So, I’m at a bit of an impasse in regards to rewiring the technology in our house. I was hoping some of my tech professional friends could offer their $0.02 and point me in the right direction. Here’s the deal:
With the house/walls open and with me switching rooms in the house for my study/man cave, it’s the perfect opportunity to do things like run Cat-6 everywhere, wire for speakers, and set up a “proper” server closet. Running the actual cables I can do, I’ve done that before. The server configuration has me a bit perplexed though.
The set up I was using prior to the flood was: 2 PCs, 2 TVs with Roku boxes, 2 game consoles, and 1 older PC with FreeNAS installed acting as both a file server and Plex media server, and average coverage (from the AT&T box) wifi. The PCs, TVs, consoles and Roku boxes were all hard-wired within the network. I did drops of Cat-5e when we moved in. There were two 8-port switches on the network as well.
My immediate goal is to upgrade 1 of those PCs (my personal machine), as well as the server (storage), and to wire the house for anything and everything I might need in the future.
Here’s what I have at the moment for hardware to either use or to gut and Frankenstein something together with:
- 3 older (2008) Mac Pros (Snow Leopard and Lion)
- 1 slightly less old Mac Pro (mid 2010 – Quad Core Xeon) running El Cap (10.11.4)
- 1 super old Dell (Precision 690 – older Xeon)
- 1 slightly less old Dell (Optiplex 960 – Core 2 duo), might be dead from flood
- 1 older custom PC (Intel z77, older gen i3, 8G DDR3)
- 1 newer (wife’s) custom PC (newer gen i5, 16G DDR3)
- 1 ultra old Frankenstein PC (Athlon 6400?) – Current server
- 2 8-port Netgear Pro GS308 switches
- 1 Netgear Nighthawk Gigabit wifi router (new!)
- 1 very old 24-port Linksys rack-mounted managed switch (10/100 only)
I bought the Nighthawk just last month to accommodate us at my in-laws house while we’re staying there. Their house is a dead-zone for cell signal and their old wifi only went about 20ft. The Nighthawk covers half the neighborhood. It’ll come with us back to the house when we’re done, so I’m not concerned about the wifi at the moment.
The question is, do I use the last PC I built and turn it into a server (the older gen i3) and add storage, or given it’s age and that it was built for gaming and gives off tremendous heat (much more than your average Xeon or HTPC), do I just retire it and built not only a new PC, but a server as well? I could stuff the thing with IcyDock hard drive trays and hope the heat doesn’t kill them.
Or, if I build a server, what’s a good (and current) option as far as hardware, given that it’ll be literally in a closet? Do I build or would something like a Synology NAS also work? I need something to run cool and silent but have enough horsepower to trans-code 1080p to the TV in the living room. It’s primary job will be as a Plex server. I also want to do things like setup a PiHole, DD-WRT and/or possibly a VPN, Sonarr, Radarr, Couchpotato, and be able to access OwnCloud or SyncThing from the outside. Would any of the old hardware work for those things? Should I built a server box that can handle all that, or use specific older systems for specific tasks?
I also want to run Cat-6 to at least 6 rooms, if not more, with multiple lines per room. The living room for example, will need at least 4 lines (TV, Roku, game console/bluray), or 1-2 lines and a switch. I’m thinking I’ll need at least a 24-port switch in the closet. Any recommendations on panels, or ways to organize all those cables coming into the closet?
Lastly, I’m planning on venting the soon-to-be server closet with a ceiling mounted “silent” bathroom fan, but I’ll need some way to store all these things in a small hallway closet. I do, technically, own a rack. It’s an old 8ft HP cabinet, got it at a yard sale, no joke. Should I put a rack in a closet, or just use shelves?
Any thoughts, ideas, configurations, tips, etc. would be very very helpful at this point. Although I dabble, network configuration is not my forte. I tend to “cobble together” what I have sitting around, and for once I’d like to do this properly and future proof it a bit. HELP!
Where the heck did October go? I swear it was just September and I was posting about cleaning out soggy drywall from the house. That’s moving slowly by the way. I know I haven’t been updating because, honestly, it’s kind of a bummer to think about as it’s happening. We’re still a long way off from being back in the house. Funding has been secured though and we’re moving forward with bids and estimates from contractors. The plumbing work has begun in earnest. It needs to happen first before walls get closed up. We decided to do a whole house re-pipe. Every wall we opened up exposed more and more old galvanized pipes. They were deteriorating pretty badly, some nearly rusted through. It made more sense to do it all while the walls were open than to put drywall back only to have to tear it out again if we had a leak or a plumbing problem down the line. The same goes for the electrical. The house has old 14-guage un-grounded wiring. It makes more sense to do that now rather than risk a fire (or something just not working) later on.
So, when people ask “are you done with the house yet?”, and I just kinda laugh and say “no”, they get confused. Most people are thinking it was just a matter of putting sheet-rock back and moving on with our lives. Nope. While we could have, and did contemplate that, it made more sense to do all these actual repairs and improvements. Yes, it will take ten times as long. Yes, we won’t be back into the house for at least another two months. Yes, it’s expensive. It’s also getting all those “remodeling” projects that people do over their lifetimes completely out of the way all at once. Seriously. I won’t have to re-tile a bathroom, update a living room, repaint a bedroom, refinish a cabinet, or any of those other weekend DIY projects FOR DECADES. That’s kinda neat.
There’s other projects that have a higher chance of actually happening now as well. A home server rack for example. While I haven’t decided if I’m going “rack mounted” or “old PC in a closet”, there’s going to be some network upgrades happening for sure. I’ve already gotten the ok to take over what was the wrapping paper closet in the hallway, and I’ve been looking up ventilation solutions (hint: silent bathroom fans, who knew?!) and wiring ideas. If anyone has any expertise in that, I’d love to pick your brain.
The other thing that’s kinda neat is that I might be able to “finish out” the garage. We’ve already gotten it sheet-rocked and last weekend we installed a window A/C unit to keep the room cool. We’re using it as storage for the furniture that was salvageable. So, it’s filling up quickly, but it’s cool and dry, and after all is said and done, it’ll make a great work space for all sorts of other fun stuff. I’ll have new walls, A/C, and I’ll probably epoxy the garage floor when we’re done with it.
So, where does that leave us? Well, we’re about a mile or two down a very long road. Lots and lots of hard work ahead. We’re trying to save money any way we can while getting the most out of the remodel. So, that means things like sanding, cleaning, demoing, putting down laminate floors, putting up drapes, painting, etc, will all be done by us. The harder stuff like plumbing, electrical, AC, tile and cabinets will get handled by our collection of professionals.
I feel weird posting about stuff other than baseball, baseball cards, BBQ, and everything else I normally enjoy. There just hasn’t been any time for that stuff. It’s going to be a long, tiring winter. We’re up for the challenge. It just might not make for interesting blog posts. Hopefully we’ll get back to normal soon. Fingers crossed.
Matt “Doc” Perry, Creative Idiot, Texas
I had seriously considered not publishing this at all. Part of me feels like it’s the trading card equivalent of magicians secrets. In the wrong hands, you could use these notes to create fake cards and to scam people out of real money.
That was a major concern, but I’m a creative person, and by nature I enjoy sharing with people. My enjoyment in creating something overrides my hesitations about people using this for nefarious purposes. Much like guns can be used for good, they can also be used for evil, and in much the same way so can knowledge. I don’t mean to make this sound ridiculously grandiose. It’s not. They’re little pieces of plastic and cardboard. However, in researching all this, I found a very purposeful and distinct “we don’t talk about this” among the card community, especially among people who create custom cards. No one wanted to discuss this. I couldn’t decide whether people were simply keeping it for themselves, or if in some altruistic way they thought they were preventing fraud in the card community. I don’t want to dismiss the later, but I also don’t agree with keeping secrets in what is essentially an art project.
There’s not really any reason why I haven’t updated since November except to say that work was exceptionally crazy. In December I typically photograph a lot of Christmas parties, this year was no exception, and that took up the majority of my weekends. At work I also had a big push to finish a large web project by the end of the year. On the upside, with the free time I did have, I managed to carve out a good portion of time to do things with the family, which is infinitely more enjoyable than typing into a blog editor panel. We went to see the nutcracker ballet, we saw movies (Moana good, Sing bad), we played games, we had people over and cooked and ate and enjoyed the time we had together. I was going to mention something about my birthday, but thankfully it was a non-event, just how I like it. Lots of little things to catch up on here and there.
Overwatch – Had some time to really dig deep and enjoy it. I retract any of my previous statements about it being “vanilla” or generic. It has surprising depth and I’m really liking it. It’s that next evolutionary step beyond Team Fortress 2’s “rock, paper, scissors” formula.
Moana – Was genuinely awesome. The animation was good, the story was good, The Rock was excellent. Disney’s in-house animation is now on par with Pixar, I think that’s safe to say.
Sing – Was disappointing in a number of ways. For starters, everything in between the singing, which was fine, was very nearly PG-13. That’s fine for me, but it’s considerably above the heads of most 5-10 year olds. There’s robbery, foreclosure, depression, gambling debt, scams, breakups, theft, assault, near-murder and all sorts of other fairly dark themes that kids just aren’t going to get. It’s marketed as a kids movie, and it’s not that.
Rouge One – Wow. That was an impressive dip into the Star Wars universe that satisfied all those “geeky” needs, without destroying the franchise, and sucessfully expanding it. I’m not going to get into original Lucas canon vs. new Disney canon, I just don’t care that much. All I know is that it was good, really good, and the entire movie didn’t even have a light saber in it. If I’m being perfectly honest, I kinda liked it better than Episode 7.
Raspberry Pi – I finally got on board the Pi train this Christmas. That was my present from my awesome wife and I love this thing. I loaded it up with BerryBoot (boot loader) right off the bat and created several partitions to play with. Raspbian was an obvious choice, but I also installed RetroPie and PirateBox as well. I’m also thinking about a PiRate Radio as soon as I can track down a jumper for one of the pins and a random length of copper wire. We had considerable fun playing old Nintendo games over the holidays with RetroPie and a USB knock-off of a SNES controller. I’m letting the kiddo learn the classics. The pure joy she had when she got the end of the first level in Mario was priceless.
Cards – Yes, I did get some cards throughout December. Those are sitting by the scanner for when I have a minute. I have a good sized SportLots order and a hobby box of Diamond Kings to share at some point.
BBQ – I finally nailed a perfect brisket. Do I get my Texan card now? Achievement unlocked? I’ve always been good with pork and ribs, but brisket took some serious practice. Look at that rendered deckle…
Customs – Last but not least, in my spare time, which is mostly single moments in-between emails, I’m still putting together custom cards. I’ve been able to recreate several BUNT designs that, at least in my opinion, should have been real physical cards and not just digital designs (he says, as he creates digital designs). BUNT Posters, Infinite and Heroes & Legends to name a few. I’ll show those off down the road. I’m also working on approximations of Panini Noir, 1966 Topps Hockey, FIRE, Goodwin Champions and BUNT Blueprints.