My Home Network – Part 2

Hello again, this is the second in a series of my home network posts. In this edition, we’re going to be flashing another router with OpenWrt. You can read part one here.

I decided it was time to leave all the old hardware behind and move to brand new stuff. I was having problems with the ZYXEL VMG8924-B10A as the main router, it kept cutting out and was causing short minute outages that ultimately I think was due to the system running out of ram and botnets trying to break into the thing. So I decided it was time to jump ship and move to something a little bit more enterprise. At the same time, I decided now would also be a good time to leave the Netgear WNR3500L V2 to one side. Despite it serving us good for many years, its routing features won’t be necessary for the upgrade as I want to have a good crack at managed switching.

The new network

The new network is composed with the following,

  • A Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X
  • A Netgear ProSafe GS108T
  • A new to me MR33

I wanted to do away with having two routers on the network, it wasn’t neccisary and caused some of the upstairs equipment to be inaccessible from downstairs, the new configuration would mean that all management would be done through the EdgeRouter X which would be much cleaner and hopefully faster.

The ProSafe GS108T was a garage find, I wasn’t using it for anything and I hadn’t really implemented proper VLAN tagging before so I thought now was a better time than ever to get into it.

Network Topology
My new home network diagram, ignore the fact its all Ubiquiti gear, its the iconography I had loaded at the time. And I couldn’t quickly find icons for Netgear.

I also received a new to me MR33 complete with Meraki OS. Unfortunately their licencing of their hardware is not something that aligns with my principals on hardware so before we accept any software agreements I thought it best to do as always and flash OpenWRT to the thing and say goodbye to Meraki. Flashing OpenWRT onto it was no easy feat but I made sure the thing never saw access to the internet and eventually I was in.

[aidan@aidan-ld mr33]$ ssh root@192.168.1.1


BusyBox v1.28.3 () built-in shell (ash)

  _______                     ________        __
 |       |.-----.-----.-----.|  |  |  |.----.|  |_
 |   -   ||  _  |  -__|     ||  |  |  ||   _||   _|
 |_______||   __|_____|__|__||________||__|  |____|
          |__| W I R E L E S S   F R E E D O M
 -----------------------------------------------------
 OpenWrt 18.06.1, r7258-5eb055306f
 -----------------------------------------------------
=== WARNING! =====================================
There is no root password defined on this device!
Use the "passwd" command to set up a new password
in order to prevent unauthorized SSH logins.
--------------------------------------------------
root@OpenWrt:~# 
root@OpenWrt:~# exit
Connection to 192.168.1.1 closed.
[aidan@aidan-ld mr33]$ 

A couple of configuration changes later and we’ve got a dumb ap ready for deployment.

I really wanted to play with subnets this time, before we had two but this time I thought go hard or go home, so in total there are five subnets on my home network now, that’s enough IP space on the 192 network for 1200 devices. I’ve refrained from using the 10.0.0.0/16 network class simply because I use some VPNs with the same IP space so I thought best to just keep it simple. I have to say the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X was a little bit new to me but I like the interface, PoE was a particularly nice touch.

For the Netgear switch the plan is to take a trunked VLAN ethernet cable and have the VLAN20 on the first 7 ports and leave the remaining 8th port for the MR18. Setting it up was quite easy using the online wizard however the visualisation thingy was clearly older than useful because it seemed to use some java applet that chrome did not like.

A Little Conclusion

I like what I’ve got set up now and will probably leave it for some time. The ZYXEL VMG8924-B10A is destined for the bin but the Netgear WNR3500L V2 I’ll keep for now, it can do VLANs and probably would have worked fine, I just wanted to use a managed switch.

The new network is great. I have a printer which its driver doesn’t seem to like cross-lan communication because every time I print something, it prints fine but the software client continually reports that the communication with the printer failed. I put that down to poor software testing I guess. Wouldn’t be the first time someone had printer woes.

EdgeRouter X Dashboard with VLANS
EdgeRouter Dashboard
SubnetPurpose
192.168.1.0/24Downstairs Wired (eth1)
192.168.2.0/24Upstairs Wired (eth2.20)
192.168.3.0/24Downstairs Wireless AP Clients (eth3)
192.168.4.0/24Upstairs Wireless AP Clients (eth2.40)
192.168.5.0/244th port on router, only a printer attached.(eth4)
Subnets (eth0 is WAN)

Thats all folks. Aidan.

My Meraki Home Network

Cisco Meraki MR18
Cisco Meraki MR18

If you have ever wanted to use WiFi reliably in your own home, most homelabbers and computer enthusiasts will eventually learn that using consumer equipment to achieve fast speeds and low ping can be a route that many take in vain, whilst mesh networking appliances look promising for home applications, the ever vast expanding market of power-line networking adapters and WiFi range extenders have lead consumers astray and often leave them unhappy with their network performance due to patchy and inconsistent behavior caused by devices looking for the ‘strongest’ signal despite it not necessarily being the fastest or most optimal.

Having an ISP issued router has never put me off fiddling before, having being issued a Netgear WNR3500L V2 it wasn’t long before I decided to flash Tomato on it and leave Netgear Genie hopefully forever.

Having moved on with my life I quickly became unhappy with the performance of the WiFi and decided it needed sprucing up a little bit, running two routers on two sides of the house were becoming tiresome due to patchiness and being connected to one side of the house while at the other requiring manual adjustment. It was time to buy something enterprise to set-and-forget. Alas enterprise comes with a hefty price tag.

Rather than going mainstream and buying something like Ubiquiti or MikroTiK, popular routers with the home lab community. I decided to take a different approach to save a buck. Having flashed firmware on many devices in the past, such as Arduino, ESP8266s or even other routers I decided to get my hands on the enterprise CISCO Meraki MR18, a subscription model router with a hefty price tag at the current time of £308.38 for a three-year license. Would I be paying that? Absolutely not.

I picked one up off eBay for a fairly high market price of £17.99 which came with a wall bracket and no plug or license. Why so cheap compared to the £308.38 price tag? Well, it turns out Meraki are giving them away free to anyone who sits through their webinar, and once the license runs out it’s my understanding that they essentially become paperweights. Once it arrived I fired it up just to see what it used to be called and see if I could get a hit on WiGLE’s database to see where this thing came from, unfortunately, 0 hits means my best guess is that it came from somewhere around Aylesbury, UK. The location of the Ebay E-Recycler the SSID was generic “Guest Access” and “Staff Internet”.

Once I cleaned up the router it looked brand new, the power cable I got from my drawer of many cables and began to study the thing, the brushed aluminum backing had the screws hidden behind rubber feet, an easy adversary I had the thing open in no time.

Meraki MR18 opened
Big RF Shields 🙂

I particularly like the bendy lightpipe for the RGB leds.

Bendy Light Pipe

The UART pins were neatly placed and populated with pins at the top of the AP and easy to flash with.

I decided to opt for flashing OpenWRT on to it, basically because at the time they were the only ones supporting this particular device and it would only really be acting as an Access Point, with my Tomato router doing all the hard work.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy this picture of my neighbors cat.

Tabitha the cat