November Update

November 9, 2021

We’re back!

A week ago, I returned from attending AWA, and I actually made use of the hotel reservation! It landed me Diamond status with Hilton, and quite surprisingly the aircard worked really well!

As I’ve said before, I’ve done a lot of testing at ground level around that area, and I was quite pleased to see as high as 50 Mbps both up and down throughout the weekend.

I’m traveling next week, though as it’s going to be a 4-day hotel-hopping trip, I’ll be packing as light as possible, so it’ll be the worktop and its aircard only. I’ll get to see if T-Mobile LTE still works well on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Until next time!


Fall Update and Looking Forward

October 3, 2021

We’re now into the fall, and this is around the time the case’s original intention would be used. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it won’t be. AWA, at least my long-standing version of it, isn’t happening. The convention is happening, but my group isn’t flying in for it. Ah well. It’ll be a fun distraction on the Saturday of it at the minimum.

Moving right along… the case has finally hit “perfection,” at least for now. The hAP ac2 is still being used, though it now runs OpenWrt instead of RouterOS, more on this later. The NUC is set up with a Domain Controller for DHCP and DNS, a Pi-Hole for ad blocking, and a Plex server that still needs filling out. The reason I flashed OpenWrt on the hAP vs. RouterOS is because WireGuard in OpenWrt just works. I migrated my site-to-site VPN from my home to my gear at Coloblox from IPsec to WireGuard to enable proper connection failover for the tunnel, so I needed the case’s network to do similar: moving it over to OpenWrt allowed for this. Secondarily to this, I have what I call “Internet-in-a-Box Mini” and a fully-portable device using gear from GL.iNet for smaller needs. Both of these connect back to the DC using WireGuard.

OpenWrt handles gateway swapping pretty easily: I set up different metrics on each interface, eth2 for the LTE modem, and eth0 for the wired LAN, so if I unplug one and plug the other in, it properly swaps over. Ideally LTE will be used, though if a wired port is available, I’d probably swap over to that just for simplicity’s sake.

This blog and the other WordPress ones I have will be moved to a Hugo-based system in the next few weeks if I end up with enough time to get it done. It’ll allow for offline editing, which isn’t something I really need per se, but it’ll be nice. Only issue is I’ll need to actually learn Markdown: shouldn’t be too difficult.

Until next time!


New Case Ready!

April 3, 2021

Happy Easter Weekend folks!
I took some time today to get all the gear in the new case, and it all fits! Obviously I’ll carry a plug strip (or two) in my luggage separate from the case, and the LTE device will be in my laptop bag until in the room proper. I believe I’ve mentioned why that’s what happens before: I’ve actually had a business trip in the past where I was the one flying to and from, and having the E3276s-505 available to me outside of the room was quite nice as I was able to get online while waiting for outbound and inbound flights.

Next up: test results with the hAP ac2 which are quite good! I picked ciphers that are accelerated by it for the tunnel and got 160 Mbps over the VPN copying an ISO from the web server to one of the test VMs. This will do quite nicely as the fastest LTE speed I’ve seen on my Calyx device is 35 Mbps or so.

I’ve put the GL-AR750S in the case as well to use for WiFi client mode. While it’s not as overkill as the GrooveA is, it should do fine if needed. Hopefully it won’t be needed.


Decisions and Stability?

March 28, 2021

We’re back!

I’ve got the hAP ac2 on order: I can deal with no PoE out. The reasoning for this is twofold: 1) the ac2 has IPsec acceleration, and 2) it’s apparently not hard to replicate the failover of Ethernet to LTE that I had on the FortiWiFi and SonicWall on RouterOS. Chances are very good that LTE will always be used except when it’s set up at home for testing.

It’ll be in tomorrow, so I’ll get it set up with wired at home and verify functionality/IPsec speed before setting the failover up.

Until next time!


Further Thoughts

February 20, 2021

Hi friends!
In the last post I mentioned using the hAP ac3 for the primary device going forward, but I’m having second thoughts on that one.

First off, it’s just huge. I have my Visio of the case set up to account for it, but it’s going to be a tight fit. Therefore, I’m thinking that I don’t exactly need accelerated IPsec speed when as of now the fastest I’ve seen with my Calyx hotspot is 40 Mbps, and even though hotel WiFi is faster now, I highly doubt we’ll see over 100 Mbit at the ones we use for AWA, the case’s primary use case. Which brings me to the next conclusion based on musings from a couple of years ago: it’s time to upgrade to the original hAP ac. It gives triple-chain WiFi on both bands as well as gigabit Ethernet, so Internet traffic should be quite speedy. Sadly, it lacks the IPsec acceleration the hAP ac2 and ac3 have, but the ac2 doesn’t have PoE out, and as previously mentioned, the ac3 is quite large. Alas, the “perfect” device still doesn’t yet exist. Maybe one day, but we’re close!

Until next time!


Back to Square One and Looking Forward

February 15, 2021

I’ve tried and tried and tried for the last 15 months to wrangle the stack’s “evolved” forms into functionality with nothing but frustration as one bit would work, then another wouldn’t, then that would work, and the other wouldn’t, etc.

Due to this, I’ve just decided to go back to MikroTik for everything in the case. I dug the hAP ac Lite back out and have it working with IKEv2 NAT-T, dug the GrooveA 52 ac out and updated it, and now have it feeding WiFi back to the hAP. Both are running the long term firmware, so I think we’ll be good for quite a while.

I also won an auction for an RBM11G on eBay today, which I’ll throw ROOter on and install an appropriately configured LTE card into, and we’ll be set up for everything going forward.

That said! Even if we’re sticking with MikroTik, we need something faster than 100 Mbps NICs on our primary device as both the Groove and RBM11G have gigabit NICs. What to do then? The options are wide, but with IPsec tunnels in play and newer wireless standards, the only choice is the hAP ac3. This device is quite large, but with the larger case it should fit along with everything else. Soon we’ll get this going and hopefully in time for conventions this year, assuming they actually happen.

Until next time!


Case Expansion and Reworking… Again…

February 9, 2021

Hi everyone!

I’ve opted to punt on converting everything to Hugo as I’ve just not had the time to put forth the effort to figure it out properly. That said, the case has been expanded with some slightly unexpected things…

First off, the FortiWiFi started rebooting: I could put a support ticket in, but my experiences with Fortinet support at work is leaving me, well, wanting, so I dug the APU2 back out and now we’re running with that with a working USB Ethernet adapter to have interface name consistency: ue0 for the hotspot or for wired to a wall port or the GL.iNet router. This should help pfSense not freak out too much. I’ve done some tests and speeds are stable with it, so it should work out.

This brings us to the next big change: I finally picked up a larger Pelican case, the 1450, so I have room for additional things, like a switch and an Intel NUC. I was planning to use the SG250-08HP in this, but considering the ephemeralness of the stack, a a simple unmanaged 8-port switch will work. The NUC has a domain controller VM on it, which will be set up as the network’s DHCP server. Again, because of how ephemeral the stack is, and with DNS scavenging enabled on the zone, it shouldn’t have too much of an effect on the network itself. In addition to the DC VM, I’m planning to get a specially curated Plex VM set up to enable local streaming vs. relying on the WAN connection. Again, it’ll take a bit of time to get going but once it’s set up we should have something rad for the con, assuming it happens again.

I have some additional testing to put forward, so once I have that done I’ll post another update.

Until next time!


Staying Still, and Forthcoming Changes!

December 22, 2020

Happy Holidays!

Hot on the heels of last month’s post, I’ve decided to stick with the FortiWiFi for the case. I had some issues with the SG-1100 today after I re-IPed some stuff, so I dug the FortiWiFi back out and got everything going without too much issue on the new subnet.

In the next few days I’m going to be migrating this blog and the other ones to Hugo from WordPress in preparation for migrating to a new virtual server sometime next year.

Until next time!


A Little Bit of Reworking…

November 1, 2020

Hi folks! This would’ve been AWA weekend if not for this accursed timeline…

Anyway, I took the time the con would’ve happened off anyway, and this weekend had my home Internet switched over to AT&T Fiber 1000 with a block of 5 IP addresses. Additionally, I have all my gear racked, so the home network is pretty good now.

As part of that, I put my SG-5100 back in as pfSense can properly delegate IPv6 prefixes from AT&T’s gateway. Moving away from a FortiGate at home might be kind of eh, but at the same time I never really needed all the UTM bits on it at home.

So we’re going to redo the stack… again. I’m not going to renew the support contact on the FortiWiFi, so I dug the SG-1100 and that 8-port Cisco PoE switch out then started messing about in Visio to see if I could make everything fit in the case and kept getting stuck on the wireless. Then I went looking around and found a very small PoE-powered 802.11ac AP that I put an order in for. Once it arrives later this week I’ll get everything hooked up on it.

I dug the APU2 out to see if the LINKZONE 2 would work fine with it, and since it has a battery, it’ll work without a problem. Only “issue” is the SG-1100’s USB ports are vertical, but that shouldn’t make too much of a difference.

Until next time!


LTE Permanence, This Time for Real

October 4, 2020

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve decided to use LTE as the primary connection for the case going forward. That said, after copious research on my part, I’ve settled on a solution granted by being a contributor to the Calyx Institute, a nonprofit that is a champion of digital privacy. One of the perks of this is truly unlimited 4G LTE on Sprint’s network. The hotspot device, an Alcatel LINKZONE 2, arrived the other day, and I immediately began testing it at home. I had Sprint for cellular service a few years ago and remember LTE being absolutely rubbish at home, which it still is, but as it’s for a good cause I will keep contributing.

I decided to take a field trip over to the Galleria area this afternoon with the LINKZONE 2 and my iPad, and I made a couple of speed tests before leaving the neighborhood and saw 30 Mbps. Good, the device works as expected, I’m just in a poor spot. I performed a couple more tests as I headed to the interstate, then once I got over to the Galleria tested in my usual testing spot and saw good speeds. I drove around a bit more and tested in various spots and all of them were 20 Mbps or more. Admittedly, I won’t be able to drive to everywhere I’d use this to test beforehand, but at the very least I can take a trip downtown later in the year to test around the venues for DragonCon and MomoCon. I’ve got a feeling it won’t be an issue, especially once I have access to T-Mobile’s bands due to the Sprint/T-Mobile merger.

I did mention I was considering moving away from the SD-WAN setup on the FortiWiFi, and I’ve decided against that for two reasons: running at home or behind a travel router for WiFi. Yes, I still want to have a contingency plan in case things fall on their face LTE-wise again. I tested with my GL.iNet AC-750S (Slate) and was successful, so I will load it with the vanilla OpenWrt and maybe pick up a second for work purposes. It won’t quite be the GrooveA with its high-gain antenna, but it’ll work in a pinch. I’m just hoping we never need to fall back to that. The connection priority will be LTE -> wired LAN -> travel router WiFi. Now if 2021 will have conventions to go to…

Until next time!