062019 – Homelab

Here’s my current equipment list, as of June 2019:

This doesn’t include any “personal” machines, of which I have a few. My main work computer is a 15” MacBook Pro connected to a USB-C/Thunderbolt doc, some external HDs, a bunch of peripherals (including a Magic Trackpad 2, which I looooooove using fulltime, now that I’m used to it, and a mechanical keyboard – I’m not going to list which one, as I have several and rotate through them a lot.), and a few 4k monitors. It’s nice to be able to use a single cord to connect everything. I also use a 13” MacBook Air (Retina) quite a bit when I’m not at my desk. And no, the butterfly keys aren’t that bad… I have a Samsung laptop running Mint somewhere around here too.

As far as non-mobile machines go, I have two PCs that are sitting next to each other under my desk. One running Cinnamon on Linux Mint and the other is a Ryzen 2600 machine (In an S401… my first SFF case!). That bad boy has a GTX1070 (that does ok at games) running Windows 10 and a whole bunch of RAM. It’s usually a glorified Spotify machine, as using Peace makes things sound nicer all around.

Basement Rack

Networking Servers
Arris SURFboard Dell PowerEdge 1950
UniFi Security Gateway Dell PowerEdge T30
UniFi Switch 8 Raspberry Pi 3
Netgear switch AMD A10 server
Philips Hue hub AMD 955 server
  Mac Mini (A1176)

Wifi

Networking
UniFi AP-AC-Lite (x3)

In the Office

Networking Hardware
EdgeRouter X (x2) Mac Mini (A1347)
  Intel NUC
  Gigabyte Brix
  Drobo (Gen 3)

Elsewhere

Networking Hardware
UniFi Nanostation Loco (x2) Amazon Echo(es)
UniFi AP-AC-Mesh Harmony Hub
  Raspberry Pi Zero W (x3)
   






Amazon Echo(es)

Echo (2nd gen), Echo Dot (2nd gen - x2), Echo Dot (3rd gen - x2)

You know what these are, right? I have a regular Echo in the kitchen (The only one that I’ve actually purchased. The dots came with other things free…), a dot in the living room, basement, office and upstairs hallway. Used mostly for reminders, shopping lists (for my wife and kids), and voice commands for automations with my Home Assistant services.


AMD 955 server

AMD Phenom II X4 955, 12gb RAM, 250gb SSH (system) & 8tb (storage)

This big ass tower is currently my FreeNas server. It was in service up until last month, but I took it down for upgrades. I’ll put it back into active duty shortly.


AMD A10 server

AMD A10-7860K Radeon R7, 8gb RAM, 120gb SSD (system) & 20tb (storage)

Frank! Frank is my Plex server. Frank lives in a 1u PC chassis in my rack. Frank is a workhorse and is currently sporting 3 internal drives and 2 externals. Since we don’t do tv service at the house anymore, Plex serves up any of the shows/movies that we have available to watch to any Plex app in the house (laptops, phones, TV streaming boxes, etc).

Frank in running Ubuntu and currently runs (via Docker containers):


Arris SURFboard cable modem

Bringing the internets into the house from the dumb coax line at the street, this super ugly Arris SURFboard cable modem does the job for now. I’ll be upgrading it to a DOCSIS 3.1 version as soon as either:

  1. This one gets an EMP from a lightning storm like my last two, or
  2. I decide that I want to finally upgrade my service to 1gb fiber

Dell PowerEdge 1950

Xeon E5205, 4gb RAM, 80GB SATA drives (x2), 2 NICs

This big, flat server sounds like a jet engine when it’s powered on. Since it’s a 32-bit system, it’s useful for toying around with old software and making things work on legacy systems. This isn’t booted up often, but it’s in the rack in case I need it. This used to be the storage server at Mediasauce in Indianapolis and I picked it up after they retired it. (It was just a super coincidence that I work with three ex-Mediasauce guys, one of which was the one that originally purchased and maintained this and the SAS array that used to be connected to it.)


Dell PowerEdge T30

Xeon E3-1225 v5, 24gb RAM, 120gb m2 SSD (system) & 12tb (storage), 2 NICs

This is my VMware ESXi server, which runs my virtual machines. A fairly low-powered Dell server in a mini-tower chassis, which sits on a shelf in the rack. I’m currently running the following (via VMs):


Drobo (Gen 3)

4-Drive Storage Array, USB 3.0, 2TB Seagate IronWolf drives (x4)

This little Drobo is my main work storage drive array. My external 4TB drive (on my work machine) backs up to this (nightly) over the network and the Mac Mini that it’s connected to uploads any new files to Backblaze for offsite storage.


EdgeRouter X

5 port gigabit, 24V passive PoE passthrough

I had originally purchased this to use in place of my current router, but ended up picking up a USG a few weeks later to fill that duty. I reconfigured this to act as a managed switch and now use it for routing for my office machines.


Gigabyte Brix

Gigabyte Brix GB-XM12-3227, i3-3227U 1.9GHz, 8gb RAM, 256 mSATA SSD

Test machine. Previously running my proxy server, before it was moved to an ESXi VM. Currently down for maintenance.


Harmony Hub

This little guy makes my dumb TV and soundbar work with the rest of my automations via Homekit and Home Assistant. Basically it lets my family say “Alexa, turn on the TV” and everything switches to the correct inputs so they don’t have to mess with multiple remotes. It also will do things like “Alexa, watch a movie” (sets the input to the Blu-Ray player), “Alexa, turn on the Switch” or “Alexa, turn on the PS4” to select the right settings for whichever game console is requested. If memory serves, “Alexa, turn on the music” switches to the Bluetooth input on the soundbar, but keeps the TV off… so you can play Spotify from your phone since Apple still doesn’t have an app on the ATV for this. (Seriously, I’d never leave the tvOS interface if this existed…)


Intel NUC

1.7ghz Core i3, 8gb RAM

Test machine. Previously running a Home Assistant server and Node-Red, before it was moved to an ESXi VM. Currently down for maintenance.


Mac Mini (A1176)

2ghz Core 2 Duo, 2gb RAM, 120gb SSD (system) & 750gb (storage)

My iTunes jukebox server. Upgraded to a Core 2 Duo from the original single core CPU and an SSD. Still an old little machine, but does it’s job a little faster now.


Mac Mini (A1347)

2.3ghz Core i7, 16gb RAM

Churns through all of my backup files, connects to VPNs, etc. My little office workaholic.


Netgear 24-port gigabit switch

24-Port 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Unmanaged Switch - Blue

Your basic dumb gigabit switch. I originally had two separate switches (Enterprise-level, managed gigabit switches) that I picked up as hand me downs from people upgrading. One was a Cisco and the other was a Dell. The Cisco switch died of old age, and the Dell was a victim of a lightning storm EMP. Both were essentially plug-and-play, before they both bit the dust on me. Since I was out of time, and needed a new switching option immediately due to the previously mentioned storm, I headed over to Best Buy and grabbed the biggest gigabit switch that they had in stock. This was it. So far, it’s done its job without issue.


Philips Hue hub

Controls a bunch of lights in the house. Listed as “in the rack” because I 3D printed a rackmount adapter for it, instead of it sitting in my entertainment center… constantly being knocked around (and closer to a dedicated ethernet port, which I’m running out of in the living room).


Raspberry Pi 3

RPi 3 Model B+ (1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core, dual-band wLAN, BT 4.2/BLE, dedicated ethernet)

This little guy is a must have. I’m running Raspbian as the base OS with a sweet Pi-Hole install sitting on top for network ad blocking. Couple this with uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger on a local machine, and it’s a solid setup for blocking pretty much any ad out there. I’ve had two other RPis in this role prior to setting this one up, but I keep upgrading to a newer (faster) version when the RPi foundation releases a new hardware version. I may move this over to it’s own VM at some point, but this keeps on chugging, so I haven’t bothered to mess with it beyond updates. They’re so cheap, it’s worth having a few around to toy with for other projects.


Raspberry Pi Zero W

RPi Zero W (1GHz, single-core CPU, 512mb RAM, 802.11 b/g/n wLAN, BT 4.1/BLE)

After toying with the regular RPi Zero quite a bit (after finally getting one after they were first released… a $5 price point made them sell out QUICK), and being annoyed at the limitations of having to attach a bunch of dongles or USB wifi adapters to the regular Zero, the Zero W was a welcome surprise. I picked up several of these (I mean, they’re $10) to tool around with for some silly IoT projects.

I was looking for better ways of doing detection of when someone was actually at home via Home Assistant, when I ran across Andrew Freyer’s article on MQTT presence detection. That led me to his great monitor application on Github, which was perfect for the Zero W units that I already had. I setup a system for each on the SD cards and put them throughout the house and garage and tied them back to my MQTT server. They do the job, take a relatively small amount of energy, and are tiny. I 3D printed a little case that wrapped an Apple USB power adapter (which I seem to have plenty of lying around for some reason), and it plugs into any outlet and just does it’s job. More updates on how I did this and how I’m using it will end up in a blog post at some point.


UniFi AP-AC-Lite

Managed UniFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/r/k/v/ac access point with 24v passive PoE

When I set out to replace my all-in-one router, I wanted to be covered throughout the house. The AP-AC-Lite was the obvious choice, as it was PoE powered, cheap-ish, small, and had a good coverage area. Initially, I had these powered using the PoE bricks that they came with, which was fine… but a little messy. I also had them sitting in various places, rather than mounted to the ceiling where they would have the most coverage area.

When I upgraded to the Switch 8, I was able to plop all of these directly on PoE power directly from my rack. While that meant running additional ethernet cable, it is a much neater install. Currently, I have one of these in the hallway upstairs, one in the living room, and one in the kitchen. It covers the whole house in usable wifi now to all devices with zero dead spots. It even extended outside quite a ways into the backyard and the garage. Not too shabby.


UniFi AP-AC-Mesh

Managed UniFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/r/k/v/ac access point with 24v PoE

I was originally going to plop this outside (where I ended up putting the Loco 5ghz) of my office to extend my network, but ended up using it IN the garage instead. This is extending my network (via the Loco 5ghz bridge) and providing an access point for the garage and surrounding areas. Since it’s rated for outside use, it’s doing just fine mounted high up in the rafters of the garage, happily chugging along. Zero problems with this dude, plus I can manage it with my cloud controller remotely.


UniFi Nanostation AC Loco 5ghz

Managed UniFi 5ghz access point with 24v PoE

While I was looking to extend my existing network out to the garage for better coverage waaaaaaay far away from the main house, I ran across the Crosstalk Solutions video on YouTube about setting up a Nanostation AC, which seemed like exactly what I needed to get some faster speeds outside. I picked up two of the Loco units (smaller, don’t need everything that the larger one offered, really), mounted one outside of my office on the second floor, mounted one on my garage, set them up, and was off and running with fast wifi in the garage. (After adding the AC-Mesh unit, that is.) Management is done via UMS, which covers the two Loco 5ghz APs and the EdgeRouter X.


UniFi Switch 8 (POE-60W)

8 port, 4 of them are 60w PoE, rack-mounted

All traffic passes through this guy now. Acting as an uplink for my main switch, plus it provides the power for the three APs via PoE.


UniFi Security Gateway

3 port, rack-mounted

My first foray into “Prosumer” grade networking equipment, I decided to go with some UniFi stuff. The basic UniFi Security Gateway (3P) is serving the purpose of replacing the previous ASUS router that was an all-in-one kind. I’ll likely use this until I need to upgrade to a system that supports a much higher throughput, or if I find something that does filtering a bit better. Although I have to run a seperate cloud controller, this is fine for the time being. I’ll likely split off an additional VLAN on the second port to run my work-only items through specifically, so I can reconnect my Meraki gateway to have an always-on VPN connection again.