I have been thinking about building my own router for some time to take advantage of the features in numerous open source router operating systems. I finally settled on PFsense and the following parts below. The company that manufactures the board and enclosure (PC Engines) is located in China, however I decided to purchase the parts from a distributor (NetGate) in the US for shipping reasons. It was slightly more expensive this way, but all in all the parts came to just under $200. Not to shabby considering the features included in PFsense, which is the software/OS I finally settled on running since it is much more feature rich than other alternatives like SmoothWall. Even my $600 Cisco Router couldn’t do some of the things PFsense can.
- ALIX.2D3+B System Board: (3/1/256/LX800) with battery
- ALIX.2D3 3 LAN Indoor Enclosure Blue with USB & ANT
- AC/DC 18V 0.825A 15W Switching Adapter only
- SMA Dust Cap / Rubber Antenna Hole Plug (Since I am not adding a wireless card… yet anyways)
That’s about it. No need to buy RAM or a CPU separately, everything is contained on one board. There are also some optional expansion cards that can be purchased fairly cheaply for this board as well. For example, wireless cards, and even a crypto accelerator to offload VPN encryption from the CPU.
Once I finally figured out how to console in to the unit using a null modem cable (notice that there is not monitor port, just a serial), it was pretty straight forward. Most configuration will occur via the web interface.
Not too much to it, very simple setup compared to other builds on the net.