Skip to content

Tag: reddit

Raspberry Pi Rack Fun!

Over the years as our family has grown, we have had different technology needs. At first, it was just a simple LAN in the home office for both me and the missus to be able to get online and share a network printer.

Now, it’s to get the entire house online with the variety of network devices, need to share printers, share eBooks, be able to watch our DVD’s from one TV or another or on a phone or tablet, etc..

The home network has grown over decades to the point that it can begin to border on an enterprise environment.

If you are more interested in learning the Art of the HomeLab, head over to https://www.reddit.com/r/homelab/. There you will find all kinds of information on setups people are using, what kinds of software people are running as well as tips and other help on setting up your own gear at home.

We have a discussion going on my setup if you have some questions or comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/homelab/comments/lksfgg/little_shelf_homelab_20/?sort=old .

It can get expensive to setup all that sort of stuff to say nothing about the monthly electrical costs. That’s where the Raspberry Pi comes into play. My whole setup here was built over a couple of years time and cost less than $1,000 to complete.

This is my HomeLab that sits on a shelf in my office. Below is a breakdown of what in the photo:

On the back panel is a 16 port Netgear Gigabit Ethernet switch, model GS116. I got it on sale for less than $100 bucks. Labels which do seem to peel a bit are Avery address labels. It connects to an AT&T AirTie 4921 that’s part of the AT&T mesh network gear for our home Internet connection.

On the left:

GeeekPi rack, this is what holds my Raspberry Pi’s. It has a large cooling fan that’s powered by the Raspberry Pi that sits on the top mounting. You can find it for sale online all over, just search for GeeekPi Rack. It comes with all the mounting hardware you need, all the screws, bolts and even comes with a small screwdriver. It’s a great kit that’s less that 40 bucks in most places.

In the “rack” I have 4 Raspberry Pi 4, model B 4 GB version, single board computers (https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-4-model-b) .

I took the normal setup and cloned the SD cards to USB thumb drives for ease of access inside the rack. The USB drives are faster and more robust than SD cards and will allow for a longer lifetime of operational use. Many thanks to Pyssel for their guide on how to setup USB booting for Raspberry Pi’s and how to easily clone the SD card to a USB drive. Their guide was updated in Novemebr 2020 and I highly recommend it, head over to https://pysselilivet.blogspot.com/2017/11/rpi-clone-raspberry-boot-disk.html for more details.

Now, for what’s running on each of the Raspberry Pi’s.

  • RPi-rck01:
    • Pi-Hole w/Ubound serving the DHCP and DNS for the entire house.
      • We have the DHCP services on the AT&T home router disabled for this to work. You can learn more about PiHole and how to configure it at https://pi-hole.net.
      • The local DNS allows me to have simple network names for the various things that are running on the network. No need for everyone to remember IP addresses for the RSS reader or local Minecraft server.
    • PiVPN with Wireguard for remote connectivity.
      • When I am outside the house and want to read my RSS feeds or connect to other services on my network. They have wonderful guides on how to setup everything at https://pivpn.io.
  • RPi-rck02:
    • Tiny Tiny RSS (https://tt-rss.org/).
      • This is a nice web application app that has Android and iPhone apps to boot. It has support for multiple user accounts and have a RSS reading experience similar to the old Google Reader application.
      • The application author supports deployment inside Docker either through a Docker swarm or Docker Desktop or just a single Docker container on your Raspberry Pi.
      • I found this guide that works well for setup on a stand alone Raspberry Pi without having to use Docker: https://opensource.com/article/20/2/ttrss-raspberry-pi)
    • FreshRSS (https://freshrss.org/)
      • Similar to Tiny Tiny RSS.
      • Simple install through Docker that consistently works.
      • Multiple app support from Android an iPhone.
      • This guide they put together can take you from a base load on your Raspberry Pi to installing Docker and getting this up and running, https://github.com/FreshRSS/FreshRSS/tree/master/Docker.
  • RPi-rck03:
  • RPi-rck04:
    • OpenMediaVault (https://www.openmediavault.org).
      • PiMyLifeUp has a great guide for setting this up, many thanks to them for putting out the updated version (https://pimylifeup.com/raspberry-pi-openmediavault/).
      • We use this to share a 500 gig external USB SSD drive to host our eBook library and our DVD/Blue-Ray movie digital archive. We don’t use this for computer backups as we have other solutions that already address that need.

On the right:

  • Lenovo M73 8GB with a 256 gig internal SSD, Windows 10 Pro, an external Seagate 300GB backup drive. We run two things mainly on this machine:
    • Lansweeper (https://www.lansweeper.com).
      • This is a great asset management tool. Let’s me ensure that all our computers are patched in way of operating systems, applications, BIOS updates, etc… It’s a bit of overkill I’ll admit, but once you start using this, you really don’t want to stop.
    • Minecraft server (https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/download/server) deployed with NSSM – Non-Sucking Service Manager (https://nssm.cc).
      • NSSM allows you to run the JAR file for the Minecraft server as a windows service. That means you don’t have to log the computer and a Minecraft gaming client and share a LAN game. This just lets you run a hosted saved game file that anyone on your network can connect to.
    • The backup drive is for the Minecraft world we host on our internal network and backing up Lansweeper’s data. Again, it’s a bit of overkill for what we have but why not, eh?

Everything here is connected to a power strip that in turn connects to a UPS that also powers my personal and work computers on my desk.

So, there we have it. It’s not a huge HomeLab, doesn’t consume a lot of electricity and was not very expensive to build. You could setup a datacenter rack, rack mounted servers and higher end networking gear that would run you thousands. The hit to your electrical bill would be pretty high as well.

For the typical single family home or a multiple bedroom apartment, this sort of setup works well; especially if you are the DIY type.

The GeeekPi rack was $40 bucks. Each Raspberry Pi 4 ran about $62 each. I started with the first one for the PiHole in 2019 and added the others over the course of 2020. That whole setup including the RAVPower 60 watt 12 amp USB charger that powers the Raspberry Pi’s, the SD cards and/or USB drives (I used 64 GB drives) would run you a total around $350 to build out.

The Lenovo M73 was purchased secondhand years ago from a local computer repair shop for less than $200 and that was with the 256 GB SSD it has internally. The other bits and bobs, like the external 256 GB USB SSD drive for the OpenMediaVault system, the 300 GB external backup drive and the network switch and patch cables comes in around another $200 bucks.

So, for less than a thousand dollars investment we have our HomeLab. Will it grow from here? I’m not sure. I don’t see anything additional that we will need. Perhaps a larger NAS solution but aside from that, we are pretty much good to go here.

Until next time, have a good one!