Compact Networking Lab

Thought I’d share my ongoing mini lab. For now the whole thing is connected to a hAP Lite acting as the far end of an nstream bridge (because meh, was fun to learn) & running off an old multi-port USB charger. The bottom board is currently a Pi Zero W with an enc28j60 board on the GPIO header and a USB/ethernet pogo pin board strapped to the underside. This unit is serving as a reference & learning platform for RSTP, specifically the mstpd userspace daemon & before that served as a learning board to move from NetworkManager to systemd-networkd. The unit on top is a Pi 0 with one of the (sadly now defunct) red bear IoT pHAT’s on top providing wifi/bluetooth and another pogo pin USB/ethernet board hanging off the bottom. Its currently doing nothing but the loose plan is probably to swap the actual Pi boards over, add a 5GHz USB wifi dongle of some description and a reflashed Logitech unified receiver and potentially use it as a bettercap machine. The last piece in the puzzle, for now, will be a GPS board with PPS output, another Pi Zero W, another pogo pin USB/ethernet board and some time experimenting with building a stratum 1 NTP server and maybe looking into PTP some, a few of my NIC’s support the hardware timestamping thing, could be fun to dig into. Longer term I have some Pi zero proto boards in the post from Core & once I pick up some cheap enc28j60 modules out of china, trying my hand at building a dual enc28j60 Pi zero hat, or shield, or whatever, its not a finished though yet, let alone a started project, but it is possible to expose two SPI busses on the GPIO header so how hard could it be…? Much longer term i’d like to try my hand at bringing arch linux up on the Banana pi bpi-m2-zero, building an ethernet board to hang off the bottom using the on-board header and migrating any of the Pi Zero machines that arent using the USB ports over to those…maybe. And maybe another hAP lite, and a better USB PSU…or a 10" rack 🤦

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Nice build @j0rd, thanks for sharing!

This update is coming in a little late, life has a way of getting in the way sometimes but all the same. The two protoboards and a breadboard from Core arrived a while ago. Massive shout out to the team at Core for the customer service too, they went above and beyond to resolve a stock issue with the breadboard, in the middle of a pandemic, cant say enough good things about how they went about handling the situation.

Anyway, the hopeful plan is to source a pair of Olimex enc28j60 modules (they claim to be the smallest turn key modules on the market) and a pair of cheap W5500 modules and start experimenting with dual ethernet on the pi zero. Apparently there are two SPI busses that can be exposed on the GPIO header…simples! At least that was what I thought, but then I was reminded that I am well outside my comfort zone when I dropped the Red Bear IoT pHAT on top of a Zero W & immediately lost the onboard wifi & bluetooth, it was an either/or situation. My rudimentary understanding is that either there arent enough UART & SDIO busses to go around, or that the device tree config on the eeprom needs updating, or maybe something else entirely, need to read up more & maybe ask around the Raspberry Pi forums, seems like a guaranteed place to find the knowledge, but if anyone reading this knows the answer I’d be super interested to know.

Either way, AusPost are missing every delivery estimate ever for the time being, & I cracked a microSD card for one of the Zeros (and never got around to adding it to my Bacula config beforehand 🤦) so this project is moving a little slower than anticipated for a while, but there will be more progress, soon™.