Upgrading my home(property) networking

Discussion in 'Technical Corner' started by cowman, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    The room where I put my wiring closet is soon to belong to our not yet born child so I'm going to need to relocate it, I'm trying to think up different ideas on how to do it.

    I live on 40 acres of hilly mostly wooded land. My internet access is from a wireless provider. I actually have two buildings networked- my house and my barn/workshop which is a steel clad pole barn. I actually have the antenna for our internet access on the barn as it's at a higher elevation and gets better signal, when it was on the house we'd loose internet access every time it would rain.

    I have 2 shielded cat6 runs and one un-shielded "extra" cable run between the buildings. It's burried 6' under in a conduit we put in when the shop was built. I knew I wouldn't ever be able to run new cable easily so I ran extras.

    The way it's currently run is kind of goofy but it works. The main router, a stander consumer wifi router is in the house and the wan port is connected to the internet via one of the long underground cable runs, the second run goes back to the barn and plugs into a gigabit switch which is linked up to a consumer router reconfigured as an access point. I have that router hooked up to a big antenna outside the barn with hopes of getting wifi coverage across most of the horse pasture. It sort of works but not as well as I'd like. It needs line of sight and for some reason my iphone will only connect to it when I'm close although once connected it reaches about 500' and works unless disconnected.

    Everything in the house is just hooked up via the consumer router. I could use more ports to have more stuff on dedicated wired gigabit.... I have a NAS, a Printer, my main desktop, and the link back to the barn filling the wired ports in the house. I think the consumer router is getting old, having to reset it more and more often these days and it keeps dropping wifi connections.



    So, here's what I'm thinking. What I need is to get a good gigabit wired router that will do the basic functions of a consumer NAT router and a couple of access points- maybe ubiquiti unifis. Install the wired router in the barn, replacing it's gigabit switch. Then relocate the 8-port gigabit switch to the house and stick a wireless AP in the house, maybe an extra one or two up in the shop as the metal building blocks the signal on certain sides of the building.

    What I need is a simple reliable WIRED not wireless commercial grade router that isn't thousands of doll hairs. Could do this with a consumer NAT router again but I don't really want to, I want stuff that works reliably. Cool factor aside one of the reasons I try to have wifi everywhere is our only phone service is through wifi- no cell signal at home so if there's ever an accident it's the only lifeline. The internet really is our only connection to the outside world without driving a mile up the road where there's cell signal. Thoughts?
     
  2. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Question: The wireless provider’s hand off to you our in the barn, is it a public routable IP address, or did they already NAT it before handoff to an RFC1918 Private IP address?
     
  3. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    It's a public routable IP. I like to maintain the NAT functionality as it makes for a highly effective dumb firewall against most attacks.
     
  4. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Another point as to why I kind of want to go to access points... the house and the barn are just on the fringe of each other's wifi range but the way it's set up they both have separate wifi access points even though it's the same network. Where this is a problem is if I walk between buildings my phone will have just enough signal in the other building to see the network and think it's still connected but not enough signal to actually work requiring me to manually switch wifi networks. A small thing but when you do it over and over every day it gets old. I believe the way the ubiquity APs work it would just be seamless which would be really nice
     
  5. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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  6. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I dunno, the bandwidth is only 150mb vs 1gb I have now. I guess technically lighting is possible but if it gets into that wire it's going to be into the electrical lines for both buildings anyway and I'll have bigger problems.

    Right now I'm thinking one of these bad boys
    https://www.amazon.com/Ubiquiti-Edg...07393&sr=8-4&keywords=gigabit+router+ubiquiti
    plus this 2-pack AP set would fit the bill
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CYGX2GP/ref=ox_sc_mini_detail?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3LGJ9ZB5RSN9T
     
  7. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    What speed are you getting from demarcation to the internet? No speed inside your internal network once it exceeds your wireless provided service matters.

    Do you have more than 150mb to the world? Do you do large data transfers from the house to the barn?

    I'll stand down and wait for @denverpilot to opine. He knows infinitely more about this stuff than me.
     
  8. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    The gigabit isn't for internet, my internet speed wouldn't saturate a 10M line. I have a NAS that I keep almost all of my data on and I move huge files around often enough that I want the extra speed. That and I just prefer using wired connections wherever possible, makes things more reliable in my experience.
     
  9. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Yeah then you do need routing functionality. Hmmm thinking.

    Reason I’m thinking hard is that almost any wired router or even a combo wired and wireless would work in the barn. It’s the below that I get where you’re thinking about separating out the APs that makes me pause. Almost anything wired will work at the entry point from the ISP and it doesn’t even need to be Gigabit unless you’re pulling huge things from the storage in the house to the barn regularly.

    If not, and APs are separate, a cheap router with a spare for one getting blown up by lightning out in the barn is fine. Speaking of lightning, make sure those shielded cables, the shield is only grounded at ONE end, preferably wherever they first pop out of the ground, and never both ends.

    The ubiquiti stuff will KINDA do this correctly. What we learned in our large office building is that we had to have APs with transmitter power control to really get a mix of client WiFi chipsets to behave well when auto-switching. We turned 2.4 all the way down to the lowest power output setting and that adequately covers the building and allows the clients to “see” all the interference from surrounding buildings on 2.4.

    Some clients would ALWAYS stick on 2.4 due to the nature of it penetrating walls better when the client saw a slightly less powerful 5.8 GHz signal. Turning the 2.4 power down to nearly nothing fixed that for the majority of clients.

    We also did NOT use the proprietary “roaming” thing in the Ubiquiti units because when you do that, they all act like a mesh but they use the Ethernet as backhaul between each other and that rate limits the units to whatever a single AP can do on Ethernet. We instead set them all up with the same SSID and tweaked the bandwidth settings on 5GHz to the smaller one (less bandwidth more penetration more power in a smaller spectrum) and the aforementioned 2.4 power level change.

    They worked well in “auto” for all of that. Well enough users never complained. But tweaking made them capable of running full bandwidth to multiple clients at the same time since they’re the three radio per AP models. They’re one model older and one less radio than Ubiquiti is selling now. The one newer one we have is a monster. It handles anything we throw at it and doesn’t care, including all the corporate authentication stuff and multiple VLAN support. Way more than you need.

    I’d recommend their wired gig router too, but it’s a pain in the butt to configure. There’s easier ones. And again. You probably don’t need gig in the barn. 100M uplink our of the barn (and if you’re on the barn AP, 100M there also I suppose, or you could backhaul the AP in the barn from the house on your other cable, but I don’t really see a big need for that. A cable off of the barn router would be fine to feed the AP.

    Also have to decide how to power the APs. Some Ubi models use their oddball non-standard PoE and then you need their switch or their power injectors. I’d go PoE injector in the barn and keep from sending any house power of any sort between the buildings. Lightning again. Keep ‘em separate.

    Depending on number of APs in the house and accessibility to power where they’re installed, PoE may even be overkill. Less power cable mess, but using a cheap Gig switch in the house is appealing. Again that “keep a spare” thing instead of buying a monster switch. Unless you know you need a massive number of switch ports or your NAS can do something fancy like port bonding so you can suck more than a gig out of it to multiple clients at a time. Most house setups don’t need that.

    So maybe a cheap Gig PoE switch in the house? That’d keep the “parts count” and things to fail to a minimum while everything could see everything else without much headache. Anything internal could find other devices via Layer 2 and ARP, even if the router dies in the garage.

    Trying to think about bad weather and not wanting to go out to the barn in a snowstorm if anything drops out there. Obviously the Internet is down in that scenario, as is the barn AP, but house stuff to the NAS or whatever holds the snowy weather movies keeps working with a flat dumb switched network indoors. :)

    You probably don’t have the 2.4 interference we see at the office from massive numbers of APs nearby but even at my house where the closest neighbor is two acres away, I easily see 12 routers on 2.4. I used to run my ancient Apple APs in mixed automatic mode, but recently forced a separate 5.8 network SSID and forced every device that would do it to stay on 5.8 only and a number of things got better. Including Bluetooth interference to 2.4 from completely unrelated Bluetooth devices inside the house. There’s one printer and a couple of ancient machines that still get on 2.4 but mostly I’ve gone all 5.8. Which also helps that “refuses to switch APs in low signal areas” problem. The clients move much faster to the better AP for their location now.

    There’s a pile of thoughts. I think you can go super simple with that network and I like the separate AP idea. Don’t forget if you go with Ubi APs that you need an always on Windows server to manage them or buy their little “stick” that is a tiny server and has nothing but their management software on it. People seem fine with either.

    I haven’t installed or used their Linux version but I’m sure that’s what the stick is running. We put the stuff on one of the Windows 2008R2 servers at the office which has some messing around with making it a service account to get it to run right. Linux guys building windows software, they did that wrong. It installs as a local admin process and we don’t allow those on our corporate LAN via GPO so we had to futz with what user it was owned and running as. It’ll run great on a non-server non-domain joined version of Windows on a desktop PC or whatever.

    I’d buy the stick or put it on the always-on Linux box at home. The stick assures that a kernel update on the Linux box doesn’t blow the software up and makes the WiFi controller safe from other web stuff the home Linux box is doing.
     
  10. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    One thing I didn't ever quite explain, the barn's power is fed off the main breaker panel in the house. We sorta ran the ethernet cable down the same conduit. *cue booing and hissing*. Hey, at least it's shielded cable. This being the case I tend to think isolation is a moot point. What can I say, I'm a cheap pilot and I wasn't about to pay an extra $60/mo to the co-op every year for a second meter and as for the cable... if you saw what it took to run that trench through the woods uphill it would make sense. Better to just do it all in one :D Also at that time the barn wasn't so integral, our internet antenna used to be on the house until I figured out wet trees block wireless signals and I could get line of sight by going up on the barn roof which is probably a good 50' or more higher than the house due to it being on a hill. Glad I put 3 cable runs in there.

    I have UPS backups on just the network gear in both the house and barn- I have a friend who just replaces them when the batteries die so I get the unit for free, put in a new battery, and have all the cheap UPS units I'll ever need. One of those will run a router and a switch for hours. Historically speaking I've always had better uptime than my ISP.

    Wireless interference here is non existent. You can't see any networks that aren't mine and there isn't going to be any 2.4ghz consumer device in range that I'm not in control of. Actually we may not have any of those either since we dropped the landline and got rid of the cordless phones.

    Probably could get away with 100MB in the barn most of the time. I've already got 2 or 3 gigabit switches around though, like to keep it consistent.

    Interesting bit about the Ubiquity management, I'm doing IT at a small school where we have those access points. They were in place when I started, nothing was documented. I know for a fact we don't have anything running on our server because I had to wipe the thing this summer and it didn't impact the wifi. I did find a management program on the admin's old pc that I used to upgrade the firmware on everything last year but that one doesn't run all the time. I wonder if there's a stick somewhere hiding in the building. It wouldn't be the first thing I discovered months after the fact. Either that or our configuration/model doesn't require one?
     
  11. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    I believe it can be down if you never want history or interference information from them or user logging. We keep it running all the time mainly for the user logging and traffic stats. They don’t have any local storage for that, I suppose. They push a lot of useful info to the management software in the business environment, but I suppose at home it wouldn’t really be necessary.

    Configuration changes have to happen through the management software as well, and even though there’s a way to upgrade them with a direct firmware download from Ubi on the command line of the devices, it’s way easier to let the management software download and update that.

    Soooo yeah, could be wrong on that “must be running all the time” part.

    We also strangely went through a period of firmware where they had a memory leak and the APs would run out of memory and stop authenticating users. We backed up to the last known good firmware and stayed there a year mostly out of “have other things to worry about” mode, and then I took the chance and let them upgrade a couple of months ago when we added the fourth one so it could get up to date after sitting in some warehouse in a box for a long time.

    They’ve all behaved just fine since then. Better really, the firmware came with some new management features for the old ones and critical configuration settings for our environment on the brand new one.

    I can’t decide if I would buy them for the house or buy a residential mesh setup with non-WiFi backhaul if I had to replace the home stuff right now. They’re massive overkill for a house WiFi setup without VLANs and server auth for users but they’re just rock solid and screaming fast for less than $80 each. That new one smokes the three originals at work and we almost bought three more of them once we saw how well it performed.

    Like you, with rural internet it just kinda “doesn’t matter” to me to have APs that fast. Even pulling stuff from the server in the house I just don’t have a need for that much speed when almost everything is slowed by going out the Motorola Canopy based rural ISP link.

    If I had the bandwidth my co-workers both have in town I’d be installing them for sure. One of them now has the ability to have a 2G symmetric home fiber internet pipe for less than $100/month. We’ll never see that out here in a million years.
     
  12. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Ubiquity only needs the Unifi software for setup or to make changes. In between, the hardware runs without connection to Unifi.

    As for your original issue. You know the Ubiquity product. Some AP-PROs for the house and the barn and an outdoor AP for the horse pasture. Put a decent firewall/router between the wireless box from the ISP and your network.
     
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