OK, I spent a good part of the day installing the Norco fan wall so here's some pics with a bit of narrative describing what's in them. Note that my point of reference for left vs. right is with respect to viewing the server case from the front. It's going to be a bit confusing since it's mostly going to be the reverse of what you're actually seeing in the photos so keep this in mind (I actually do know my left from my right
Here's the location of the small circuit board that connects the cable from the motherboard to the front panel controls and indicators. Sorry about the blurred image. This is where you plug in the breakout cable if you want to use a non-server motherboard. I removed the chassis intrusion switch at the top of the left side as it was in the way and held in place by two screws.
With the original fan wall removed there's a small post that was one of the mounting points for the original PSU interface board bracket. You'll see where this comes into play in a short while.
Here's a shot of the Norco fan wall indicating where the threaded mounting holes are located along the perimeter. There are ten holes, but I'm only going to use eight of them. As a word of caution, the backside of the fan wall that the fan is mounted on in the photo has very sharp edges around the openings. You could slice up your fingers severely if you're not careful when handling the fan wall. Don't insert your fingers in any of the openings unless you really enjoy pain and a lot of blood.
This was a test fit of the Norco fan wall with a single 120mm fan installed. If you look at the arrow you'll notice that the bottom edge of the fan extends just slightly below the knee wall where the original fan wall was mounted. I was hoping I could mount the fan wall in front of the knee wall and have the fans mount on the back side, giving me more clearance between the backplane and the fans. Unfortunately, this is not the case here. However, this will actually work out to my advantage.
Here's a shot of the Norco fan wall positioned so that the fans mount on the side facing the backplane and not the interior of the case. You'll notice the small post at the lower left that I mentioned earlier. With the Norco fan wall placed directly in front of the knee wall it fits exactly between the left side of the case and the pin, leaving a slight gap between the Norco wall and the right side. This also works out in our favor as you will see.
Here's a shot of the upper right corner of the fan wall. You'll notice that it fits neatly between the upper edges of the server case at the top without requiring any modifications.
Due to the gap on the right side, I was able to use a pair of motherboard standoffs to bridge the gap and provide a solid mounting point on the right side. They were exactly the right length to fill the gap and have the same 6-32 threads as the Norco fan wall.
Here's a shot of the Norco wall positioned in the case showing the two standoffs on the right side. The arrow on the left side shows the location of the fan wall mounting hole that wasn't used on either side. There was not enough room to fit my drill between the knee wall and drill the hole for the mounting screws so I left them out. There are four screws across the bottom and two along each side so the fan wall is held securely in place without needing them.
This shot shows the location of all mounting screws after they have been installed. All of the screws are 6-32 x 1/2" flathead Philips. I used the two screws from the intrusion switch mount to secure the two standoffs to the case.
One quick note about drilling the holes. I positioned the fan wall and used the thin end of a Sharpie marker to trace the holes on the interior of the case, except for the ones on the right side where there was the large gap. For that I used a mechanical pencil with the lead extended far enough to bridge the gap between the fan wall and leave a mark on the side panel. I located the holes using a center punch and then drilled the holes using a bit slightly larger than the diameter of the screw. Some of the holes were slightly off so I attached the fan wall with a couple of screws and then marked the holes that were slightly off. I then removed the fan wall and widened the holes using a small round file. I countersunk the holes from the outside using a much larger diameter bit, but being extremely careful not to remove too much material which could end up opening the hole such that it would be larger than the screw head. This also served to debur the holes as they all had sharp edges after being drilled.
When you drill, drill slowly so as not to throw metal shavings about. The metal shavings can be safely removed using a magnet placed inside a plastic sandwich bag. I used a telescoping pickup magnet that I got from Harbor Freight for $0.99, but any small magnet will do, even a refrigerator magnet. I placed the magnet inside the plastic bag and then moved it over the area I just drilled. The shavings stick to the plastic bag and are held there by the magnet. Just hold the magnet and the plastic bag over a trash can and slowly peel the plastic bag away from the magnet. The metal shavings will just drop off into the trash can and you won't have to deal with picking the shavings directly off the magnet.
Here's a shot of the fan wall with all fans installed and SATA cables reconnected to the backplane. The front panel cable and fan cables have also been connected. You'll note the absence of the CPU fan in this photo. The Zalman cooler I was using is quite tall, making the fan wall installation more trouble than it needed to be. I had to insert the fan wall near the back of the case at an angle to fit it in between the edges of the case and then work it towards the front of the case and then tilt it downward into position. When installing the SATA cables I had to thread them all through the fan wall openings and connect them to the backplane with the fan wall sitting further back towards the rear of the case so as to allow enough clearance to make all of the backplane connections. This was nearly impossible with the CPU cooler installed so I pulled it.
There are two sets of openings on the fan wall for feeding cables through to the backplane. With the Norco fan wall installed normally, the two holes along the outside edge were on the right side and the other two holes were between the left fan and the center fan. By reversing the fan wall so that it faced the rear, the two outer slots were now on the same side as the SATA controllers. The gap between the fan wall and the right side of the case also allowed me to thread the power supply cables through that side, although they had to be positioned there prior to installing the mounting hardware for the fan wall.
Here's a shot showing the clearance between the fans and the backplane. There's actually more room since the fans are about half the thickness of the original 80mm fans.
Here's a shot of the power supply showing the stick-on bumpers and the Velcro used to attach it to the case. The bumpers raise the PSU high enough to clear the pins for the original PSU enclosure and the tabs in the chassis.
Here's a shot of everything installed back in the case.
The system's been up and running for a couple of hours now and the drive temps are higher than I was hoping for, but the server is much quieter than before. The two rear fans are original 80mm units that have Zalman FanMate controllers connected. With the two rear fans turned as low as they can go using the controllers, they still drown out the 120mm fans. I'll take a closer look at the drive temps later as well as consider other options for the rear fans.
One final note: With the fans being mounted on the front of the fan wall instead of behind it as they normally would, the fan blades are exposed and and cables that come in contact with then could get nicked or cut. I've ordered a set of fan guards to install on the front of the fans, but if you're careful with your cable management and tie them out of the way it probably won't be an issue. Still, it's one thing to consider if you decide to go with the Norco fan wall. I was able to order a set of three fan guards from Newegg for less than $5 with free shipping so it's not going to add that much to the cost.Edited by captain_video - 4/12/13 at 6:46pm