UniFi - Best Practices for Managing Chromecast/Google Home on UniFi Network


 Overview


This article will explain best practices for configuring your UniFi network with Chromecast/Google Home devices.

NOTES & REQUIREMENTS: This guide assumes the use of a UniFi Security Gateway. If your network does not, some of the steps below may not apply. 

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. Create a Separate SSID/VLAN
  3. Enable MulticastDNS Service
  4. Connect Chromecast/Google Home to your new SSID
  5. Test Streaming/Discovery
  6. Related Articles

Introduction


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This article will explain how to configure your UniFi network so you can enjoy the benefits of these devices while limiting any potential impact from exposing "trusted devices" on the same LAN. It may also be desired to add firewall rules to block traffic between the "trusted LAN" and the LAN that is chosen for the Chromecast/Google Home devices. 

In some cases, both Chromecast and Google Home rely on wireless connectivity to access media and stream it from local wireless clients to these media devices. To see which ports are needed to be open between networks please reference the application documentation. The article cannot provide a list for every service. 

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Some key considerations:

  • How will local wireless clients discover the Chromecast / Google Home devices?
  • How can I segment traffic to prevent broadcast/multicast traffic related to the operation of these devices from adversely affecting other users?
  • How can I ensure that devices on my network can access these services without difficulty?

This article will discuss some recommended configurations of your UniFi network when using these devices.


Create a Separate SSID/VLAN


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To help segment and isolate traffic related to your Chromecast and Google Home devices, it is recommended to put these devices on a separate VLAN. This is possible with the use of the USG’s MulticastDNS reflector service that helps devices discover devices like Chromecast.

  1. First, let’s walk through how to set up a VLAN in the UniFi Controller. Follow these steps:
    1. Go to Settings > Networks.
    2. Click "Add New Network".
    3. Select "Corporate" network type.
    4. Assign a VLAN# to your network: in this example 55.
    5. Define the DHCP scope--e.g. 192.168.55.1/24.
    6. Select Update DHCP Range.
    7. Enable IGMP Snooping as it can help with multicast traffic.
    8. Configure any other desired settings and click "Save".

chromecast2.png

  1. Next, create a dedicated SSID for your Chromecast/Google Home and other IoT devices and assign it the proper VLAN:
    1. Go to Settings > Wireless Networks > Create Wireless Network.
    2. Enter a name for your new wireless network i.e. “TestIoT”.
    3. In most cases, you'll want to select WPA Personal for Security Type.
    4. Enter a secure Security Key that can be used to authenticate to this network.
    5. Assign the VLAN ID associated with the network created earlier, by clicking "Use VLAN" checkbox, and entering the number associated with the VLAN, in this example 55.
    6. Click "Save" to finish.

chromecast3.png


Enable MulticastDNS Service


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3. Next, we need to enable the Multicast DNS service on the USG to ensure that the devices are able to discover the Chromecast/Google Home devices without issue. To do so: 

3.1. Navigate to Settings > Services > MDNS

3.2. Switch the “Enable Multicast DNS” button to ON

3.3. Select Apply Changes.

Services.png

NOTE: Enabling the mDNS feature will enable a service on the USG that will reflect (mirror) mDNS packets into all other networks including WAN.


Connect Chromecast/Google Home to New SSID


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After you have completed the above steps, you have configured everything necessary in UniFi. All that is then needed is to connect your Chromecast/Google Home devices to your new SSID associated with the new VLAN.

NOTE: The following instructions are just general steps to follow. Please use Google's help guides to configure Google devices for the most current instructions. You can start here: Change the Wi-Fi network of Chromecast or Chromecast Audio.

4. To do this, open the “Home” app made by Google. Select the device you wish to configure, and then forget the network.

4.1. Click Forget next to the previous Wi-Fi Network, then Forget Network to confirm.

4.2. You will then need to set up the Chromecast and connect to the new SSID you created.

4.3. After you have finished adding the new network, you should be ready to test streaming on your Chromecast. 


Test Streaming and Discovery


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To confirm everything is working, test Chromecast by connecting a wireless client like a laptop or mobile device to your original SSID, the one that your Chromecast is not connected to.

Once connected, open a video on a site like YouTube, and click the Chromecast button in the top right.

chromecast8.png

If you have set up everything properly, you should then see your Chromecast device listed as shown below. Select the proper Chromecast device and enjoy streaming!

chromecast9edit.PNG

Use a similar method to test proper discovery and audio streaming to a Google Home device as well. 

Verify that the mDNS Reflector is Working Properly:

1. SSH into the UniFi Security Gateway (USG). 

2. Use tcpdump to capture packets on the destination LAN.

sudo tcpdump -npi eth1.15 port 5353
NOTE: The interface will need to be changed based on the interface and VLAN used for client devices. The scheme works as interface.VLAN_number. The VLAN to look into is the one with the clients that wish to cast. The example above was for a LAN network on eth1 and VLAN 15. Port 5353 is used for Bonjour services/discovery.

Verify that the port 5353 packets are reaching the VAP:

1. SSH into a UniFi Access Point (UAP) in your network.

2. Use tcpdump to packet capture on the AP

sudo tcpdump -npi ath# port 5353
NOTE: To find the BSSID, navigate to the WLANs section in Overview on the AP property panel. It should be ath0/ath1/ath2, etc. 

In both of these tcpdump captures you should be able to see the devices, along with speaker groups advertised. If not, try capturing from the LAN where the Google devices are located. If it's not showing up there, then either the capture was incorrect, or there is another fundamental issue at play. 

NOTE: Sometimes client devices such as Android/iOS devices need to be rebooted in order to see the devices/groups shortly after new network configuration.

Related Articles


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UniFi - Managing Broadcast Traffic

UniFi - USW: Using VLANs with UniFi Wireless, Routing & Switching Hardware

Intro to Networking - How to Establish a Connection Using SSH


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