SATA Optical to 2.5″ Drive Adapter

I dusted off an old Dell Optiplex 960 for use as my TrueNAS replication backup target. The compact chassis had a place for my backup storage 8TB 3.5″ HDD extracted from a failed USB enclosure, which is good. But I also need a separate drive for Ubuntu operating system, and that’s where I ran into problems. There was an empty 3.5″ bay and a SATA data socket available on the motherboard, but the metal mounting bracket was missing, and power supply had no more SATA power plugs.

As an alternative plan, I thought I would repurpose the optical drive’s location. Not just its SATA data and power plugs, but I could also repurpose physical mounting bracket with an optical drive shaped caddy for a 2.5″ SATA drive. (*) It wasn’t a perfect fit but that was my own fault for ordering the wrong size.

Examining the caddy after I opened its package, I saw this oddly bent piece of sheet metal. Comparing against the DVD drive, I don’t think it’s supposed to bend like that. I can’t tell if it was damaged at the factory or during shipping, either way metal was thin and easy to bend back into place.

Also comparing against the DVD drive, I realized I bought the wrong size. It didn’t occur to me to check to see if there were multiple different sizes for laptop DVD drives. I bought a 9.5mm thick caddy (*) when I should have bought something thicker possibly this 12.7mm thick unit.(*) Oh well, I have this one in hand now and I’m going to try to make it work.

To install this caddy in an Optiplex 960 chassis, I need to reuse the sheet metal tray currently attached to the DVD drive.

One side fit without problems, but the other side didn’t fit due to mismatched height. This is my own fault.

There’s a mismatch in width as well, I’m not sure this was my fault. I understand the different form factors to be the same width so this part should have lined up. Oh well, at least it is easier to deal with a ~1mm too narrow adapter because one ~1mm too wide wouldn’t fit at all.

There were slots to take the DVD drive’s faceplate. This is for aesthetics so we don’t leave a gaping hole, the eject button wouldn’t work as it is no longer a DVD drive. Unfortunately, faceplate mounting slots didn’t match up, either. This might also be a function of the wrong height, but I’m skeptical. I ended up using the generic faceplate that came with the caddy.

Forcing everything to fit results in a caddy mounted crookedly.

Which resulted in a crooked facade.

Aesthetically speaking this is unfortunate, I should have bought a taller caddy (*) but functionally this unit works fine. The SSD is securely mounted in the caddy, which is now securely mounted to the chassis. And even more importantly, SATA power and data communication worked just fine, allowing me to install Ubuntu Server 22.04 LTS on an old small SSD inside the caddy. And about that old SSD… freeing it up for use turned out to be its own adventure.

(*) Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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