Home Lab

Dale812Dale812 Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
I've just started studying the CCNA and i'm looking at setting up a home lab. The room in which the lab will be in is in a different room to where my cable modem/router is in. What will be the best way to setup this lab? Cheers.

Comments

  • OctalDumpOctalDump Posts: 1,722Member
    First thing, you don't need a lab for CCNA R+S. You can do it all in Packet tracer, which is free.

    However, there are advantages to having a lab. The most obvious is that you get hands on with real equipment, just like you will need to do in a work environment. You also learn about researching Cisco gear, specs, manuals, where to download, what feature sets and IOS versions are available. You also learn about factory resets, password recovery, what the blinking lights mean, how to upload firmware. Lots of fun things.

    Basics for CCNA R+S are three routers, ideally running IOS 15.x.x, and three switches. The x800 or x900 series ISR routers, and the 2960 Catalyst switches are ideal. That allows you to build out the topologies in the official course guides. I'd also suggest two serial interfaces per router, and 4 serial cables. Probably you'd want about 12-20 Cat5e or better cables. Probably mostly 50cm or 1m, and a couple of longer ones (2-5m). It's handy to also have a laptop/PC or two to connect to the network to do pings and traceroutes.

    A desktop rack is handy for keeping it tidy, but isn't essential.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • Uriah7Uriah7 Posts: 45Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I made a lot of mistakes while setting up and using my home lab; mistakes I would not have made using packet traces. I learned a lot from it. You don't need it for the exam, but you do benefit from it on a resume and in and interview. Being able to say that you have worked with physical equipment is an advantage of you have no prior R&S job history. Of you are already in the field, just stick with packet traces and save the money.

    Your modem and router do not need to be near your lab. There is no reason to connect it to the internet modem or your home router as you want to be with the equipment when you are working with it.
  • PhilipJayyFryPhilipJayyFry Posts: 3Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    I'm new to all this myself and spent countless hours researching what routers and switches would make the most sense for a home lab as well. Being that after I obtain a CCNA I want to further pursue additional certifications I spent a little more than is required, but figured why buy gear twice..

    I would suggest 3x 1841's because they are much quieter than the 2800's which will make your whole house buzz and drive you nuts. As it was mentioned earlier you really have to be physically in the same room as your gear because you are constantly tinkering with a new setup and have no need to connect it to the internet.
    3x 2960's would be sufficient but it would be nice to have some layer 3 switches instead.
    IOS 12 is fine, but getting ones with 15 pre-loaded would be ideal.

    Personally I have tried packet tracer and out dated gear but prefer learning on equipment more transferable to the real world.
  • rob42rob42 Posts: 423Member
    Like you're planning, my LAB is located in a different room to where I study (or so I believe from your post). But, I wanted to be able to Telnet into my LAB. The way I've done this is to use a Netgear WG-602 v3, running in AP Client Mode, plugged into one of my Switches. This is then configured to "login" to my WAP, thus giving me access to my LAB over my home network.

    If you go down this road, you'll need a WG-602 v3 that has Firmware Version V1.2.5 or better as earlier versions don't support "Client Mode".

    I hope this information is of use.

    B.t.w, there's loads of posts on here with reference to LAB equipment and I'd read them all if I were you and get the best that you can afford. I have equipment running both IOS V15 and V12. It's good to be able to use both as you'll get a better understanding about how they differ, but as already stated by others, you don't 'need' physical equipment, but it's nice to have.

    All the best with your studies and welcome to one of the best forums going.
    No longer an active member
  • clarsonclarson Posts: 887Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    you don't need your lab connected to the internet. I have connected mine up a few times using a hard wire hidden under rugs. Just double nat a router into my home network. I'd recommend having your home network not dependent on your home lab to function. That way if you mess things up, you still have an internet connection to get help. We have all done it. You will too. So, plan ahead. There are a lot of web pages that will help you to fix it.

    I use a old pc as a tftp server and to get access to my lab equipment. I use a wireless connection to access the pc. So, I can put my lab anywhere I have an electrical outlet and a wireless connection. Preferably where I cant hear it while I sit in a nice comfy chair in front of multiple monitors and my study materials. And, that is more real world. Lets face it if you cant setup/configure/troubleshoot/repair equipment that is in the next room, how are you going to do it at work when the equipment is in the next building or further away. So, get used to it.

    And, if noise is going to be an issue, get the 1841's. They are real quiet. For switches, get a couple of 8 port 2960's. No fan at all. Cant get much quieter than that. And, such a setup has a 14"x10" footprint. compared to 18"x16" for a 2800 router. And, weighs a lot less too (heavier it is the more the shipping will be).
  • Dale812Dale812 Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Cheers for the input! I've been looking online and instead of sourcing equipment separately I may look into purchasing a kit such as Cisco CCNA CCNP LAB STARTER KIT 3 X 2801 + 2 X WS-C2950-24 + Cables 882658072789 | eBay or Cisco CCNA CCNP LAB KIT 3 X 2801 IOS 15 + 2 X WS-C3550-24 SMI Cables + 12U Rack 882658072789 | eBay. Would you recommend this or purchasing separately? I also want equipment that can be kept for use with CCNP after the CCNA.
  • GDainesGDaines Posts: 272Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I have an 1841 as my primary router, set up with NAT Inside/NAT Outside so that I can connect my lab to the Internet via my home router when I need to. I know it's capable of running IOS 15 but I've not upgraded it and prefer my more expandable 2811's.

    I have 4x 2811 routers, all with expanded ram and bigger flash cards. One has an NM-8T 8-port serial card while the others each have two WIC-1T serial cards. If you are sticking with 1841's I'd get a single WIC-2T for each otherwise you'll use up both expansion slots which is where the 2811 benefits as it has 4 WIC slots and an NM slot (our US friends tend to prefer the WIC-1DSU over the WIC-1T/2T). I've upgraded two of them to IOS 15 and left the others on IOS 12. You don't need this many routers, but they've certainly helped me.

    On the switch front I started with a layer2 2960 and two layer3 3560 PoE switches before I learnt the PoE model can't run IOS 15 whereas the non-PoE model can. Next I added two more 3560's, this time the non-PoE model which I've upgraded to IOS 15, as I've seen numerous posts suggesting if you continue on to higher accreditations you'll need to have layer3 switches. Within the last month I've just added two 3560G gigabit switches as the prices have come down so much I paid less for one of them than I paid for some of my older switches.

    I'm lucky in that in my last two roles I've managed Cisco networks so everything I've learned can be applied to real-world situations. Not only that, in my current role I get to play with a Cisco Wireless LAN Controller and around 20 dual-band access points, something I've got my eye on when the business closes later this year and my contract ends.

    With regard to your cable modem being in a different room, that shouldn't be a big problem as you'll rarely connect your lab to the Internet, but it is worth learning how to configure everything so that it all works. My lab is currently in a spare bedroom and my cable modem downstairs. While it's untidy, on the rare occasions I need Internet access for the lab I just trail a 15m cable downstairs, then disconnect it when I'm finished.

    Whatever models you choose, and however much kit you decide to buy, plan it properly and ask for advice. It's so easy to overlook rack mounts, cables and expansion cards, or not see the bigger picture in which a more expensive unit expanded with the right bits might be better value than a basic device which you have to spend a lot of money upgrading it to how you want it.
  • Dale812Dale812 Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    After looking into this i've decided on the below setup:

    3x 1841 256/64 (15.1)
    2x 2960 (15.1)
    1x 3560 (non PoE model for 15.1?)

    Cheers for all the help!
  • GDainesGDaines Posts: 272Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Dale812 wrote: »
    After looking into this i've decided on the below setup:

    3x 1841 256/64 (15.1)
    2x 2960 (15.1)
    1x 3560 (non PoE model for 15.1?)

    Cheers for all the help!

    You'll want/need 15.0.x which, if I'm correct, is the last release of the old-style firmware. From 15.1 you get a universal image and pay to license additional features so anything shipping with 15.1 is likely to have the very basic version installed whereas ideally you want a more advanced version. Without very expensive SmartNet support, therefore, you're not going to be able to get your hands on the better versions*

    The best way to get the latest firmware is to pay more for one device with the right version installed, then buy cheaper devices with IOS 12 as you can copy the firmware from one device to the others as long as they're the same model (be careful, I doubt a 3560G switch firmware will install on a plain old 3560 for example).

    I found 2811's in the UK for £41.45 and an IOS 15.1 version at £54.95 from the same seller. He claims they have AdvancedEnterprise which is what you want, but hopefully someone will be along to confirm whether or not 256mb ram is capable of running that? Image is approx 60mb so the 128mb flash should be fine. While shown with brackets the seller states they're not included so there's the best part of another £10 each plus you'll need various cables (and I honestly suspect a ram upgrade). I paid around £30 for some of mine so don't rush in.

    UPDATE: The same guy is selling an 1841 with IOS 15.1 for £44.95 with a broken eject button and £52.95 without. With an older IOS there are plenty for sale for £20-30. Personally I think there are enough devices for sale not to have to buy one with a broken eject button, but it is currently the cheapest with the desired IOS.
  • GDainesGDaines Posts: 272Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    GDaines wrote: »

    I might have to buy myself one of the latter units to get my hands on that 15.1 IOS and then see how much I can recoup by selling it as I don't see any scenario where I need more than 4 of them.
  • clarsonclarson Posts: 887Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    GDaines wrote: »
    You'll want/need 15.0.x which, if I'm correct, is the last release of the old-style firmware. From 15.1 you get a universal image and pay to license additional features so anything shipping with 15.1 is likely to have the very basic version installed whereas ideally you want a more advanced version. Without very expensive SmartNet support, therefore, you're not going to be able to get your hands on the better versions*

    15.1 for routers and 15.0.x for switches
    GDaines wrote: »
    The best way to get the latest firmware is to pay more for one device with the right version installed, then buy cheaper devices with IOS 12 as you can copy the firmware from one device to the others as long as they're the same model (be careful, I doubt a 3560G switch firmware will install on a plain old 3560 for example).

    Yes a 3560G ios will run on a plain old 3560. The issue is that a version 15 ios require about 16mb of flash to install it on the switch. And, plain old 3560 poe switches only come with 16mb of flash. So, it just doesn't have the space to install that version of the ios. But, you can still run it on the switch but you have to boot the switch from something other than flash, such as a tftp server.
    GDaines wrote: »
    I found 2811's in the UK for £41.45 and an IOS 15.1 version at £54.95 from the same seller. He claims they have AdvancedEnterprise which is what you want, but hopefully someone will be along to confirm whether or not 256mb ram is capable of running that? Image is approx 60mb so the 128mb flash should be fine. While shown with brackets the seller states they're not included so there's the best part of another £10 each plus you'll need various cables (and I honestly suspect a ram upgrade). I paid around £30 for some of mine so don't rush in.

    ipbase is good enough for the ccna. you'll need advanced security for the ccna:security exam. advanced ip services is required for ipv6. and as suggested get advanced enterprise as it does everything including voice.

    And, the ios is stored on the flash card. So, if there is no flash card, you aren't getting an ios.

    256mb ram is enough for most things. You get into some heavy security things, you will need 512. And, 512 is recommended for doing voice.
  • GDainesGDaines Posts: 272Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the extra info clarson.
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