How to create home lab network

So in this case, how would the SXTsq 5 ac fit into the equation? Would it be something like this?

ATT router/AP → SXTsq 5 ac → nw switch → unifi u6-lr AP

Hope you all don’t mind the questions.

Spin up pfsense in a vm.

Make the WAN interface for pfsense use NAT behind your host (eg default switch in hyperv) and bridge the LAN in pfsense to the onboard wired NIC. Eg create a new virtual switch for hyperv and bind it to the onboard wired nic.

Plug this nic into a switch, wireless AP or whatever and that’s your lab network.

BSDs have bad WiFi support, pfsense is no exception. So OP needs something to connect to the network. But yeah, at least trying the WiFi built intonyhose boxes is a good call.

ATT router/AP <-> SXTsq 5 ac (acting as upstream interface/router) <-> nw switch <-> unifi u6-lr AP

Yes… something like that would be a good start.

The directional antenna in SXTsq 5 ac will allow for more sensitivity and signal strength, thus making up for some of the losses due to the wall and distance. I’m guessing you might get 250-300Mbps clean through?

The RouterOS in SXTsq 5 ac isn’t that bad, it supports VLANs for guest networks and so on, supports setting arbitrary DHCP server options, and can do Wireguard and ZeroTier, and some light weight scripting. The IPQ4018 is old 40nm Cortex A7, but it’s got hardware AES and Mikrotik usually cuts out packet processing compared to traditional Linux kernels.

You can offload all the routing to pfSense opnSense OpenWRT vyos or whatever random distro whenever you want on the future sand can configure Mikrotik to just pass packets if you so wish.

Your own dedicated AP further down the line, will allow your devices to run on a wifi channel different to your neighbor’s , and your devices won’t compete with your neighbor’s for airtime because you’ll be able to use different frequencies.

U6-LR can actually run OpenWRT… sooo in case you’re ever curious… that’s one more toy.

On a more serious note, I’m routinely getting 800Mbps+ over WiFi with it with my phone, so transferring files between your laptop and your home network should work well enough for your own needs.

As a switch, how many ports world you need? You might want to consider a POE switch which will power your Mikrotik CPE, and your unifi access point.

If you wanted to go fully wireless, you could hook up the Mikrotik to the Unifi directly, but your tiny mini micros should really be on a wired network where they’re happier.

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Wifi works in BSD, it isn’t 1999 any more, but yeah won’t be ideal.

Raspberry pi as a bridge (or easier as just a router). Then plug pfsense in behind that.

Or just use the pi as your lab router/firewall itself but that might be a pain in the ass for regular changes.

I think it’s more the drivers for particular nics?

Not the tech in general

From pfsense docs

Currently, there is no support for 802.11ac in FreeBSD nor in pfSense software. Development on FreeBSD can be tracked by checking the FreeBSD Wiki Article for 802.11ac Support.

It’s not 1999, but apparently we haven’t yet gotten to 2015.

I won’t comment on using a Pi, but please, don’t.

Why not? They’re cheap and essentially as or more powerful than the low end Netgate boxes or asa5506.

They support wifi just fine out of the box.

It’s a home lab.

Re: WiFi, the Pi might have the hardware, but pfsense itself doesn’t support modern WiFi in any way.

And well… why not a Pi? Not everything is about how “powerfuly” the hardware is. Running a system off of an SD card just won’t be reliable, unless you can fit the whole thing into RAM and don’t touch the card while the system is running.

It’s a dumb router it’s not doing a large number of IOPs.

Use a even a 4G SD card and you’ll have like 3+ gigs for over provisioning.

And again - home lab.

I’d say “don’t overspend on dumb stuff” for your home lab. Spend the money where it is needed. Faster storage for your VMs, more cores, etc.

Don’t waste money on a lab router.

Ive been running vm hosts off SD card for boot for 10 years (enterprise) and had a handful of failures in that time. Nintendo switch primary game storage for 3 years. Far more IO than a home router.

SD failure in a home lab router is both extremely unlikely inside the life of the lab and if it does happen it is tens of dollars or less to fix.

I am in the same situation, but I can’t really get an ethernet cable from downstairs into my room, so I used a RPi 3 as a router. I’m running Alpine on it. Connected it to WiFi and set the Ethernet port to route IPv4. It’s connected to an 8 port managed switch, and funnily enough, the Pi 3 supports VLANs.

Anyway, the Pi 3 not only doesn’t have WiFi 5, but it also can only go up to 300 Mbps on the Ethernet card, so if you can, just buy something like a NanoPi R4S or a RockPro64 and add a USB 3.0 WiFi 6 network adapter to it.

Here’s my guide for my setup

You could technically run OpenWRT and still achieve the same result.

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Thing is, unless you have more than 300 megabit of internet to your home lab, the pi limitations are just not a problem.

Use a more powerful machine inside the lab itself for inter VLAN routing if required (but hey, even inter VLAN routing for home should likely fit in that), all the pi needs to do is act as an “internet” edge for your lab.

In this case just doing NAT/routing to the wifi network.

I swear, some peoples estimates of what they need for home, I’ve run hundreds of users from in production before.

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As far as ports go, the plan for now is to wire 3 micromini nodes, a NAS, and the PC I am building. I would think I only need 3 to 5 more ports , maybe for some sort of home automation gadget, a tv media controller/streamer,and maybe an extra wired port for the laptop.

Well we do have fiber, and I get about 450 Mbps up and down according to SpeedTest on my ipad. I do want to take advantage of that. In the case of what was suggested previously, would the rPI be better or worse than the Microtik SQTsq5 ac?

The pi will be a lot cheaper the Microtik will be better.

You may get 450 meg on speed test but do you need that entire amount in your lab?

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this will power your wifi and your other gadgets

Worse - The antenna situation on the pi is horrible.

If you’re getting 450Mbps on your iPad, maybe you’ll get more than 300 on the SXTsq 5ac …

Now that I think about it, maybe if you got a Linksys e8450 and put OpenWRT on it, maybe that would make a decent wifi client, it’d certainly make a decent router software wise:

In short it’s a 4x4 ax router ; with a dual core 1.35GHz A53 arm that can shuffle packets to/from WiFi : Linksys E8450 - WikiDevi.Wi-Cat.RU

SXTsq 5 ac is only 2x2 ac; but really high gain antenna.

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For me, it served me well, as I don’t do inter-vlan routing yet, so the switch does the bulk work between my devices. At some point I will want to split VLANs and the 300 Mbps on the Ethernet side will not cut it. For now, it’s all I need. For later, once I get the rockpro64 to run OpenBSD, I’ll switch to that and repurpose the Pi 3.

Thank you everyone for the very helpful replies! I will most likely go with Microtik CPE link to a switch for my mini nodes and an AP. Will post updates as I acquire the equipment. Am sure I will need help lol.

Hey thought you might be interested, I finished the first phase of my build! Details here:

Thanks for all the good advice :slight_smile:

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Hey thought you might be interested, I finished the first phase of my build! Details here:

Thanks for all the good advice!