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At the time of writing, I’m currently co-oping at Collins Aerospace, whom are nice enough to provide me a 3-floor townhouse. Since this is the first time I’ve lived somewhere where I can setup my own network, I just wanted to write up how I’ve done it.

Network Infrastructure

Here are the components of my home network infrastructure.

Technicolor Modem - $11.50/Month

Some crappy Technicolor (I didn't know they were even still around) modem provided by my ISP.
Some crappy Technicolor (I didn’t know they were even still around) modem provided by my ISP.

This is modem/router combo provided by my ISP (Mediacom). While I would normally buy my own equipment, since I’m only going to be at this place for a few months, I decided to just rent it instead from my ISP instead.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I have yet to figure out how to even login to the web management portal to disable it’s WiFi, since I just want to use it as a modem, and not a router.

The online control panel doesn't seem to work, and I don't care enough to call support.
The online control panel doesn’t seem to work, and I don’t care enough to call support.
It doesn't work on my account dashboard either.
It doesn’t work on my account dashboard either.
TP-Link Archer C1900

I managed to snag a refurbished unit in a Newegg flash deal for $34.99.

This is my WiFi access point for my network along with my DHCP server. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, since I haven’t been able to get into my ISP modem/router, I’m currently broadcasting multiple WiFi networks right next to each other. I got this because I wanted more control (like changing DNS servers) than I was positive the ISP provided router would allow.

Also, very usefully, this router has a USB port on it. I believe it’s for setting up a printer, but it does provide enough amperage to power a Raspberry Pi (see below).

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B - Free

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

I got a free Raspberry Pi 3 a few years back when Arrow was running a promotion for Pi day (March 14), where they were selling Raspberry Pi’s for $3.14. Well, their website crashed under the load, and the next day they gave a bunch away for free to people like me who tried to place an order.

I now have my Pi 3 acting as DNS server for my network with Pi-hole (I really like the blocklist). Thanks to the USB port on my router, I just have it sitting physically right next to my router and directly plugged in.

Netgear GS305 - $19.99

Netgear GS305

Not much to say about this. It’s a basic 5-port gigabit unmanaged switch. I’ve had it for a few years.

Netgear Powerline 1200 - $79.99

Netgear Powerline 1200

This one hurt the most to purchase. For best WiFi coverage, I have my router sitting on the main floor of my townhouse. My desktop computer and server, however, are both located downstairs. As I didn’t want to use WiFi for those, there weren’t many options to get ethernet down into the basement.

  1. Run 200ft ethernet cable across and over living room, down staircase, around corner, and down hallway.
  2. Punch holes in the floor and run cable.
  3. Powerline adapters.

Option #1 is not practical, and I don’t think my landlord would really like option #2. I had heard of powerline adapters before, but just had never used them before. I really wanted to get my server back up and running, so I decided to give it a shot and went to my local Best Buy and bought a pair of Netgear Powerline 1200.

So far, I’ve been satisficed. The bandwidth is a bit less than my 5Ghz WiFi, but the latency is noticeably less. I use the Netgear switch mentioned above to split the connection to my desktop and server.


Diagram of my home network.
Diagram of my home network.


Quick summary:

  • Technicolor Modem: Modem
  • TP-Link Archer: Router, DHCP, WiFi
  • Raspberry Pi: DNS
  • Powerline Adapters: Getting ethernet into basement
  • Netgear Switch: Splitting powerline connection

For $34.99 and $11.50 monthly (and miscellaneous cables), I have a pretty solid home network with 2.4 and 5GHz WiFi (though I don’t use the 2.4GHz since everything these days supports 5GHz AC), an isolated guest network, and network-wide ad-blocking via Pi-hole. I also have true gigabit for everything within the network (very helpful for my local Nextcloud instance). For another $100, I have ethernet in my basement for all of my fixed devices (a cost I don’t like thinking about).

I’m a bit of a statistics nerd, so I would love a way to see which devices are connecting to what domains, how much bandwidth they’re using, etc., but I have not found a software solution to this. My router does allow you to see how many bytes each device sends and receives, but that’s it. I know I can sort of estimate it with Pi-hole and seeing what DNS queries devices are making, and how often, but I’d love a solution similar to Glasswire, but for the whole network. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a way to accomplish this without using a different router (like a pfSense box) completely (a step I’m not willing to take yet).