Work colleague: Cylon raider. So say we all.
Housegroup friend: Or a Martian warship from the original War of the Worlds...?
It's an ASUS RT-AX82U, picked because it fits a very specific set of requirements: it supports 802.11ax with 160MHz channel width and at least 2 streams, and supports gigabit ethernet with link aggregation. Sadly it doesn't natively do xDSL - the DSL-AX82U does, but is missing link aggregation. There's a reason for requiring that: my laptop, while it only has 802.11ac, can use 160MHz wide channels and so tops out at 1.7Gb/s, and the upcoming desktop will have an 802.11ax card which can hit over 2Gb/s - and my flat is small enough that fast WiFi is actually practical. It'd be rather silly if the bottleneck between my desktop/laptop and my NAS was the wired connection!
Physically installing it is where the carpentry comes in: I'd planned to add it to a small bookcase serving as a comms tower, but I needed an extra shelf. So I had another plan which was to replace a wooden shelf in a display cabinet with a glass one. Except there was one slight flaw in my cunning plan... at some point Ikea have changed the shelf mounts for their Billy bookcases and made the holes smaller - and the mounts for glass shelves screw in and so kinda rely on the fixings being the correct size.
Fortunately there's an easy solution for that.
Also fortunately, the fixings don't attach onto any particular part of the glass shelf so they can just be slid inwards slightly and use the newer holes.
On to the next task: notching out the back of the wooden shelf for cable space. One day I'll find a reason to buy an actual jigsaw, but for this a junior hacksaw did the job:
And with that done, I can power it up and set about configuring it! The aim was to dig out an old Netgear DG834G and run that in modem mode, with the ASUS doing all the routing. In reality... I spent a very frustrating hour discovering that the only scenario that gave me an internet connection was to continue with the current Netgear DGND3700v2, and relegate the ASUS to wifi duties only. It was one of those times where all cunning plans failed. The DG834G turned out to be unstable (and for added insult was not another spare that was known to be unreliable). The DGND3700v2 in modem mode doesn't do the WAN authentication at all. My current internet connection uses PPPoA, but the ASUS only speaks PPPoE. Sky refuse to document anything about their ADSL settings (which might do PPPoE if you're a former O2 user like I am?), and their forums only mention their VDSL offering which apparently they do something weird with (so I won't be using them for fibre then!).
So in the end I just turned off the access point on the DGND3700v2 and recabled the NAS into the ASUS. The link aggregation at least works, and after some prodding I persuaded the ASUS to enable 160MHz channel width (the trick is to manually assign the wifi channel - the auto-assignment only went up to 80MHz), so that part was a complete success. My laptop will now download from the NAS at over 100MB/s!
Another housegroup friend: Oh crap, it activated the weapons systems 😳