Living without Wifi

Recently, while my son was on half term my unifi Power Over Ethernet (POE) switch decided to give up the ghost. It may even have let out the magic smoke. This switch was an 8 port 150W POE device. Not the biggest device I have for networking, but it was the one that did POE.

So, some of my devices went down. The first devices of note were the 2 Wifi Access points, hence the title of this post. These were the devices that caused me the most upset. The access points connect a lot of devices to my network. This includes sensors, my 3D printers, my laptop and ... my TV.

My unifi network is controlled via a cloudkey. This is also powered by POE, so no POE switch - no changes to my network. Fortunately, the network configuration is mostly stable. New networks on my network are now largely built within proxmox, so no need to modify the actual kit.

The next device to not be able to be powered was my Raspberry PI running Asterisk. This is the heart of my phone setup. My answering machine is on there, so no calls and I couldn't check my messages.

The last thing on the list was probably the biggest issue - My home assistant Yellow. I try not to put all my home automation eggs in to one basket, but HA is a pretty big basket. Without HA, I can't easily switch on my lights. Fortunately, this was also summer, as Home assistant controls my heating as well.

With all these modern conviences gone, I was seriously inconvienced. I had to start working out ways around some of the stuff to get the best out of it until a replacement switch could arrive. Fortunately, my TV has a FireTV stick in it, which I had almost stopped using. I ran a network cable to this ages ago - so I still had connectivity.

My initial issues with lack of the internet turned out to actually be just a minor connection issue. My firewall, which does the PPPoE tunnel to my ISP was plugged in to the broken switch. Fortunately, a redundant port on the other switch was ready and waiting. Migrating the connection to the working switch fixed that problem and soon I was able to watch TV.

Using the internet on most other things, however, was problematic. I had to use my phone's 5G connection for web browsing. My work laptop was plugged in via a cable to the right switch. This lasted until Amazon had shipped me out a new POE switch - I actually bought 2 - to sort of the issues.

So, what would I do differently, now I have had this outage? Well, first I have a redundant POE switch, so I can deal with this kind of issue quickly. Secondly, I would look at moving one of my Access Points. I have considered running a cable down the side of my house and placing an AP under my stairs. This will require the second POE switch to be mounted to the wall, of course, so I'm not dependent on the POE switch in the loft. The network feed will have to be from the non-POE capable switch as well.

The only thig I can do about home assistant would be to look at migrating to a VM on Proxmox, with backups on my NAS. If one instance fails, I can migrate quickly... however, there is the problem of the USB dongles and the built in radios. I would need to either replicate them all on all my proxmox hosts or look at something like USBIP. USBIP would allow my to share those devices, however, a failure of either the PI that runs it, or the device itself will still send me up the swanny. Perhaps I should look at a zigbee network device or 2? This may make more sense when I have the networking under the stairs sorted first.

In conclusion, it was a pain to live without the wifi and other devices for a small bit and quite shocking how dependent I am on them. Maybe I should spend a lot of money and make everthing redundant... or may be go the other way and spend more time with out the wifi on...

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