Abusing School Ethernet for IoT Connectivity

Abusing School Ethernet for IoT Connectivity
Photo by Stephen Phillips / Unsplash

I got a HomePod Mini last year right before going to school for the year, and I thought, great! This will just work and I'll have no problems... How wrong I was. Every couple of days it would drop off the network and say that it had no internet connection. I would just reset the speaker and go about my day. Then it would work for a day or so, then fall off the network again. I would deal with it because it didn't take that long to reset the speaker each time.

I eventually bought a cheap light strip that worked with HomeKit because I wanted some ambience in my dorm room. However, it was impossible to pair on our Enterprise Network.

A screenshot of the iOS Home App with a Popup: Unable to add Accessory, Accessory cannot be added to an enterprise network.
Unable to pair, as well as Home Hub not responding (HomePod Mini)

So, In my infinite wisdom I decided "Well, if I can't add it to an enterprise network, why not make my own network?" So, I went on Ebay and $10 later I had a router in my hands.

I plugged in the router to our Aruba 505H, factory reset it, and whitelisted it in our access tool.

A screenshot of Aruba ClearPass Guest with 3 devices added via MAC Address.
We need to do this for Ethernet devices to get Internet.

However, It wouldn't work. I could connect to the network it advertised, but I had no internet. So I thought I wasted 10 bucks, until I saw there was other MAC Addresses for 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz radios. I added those as well, but it made no difference!

Eventually while messing around with the settings I accidentally ended up turning on Bridge Mode, which (of course) didn't fix my problem but made it worse! Now I couldn't even access the router settings page. Oh well, a factory reset later and we're back in...

And what's this? Now it has the correct date?? Are we in business??

A screenshot of Linksys Router Information with the Current Time set to 2024.
It's 2024 instead of 1970 now!! The future is now, old man.

I went into the Wifi Settings, and disabled advertising of the SSID to hopefully avoid a knock on the door asking why I have a router plugged into the network. I couldn't find a setting to change the broadcast power (thanks, consumer routers, because why would anyone want true advanced features) so I just left it at that.

A screenshot of 2.4 GHz Wireless Settings with SSID Broadcast unchecked.
I don't actually want the SSID to Broadcast, thank you very much!

Then I reset my Homepod for (hopefully) the last time. As I need a Home Hub for the lights to work, I couldn't try that one first.

A picture of a HomePod glowing orange and a macOS Finder window restoring the HomePod.
Fingers Crossed. I hope I never have to see that orange flashing light again.

Once I connected the HomePod to the Home App, it was time to plug in the lights and see if those worked.

And well...

A picture of the light strip glowing blue.
Finally, they work!

They fully work! Victory at last.

A screenshot of Light Strip Panel in the Home App, set to Blue, 80% on macOS.
They even show in the Home App.

Was this worth it? Not even slightly. I have less than a month left on campus before I'm done with college, but it was a fun way to spend an afternoon.