Squeeze Another Drive into a Full-Up NAS

A network-attached storage (NAS) device is a frequent peripheral in home and office networks alike, yet so often these devices come pre-installed with a proprietary OS which does not lend itself to customization. [Codedbearder] had just such a NAS, a Terramaster F2-221, which while it could be persuaded to run a different OS, couldn’t do so without an external USB hard drive. Their solution was elegant, to create a new backplane PCB which took the same space as the original but managed to shoehorn in a small PCI-E solid-state drive.

The backplane rests in a motherboard connector which resembles a PCI-E one but which carries a pair of SATA interfaces. Some investigation reveals it also had a pair of PCI-E lanes though, so after some detective work to identify the pinout there was the chance of using those. A new PCB was designed, cleverly fitting an M.2 SSD exactly in the space between two pieces of chassis, allowing the boot drive to be incorporated without annoying USB drives. The final version of the board looks for all the world as though it was meant to be there from the start, a truly well-done piece of work.

Of course, if off-the-shelf is too easy for you, you can always build your own NAS.

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