Home Network Setup

Hi,

I'm looking to start to build my own home network and I want to make sure I start with the right equipment. Below is a wishlist of how the setup would look like once finished (if ever).

  • 2-3 Smart speaker(s)
  • 1-2 tablets for streaming in bed / monitoring / iot remote control / kitchen help
  • Smart power plugs
  • Google Chromecast
  • Smart lights
  • Smart power management / savings (e.g. easily schedule power down for vacation)
  • Monitoring of power outages / Internet outages (e.g. for vacations to make sure food didn’t spoil in the fridge)
  • Monitoring / tracking of new devices and alerts for threat detection
  • 1-2 Smart display / mirror (traffic, commute, weather, news, agenda etc.)
  • Mesh network (necessary?)
  • Security camera(s)
  • Raspberry PI
    • Pi-hole (network wide filtering)
    • Seedbox
    • File server
    • Streaming (Plex?)
    • Backup setup (to complement Dropbox/Google drive?)
    • Retro pi
  • Accessible from outside networks
    • Security
    • Plex streaming (?)

In order to start I'd like to get a proper wifi setup which will require a proper router and maybe a mesh setup (94sqm 2bed apartment) if necessary.
I assume the best setup would be to have a modem and a router behind it but up until now I only used a modem as the router so I am a bit lost where to start my research.

It would be awesome if you have any recommended product recommendations for any of the above. One of the concerns I have is to start purchasing products which wouldn't integrate properly due incompatibilities between them.

I know it is a vague question, but if anyone attempted something similar could you please share any resources? I am also not sure if I should be looking at Australia specific setups or if it's irrelevant.

Thanks a lot in advance,
jkb

Comments

  • +1 vote

    Looks like a nice decoration. Thanks for sharing buddy.

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    mesh network

  •  

    Frankly, do you have the capabilities to set all this stuff up?
    Everything past the Smart Lights kinda feels like you're biting off way more than you can chew!

    If all you're ever realistically going to get up and running is the bit up to the Smart Lights, just live with what you have got and maybe buy a small 2 Access point Mesh Wifi pack.

    • +1 vote

      I think I can pull it off with time, I already have this running, but I need to re-install it on a more powerful r-pi version / clean up the install:

      Raspberry PI
      Pi-hole (network wide filtering)
      Seedbox
      File server

      I'm not too strong in networking, which I'll have to explore in more detail to make sure security is tight.

      So I'm familiar with setting up linux servers and such. Home automation is new to me (have some basic IFTTT rules unrelated to home automation) and I just started reading about Home Assistant vs OpenHab etc. Still deciding between those two: https://www.smarthomeblog.net/openhab-home-assistant-domotic...

      •  

        Cool…you sound resourceful enough to pull it off then, we're probably on par.

        First step, is your Modem capable of Bridge Mode?

        If not, can you live with the routing capabilities of the modem, or can you live with a more powerful router sitting behind the modem in a Double NAT arrangement?

        •  

          So this is where my lack of networking knowledge poses a problem. We are about to move into this place so I'm not sure if I can move with my modem. I'm currently with Belong but to me their modems look god awful: https://support.belong.com.au/nbn/troubleshooting/nbn-modem-...

          If switching to a different provider helps I'm happy to do that. If you can recommend a provider I'm all ears :)

          I assume bridge mode is recommended then based on your comment.

          We do a bit of gaming so port forwarding might be required in some cases.

  • +1 vote

    You probably don't need a mesh network for a 94sqm apartment but could depend on how congested the airspace is.

    Why do you need your modem and router to be separate? Maybe if the modem/router provided by your ISP doesn't have the features you want or need, but please elaborate.

    Your choice of smart speakers, plugs, lights, etc will depend on what smart home platform you want to integrate.

    Monitoring of power and internet outages - consider how you would go about doing that if losing power or internet means any devices responsible for notifying you would be unable to communicate the loss to the outside world.

    For a power outage, you may be able to get an UPS that can notify a device on your network of the power outage when it takes over, then that device would then send you an email or other notification of the power outage event, and when power is restored. You would need to have your modem, router and that device connected to the UPS.

    For an internet outage, I would imagine a device on your network would constantly ping a heartbeat to a service on the internet, or vice versa, and send a notification if one or more heartbeats are missed, as well when they resume.

    You will have to look at whether there are existing software and services than can do that or look at setting one up yourself.

    It looks like you have a fair idea of what you want out of your Pi projects, you can try see what you can consolidate into single Pis rather than having a seperate Pi for each of them.

    For the file server, streaming and backup, you might consider a NAS to consolidate storage for all these purposes, rather than Pis, unless you have a ton of external storage sitting around.

    Security-wise, you want as few ports and services accessible externally as possible. Open ports as you need them, but always consider whether port needs to be open before doing so. Have a VPN that you can log into to access admin stuff that you may occasionally need to access remotely rather than having those accessible externally. Keep other services accessible only in your local network and off the VPN.

    Or, more simply:

    • Keep everything accessible only via the local network at first
    • Allow access to some services by VPN when there are multiple instances that you find a need to acccess them remotely
    • Allow access to some low risk or vital services externally, such as Plex, a web server, torrent client and of course the VPN server, but make sure to keep the servers up to date and secure all of them properly
    •  

      A great way to monitor a power outage is a whole house Power Usage Meter!
      Or your Microwave clock flashing when you get home from holiday.

      UPS on Modem and Router is a nice way to keep up your network and any POE security devices.

      • +2 votes

        Yeah, if you can get a smart meter installed, your power company's live power usage app would be good for tracking outages. Assuming you want to get a notification if the power goes out, then you'd need to write something that can check your usage with the power company and notify you.

        But I don't really see the utility of being notified of a power outage there. Your food is gonna spoil anyway unless you have a rello or friend with a key who can come sort it out while you're away.

        I think a UPS hooked up to your vital network devices is sufficient, there are NASes that can shut down services and disks when notified of a power outage from a UPS as well as send you a notification about the outage event. You can't save your food, but you can save your data.

        •  

          Thanks for the insightful comments.

          The a few one PI discussion is something I have to decide on. I tried the retro PI setup on my current PI (first gen if I remember correctly) and I am not sure how running multiple services would work, e.g. KODI or retro pi needed to be booted into. I think the flexibility of haveing a few PIs helps if I want to hook one up with the TV for streaming / retro pi use one sitting behind the smart display/smart mirror etc.

          This guy uses a dedicated server: https://smarthome.university/automations/16-best-automation-...

          But I have concerns because of the above.

          I had a Synology NAS a few years back and I liked the backup option (mirroring if I remember correctly) but this setup looked a bit less flexible (I liked the plugins though e.g. Couch potato) from a setup perspective. It felt like I'd have to hack a few things to get them working correctly. Ideally, once a torrent is downloaded (maybe even automatically based on my subs) it would continue seeding, be categorised, subtitled if necessary (i know Kodi is capable of doing that, have to do research on plex) and indexed by the media server. So on the fence between a NAS and having everything setup on a server/pi. We still watch plenty of Netflix and the torrents are for some niche things (e.g. Anime). The file server would ideally backup important information off-site, e.g. in the cloud or to an external drive at work (ideally encryptet).

          Regarding the seed server and VPN setup. Currently I'm using SOCKS5 on my torrent client on the PI (it was a pain to find one supporting it properly). Would placing the whole network on a VPN make this unnecessary? If yes, any drawbacks - e.g. slower speeds etc.

          As said already, I'm a bit weak on the networking side of things so apologies for basic questions. If there is any article you'd recommend summarising this which would fit into the context of my setup that would be amazing (I know asking too much).

          For the monitoring part - I'm a bit of a data nerd so I'd like to probably generate some reports based on these so maybe immediate notifications aren't a priority, maybe some simple logging setup which would be able to monitor basic things during an outage is sufficient (e.g length of outage).

          • +1 vote

            @jkb: For services that require video output, like RetroPi or Kodi, you'll want different Pis handling them, especially if background tasks would affect their performance. But you could, for example, run a file server, web server, pihole, seedbox and backup solution from the one pi, depending on how much processing power and bandwidth you need for these services.

            I don't use CouchPotato, but CouchPotato + Plex seems like it'll handle the process of downloading media and cataloguing it and adding subtitles (Plex supports searching OpenSubtitles for subtitle files). At most, you'd need something to move the downloaded media to the correct location for Plex to catalogue.

            I'm not sure what your use case for your backup server is. Are you backing up from another location to your home, or are you backing up to your home backup server, which will then mirror the backup to another location?

            I have a Synology NAS and it's pretty useful for running a bunch of services as well as having software built-in that can handle a range of tasks such as managing backups both on-site and off-site.

            On the VPN, I believe you're talking about having your seed server connect to a VPN so you don't receive copyright infringement notifications? Keep your torrents going through that.

            The VPN I'm talking about is to facilitate a secure connection to your own private network so you can access services in your network without exposing them to the public. This is the traditional use of VPNs before they became synonymous with obfuscating your real location while accessing the internet.

            For your monitoring, if you can get a smart meter, that sounds sufficient.

            •  

              @lint: Cool, this kind of info is much appreciated.

              I see regarding the VPN, I'll have to read more on that to get the basics right.

              Right now ma backup is only manual (1 external drive which I copy to another one via https://allwaysync.com/ semi-regularly). Mostly pictures some documents, right now <2TB. The HDDs are stored one at my current home and one at work. I'll have a closer look at a Synology setup… does it play nicely with Plex?

              Hope this makes a bit more sense.

  • +2 votes

    Our sysadmin at work recommended that I go with Unifi, and I couldn't be happier. You should grab yourself a USG as a router and an AP-Lite as the WiFi AP. They're commercial-grade equipment at consumer prices. I have a 160ish square metre house and a single AP-Lite gives 2.4ghz coverage for both floors of the entire house and 5ghz coverage for almost every corner of the top floor (where it's mounted). And this all cost me less than some super fancy all-in-one router which would have had worse performance.

    Using USG and the Unifi Controller app (which needs to be loaded on a PC or remotely/headlessly on a device) you can set up micro segmentation and security for IoT.

    You'll likely need to get a managed switch in future too so that you can assign different VLANs to your physically wired devices. For me, this will let me put my Hue and my future Raspberry Pi 4 which will be running Home Assistant on the secured IoT network.

    •  

      Cool, thanks for the suggestions. I'm not sure if you could elaborate on the VPN setups or link relevant articles. I will explore this as an option. Micro segmentation sounds interesting.

    • +1 vote

      +1 for this. I have a Unifi setup for my apartment and love it. USG, 8-port POE switch and AP-Pro (probably overkill for my space, but got a great deal on it). Awesome configurability. You can probably run Unifi controller off your RPi.

  • +1 vote

    What NBN connection are you on? FTTP, FTTN, FTTC, HFC or wireless. FTTN needs the modem bit, the others don't.

    ISP's are (profanity) morons, the "Belong Modem" is NOT a modem, its an access point.

    •  

      IDK yet, moving into a new building :(

      • +1 vote

        Can you find out?

        If you don't need the Belong AP, then forget bridging, double-NAT, port forwarding etc. You might just need a router, which makes this setup really simple.

        I have a similar setup, except no auto-scheduler all connected to a TP-Link c2600, I'm on a 50/20 HFC connection.

        •  

          It's a new built building so NBN is not connected yet afaik. Thanks for the details, I'll explore these options later.

  •  

    Even though I run a home server for Plex, Pi-Hole etc, I still offload my Linux ISO torrents to a seedbox service. Two reasons, firstly it's faster and secondly an extra layer of security is nice.

    Scheduling lftp on Cron means my SB and home server are constantly in sync and I don't have to worry about exposing my IP in a swarm.

    •  

      Any recommendations? I pay for the vpn approx 70$ a year if I remember correctly so if there is a seedbox for a comparable price I don't mind switching. I like your setup.

      •  

        I have used feral/seedhost/ultraseedbox.

        All have been great - for my needs. I pay ~70EUR per year for my SB.

        If you need any help getting set up let me know. I have a great LFTP script also that I can share.

        •  

          Cool, that sounds reasonable. So you don't use any VPN for privacy on your seedbox?
          The script would be helpful if you wouldn't mind sharing it.

          • +1 vote

            @jkb: I use a VPN on my home server.

            The seedbox is preconfigured by seedhost.

            I'll dig out the GitHub link.

            •  

              @Xiongmao: That script sounds interesting. Could you hook me up too?

              • +1 vote

                @tororm: @tororm @jkb

                Script attached: https://pastebin.com/KEBYf0pw - it is a modified version of the link below.

                There are some things to change: login, pass, host, remote_dir, local_dir and —log="$LOG/FILE/LOCATION". The last one is towards to end - don't forget it or you'll get errors.

                Other things you need to do:

                Set torrent application to COPY files to your remote directory. The script will auto-delete them upon download. So, for example I have ruTorrent download to "files" and then copy complete downloads to "home-dl". LFTP just mirrors this "home-dl" folder and deletes the copied files upon completion. This means seeding is not affected and original files are left in "files"

                Cron can be scheduled according to whatever suits you. I have mine running every hour.

                Feral's guide is great - see below.

                Source: https://github.com/feralhosting/feralfilehosting/tree/master...

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