Last Gasp For A Dell Poweredge 2600 series

The 2600 series server I’ve purchase only came with SCSI drives, 1 CDROM, and 1 Floppy drive. I don’t know about anyone else but 6 33GB SCSI drives don’t allow for a lot of room to breathe when media files are concerned.

So why not try add some SATA drives? Their cheap and faster, but there’s no room and not enough power cables. These problems can be fixed and I’ll show you how.

Step 1: Remove the SCSI drives, backplanes and cables to them.

Back of Backplane and HDD Fans

Front of Backplane and HDD Fans

Step 2: Remove the power cable from the motherboard to the Primary backplane.

Backplane Power Cable

Step 3: You’ll notice that the main power cable to the backplane has a few red, yellow, and black cables (plus an orange, but ignore that). By placing a mutlimeter onto the cables you’ll see the cables are the same color and voltage as molex cables. With this in mind you can cut them an solder a power rail from an old PSU in it’s place, now we have power. Depending on the cable you used you may need to get molex to SATA power splitters. I tested the cable on an old SCSI drive – All good.

Power Cable Pin Assignment

Extra Molex and SATA Power Splitters

New power cable installed with test HDD

Old SCSI HDD powers up with new power cable.

Step 4: The Poweredge 2600 that I purchased doesn’t come with any generic SATA cable headers or controllers, yes it does come with 1 IDE for the CDROM but the time it would take to cut and work out which ones go where, wouldn’t be worth the effort. So you need a PCI or PCI-X HDD controller. Don’t go cheap, software driven controllers wont allow the PC to boot from any disk attached to it, although you can use them once an OS from another storage media has booted.

Step 5: Once the card is installed go into the BIOS and see if it recognises it and arrange the boot devices to suit. I tested this with an old SCSI card because the only SATA controller I had was software driven and the IDE controller seemed to be cactus – results where good with the SCSI card.

New SCSI HDD in BIOS

Step 6: Install the SATA/IDE HDD’s in the old SCSI caddies, without the backplane in place you can now install any 3.5inch HDD you need, as long as it’s compatible with your controller card.

Step 7: Install your preferred OS and enjoy.

* Note: At the time of writing, I didn’t have a spare SATA or IDE controller that met the requirements, although 2 SCSI controllers worked as expected. I’ll update this when I obtain one.

Also when doing research I found that the BIOS version +A09 should allow you to boot VIA USB, so you can then use a USB DVD drive for your installation disks if required.

UPDATE 15-3-11

I’ve been generously given a FastTrak TX2300 for the Dell and can confirm it will boot:

FastTrak TX2300 Installed with SATA Drive Attached.

FastTrak TX2300 Controller Displaying As A Boot Option.

All working! Just have to install the development server…

Cheers.

6 thoughts on “Last Gasp For A Dell Poweredge 2600 series

  1. Good stuff mate! Now maybe you can set up that pci com card too and have it control your lighting! Also, if you are interested in other options for remote speakers, check out airfoil

  2. Thanks for the info! I am about to try and hook FastTrak TX2300 as a RAID-1 controller for booting the server. Thank you for confirming i’ll boot…
    BTW, I think you don’t need the power cable mod. You should plug a “Dell 6M427 Poweredge 2600 BackPlane Power Cable” to molex socket seen in upper left corner of picture # 4 (Power Cable Pin Assignment). Since I don’t have it, I am going to try a standard molex splitter instead.

    • Bugger me, I didn’t even see that!! Cheers, would have made a lot more sense to use it! Just a heads up with the TX2300, I set one up as RAID1 for a Linux install and it was good during the ghosting of the image, but failed to work during the general use, leaving me with 2 separate disks, 1 with the current setup, and 1 with the original – possibly due to driver incompatibility or just plain not supported by the OS. Thanx again.

  3. Hi, i have a question about the power cable, does that mean that there are basicly 3x times power for a power rail? Counting bottom left 3x times red as example? This in mind because don’t like to have the connector laying around doing nothing 🙂 Other Question, does i make a difference which black i connect to which black on the power rail (both of them mention they are ground – see this example: https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQqK_G3NTt2C1t89dRR1jAUWxW9m41INETMkdCm438iWZ261HC0uA) Is that correct? Thanks for the great work already, busy adding an SATA card in the PowerEdge and removing the SCSI backplane.

    Cheers, Ewald

    • HI Ewald, I don’t have that server anymore but from the pictures I’ve taken above, it looks to have 3 red, yellow and black. So yeah I guess you could, but as I cant check it I’m only guessing. the blacks all go to ground, so it doesn’t matter that much which ones you have matched with the red (5v) and yellow (12v) cables.

      Cheers.

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