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  1. Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Detroit, MI


    Default Questions about Building a Budget Home Lab


    I achieved my CCNA R&S almost a year ago. In between the time I feel as though I have gotten rusty. I only used real equipment (that was really old) about six times in school, and one in time in the field. I work at an IT Level 1 help desk currently.

    I went to a Sys Admin interview, and my rust became very apparent, using Packet Tracer or GNS3 does not seem like it is going to do the trick.

    I'm on a budget and even thought about supplementing with an MCSA instead, but after realizing it was three 12 pound tomes of material, I am revaluating.

    I need to brush up, and I figure I might as well study another discipline so I was thinking perhaps CCNA Security, since Security is always fun.

    Which brings me to my question:

    For my lab I was thinking

    Cisco 871w x3

    and Cisco 3550 x3

    I think I can do this for about $300. What do you guys think of this setup for what I’m trying to accomplish?

    I'm not locked into only CCNA Security; I am open to going down CCNP lane, but I don't think I can afford the IoS15 supporting gear. CCNA voice might be more marketable, but it does not seem nearly as fun and requires additional gear.


    I have one more question about lab topology, since I already have a home use router doing NAT, should I remove it from the topology, or include it, or should I do the lab off the grid? Doing that seems like it loses a lot of the real world experience.

    I share the internet with others and don't want them to be adversely affected. It seems like I could keep that as the internet router and keep the others as internal routers, I guess they're all connected with Ethernet cables. Also most everyone else is using Wireless, so perhaps I can just keep it in play. I think I sort of answered some of my questions in the previous two paragraphs, but I would LOVE to hear your thoughts.

    -Sean Keltsch
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  2. Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    CCNA:R&S, VCA6-DCV, Sec+
    the 871w router is pretty good for studying for the ccna. and they can be inexpensive if you can get them in the right configuration. First, the 871w can run version 15 of the ios if it has enough memory (192/36 minimum). Then, you need the power adaptor and the antennas. So, if it doesn't come that way don't buy as the extra accessories cost almost as much the router does.

    The 871w is an integrated switch and router. So, you can pretty much do all the command that you need to do with just 3 of these. The down side is there is limited ports ( 1 wan port and 4 switch ports) and no serial ports for doing frame relay. The 3x 3550s don't really add any capabilities to your lab, so I wouldn't purchase them till you saw a need to get them.

    I think a better lab would be one with 3x 1841 routers with wics for doing frame relay and enough memory for running version 15 of the ios (256/64cf minimum). Then a combination of 2960 and 3560 switches that are also running version 15 of the ios.

    I prefer to keep my lab equipment seperate from my home networks instead of integrated. That way i can do whatever i want with my lab equipment and it won't effect any of my home equipment. Also, I don't have to rework a lab so it will work with my home networks. I use computers and laptops with two network interfaces, that way one interface is connected to my home networks and the other is connected to my lab equipment.
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