The lock down and WFH (Work From Home) directives issued in 2020 taught us very clearly how important internet is in today's day and age. While I never felt a need or urge to have a dedicated homelab set up for myself, I still used to have a Pi 2B running Pi Hole and rclone for ad blocking and uploading some essential files to a remote server. This all started to grow significantly when I started having extended internet outages on my primary ISP. As much as I love my internet provider, they've given me a really hard time (not totally their fault tho!) during the pandemic due to them being short staffed and infra not being preemptively upgraded due to lack of funds etc.
I started to explore various solutions and settled for a fallback LTE system as described in my other post. This was the beginning of my continuously growing homelab. As described in my other post, I set up a mikrotik router which allowed me to configure a failover system that automatically toggles my links between fiber and LTE. This allows us to have some internet even when there is an outage at our primary ISP.
As I started diving more and more into r/homelab and r/selfhosted (yeah, I spent most of my lockdown scrolling reddit, just like you guys). I started to add more and more devices to my network basket (aka homelab). Now, this isn't a joke, I literally have this basket which contains most of my network stuff!
The above picture is the candid shot I took of my network basket, I know, it needs some TLC, I am planning to better organize the items into a dedicated DIY rack relatively soon, I'll cover that in a later post.
The Homelab intro:
Let's meet the current Set up:
In the Picture:
- Pi 1 & Pi 2 - My Raspberry Pi 2B
- Pi 3 - My Raspberry Pi 3B with PoE hat
- Router - Mikrotik RB2011UiAS-2HnD-IN (mouthful! I know)
- PoE - TP Link Gigabit PoE Switch
- above PoE - 4 Port Powered USB Hub
Not in the Picture:
- Netgear Orbi RBK13 (Spread through the house)
- Dell inspiron 14 motherboard (hacked into pieces, story for another day)
- 4G Hotspot AR5513 (Jio MiFi Router)
Now that you know what's what, Let me give you an overview. The Pis (1 & 2) run Pi-Hole in redundancy, vaultwarden and wireguard. Pi 3 is mostly used for hosting flame and a few other specific utilities that I've set up to backup some of my cloud data to local storage connected to the dell motherboard that is my frankenstein x86 server. It also runs a few docker images (more on that in a different post) and has two HDDs connected in RAID1 for redundancy. I still don't have a good patch panel or proper wiring around my home so most of items that are hardwired use patch runs directly attached between the router and device.
The 4G router has been strategically mounted in a location with better signal coverage. It is literally double taped to a power outlet that gives it better signal strength compared to what it used to get in the basket. Since it now in a distance, it also needs some extra power so I use that contraption cable that injects power into the USB cable to power the device since I removed it's battery.
A lot of items have been delayed due to the dynamics of pandemic, hence, a lot of planned upgrades were shelved. I plan to change a few items in the network basket over the coming months and years including introducing more Pis (4B with PoE) along with probably a better configured dedicated x86 server instead of running an old laptop motherboard on an open bench. I may eventually upgrade the router and introduce a more beefy PoE device but that's not in my short term horizon. Nothing is a 100% fixed yet, the situation is dynamic so things keep on evolving from time to time. I hope to share more details as my homelab grows.
If you've got any suggestions or ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments.
I'll catch you guys in my next one!