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Going Overboard. For Fun!

This was originally written in August 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

Raise your hand if you like dealing with your home network.

This is me raising my hand!

I assume most people probably don’t. And of those most, most of those probably don’t even give it much thought past what their ISP gave them or installed when they signed up. I am on the other end of that spectrum it seems. I love optimizing, tweaking, and upgrading our home network. So much so that after one year in our new house, we are now officially on to Home Network 2.0!

Yep, because we didn’t know all the ins and outs of the new house in terms of what network installation would look like, I took the easy route and went all wireless (with the slight exception of the two units using ethernet for backhaul. That’s a fancy way of saying that the two units talk to each other over the cable instead of through the air.). We started in this house with two AMPLIFI ALIEN units. They are fast, WiFi 6, and mesh capable with ethernet backhaul. For the most part they are good units, but they were too hands off (which, yes, is what most people want. So this is actually a great feature for most). I like to dig in and see what’s going on though for the sake of learning new things, and just plain curiosity. I pretty much love any equipment that can be rack mounted, so when it came time for ::Home Network 2.0::, you better believe there is going to be a rack involved!

Amplifi Alien Router

For most home setups the two ALIEN units would be overboard, but what if we want to go WAY OVERBOARD, how would one do that? Have a seat, I will tell you just that!

First, you need to get a list of all the stuff you want to get for the new network. Here is mine.

  • 1x Network Controller (Cloud Key Gen 2+)
  • 1x 24 Port Managed Switch (USW-24-G2)
  • 3x 8 Port Managed Switch (USW-Lite-8-PoE)
  • 3x WiFi 6 Access Points (U6-Lite)
  • 1x 1000 ft of CAT6a Cable (trueCABLE CAT6a)
  • 1x Bag of Push Through CAT6 Cable Connectors (trueCABLE Cat6A Pass Through Connectors)
  • 6x CAT6 Keystones and Wall Plates
  • Various tools for making holes and running cables through the walls

Simple, right? It sounds like a lot of work to run cables through the walls, crimping the connectors, and mounting access points to wall, and you would be kind of correct, but it’s all doable as long as you plan things out and take your time. Once you rush, you will be sorry.

Cutting square hole in drywall for ethernet cable

You cut holes in your walls!? Yep! One thing I can’t handle is cables dangling, so all cables get routed so they cannot be seen. This is technically optional, but when you see the results, you will be glad you did the extra steps.

Unifi WiFi access point on desk and on wall

Sometimes you need to go overboard even if it’s just because it brings you happiness! I know all this is not the case for you reading this right now, but even if you scale this all the way back to running a single extra ethernet cable to a part of your house where you get terrible or no WiFi, it’s all worth it! Also if you do go all in on the crazy, you get cool real-time topology maps of your network and clients, and who doesn’t want that!?

Unifi Network topology map

Oh, one other side benefit of Home Network 2.0 is that I can add on cameras as well that will integrate with this infrastructure and allow me to record all video directly to the local Cloud Key Gen 2+ on its internal 1TB drive without the need for cloud recording, and given the PoE connection to the cameras they are instant view rather than waiting for a wireless connection to handshake before you can view. 👍

I hope this was helpful in any way to each of you, whether you want to upgrade your home network, or simply get your wall mounted tv cables tucked away out of sight. Go forth and go overboard on some area of your life that will bring you happiness!