Conceptronic CH3SNAS

Conceptronic CH3SNAS Black Edition

Conceptronic CH3SNAS

The CH3SNAS is a Network-Attached Storage device manufactured and marketed under the Conceptronic brand. This brand is owned by the 2L Alliance based in The Netherlands.

The CH3SNAS is essentially a small file server which you connect to a local TCP/IP network via an ethernet cable. In a home network, the CH3SNAS will typically be connected via a UTP cable to a router. The CH3SNAS can contain up to two 3.5 inch SATA drives (which can be sold bundled with the actual CH3SNAS). The drives can have any capacity (typically 0.2-1 TBytes/drive). If two drives are used (for extra capacity or to enable RAID 0 and 1 modes), they do not need to have equal storage capacity or be of the same brand.

The CH3SNAS is internally a small, networked Linux computer with one or more shared (logical or physical) network drives. The CH3SNAS is primarily intended to store files that can be accessed by a computer on the local network.

One specific application highlighted by the vendor is to stream audio or video from the CH3SNAS to other networked devices such as laptops or a Playstation 3. Alternatively it can centrally store media, which can then be copied to smaller portable devices (Conceptronics markets their storage product line with the slogan Grab’n’Go).

Files can optionally be accessed across the internet (via an FTP server, which is disabled by default for security reasons). As a bonus, the CH3SNAS can also act as a print server, thus converting a printer with a USB port into a printer than can be shared across the local-area network.

CH3SNAS Usage

The CH3SNAS caters to a wide range of users:

  • average home PCs users with a wired or wireless network
  • users interested in computing technology (and thus interested in trying out more advanced featues)
  • tweakers who are willing to spend significant amounts of time to tune/adapt the (and may thus actually extend the system – which is internally Linux-based).

More information on target users, target usage, and interoperability with various operating systems can be found in the article on Usage-Scenarios.

Hard disk configurations

The CH3SNAS can be operated with a single or dual 3.5 inch hard disk of any capacity or brand. When the system is initialized, the user has the option of creating partitions (volumes) which can be on a single disk or span both disks. A list and discussion of the possible storage configurations can be found in Configuration Options.

Hardware

Marvell 88F5182 in the Conceptronic CH3SNAS

Marvell 88F5182

Externally, the CH3SNAS has a Gigabit Ethernet connector, a USB port for connecting a printer, a connector for the supplied power supply, a single on/off button, four status LEDs and a somewhat hidden reset button.

The internals obviously consist of the hard disks themselves (which may come with the CH3SNAS, but can also be purchased seperately) and a circuit board that houses the processor and memory chips which form the small computer which contols the hardware and provides the numerous software features. Unlike destop PCs or laptops, the computer is not hardware upgradeable. The central chip is a complex System-on-Chip manufactured by Marvell (Marvell Feroceon 88F5182). More hardware details and photos of all key components can be found in Hardware.

Software

Webbased Configuration

Webbased Configuration

The software running on the embedded processor core is mainly needed to support the following features:

  • SMB/CIFS (file server for a LAN)
  • FTP (file server for usage across the Internet)
  • Print server (connect a USB printer to the network)
  • uPnP (multimedia server)
  • iTunes server (Apple’s multimedia server)

More software details on these protocols and a more extensive list of modules can be found in [[CH3SNAS:Software]] [[XXX]]. The software also includes a configuration interface which be access via a web browser (similar to the way routers are typically configured).

This Linux-based software is stored in an on-board non-volatile Flash memory which allows the CH3SNAS to boot even when the hard disks are not yet operational. The softwarecan be updated to newer firmware versions via the web-based configuration interface. In addition, the CH3SNAS (as well as various similar devices) have options to allow the more technically inclined to add scripts or even additional servers without having to recompile code or even without having to modify the content of the Flash (via the so-called fun_plug technique).

References

More detailed versions of the above abridged sections can be found on separate pages in this blog:

CH3SNAS:References provides links to important external sites about the CH3SNAS.

About PeterH

Peter van den Hamer is an engineer working in the electronics industry in the Netherlands. He bought his CH3SNAS in July 2008 to store his digital photos (initially 75 GBytes), but got distracted by the storage device technology itself. Peter asked around for a site where he could find known bugs and other issues with the CH3SNAS. This lead to a discussion with Uli in that same AboutMyRoom forum thread where Uli proposed to register a domain and set up this project.