Post 24 Sep 2014, 10:01 am

My network upgrade

As I said in another post I am currently working on my home network. Just thought I would throw in a few bits of what I am doing for those wishing to one day network a house. I wanted to give brief explanation of some of the choices and maybe even get some of the community into a discussion on home networks and anything you guys may have done yourselves.

Purpose of my network: Primarily as an internet and media server.

I have two bedrooms, an office, lounge room, kitchen and separate shed with a solar array.

The kitchen has my phone connection. I am switching from Telstra cable (so bloody expensive) to Optus ADSL 2+. First I have to run twisted pair Ethernet from the phone jack (can't be bothered using dedicated twisted pair phone cable) from the kitchen to the office which is where my ADSL modem is. I have installed Raspberry Pi development boards in the two bedrooms and lounge room to serve as media players. The Raspberry Pi runs XBMC (X box media center OS.) I have installed CAT6 Ethernet to each of these rooms. I am purchasing a 8-16 port switch in my office. A PC running FreeNAS will host my media to each Pi. This allows me to display my photo library, play movies, and even surf the net from the TV's in those rooms. The Pi boards offer HDMI in 1080p playback. Now, just a bit of network info for those of you running wireless...

Wireless is not perfect. On cable internet I was on a 100Mb/s connection. However, when going to on my laptop over wifi I would typically get 60-70Mb/s downstream. This equates to a loss of 30-40%. This is typical. I might also add I was approx 5 meters away when I did the test. Believe it or not their is a "healthy" range with wifi. Too close and you can experience signal degradation. Too far away and you get the same thing. This also proves true for walls and other obstacles. Under the best possible conditions with consumer level equipment you will never get better than 20% or so signal loss. A friend of mine who was a network architect for HP until only recently, did a test with two satellite dishes (small types used for ground based line-of-sight comms. We measured out a perfect alignment and broadcast a signal from 10 meters apart. We experienced a loss of 24%. So when you have that nice connection speed in your home and speedtest over wifi don't be surprised with the loss of speed on your wireless devices.

Due to the limited capabilities of Wifi it is always best to operate your home media server on wired Ethernet. You may notice issues with broadcasting 1080p HD video over your network. The greater the number of wireless devices connected, the more limited your media network will be able to handle HD video. So I have opted for Cat6 Ethernet. I am also experimenting with POE (power over Ethernet) to power my Pi boards. Since I have never really set up POE this is new territory for me. Lets hope all goes well. The Pi consumes 5v of power so this should work well and will eliminate the need for a power cable to each device.

I decided to go with FreeNAS for a couple reasons. First, it's free! WOO! Second, it is very easy to set up. Last, it is compatible with all OS types, windows, linux and Mac OS. I am also able to dedicate drives in my freeNAS box to saving hard drive images for various computers so I am able to keep my data backed up. FreeNAS also requires very little in terms of resources so you can install it on an old computer you have laying around.

The Raspberry Pi is an awesome little board. It consumes little power. The OS is stored on a standard SD card.The Pi also has heaps of options for various Linux distros. Since the OS is stored on the SD card, I can swap to any OS I may have available at any time by simply swapping for a different card and booting up. These little devils cost less than $50 and have all sorts of accessories available. I have included some helpful links at the bottom for those interested in any of this. Did I mention the Pi (even in a case) is about the size of a cigarette pack? Go anywhere and try to find an HD media player that compact! =D And for that price.

So, below I have outlined the setup.

-Modem connects to switch. It is also a wifi modem which serves my wireless devices.
-A fixed IP address is assigned to all my wireless devices so I can keep tabs on which device is what and for future problem solving.
-A wired connection from the switch runs to the 2 bedrooms, lounge and shed.
-Each bedroom and the lounge has a TV connected to a Pi allowing media to be played from my collection.
-The shed is another story (below)
-The remaining ports on the switch provide a wired connection for my printer, gaming rig in the office, a wired raspberry pi to perform tasks for my media center, FreeNAS box, and an ASUS dvd player which is shared on my network and can be used by a Pi when desired.

As I said in the beginning my shed has a solar array. A wired connection to the shed allows me to connect a Pi which is then connected to the serial port on my solar inverters. This allows me to remote in to the Pi in the shed and monitor my solar array. I suppose I could go out into the redback and white tail infested shed and look at the inverter screen but screw that when I can view all the data from inside the home. Did I mention the Pi in the shed also has trend logs to keep a record of my solar? Pretty nifty huh?

Additional ports on the switch will be used to connect cameras and a security system at some stage. The great thing about POE is that many security devices can be supplied power from the Ethernet connection without the use of any adaptors. FYI, as in the case of my Pi boards, a splitter to separate the data from the power wires on the Ethernet is required. These splitters can be grabbed from Jaycar for cheap.

I may add more to this as I progress. If any of you have questions or comments please post. I'm interested to see what you guys may have set up or answer any questions if you're interested in setting up your own home network.

Raspberry Pi B+
Nice wireless touchpad/keyboard
16 port netgear poe switch I like this one b/c of the two blocks of Ethernet and two rows. It keeps things organised.
-Dale :moderator:In-game admin/GM

Refuge: n. That which shelters or protects from danger or from distress or calamity; a stronghold which protects by its strength or a sanctuary which secures safety by its sacredness; a place inaccessible to an enemy.