For years I ran a mikrotik 750G routerboard as my router in place of whatever guff the ISP provided. This, along with various WAPs from Netgear and Apple served our needs for a good few years. The mikrotik in particular was rock solid, only needing a reboot for a firmware or OS update. This fag packet sized box of tricks was very powerful but had a steep learning curve.
As we’re in national lockdown I have a bit of time on my hands in the evenings (all masonic meetings are suspended) so I started to take a long hard look at my home network. It was no longer just a NAS and some desktop/laptop machines, I now had IoT devices, my hifi, my TV, Tado etc all needing to be connected and all needing internet access. I wanted to be able to separate trusted and untrusted devices, and a nice dashboard facility would be nice. Mikrotik can do the logging but not really the dashboard and my 750G isn’t grunty enough so I need a new router regardless.
I came across this blog post from Scott Helme and after reading that and doing some more digging about I settled on ubiquiti stuff. I thought I’d start small and see how I go so I ordered a UniFi Security Gateway router, an 8 port switch and one access point from my go to supplier LinITX.
The ubiquiti kit needs a controller to set it all up but rather than pay for the official cloud key I repurposed an old raspberry pi 3B. Setup was really straightforward – it’s all done in the console. All I had to do was adopt the various devices into my ‘network’, define my WAN credentials, setup DHCP (with my pi-hole servers as DNS) and define a wireless network with appropriate credentials. Within a couple of minutes everything was ticking along, it honestly took longer to unbox the kit than it did to get it setup.
The access point had a much better range and actually replaced the two older devices I had in place. The dashboard is just awesome, it shows me exactly what is going on across my network, who is talking to who and gave me some eye-watering stats about very chatty apps. Colour me impressed.