Network Upgrades

Not that our network needed any updating, we’ve been running the Ubiquiti Cloud Key Gen2 and USG Pro gateway and it’s been solid. But I like to keep up to date with the latest and greatest products and while the newer Dream Machine line of products has been out for a couple of years I figured it’s had some time to work the initial bugs out. I picked up the Dream Machine Pro Special Edition, which replaces the cloud key and gateway, and decided to give it a go.

Ubiquiti’s promise of an easy migration proved to be true, to my surprise. I backed up the settings on the old system before decommissioning, and imported the file into the new system. After import and re-adoption of the devices, things were up and running with very little input from me. VLAN’s, firewall rules, etc. – all migrated and running. I was surprised at how quick things went.

The UDM Pro SE has a nifty feature that utilizes an app on a smartphone in concert with the UDM Pro to realtime map the floor-plan of your location and overlay the map with wifi signal strength gradients. Once the network was back up and online, I started to do the walk around to map out the house:

This is a screenshot of the app, the map is the floor-plan of the upstairs of our house. (I have an iPhone 14 Pro Max.) The worst coverage on this is the master bedroom, right in the center of the bed. As I’m typing this, I’m sitting there now, and the signal is solid – to give some context to the strength relativity. The upstairs AP is on the wall right above my desk, where the icon of me standing is in the screenshot.

One unanticipated side effect of real time mapping a floor-plan is how the the software handles mirrors. This app essentially doubled the room size when it scanned the mirror, and it posed an interesting problem to me of how one could handle that.

Ubiquiti also rolled out an augmented reality feature with their new line of products, but unfortunately I needed to have upgraded my switch to support it. I have no need whatsoever to upgrade, but I’m thinking about it just for this feature alone. Here’s an example of what it can do, show an overlay of the ports and what devices are plugged into them:

December 2021 Tech Projects/Gadgets

A quick rundown of my current personal projects and gadgets I’ve been toying around with.

  1. Reolink – These cameras are surprisingly good quality for low prices. I’ve got a RLC-520 (Amazon, $50) mounted viewing the back drive, and a RLC-410W (Amazon, $68) temporarily positioned viewing the side patio and yard. The app integrates all of the cameras and presents the feeds in a nicely done UI/UX. My cousin setup a Reolink GO on the site that their new lake house is being built on, and even on a 4G cellular connection the stream is really good. Incidentally, the Synology has an NVR application that supports the Reolink cameras, which made for a bonus feature of the system. If Reolink came out with a doorbell, I’d be very tempted to ditch the Ring and consolidate on the Reolink platform altogether. Sample pics at the end of this post.
  2. TeslaUSB – This open source project uses the Raspberry Pi Zero platform, and Tesla’s open API, to connect your Tesla vehicle to a network and easily transfer any Sentry Cam videos off the car, and sync music files to the car. On Tesla’s, you can mount an SSD and have video automatically recorded and stored from the various cameras mounted around the car. Unfortunately, there’s no real easy way to move those videos off the car short of unplugging the SSD and using sneakernet to transfer them to another location. In place of the SSD, you plug the Raspberry Pi Zero in and when you pull into the garage the Pi connects to your home network and offloads any new videos. It also will sync .mp3’s from a configured location to the car, for accessing and playing from the entertainment system. The only downside I’ve experienced with this is that it renders the in-car Sentry Cam viewer useless, as accessing the stored videos while in the car painfully slow. (I’ve just purchased the newer model Rasperry Pi Zero 2 W to see if this downside is remedied.) And yes, the videos are automatically syncing to the Synology NAS.
  3. Apple 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max – After many years of wandering in the desert of bad features, Apply finally released a great update to their MBP’s, so I jumped at the chance to upgrade my mid-2015 MBP. I’ve had the laptop for about a week now, and it’s great. This screen is amazing. Do I need all of this horsepower? Not really, but I opted for the lower config of the M1 Max as a way of future-proofing. I was really surprised at how the old laptop held up, so I think I’m going to try and do the same with this model and keep it for 5+ years. I missed out on the Touchbar era, and I can’t say if that was a feature I’d be negative or positive on, but missing out on the butterfly keyboard is a good thing. I had heard reviews that the speakers and sound on this laptop was really good, but I was shocked at how good. Sure they’re still laptop speakers, but the bass and fidelity are really surprising. Already I can see how great the battery life is, but I’m also coming from a laptop where the battery was in dire need of replacing. All in all I’m very happy with this laptop.

Reolink RLC-520:

Reolink RLC-410W: