802.11ac to wire up your garage datacentre? Why not?


blog Fascinating blog post this week from MacTalk and One More Thing founder and all-round geek Anthony Agius, who chronicles his attempts to use two 802.11ac routers to link his new garage-based server farm to his house network. We really recommend you read the whole thing if you’re interested in this kind of thing, and who wouldn’t want their own server farm in their garage, with early stage 802.11ac to backbone it to the house? Crazy people, that’s who. Crazy people. A sample paragraph:

“There’s only a handful of 802.11ac devices out there, and the best one at the moment seems to be the ASUS RT-AC66U, but a friend of mine who works for Woolworths told me about a staff only sale at Dick Smith, and I saw they had Netgear N6300 802.11ac routers on sale for only $229 ea, the cheapest I’ve ever seen an 802.11ac router by a decent margin. Whilst I would have gone for the ASUS instead, these N6300s for $229 are way cheaper, so fuck it, I asked him to buy two for me, and they arrived yesterday.”

As you may recall, Agius specifically bought the Victorian block of land which his house is on because it’s in the early stage National Broadband Network rollout zone, and he’s currently busily setting up the whole thing as the kind of geek paradise which we strongly approve of and aspire to create ourselves one day. I think it’s safe to say, given the ongoing interest in Agius’ household project that exists out there, that this project as a whole is a matter of enduring national interest at this point :)

Image credit: Whrelf Siemens, royalty free


  1. xD 802.11ac rocks. Friend of mine does testing for Netgear and has been testing 802.11ac routers, including the N6300, for the past few months. Finally a wireless technology I’m not ashamed to use for large file transfers.

  2. Can I ask any tech heads in here if this type of wireless has a better signal then the previous one? (whatever the 1ghz I think it is).
    At home my laptop has a hard time connecting to the internet from behind a few walls from the study room where the wireless modem is located.

    • @Soth

      No, it uses the same 5Ghz frequency of most dual-band (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz) Wireless-N routers.

      Do you have a dual-band Wireless-N router? 5Ghz has worse penetration power than 2.4Ghz, but MUCH less interference (cordless phones, microwaves, even fixed wireless towers), so it often gets to you higher signal than 2.4 which has been fuzzed on the way. Unfortunately, my 5Ghz can’t even go through 1 wall, there’s something hinky about the wall…

      It WILL give better transfer speeds at lower signal than Wireless-N though, so you should see an improvement regardless.

      • Ah cheers, I have a billion 7401VGP R3 with one of those TP-LINK extension antennas, not that it did much :(

  3. Spending around $500 for a temporary connection seems silly to me.

    Running a 30-50m cable out the window and over to the garage would cost a lot less and work a lot better. I know he said he didn’t want to run a cable because he’s moving soon, but you don’t need to pay an electrician to run a temporary network cable, and if it only has to last a few months you don’t need to pay extra for UV-resistant cable or for trenching and a PVC pipe, just make sure the cable is out of the way so no-one trips over it or walks into it.

    BTW, paying an electrician to properly network your house isn’t all that expensive – I paid for one to put two points in almost every room (incl. 2 points in the garage, which we later converted to a bungalow) 12 years ago. It cost under $600 in 2000 for a total of 14 points, I expect it would be less than double that today.

    Also, those HP servers aren’t likely to last long in a dusty un-airconditioned environment like that garage.

    • My thoughts exactly on running a temporary cat5 cable. Even if you bought some conduit it would still be 10 times cheaper than getting the wireless routers and a lot better speed performance to boot. It does not have the geek kudos factor though.

    • It was $460 and I can use the 802.11ac routers elsewhere and on other projects, but if I get a cable installed, it will stay with the house, even after I’ve moved. The 802.11ac routers made more practical sense considering I won’t be living here in a few months time.

  4. Interesting that some of his posts talk about him being in a “financial crunch”, but then he has gone and bought some big bits of iron to stick in his garage which are going to draw a load of power once all the disks are spinning.
    I would really be hesitant to leave them running 24/7 in a non cooled, dusty garage environment though. I hope he has a good smoke detector in there :)
    Each to their own. Good luck to him.

    • The servers have 1x SSD in them each.

      I’m only using one server at a time (afraid I’ll blow a fuse if I turn them all on) and even then, they’re only on for a few hours at a time, not 24/7.

      And yep, money comes and goes and I can’t really afford these at all, but I couldn’t resist at the price they were going at.

  5. The coverage Agius’ blog gets is hard to understand, as the things he does aren’t especially novel or challenging. Running a bunch of old opteron servers in the garage with consumer WAPs as backbone isn’t something I’d be boasting about. Also, his research is spotty – the Ubiquiti Rocket M2 & M5 Titanium have GbE and are designed for point-to-point wireless networks.

  6. Still cant get the benefits of a datacentre for a home network. My plan is to use my netbook, combined with a 10 port USB hub, and just plonk external drives into em. Then connect it to a router. Everything else can read off that, and by using the netbook the power usage should be incredibly low.

    In all seriousness though, whatever way people go about it a storage centre is going to become more and more common. In the not to distant future I expect most homes are going to have some sort of central datacentre for the rest of their home to connect into.

    I suspect its that glimpse into the near future that has people interested. Lots of people are eyeing off similar ideas, especially with the NBN coming.

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