all possible. Secondly, the rails provided with Supermicro servers don’t fit into the Skeletek at all. To be fair, that’s not necessarily Dantrak’s fault, but it was a disappointment as I had to mount the heavy duty brackets that were included with the rack and simply stack all of the servers on top of each other.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the Skeletek. The rack is extremely sturdy and seems like it can take quite a bit of gear (up to 1000 pounds, according to Dantrak) and abuse. If you’re in the market for a 2 or 4 post rack for home or lab purposes, you owe it to yourself to check out Skeletek.
NOTE: In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t asked for or received any compensation for this review. I paid the same for the equipment as anyone else would. 🙂