Part 2 of the build – The enclosure. As mentioned in the design and planning post, the LackRack looks like a good option being cheap and easy to build/assemble.

Normally a LackRack is built using the Lack Table (55cm x 55cm). This is perfect for 1/2 length (~35cm) equipment. However, I will be using full-length servers in the lab so the Lack Coffee Table (55cm x 90cm) gave me the extra length required to completely enclose the equipment.

Reference: LackRack

Part and equipment list

  • 2 x Lack Coffee tables – white (Ikea – £14 each)
  • 2 x 44mm by 44mm by 2400mm timber (B&Q –  £5 each)
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood saw
  • Tape measure
  • Marker pen


Construction steps

At a high level the steps where:

  1. Assemble 1 x Lack Coffee table without the shelf (bottom)
  2. Assemble 1 x Lack Coffee table without the shelf (top)
  3. Use the chisel and hammer to remove the stoppers from the bottom of each leg.
  4. When this doesn’t work.. apply saw to the offending leg.
  5. Cut 4 x 80cm posts.
  6. Insert one post into each of the legs of the bottom table.
  7. Hammer down each post to make sure it is fully inserted.
  8. Fit top table into the top of the posts.
  9. Pull down on the top table to make ensure each post is completely inserted into each leg.
  10. Add the shelf to the top table.

And as a special “treat” I recorded the process: Video (sorry about the overexposure).

Final result

Overal, I am happy with the final result. Assembly was straightforward and resulted in a cheap enclosure for the lab equipment.

Lessons learnt

Below is a list of things I learnt from the project or would do differently if I repeated the project:

  • Wear gloves!
  • The thickness of the plywood stopper in each leg varied a lot. Of the 8 legs I “opened”, 6 had a 1cm stoppers and were easily removed with the chisel and hammer. 2 had a 4cm stoppers. For the 4cm stoppers, I had to cut off the bottom of the legs to remove them.
  • Each leg had a 2nd big stopper about 1/2 way up the leg. I didn’t remove these so the support posts wouldn’t fit totally inside the legs and where visible in the final product.  Not a huge deal for me and luckily meant the top of the rack was at the ideal height for a monitor and keyboard. The rack ended up standing 135cm tall.
  • Add the shelf to the top tables. I hadn’t initially planned to do this but it ended up being really useful for storing cables and boxes.
  • If you cut the posts to 35cm (rather than 80cm) the posts should be fully enclosed in the legs and look a bit nicer.

So there you have it, one LackRack assembled and installed.

Next: Racking the kit and cabling.


Home Lab – Part 1: Goals and design

As with any project, it’s always a good idea to set out the purpose and objectives.


To provide an environment I can use to explore Skype for Business and the supporting technologies(SBCs, IP Phones, SQL, Exchange,  etc). Also as an environment I can use to test specific scenarios and replicate customer environments and issues.


  • Build a two host VMware environment with vCentre for management.
  • Build a multi-VLAN network based on Cisco switches and routers.
  • Build a LackRack
  • Build Windows environment (ADDS, DNS, DHCP, PKI, SQL, Exchange etc.).
  • Install and configure SfB.
  • Install and configure PfSense Firewall, Kemp HLB, AudioCodes SBC and AudioCodes MP114 (analogue gateway).


Rack, power and cabling

After some searching I came across LackRack. Looks like an interesting (and cheap) solution. I’ll be using the Lack Coffee table for the extra length.


My “secure data centre location” aka the garage already has power, so that’s nice and easy.

Cabling – I need to get a physical network cable run between the study (1st floor) and garage (directly below). Erm.. drill a hole in the ceiling? I’ll consult with a sparky about this to avoid property damage…


Pretty basic network, using a pair Cisco C3750 and a 1841 Router. Currently planning to include 4 virtual networks:

  • Server VLAN – Virtual servers and appliances.
  • Client VLAN – Physical clients and IP phones.
  • Internal DMZ VLAN- SfB Edge int interfaces and reverse proxy.
  • External DMZ VLAN – SfB Edge ext interfaces, “outside” clients and reverse proxy.

I also plan to add a firewall (probably a PfSense) once the VMware environment is up and running.Lab-Diagrams-Network-v1

This should allow me to test most scenarios and also gives me an excuse to finally learn Cisco networking.


The VMware layer will be based on two Dell R710 (2x X5650 2.66GHz 96GB) from eBay. They should be ESXi ready. So hopefully the install will be straight forward. Once the hosts are built, I plan to install vCenter as the first virtual machine.

The VM data store will be hosted on my existing Synlogy DS1515+. Planning to try out iSCSI as the access protocol.

All the other bits

Once I have the network and VMware environments installed and working, I’ll do a seperate post detailing the design of ADDS, DNS, DHCP, Exchange, SfB and all the other things I want to test.

So there we go, part 1 of my plan for my home lab!