Home Network Rebuild: Early April 2016

Over the past couple of months, I have slowly begun collecting the pieces of equipment necessary to revamp my home network for higher performance, customization, and reliability. Working for home 3-5 days a week, I need rock solid connectivity. My efforts are starting to show progress, despite some fairly significant work remaining (mainly around wiring the house).

The Router: Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite

The first piece of my Home Network rebuild and while there is a learning curve on the setup, I have it successfully configured for dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 on Comcast with a 150Mbps/12Mbps connection and I am going a month plus without rebooting it once. It’s amazing how well it works once it is setup.

Purchase: Ubiquiti EdgeRoute Lite for ~$96 @ Amazon.com

The Switch: Dell PowerConnect 2816

I had some basic requirements for the ethernet switch that would act as the central hub for my home network:

  • 16 or 24 Gigabit Ports.
  • Managed switch
  • Fanless
  • Rackmountable
  • Supports link aggregation
  • Low power
  • Low cost

After looking around, I decided to go cheap with the switch to fill my more limited near-term needs. I purchased a used Dell PowerConnect 2816 off of eBay for $49.99. Other than being used, it fits all of my criteria. Worst case, if I ever need to upgrade or the switch dies, I’m only down $49.99.

So far, the switch is holding up well. The web UI looks like it came from 2002 and there is no encryption to speak of, but I can live with that for now.

Only issue I have had was my Apple TV 4th generation not detecting the ethernet network or obtaining an IP address from DHCP for over a minute after startup. I found a blog post about PowerConnect switches and slow login issues. Turns out Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) can slow down a network port’s activation. By enabling the Fast Link functionality in the switch’s STP settings, my Apple TV now instantly connects to the network when waken up. I activated this setting for every port on the switch that didn’t have a router or a switch connected to it.

Wi-Fi: Apple Time Capsule

My ultimate goal is to purchase an Ubiquiti UniFi AC Lite access point, but we’re not there yet. For now, I have my Apple Time Capsule running in bridge mode. It still handles the Wi-Fi and Time Machine backup duties, but nothing else. It’s amazing how stable this setup is now the Time Capsule isn’t handling DHCP and firewall duties.

What’s Next?

  • Cable Runs: I need solve the problem of running ethernet cable from my 2nd floor (where my home office is being renovated) to my basement. I have a possible solution for this by running cable down the wall that surrounds my chimney, but need to fish the cable through there.
  • Network Rack: If I am going to run cable, I need to pick where the network rack is going to be located so I can rack mount all of my new equipment. I’m eyeing a location underneath my basement stairway that is currently unused space and is right next to the chimney I mentioned above. However, there is no power there at the moment.
  • Patch Panel: I should do this right and run all of this cable into a patch panel, to make rewiring my switch very easy.
  • Wi-Fi Access Point: As mentioned above, I’m looking at Ubiquiti’s AC Lite access point. I want to mount it on 1st floor ceiling at the center of my house, with a Power over Ethernet (PoE) working, for maximum coverage.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS): I’m looking at a Synology NAS DS416j to handle a number of services, including logging and backups. This is probably the final step of my home network buildout and we are fairly far away from this purchase.