Various problems with RPi Quad SATA Hat

After waiting impatiently for the arrival of the hardware, I was very disappointed as I tried to build it up and use it. Here are some of my observations. There is a complete lack of usable documentation about building up the device, and many ways to go wrong. Starting with the base-plate and the tiny brass stand-offs. The holes into which the standoffs install were both poorly tapped and contaminated with paint making it awkward to start the threads with any feeling of correctness. On all four I needed to use tools to get them started. Moving on to the heat sink fan assy for the RPi CPU, it should have nestled onto the CPU chip but did not and I was unable to assure correct thermal contact. When none of the screws were appropriate to secure the RPi to the standoffs I eventually considered the long standoffs, again no doc. I secured the SATA board, probably with the wrong screws. The kit contained lots of small screws with no guidance about what to use when. I inserted the drives and got the side plates installed, but when I went to secure the top board, two of the tapped holes were corrupt and I couldn’t get the screws in. After installing the OS, and running the script, the fan started bu none of the drives are visible to the OS. All in all a FAIL. There is no guidance how to proceed and I am frustrated.

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Hello, what do lsusb and lsblk print

I am sorry for the lack of documentation and we are working on improving it.

Join the club. There are issues. I’m still trying to get the ‘conf’ file to be read properly. I’ve changed a couple of parameters to flip the display, and to display degrees in Fahrenheit , saved it, rebooted and still nothing.

Some default values are used if the file format is incorrect and the read fails.

After a number of reboots, it suddenly showed four drives and I immediately issued the mdadm create command for 4 drives in level 6. The array seems to be building although it will be several more days before it completes. Only time will tell if all four of the RAID drives will be present for assembly of the array on the next reboot. I will hope for the best. I look forward to getting the cover on.

pi@doug-nas:/proc $ cat mdstat
Personalities : [raid6] [raid5] [raid4]
md0 : active raid6 sdd[3] sdc[2] sdb[1] sda[0]
1953260544 blocks super 1.2 level 6, 512k chunk, algorithm 2 [4/4] [UUUU]
[============>…] resync = 60.1% (587385088/976630272) finish=852.0min speed=7613K/sec
bitmap: 6/8 pages [24KB], 65536KB chunk

unused devices:
pi@doug-nas:/proc $

Well after some trepidation, all seems well. The RAID 6 build took three days but completed successfully and I got the cover on. It is true that the mini-HDMI connector can’t make it through the case but remote access is workable for those used to headless linux management. The display is cute and does reassure that things are running. Except for the Miini-HDMI adapter problem, the device appears to be fully functional at a linux mdadm level. It is really cute, and does seem to be running cool with the four WD 1TB drives installed.

Hey, I think it’s cool, too.

Did yours not come with a small booklet that had a link to a youtube video for assemble? I got my kit over a week ago and the video was great, easy to see what screws where being used where and highlight notes overlayed.
Easy to follow and had mine built in about 15 min.

Yes I did get the small booklet. I am not a fan of tiny booklets with very small font and very small pictures. A business-card sized car with a clearly printed URL for a larger format PDF file would have been preferable. While the picture quality was fair, the images were so small I couldn’t see any of the details. During the time I was trying to build the unit, the supplied URL for the installation instructions wasn’t working, and the youtube video of the review had the assembly section running a superspeed making it useless as a guide. I sent email to support about the URL and instead of sending me a reply with a known working link in it, they just replied that the link worked for them, I think it would have been better to have produced a full-size assembly manual for download and not used the short-hand URL which was difficult to read.

Yes, the documentation could be a lot better. However, I managed to built my cute little NAS with few of the issues cited in these postings. My assembly documentation consisted of the video showing the assembly process and a couple of review videos. By watching these several times and making notes, I figured out which screws went where and in what order to put it together. Except for one screw eaten by my living room carpet, which I was able to replace later. Once running, the RAID building and network sharing went well by consulting the internet for the generic use of RAID building software. It should not have taken days for the RAID to sync. Granted, I used fast Seagate hybrid drives.

My biggest issue, which I have corrected, was heat. Under heavy load, this thing got so hot the OLED display on top got scrambled and froze. The NAS continued to work fine, though the case was way too hot for my taste. The fix was to replace the noisy weak fan with a Noctua NF-A4x10 5V, Premium Quiet Fan, 3-Pin, 5V Version (40x10mm, Brown). This did take some wiring and fastener surgery. I also reversed the air flow of the new fan to exhaust the heat out the top which made the case way cooler and the CPU somewhat cooler. I also replaced the supplied thermal pad for the CPU with a fatter one. I also used four Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSHD 2TB SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5" Notebooks / Laptops Internal Hard Drive ST2000LX001 that easily clock 200 MB/sec continuous as RAID 6 using a generic Linux disk benchmark.

My last mod may be to cut a 2" square hole in the back of the case above the USB ports and add a 2" square fan filter I have. The case needs more air flow.

If you are feeling ambitious, you can replace the Pi with an 8GB one, the file sharing software will run faster.

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Would you be willing to take pictures and give some basic guidance on how you replaced the fan?

I too am worried about thermals. Your fix to swap out the supplied fan with a Noctua is probably the best way to solve it.

Thanks!

Here is a link to the photos I took for the first go-around with the fan in the original direction. I have since improved the thermal slightly by reversing the fan so it exhausts the hot air out the top. Yes, I show replacing the 3-pin connector that comes on the fan with the original from the NAS because the one on the fan is too big. Those crazy looking rubber fan mounts come with the fan.

The new fan exhausting the hot air out only improves the thermal under load. At idle the case is essentially room temperature or slightly above., and the CPU read in the mid-40’s C. The big improvement is when I push it with a big transfer from a Windows machine or a locally running benchmark. The CPU temp will go up about 20 C and the case will be warm, not hot. Doing these benchmarks I’ve seen 200 MB/sec internal, and between 10 MB/sec and 85 MB/sec transferring files with a Windows machine on a giga-bit network.

Most importantly is that the fan noise is now wife approved, where before I got a lot of dirty looks.

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Wow, awesome photos! Thank you so much!

I’m going to make this mod to my kit. I’ll have to do some benchmarks to see if I get a similar drop in temperature.

For heat I just turned on Power management on the hard drives (disabled as default) CPU temps dropped to about 45 (about expected for idle Pi 4) and 4 X 2TB WD Blue drives run about 35c in raid 5, fan runs at 25%… In theory with out the SSD element the WD should run hotter as its the spinning platter that cause the high thermals, and the rum SMR so more disk writes for given operations.

The main issue with heat is the drives not spinning down at idle, before enabling APM it was hitting 70c+ under-load now its < 60. A better CPU cooler might be down the road but the Pi is designed to run quite hot so not to concerned about that, really just need to keep HDD below 50.

To be honest this is software raid over USB so performance is never going to be outstanding, for a simple media server / home NAS cooling is fine with a few software tweaks and no noticeable change in performance. (My read write speeds are identical with APM disabled or enabled)

With the Pi 4 as the controller you limited to 112MBs connectivity to the pi (limit of 1GBs network), so if your hard drives are getting hot in general use its an issue with HDD power management as the Pi wont be able to get close to running 4 high performance drives to there max except in benchmarks and the limitations of the Pi will mean they will be well below the theoretical limits of the drives. Even the WD blue are over kill for the rest of the hardware but i had a bunch spare, the one i have in an external enclose hits about 110MBS on my laptop though USB3 and about 95MBS on the Pi 4 (this is with out HAT just direct USB3) . So really the Pi 4 is good for simple home NAS with light usage, no amount of cooling is going to turn it in to a high end solution. IF you want proper performance then a you need raid hardware or system built for storage.

As a retired engineer, these are fun projects to exercise my mind. The performance is on par with a Buffalo NAS I keep under my desk for backup. I’m a satisfied customer now that I have the temperature under control.

CrunchyDoodle, does that model of Noctua fan adjust speed with the hat? In my case I’m not heavily using the NAS so at idle the fan is at the lowest speed. Helps the noise but my fan has an annoying buzz I hope to get rid of.

As best I can tell, the Noctua fan does vary in speed in this application. I can hear it rev up a bit when a load kicks in.

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