Purchasing Home Lab Equipment

Unanswered Question
Jan 31st, 2008

I am getting ready to start studying for CCNP and was interested in building my own home lab for practice.

In a previous thread Michael made a suggestion for a decent lab to start, (see thread)....

http://forum.cisco.com/eforum/servlet/NetProf?page=netprof&forum=Career%20Certifications&topic=Certifications&CommCmd=MB%3Fcmd%3Ddisplay_location%26location%3D.2cbf0706

My question is for all of you how have built you own home lab. Where did you find the best deals for used equipment? I've recently been pricing stuff on ebay. Also if you take a took that the previously mentioned thread what prices seem reasonable for each device as well as memory & IOS version recommendations?

Thanks in advance,

Jacob

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keeleym@o2.ie Fri, 02/01/2008 - 03:17

Hi There

Can I ask whether you are in the US or UK/Europe?

I live in Ireland so I am only familiar with the cost of second hand Cisco equipment as listed on Ebay UK.

I bought the majority of the equipment in my lab from Ebay with just a couple of private purchases. I found some very good deals on Ebay. I started off buying a lab package which had 2 x 2500's, 3 x 2600's, 1 x 2950 & 1 x 2924XL plus all the cables required to set this up into a hub and spoke Frame Relay topology. These all came with the max DRAM and Flash. After that I just added extra routers and interface modules as my funds allowed.

The prices below are what I would be prepared to pay and the sterling/Dollar comparisions are estimates.

For a 2520 I would probably pay up to £45/£50 ($90/$100)

For the 2620's I would probably pay up to £100/£110 ($200/$220)

For a 2950 (12 port is sufficient) I would pay £85/£100 ($170/$200) for a 12 port switch. For a 24 port switch I would probably pay up to £130/£150 ($260/$300).

The DB60 DTE/DB60 DCE back to back cables can be picked up for around £6/£8 ($12/$15). I would recommend getting the 2m (6ft) cables, as if your lab grows, as mine has, .5m (3ft) cables can be pretty restrictive.

Also 2m CAT 5 straight and Crossover cables are not that expensive and can be purchased from most electrical stores.

Of course if you watch the auctions on Ebay it is possible to pick up the models listed for a lot less then I said I would pay. The trick is to enter the top price you are prepared to pay and then wait until there is about 20 or 15 seconds left on the auction to place your bid.

This does not always work but when it does you can get great bargains.

Well I hope this answers some of yoru questions and is of some help.

Best Regards,

Michael

GoBucks82 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 12:08

Michael,

Hey thanks for the response.

I'm located in the US.

As far as the 2600's you were referring to, what exact model will suffice? 2610? Is the XM series absolutely necessary or will the non-XM series be enough, other than the fact that they don't support 12.4?

Now, you say your equipment came with max DRAM and Flash. Do you have any minimum requirements, I'd rather not have to upgrade memory.

And my final question refers to the lab you suggested in the previous thread I mentioned. Why is it that each of the 2600's need 2 WIC-1T cards? Would creating sub-interfaces not work?

Thanks,

Jacob

keeleym@o2.ie Fri, 02/01/2008 - 14:24

Hi Jacob

No Problem, glad to be of some help if/when I can.

To your questions.

I have found the 2600 routers fine. I currently have no XM routers in my lab and have not found anything that I could not do. By the way 26xx routers will run IOS 12.4 though maybe not the Enterprise version, see here http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Cisco-2611-CCNA-CCNP-Router-Max-Mem-12-4-IOS-2600-lab_W0QQitemZ110219566471QQihZ001QQcategoryZ73321QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

This is the guy I bought a lot of my stuff from. This router is a 2611 and has dual Ethernet ports. These are quite good, but I would recommend getting at least a couple of 2620's/2650's if possible as they have Fast Ethernet ports, which are required for trunking to switches for ROAS etc. Also keep an eye out for 3600 routers. I have seen this model go quite cheaply (£75/$150) on Ebay UK (see here http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Cisco-3600-series-router-Cisco-3620-with-modules_W0QQitemZ300195654997QQihZ020QQcategoryZ73321QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)

These will run IOS 12.4 and beyond. 3620's will take 2 NM modules, 3640's will take 4 and 3660's will take 6, so lots of room for expansion if/when you need :)

As for the RAM. My 2500's all have 16mb DRAM/ 16mb Flash (max for 2500) and are running IOS 12.3 with no issues. My 2600 and 3600 routers all have at least 64mb of DRAM and mostly 32mb Flash though one of my 3600 routers has 128mb DRAM/32mb Flash. I would reckon if you can get routers with 64mbDRAM/16mbFlash you should be fine. Though if you find routers with 32mb Flash at a decent price snap them up :)

As to your last question regarding the 2 x WIC 1T cards. The reason I recommend this is that one interface is used to connect to the Frame switch and the other is used for direct serial connections. This provides 2 different WAN connectivity options. Subinterfaces would be of no use with this. On Ebay UK I can usually pick these modules up for about £20 which is around $40 I think.

Remember, there is no need to get everything right away. You can start off with just a couple of routers and a switch and by changing the physical configuration around you can accomplish all or if not all pretty close to all you need for the CCNA.

The reason I suggested the setup I did is because I found with this I could setup the hub and spoke Frame setup, direct serial links and trunks to my switches all at the same time. This meant that I did not have to keep changing the physical connections around. They remained constant.

Also if you have not already, check out Dynamips/Dynagen. It is a Cisco Emulator (not a simulator). This is free ware. It emulates Cisco router hardware (7200, 3700, 3600 and 2600) and allows you to load up real IOS versions (which you have to supply yourself), but it is really amazing. I have it on my laptop and can run a lab with 8 routers and I use a virtual NM 16ESW module in 2 virtual 3620's to act as my layer 2 switches and can run all my BSCI labs on this.

You will see on some of the posts here that there are people are running entire CCIE labs using this.

You will need a half decent system to run it, around 2GB RAM and a dual core processor if possible, but it works out cheaper than a full blown home lab. It can also connect out through the network port on you laptop/PC to your real lab equipment. Have a look here http://dynagen.org/tutorial.htm for more information.

Also check out this link http://www.internetworkexpert.com/resources/iosonpc.htm on the internetowrkexpert site. There is a link here to download the .net files required for a full CCIE lab :) I can run this on my dual core 2GB laptop.

Well I hope this answers your questions and gives you some help and some things to think about. If you have any more questions post away or you can email me, my user name on here is one of my email addresses.

Best Regards & have fun putting your lab together.

Michael

GoBucks82 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 14:40

Michael,

Thanks once again for the response.

I believe you have answered all of my questions, much appreciated.

Thanks,

Jacob

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