Home Network Compete

To suggest that a passion project is ever complete would be lying to myself and to you the dear reader. Truthfully it’s financial constraint that has halted progress on my home network, even with eBay bargains we’ve just entered a rough period which will last many years, but I’m very happy with where it’s at and feel no need to upgrade for the foreseeable future (unless we get better NBN, but even then it’ll only be the Router).

If you haven’t followed my journey to get here (it’s been a bit all over the place so I don’t blame you) it started with utter contempt at a “Gaming Router”, a Netgear XR500. Abandoned by even the creators and never coming through with promised features, it was the implementation of something that should have been trivial – VLAN tagging on the WAN interface that drove me over the edge. I had to employ a double-NAT which was completely non-ideal. I slowly planned the project at the beginning of 2020 and sort of went along, adding and removing countless pieces to get to this, the final configuration:

There’s a bit going on here…

There’s an NBN NCD (not pictured) providing 100mbit internet going into a HP T610 plus running pfSense. I downgraded the pfSense box (I didn’t want to virtualise it) from a Lenovo M73 SFF with a 35w i5 upgrade to achieve maximum energy efficiency. The card within is an older Intel dual NIC model while I wait for a fullsize bracket to arrive so I can transfer the Intel I350 card I was using. Throughout the network exists an additional VLAN for IoT (mainly IP cameras) which is managed by pfSense through the LAN interface.

After that we get to the HP 2910al-48g switch. A pretty standard looking affair from the front, bar the FAULT and FAN lights which won’t stop blinking at me because I ripped the 40mm screamer fans out, cut two 120mm holes in the top and installed some nearly silent Arctic fans performing intake duty. The magic happens at the back with two optional HP J9008A al modules providing 2x10gbe SFP+ links each. Two of these are bonded going to my UNRAID box (pictured at the bottom) which is a HP Z440 workstation I’ve filled with hard drives using Icybox bay devices modified to allow extra airflow into so the drives won’t bake – 20GBe is overkill.

Back to the switching, the 3rd 10GBe link goes to a Netgear MS510TXPP switch which runs the two wireless access points (TP-Link EAP660 HD). I chose this WAP because it can give the EAP660s the 2.5gbe with POE+ that they support (there’s also two IP cameras using this switch because why not?). The 4th 10GBe link goes through the roof into the second cabinet, where there’s a 24 port version of the HP switch with the same HP J9008A module (with noisy fans because it’s out of the way).

Back to the cabinet, there’s still two pieces I haven’t mentioned yet. The first is the small computer sharing a shelf with the HP T610. This is a Wyse 5070 with a Pentium J5005 and 8GB of RAM, which through an external USB Hard Drive (air cooled) stores the video surveillance footage. The hard drive is tucked behind the PC on the same shelf for that neat look. The Wyse is on both VLANs via seperate NICs and is the only device which can communicate with the IoT cameras (the whole VLAN is blocked from accessing the WAN in the firewall).

The other computer is my gaming PC which I’ve transferred into a Silverstone rack mounted server case (which wouldn’t work with the cabinet so it’s sitting on a shelf). My reasoning was I wanted something less substantial sitting in my lounge so I’ve gone back to using a small notebook without graphics oomph, and when I do want to play a higher-end game with better looking graphics I can use Wake on LAN to turn the gaming computer and stream it (to any device in the world) using Parsec or Steam Streaming.

Although not audibly loud, visually it’s probably a bit much

Let’s take a quick look at the cabinet. I filled all sides except the front with sound-deadening material, it gives the cabinet a nice thunk noise when hit but the purpose is to reduce the droning sound and for this it’s a resounding success. There are two Arctic quiet fans in the top acting as an exhaust, our photocopier sits on top of the cabinet so I use some dryer vibration absorbing pads from Bunnings to give the copier some extra height to let the fans work, and to reduce vibration (yeah yeah I know there’s not much).

At the bottom of the door I’ve installed two 140mm fans performing cold air intake duties and blowing straight into the 5.25″ drive bays of the Z440, at the top a 140mm exhaust fan to help dissipate the heated air (do you see what I did there, blue for cold air and red for hot…). I used my trusty Dremel rotary tool to cut the holes, fortunately the fan holes lined up with the pattern of the mesh.

Not pictured is a small UPS, Phillips Hue Zigbee hub, NBN NCD, the second cabinet or more details about the software side. I’ll make a follow up post in the future going over UNRAID specifically as it’s a great and practical piece of software.