Silencing a DES-1228P Switch

Well, not quite silencing, but they can be made a lot quieter.

First a brief introduction. The D-Link DES-1228P network switch is D-Link’s attempt to get into the corporate world. I’ve never much liked D-Link equipment purely because of reliability issues, Netgear being my consumer choice. I gave this one a chance for a client setting up a new office.

What makes this switch stand out is that it provides 24 ports of Power Over Ethernet (POE) along with Quality of Service (QoS) and various other features to help manage the network. These are all features very handy for a large building equiped with new PCs, wireless access points and VOIP phones throughout.

The price tag was £200, complete with five year warranty, which is pretty reasonable considering the competition. The price is more like £300 now, and I suspect it has gone up to pay for, err, reliability issues. I guess some things never change (more on that later).

The switch was installed in a 6-unit wall-mounted network cabinet in the front lobby. The noise from it, even through the cabinet, was just too much. Even though the main office was two doors away from the network cabinet, the high-pitched screach from the four full-speed fans was unreasonably loud. The metal cabinet did not seem to make any difference. The load on the switch made no difference either – the fans ran at full speed whether supplying 100W of power to the VOIP phones, or had nothing plugged into it at all.

So, what to do about it? The first thought was to disconnect some of the fans. I decided against this for warranty reasons.

Next I considered sound proofing the cabinet, and that proved to be the right solution.

After lots of research into sound proof tiles and foams, I ordered a couple of metres of this stuff:

DX40F Foam from Studio Spares

The total cost was a tenner, including postage.

The length shipped to me (arriving the next day in a foot-cubed box) was enough to line the two sides and the base of the cabinet. Being foam, air could still flow through it, but the cabinet had wide slots in the base and top anyway that were not covered by the foam. The idea was just to try and catch the high-frequencies from bouncing around inside the cabinet.

It worked like a dream. The cabinet now emits no more than a gentle hiss, while previously it sounded like a Harrier trying to take off up the staircase.

So, if you have a noisy network cabinet in the office, I would recommend giving this foam a try. Obviously avoid covering any of the air holes, but lining the flat surfaces ought to be enough to make a difference.

Now, on that reliability issue. The switch failed completely after six months of service (this is before the foam). All the front-panel lamps lit red and the unit did not respond to the network.

It was returned under warranty for a straight swap, which arrived after three weeks of waiting. I didn’t need to send the old one back until I got the new one. There was no fuss replacing it, but navigating the D-Link returns website was a nightmare – dead-end links and endless loops all over the place, much the same as their telephone system. I understand they are going through a phase of turning the support over to a new company, so all is in a bit of disarray.

The new unit, when it arrived, was a bit battered and scratched. If I had the time, I would have changed the case over for the pristine case I was about to send off, but I did not get around to it.

The old unit sported a V2 hardware label. The new unit stated it was v1. However, since the insisdes had been changed over for something new, it could have been V3 inside for all I knew. Hopefully it will last longer.

I was told, when returning the item, that this was a known fault affecting many (or all) of these switches manufactured around August 2008. They also say it can be affected by the unit overheating, but – trust me – with four fans going and very little load for those fist six months, this thing could chill your beer, it was so cool.

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