Home Network Update November 2020

Since this is my first blog post about my home network since I launched the new blog I’ll make it a bit more detailed. I’m connected to Australia’s NBN network using FTTC technology, pretty lame compared to some other countries but still functional enough at 100/40mbit. It’s a combination of new and (mostly) used technology but I’ve got it all working together.

Starting with the cabinet it’s a 24RU unit from eBay which arrived flatpacked, it lives in the corner of my dining area because that’s where the phone line is, which is also out of the way. I installed sound deadening material on all surfaces inside (which I’ve since removed from the door) because the sound coming out of the switch was akin to a Banshee screeching. Starting from the top is the NBN NCD device. Connected to that is a 2010 Mac Mini running pfSense as a firewall (with the Apple thunderbolt to ethernet adapter adding a second interface). This is connected to the HP 2910AL-48G switch. You’ll also notice a smaller 8 port switch – it’s unmanaged and just used to provide PoE power to some IP cameras and Wi-Fi antennas at gigabit speed. Also pictured is my NAS which is a simple 4 bay TerraMaster F4-220 and a Zigbee device needed to make some of my IoT devices work. The last thing is my primary server which is a HP Z440 workstation I’ve repurposed with a Xeon E5 1650v3 / 32GB of RAM and Windows 10 Enterprise connected with 10GBe fiber.

There’s another cabinet connected to this one through a 10Gbe link which just serves my desktop on the other side of the house (also connected with 10GBe) with another PoE switch and more IP cameras connected to it. There’s not much to the second cabinet but I’ll just mention it’s got a HP 2910al-24G for the 10GBe links and a HP 2626-PWR 100mbit switch for the IP cameras (the low bandwidth 100mbit is fine for IP camera streams).

You might be wondering why I chose such old HP switches for my network – they stopped making them ten years ago and aren’t designed for a home (as indicated by said screeching and higher than typical power consumption). The simple reason is the minimal upfront cost (except for the 10GBe module and the associated transceivers) and reliability. 10GBe is still 10Gbe.

Even with the sound deadening in the cabinet things were still unbearable (it helped reduce the high frequency noise but not the droning hum), if this were a workplace it would be an OH&S issue. I had a few ideas but what I went with was disconnecting and removing the factory fitted 40mm units within and replaced them with two 120mm high pressure fans I installed in the top panel by using my dremel to cut holes – they pull air in from the cabinet/outside and exhaust it through the vented sides. The solution is not elegant, the switch is constantly complaining about the factory fans not working and it takes up an extra rack unit of space above the switch (I put a blank panel to hide the whole set up).

I could go on about the software, services, other hacks and solutions but it’s getting late so I’ll leave those for another post.

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