Steve's blog

A blog about what's going on in Analysis UK...

Home Network

I just finished off some updates to my home network so I thought I'd share a few pics of the main switch rack.

Here it is:
Home Network patch panel

The big thing you will probably notice is that most of the switches are not used and some only very sightly, I do have more switches than I really need at present!

Here's what the box contains, working down from the top.

1) APC PDU – Power switcher.
2) Netgear POE switch
3) 3 COM POE switch
4) Netgear 10/100 Switch
5) Patch panel for the 22 outlets in my flat.
6) Netgear Gigabit Switch
7) HP 10/100 Switch.

How my flats split:

2 Ports over cupboard on outside wall.
2 Ports over extractor hood/cupboards on inside wall.
4 Ports under worktop.

Living room:
2 Ports by TV.
2 Ports by Rear wall.

2 Ports by door.

Office (Bedroom 2):
2 Ports by door.
4 Ports by Server/workstation PCs.

Airing cupboard:
2 Ports, yes I really do have 2 network ports in the airing cupboard!

Most of the ports come from the main Netgear Gigabit switch. Currently I have 3 ports connected to the 3COM POE switch.

I only intended to buy 1 POE switch but apparently their like buses. Having waited many months to get a good price on eBay the Netgear POE switch came up as a BIN so I immediately purchased it, then a few days latter I realised that I had one the 3COM POE switch I put a low-ball bid on, net result is 2 POE switches.

This has the advantage that I can have one POE switch powering devices that I want on 24x7 and the other powering devices that I might not want on all the time, so giving me better control over power usage.

If you want to know why I wanted POE switches you'll have to wait for another blog post!

The 10/100 Netgear switch was the original switch I purchased to service the flat before it ran out of ports and I wanted something faster than 100M. I'm leaving it in the rack as it might well stay with the flat when I eventually move out and it's filling a hole I'd have to buy a blanking plate for otherwise.

I was lucky enough to be given the gigabit switch and HP switch, currently the HP switch is also not used.

At the top of the rack is my latest purchase, a UPC PDU (Power Distribution Unit), this means that I can switch off all the unneeded network switches and should I need to I can hard reboot any as well – I needed to do that a few months ago before the UPS was connected when a very brief brownout put the Netgear gigabit switch in a funny state and took down my network.

If you look closely enough you will see the obvious problem – the PDU network comes from the gigabit switch, so if I have a dippy moment and power off that switch I can't switch it on again over the network (it would have been nice to see the APC PDU have 2x network ports!), so I will be sticking my head in the loft if that happens. Should the power fail and the UPS battery run out then the device will switch off, but it's set-up to automatically power on the Netgear switch when power is returned so hopefully I should regain control in that situation.

I've got a few little side projects under way and wanted the APC PDU to play with as it was, but it's turned out to be useful as the POE switches can be noisy when switched on (although I've hacked them and replaced the little 40mm fans for quiet ones which makes a big difference), having 3+ switches all running little 40mm fans can be really noisy when it's in the loft and your trying to sleep!

The whole lot is powered through a little APC UPS, I don't care much for the device, mainly because it screams when the power goes off and that's not amusing when it's in the loft – I've got a network monitor card for a SmartUPS so now all I need is to get a SmartUPS to replace the little one and I'll be happy.

The cabinet it's self is a plastic 19” 7U cabinet I got off eBay, sadly most of the Netgear and 3COM switches were to deep for the original configuration of the cabinet – hence the reason the door is not fitted as it won't close – fortunately their were 2 sets of mounts for the mounting brackets and I was able to bring them forward and the switches just about fit now (about 300mm) otherwise I had them resting on top of the case which was a bit naff.

Here's the switch depths of the 2 POE switches, the maximum I can get in my cabinet is 300mm and that has to include the power lead coming out the back of the switches.
uploads/CAT5 exiting network patch

At the back of the case theirs a bit snake of CAT5 that heads off all over the loft:
CAT5 exiting network patch
This was before I got the PDU, hence the mass of mains leads.

Wiring up the patch panel has been interesting:
CAT5 exiting network patch
You can see that was before I rearranged the switches.