Hack yourself a high end home router/firewall for cheap.

I needed to upgrade the network at home. I am tired of the low end linksys and other brand all-in-one router and wireless access point. Some of them can be upgraded to ddWRT or OpenWRT to get a real firewall and router, but the hardware is highly limited in performance and space.. you cant get any real logging in them, or really upgrade the features easily. Yes I have messed with OpenWRT and added packages, but I have limited time to spend a weekend with my router to add some features. 2 weeks ago I stumbled back onto a old friend I have used for commercial networking. pfSense... It works great. In fact works BETTER than any cisco firewall or router. Honestly the torture that is configuring IOS is only enjoyed by the die hard certified cisco guys. I hated configuring cisco gear and it's convoluted operating system. But it's powerful.

Pfsense is a cisco router and firewall OS on steroids. Based on OpenBSD it is running on a OS that is rock solid and time tested. and the pfsense guys work hard to keep it secure. you are looking at something that many corporations and major universities use. So it is more than you need for home. It's like putting a 3 foot thick safe door on your home, a tad overkill... I'm into overkill.

What to run it on though. Build a PC to run it... nope. too much power use and low reliability... I can get a used 1u server to increase reliability, but 1200 watts to run a firewall is insane. I need something small, the size of a router, and low power use....

I remembered some slightly older commercial firewalls that Nokia made. the Nokia IP330 is used all over corporations. It also has a baby brother called the IP130 It's designed for small satellite offices... It also is standard PC hardware.

To create a super-router for your home, buy a used IP130 from ebay.. $35.00 is a fair price for a working one with the power supply.. Any more is a rip-off. get a copy of the pfsense embedded version (I used the 4gig file) and follow the instructions on their wiki for install. A linux machine and a usb->laptop IDE drive adapter is the easiest way. 30 seconds later re-install the IP130 drive and reassemble the unit, hook up to the serial port and do the initial configuration. The system is ready to go!

Network speeds went up, VoIP studder is way down, and I have the ability to do way more than any other home router can.

If you want to step up to a high end router for the least cost AND have corporate quality hardware.... put pfsense on a IP130... it works really well.


  1. Hi Tim,

    Nice stuff! Like this way of using old hardware.
    Just cannot find any IP130 for low prices.:-(

    Do you know other hardware like the nokia which is capable of serving pfsens with low energy needs?

    greetings, Marco

  2. I came here after googling "using an android as a router" and actually think yours is a better idea.
    I use pfsense in three offices and a hotel, not to mention my own internet cafe, and it is great, but I live on Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and we have very expensive and unreliable power, hence I wanted an android as the base, as it could run on battery, and provide the 3g connection and wifi hotspot. Its essentially what I use at home now, but its annoying my phone is stuck on a windowsill where the reception for 3g is good and means its out of use.
    I also have a Dlink DWR-555 which I love, but really I need a real firewall/router, and want pfsense.
    When I work out how to install it on my old HTC HD2 I'll let you know...



Post a Comment

Popular Posts