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View Full Version : WiFi frustration! (But happy ending... for now)



Brian Ritchie
2007-01-05, 19:03
Let me spoil this up-front by pointing out that (a) I'm not criticising my lovely SB3, nor SlimServer and (b) this seems to have a happy ending... but this is a tale of how frustrating and infuriatingly incomprehensible wireless network f*ckups can be.

Tonight, some newly-ripped flacs just would not play on my SB3 - they started skipping within about a minute of start of play. So I turned on Network Health etc, and the front bit said this:

Control Connection : OK
Streaming Connection : OK
Signal Strength : OK
Buffer Fullness : Low
Server Response Time : OK

Now, how can Buffer Fullness be Low (near the beginning of a 4-minute-plus flac file), but all the others OK?

The more detailed server and players stats told pretty much the same story: everything's fine, but the buffer's not filling up fast enough. Why not?

My laptop in the same room reported my wireless strength as Excellent, 54mbps.

Dashed upstairs to look at the server; no sign that it's having any trouble doing its job. (OK, only using Windows Task Manager...)

My laptop noticed a couple of other networks around, but pretty low-strength signals (confirmed by Network Stumbler); and skipping was still happening after they dropped out.

(Yes, I have read the wiki pages. No, I haven't had the courage yet to change channel away from 11. But the problem remained even when no other networks were visible.)

I was starting to think about enabling bitrate limiting - the last-but-one resort. (Last resort is to dig out the CDs... and hope my aged player doesn't start skipping too!)

Then, a few minutes later, my wireless connection suddenly disappeared (though the first evidence was failure to load an SS web page, so for a second I thought the server had died, until the laptop reported No Network). Dashed upstairs again, unplugged the router, resisted the temptation to smash it against the wall... several deep breaths later, plugged it back in. Waited for it to wake up, and then for everything else to notice it. (I'd turned off the SB3 too, though I'm not sure that was necessary.)

Since then, all has been fine. (For an hour now, at least.)

I still have no idea what really went wrong. Maybe the router was generating a load of junk; maybe something else was. Clearly, Signal Strength does not equal or even necessarily correlate with Actually Useful Information Bandwidth. I probably need some better diagnostic tools. Next time, turning the router off and on again will be the FIRST thing I try. And if that doesn't work, then I *will* smash the little fecker off the wall. I don't buy these things just to waste my days trying to get them to work!

Sigh, wireless! It really is a black art. I really am coming round to the view that somewhere there is a WiFi Daemon, whose role is to randomly screw up your network until you perform some sacrifice, such as giving up being in a good mood!

So I'm not looking for help - though if anyone recognises this situation and has a better idea of what's happening, I'd like to know.

I should add that I'm usually delighted with WiFi - it's made a huge difference to our home entertainment - and wouldn't want to discourage anyone from taking the plunge. But when it does go wrong, it can be bloody frustrating!

-- Brian

Recoveryone
2007-01-05, 19:30
I was about to ask you some question about your provider, but I notice your in the UK, and from some other posting from people form across the pond I come to learn your providers are like night and day from ours in the US.

peter
2007-01-06, 02:09
Brian Ritchie wrote:
> Since then, all has been fine. (For an hour now, at least.)
>
> I still have no idea what really went wrong. Maybe the router was
> generating a load of junk; maybe something else was. Clearly, Signal
> Strength does not equal or even necessarily correlate with Actually
> Useful Information Bandwidth. I probably need some better diagnostic
> tools. Next time, turning the router off and on again will be the FIRST
> thing I try. And if that doesn't work, then I *will* smash the little
> fecker off the wall. I don't buy these things just to waste my days
> trying to get them to work!
>

It's probably a whole different story, but some weeks ago (after years
of trouble free wifi-ing), my SB3 started to hiccup. My laptop became
pretty slow too, so, even though the wifi bars in the docking area
showed full strength I checked the speed. It had switched to 2 Mbit for
no apparent reason. My slimserver is on a wired server, so it seemed
obvious the problem was in the (Asus) access point. I power cycled that
and all was well again.

I don't lose much sleep over things that occur so rarely. AFAIC the WAP
just had a moment of weakness after years of reliable service. I find
the SB3's wifi pretty good. I even used it to replace my webcam's
marginal wifi connection (by turning the SB into a bridge) which helped
quite a bit.

Regards,
Peter

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-06, 18:27
I was about to ask you some question about your provider, but I notice your in the UK, and from some other posting from people form across the pond I come to learn your providers are like night and day from ours in the US.

Our provider is NTL (broadband cable); they supplied a cable modem. However, the wireless router that it plugs into (Linksys WRT54G or something like that) is entirely ours. For once, I don't think NTL have anything to do with the problem!

There was another failure today... my wife was listening to a long playlist, randomised, when after a couple of hours it suddenly stopped. I had gone out for a few minutes, and was surprised to return to silence. "It stopped mid-track, and when it came on again, it started the playlist from scratch, so I stopped it." I assumed it was another WiFi glitch, until I went upstairs and discovered that the PC had crashed and rebooted! No idea why; I'd left MediaMonkey converting a ton of FLACs to mp3 for the iPod, but this was nothing unusual.

-- Brian

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-16, 18:39
I don't lose much sleep over things that occur so rarely. AFAIC the WAP
just had a moment of weakness after years of reliable service. I find
the SB3's wifi pretty good.
I suppose I shouldn't either; but I've now had the connection fail at least once a day ever since. It happened when we had friends round; I was in the middle of some intricate cookery and couldn't do anything about it for a while. They suggested we put a CD on instead - oh the shame! So this is beginning to get annoying.

(At least, if I don't touch SlimServer, when the SB3 returns it doesn't lose its place in the playlist.)

Right now, for example, it had just been playing OK for about an hour, when suddenly it started to stutter. I'm now in the habit of turning on monitoring whenever I use the web interface, and so I was able to bring up the Network Health pages pretty quickly - and they gave everything a clean bill of health. Even refreshing the player stats page claimed that the buffer level was still high. Something, somewhere is telling porkies, methinks...

Then the display went black, and a few seconds later the audio stopped completely. Network Health said that the control connection had failed, but everything else was OK. During all of this, my laptop was having no trouble at all, and reporting signal strength as Excellent (albeit at 36Mbps rather than 54 for some of the time).

All attempts to turn the SB3 back on failed: it would say "Connecting to the wireless network..." then go off again. Eventually, I power-cycled the SB3. After the usual round of "Waking... Connecting..." iterations (and why DO I need to press the power button when it gets to Connecting... but doesn't?), it finally came back, and seems to be OK again.

One change I made a few days ago (after a particularly annoying flurry of failures) was to switch the wireless router from channel 11 to 13; for a while I thought that'd cracked it; but no. (I'll have to change channel again tomorrow, for I need to work from home, but my stupid work laptop's internal card is triskadecaphobic.)

-- Brian

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-17, 15:41
I would suggest taking a look at http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?NetworkProblemsSecondGuide and the wireless tweaks suggested there, particularly NetStumbler.


One change I made a few days ago (after a particularly annoying flurry of failures) was to switch the wireless router from channel 11 to 13; for a while I thought that'd cracked it; but no. (I'll have to change channel again tomorrow, for I need to work from home, but my stupid work laptop's internal card is triskadecaphobic.)

This is probably a regional thing - channels 12-13 are licensed in Europe/UK but not in North America. See if there's a new wireless driver for the laptop and make sure you download it from a UK site or somehow indicate you're from the UK.

Incidentally, I strongly suspect this is why the Squeezebox asks you what region you're in when you're setting it up. Using channel 13 in North America would ensure virtually no competing networks, but your router firmware would have to cooperate and you'd have to lie to your Squeezebox. Lying is not a good way to start a relationship. ;-)

nano2nd
2007-01-18, 04:33
If your WRT54G doesn't let you use the additional wifi channels, it is worth updating the firmware to one of the open source versions (provided it isn't the latest version 7 hardware).

I've had good success with DD-WRT http://www.dd-wrt.com/ - allows you to unlock the full functionality of the Linksys. It is also compatible with other manufacturers hardware - I have a client/bridged setup now with 2 x Buffalo and 1 x Linksys routers providing wired and wireless access for my slimserver, mac, linux, SB2 in various rooms. Main reason for me was that the NTL broadband connection is placed inconveniently and not in the same room as server etc.

As well as more functionality, I've found the DD-WRT firmware to be much more stable than the stock Linksys (and if you're in the market for a replacement, the Buffalo WHR-HP-54 (or whatever) gives great wireless coverage.

maggior
2007-01-18, 14:25
Yes, getting wireless up and running and running reliably can be a black art.

Your experience sounds similar to what I went through when I originally set my network up 2 years ago. My issues all boiled down to interference. I live in a neighborhood where the houses are spaced pretty far apart, yet I could see up 3 other networks depending on where I was in the house. Once I realized this, I started playing around with using different channels. Through trial and error, I was finally able to settle on a channel that was reliable for me.

Keep in mind that things like microwave ovens will interfer because of the frequency range WiFi operates in. So, if you are streaming audio via wireless and turn on the microwave, things may stop working altogether.

In my setup, I actually have a double hop with wireless. My server is in the basement connected to my home network via a Linksys wireless card (with SpeedBoost) with an external antenna that sits on top of the PC. My Linksys WRT54S router (with Speedboost) is on the second floor of the house, so there is a floor inbetween my server and router. My Squeezebox is on the first floor and is using the wireless capability. I have been using my Squeezebox a lot and have not experienced any dropouts. Signal strength on my squeezebox hovers around 60% and my signal strength in the basement is around 40-50%. Certainly not powerhouse signal strength, but is enough to get the job done.

In short, you may want to experiment with a variety of WiFi channels. You may also want to see if your dropouts and failures coincide with electrical devices (microwaves, cordless phones, etc.) being turned on in the house.

Good luck.
Rich

- Edit -
OK, I just noticed that much of what I said above is discussed in a link provided above about WiFi. That's all good info - way to go SlimDevices.

Anyway, I guess it's useful for you to know that others have experienced problems in this area and have resolved them following the guidlines is presents.

oreillymj
2007-01-18, 15:36
Changing from channel 11 to 13 is pretty pointless to be honest as channels close together actually overlap each other.

If there are other networks on channel 11 nearby , the first step should be to try channel 6 then channel 1.

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-18, 18:03
I would suggest taking a look at http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.cgi?NetworkProblemsSecondGuide and the wireless tweaks suggested there, particularly NetStumbler.


Thanks Mark (and in case I don't respond individually, to everyone else who's replied with suggestions, most of which I admit I've yet to follow.) After a year of fairly trouble-free operation, it's annoying to be hitting these problems now, and I'm glad to have suggestions, even if it will take a month of Sundays to try them all! So many variables, so little patience! :-)

I've read the wiki already... yes, I read about not trusting the laptop's "Excellent" claim; but when SlimServer's own report says everything's OK except for the buffer, I have to wonder just what's going on! It was this page that led me to try switching to channel 13 (and to avoid channel 6, which might be worth a try after all - my router defaulted to 11, and it looks like most of my competitors do too.)

I was home all day yesterday, and saw the SB3 "die" quite a few times. Usually, it would start stuttering, then the display would go black; sometimes the music carried on for a few seconds even though the screen was blank (presumably until the buffer emptied). Sometimes it would come back on all by itself a few minutes later, and start playing the current track again. Sometimes I power-cycled it (more out of frustration than anything else - "Take *that*!"); sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn't.

This evening, I left the SB3 running the 5000Kbps test; after an hour, the average was 98%. Seemed promising, as this should be way above what's needed. Then I started playing some FLAC tracks - and the third track started stuttering, and then the SB3 turned off (screen went black). I turned it on again a few minutes later, and soon after, it did it again. So I left it off, and went off to get frustrated by some completely different hardware instead :-(.

I *guess* that though it was getting a good average on the test, that there might have been one or more "big dropouts"; but in that hour there was nothing bad enough to persude the SB3 to turn off, and yet within 10 minutes of playing music, it happened; and again, next time I tried.

I have NetStumbler, and it often shows several "competing" networks, though usually at far lower signal strength than mine. I don't run it often, because it interferes with (and often breaks) other network connections on my laptop. (And I might be being particularly thick, but how on earth do you get to see the graph view that's mentioned in the help?)

The SB3 typically reports signal strength as about 50%, even when there are no other networks around; right now it's saying 50-60, and there are three other networks visible. And it's been playing for about 30 minutes with no problems. (And my laptop's reporting a fairly low speed - 36Mbps - but the SB3 is fine.) And then again, I have just installed the new 6.5.1 release. I think until now I was running the 20th Dec nightly; but maybe some small but crucial change has helped.

Or maybe my neighbour has discovered that if he turns on his microwave, he can stop that wierd music coming from next door :-) - but he's probably gone to bed now...

-- Brian

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-18, 18:21
(And I might be being particularly thick, but how on earth do you get to see the graph view that's mentioned in the help?)

Yeah, that's not particularly easy or intuitive. I tried to explain it but it's hard. What you have to do is filter out the networks by using the filters on the left pane. Filter everything out but your own, using MAC address for example. When you have only one left, double-click and you'll bring up the strength graph.


The SB3 typically reports signal strength as about 50%, even when there are no other networks around; right now it's saying 50-60, and there are three other networks visible.

From what I've seen on the forum, 50-60 is borderline...try tweaking router or antenna position.

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-19, 17:01
Yeah, that's not particularly easy or intuitive. I tried to explain it but it's hard. What you have to do is filter out the networks by using the filters on the left pane. Filter everything out but your own, using MAC address for example. When you have only one left, double-click and you'll bring up the strength graph.

Thanks, I'll try that next time I run it. I was trying to get there by choosing one network (from many) on the RHS. *Now* I remember that the help examples talk about testing signal strength by limiting the display to your network... now I know why!


From what I've seen on the forum, 50-60 is borderline...try tweaking router or antenna position.

Tonight, it got as far as the Infernal Dance in the Firebird Suite before barfing. I found that even the 1000kbps network test was hitting significant dropouts (average 96%, but got much lower on occasion and even cut off completely at one point).
I switched to channel 6, and twiddled with the router aerials (one vertical, one horizontal). Signal strength on the SB3 went up to 60-70, and it's been fine ever since (touch Formica), all the way from Bach to Ossian (though the latter, I'm shocked to discover, is still largely 96kb wma... and the sources are on loan to folky friends at the moment.) Maybe a little early to be popping the champagne corks (but hey, it's Friday!)

This evening, NetStumbler showed a plethora of nearby networks on channels 1, 6 and 11, which pretty much covers the lot, I guess; but all were intermittent, and none got an SNR above the low 20s. Mine, and what appears to be its b*stard sibling (or doppelganger) 000000 were hitting 73.

Incidentally, whilst serving WMA, Network Health is reporting that streaming is Inactive, and Buffer Fullness shows *nothing at all*. Maybe the files are just too small to show up! :-) Right now, I'm hearing glitches that are almost certainly ripping errors (heavens knows what I used originally), so these are ripe for a flacking... Of course, if I'm more or less happy listening to 96kbps wma, why am I worrying about problems with FLAC delivery?! But resorting to bitrate limiting would've smelt of failure.

-- Brian

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-19, 17:52
Tonight, it got as far as the Infernal Dance in the Firebird Suite before barfing. I found that even the 1000kbps network test was hitting significant dropouts (average 96%, but got much lower on occasion and even cut off completely at one point).
I switched to channel 6, and twiddled with the router aerials (one vertical, one horizontal). Signal strength on the SB3 went up to 60-70, and it's been fine ever since (touch Formica), all the way from Bach to Ossian (though the latter, I'm shocked to discover, is still largely 96kb wma... and the sources are on loan to folky friends at the moment.) Maybe a little early to be popping the champagne corks (but hey, it's Friday!)

This evening, NetStumbler showed a plethora of nearby networks on channels 1, 6 and 11, which pretty much covers the lot, I guess; but all were intermittent, and none got an SNR above the low 20s. Mine, and what appears to be its b*stard sibling (or doppelganger) 000000 were hitting 73.

Incidentally, whilst serving WMA, Network Health is reporting that streaming is Inactive, and Buffer Fullness shows *nothing at all*. Maybe the files are just too small to show up! :-) Right now, I'm hearing glitches that are almost certainly ripping errors (heavens knows what I used originally), so these are ripe for a flacking... Of course, if I'm more or less happy listening to 96kbps wma, why am I worrying about problems with FLAC delivery?! But resorting to bitrate limiting would've smelt of failure.

Sounds like some progress then.

Since there are so many networks in your area, one could assume you live in a densely populated area - possibly lots of cordless phones and microwave ovens...

Inactive streaming is normal, once the rest of the song is in the buffer it stops streaming. However it should show something in the buffer though.

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-19, 18:04
... Maybe a little early to be popping the champagne corks

A little early indeed: it's just died several times in the past few minutes. Once whilst playing a WMA track, it just turned off; and refused to connect to the network again until I pulled the plug out (of the SB3), at which point suddenly all was OK. Now, why would this fix a problem with the wireless network?

I find it hard to imagine how my laptop could be working perfectly, and reporting an Excellent signal, yet the SB3 couldn't even connect to the network. That's not a bandwidth problem, I'm fairly sure. So what is it?

I am NOT going to put up with with this much more! If this can't work 100% of the time, then it's no good to me.

I have a few more things to try, such as updating the router's firmware (though I'm far from convinced that the problem lies there); or I could try reverting to an earlier version of SS and firmware (though I'd lose other things in the process, and - again - no guarantee it will actually help); or - though it really galls - there's bitrate limiting to try (though how could this explain the damn thing turning itself off?); but my patience buffer is approaching overflow. I want to listen to my music, not spend all my free time faffing about with experiments. Right now, it looks like wireless streaming is not the future, but only the past, as far as I'm concerned.

(I hope I live to eat my words, but right now I am royally pissed [off]. Sure enough, as I've been composing this rant, the damn thing has worked perfectly. But I keep expecting it to fail at any minute, and that's the rub: I just don't trust it any more. And indeed, it's just failed again.)

-- Brian

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-20, 18:53
Today's trials...

It started badly: network test on the SB3 couldn't get 100% even on 320kbps. At one point, the SB3 turned off, and wouldn't connect to the network again until I power-cycled (at which point it connected straight away).

I updated my router firmware (it was *very* old!)
Things seemed better after that. So I queued up a list of mp3s (largely at 128kbps), and that seemed to go OK for a couple of hours. Then I braved some flacs: no-no, couldn't even play for a few seconds before stuttering. Gave in and introduced bitrate limiting, and had to go down to 192kbps before it stopped stuttering; even then, it would stutter occasionally, but always recovered by itself.

Things seemed better later in the evening; I noticed that signal strength was creeping into the 70s. So I queued up some flacs and turned off bitrate limiting. That seemed to work for a while, but after about 45 minutes, and a few seconds after I'd been watching the stats climbing, the SB3 suddenly stopped and went blank. No stuttering, no warning. NetStumbler on the laptop reported an SNR in the low 50s, but the SB3 has been able to work in those circumstances before.

I waited about 10 minutes to see if it would come back on by itself (as has happened occasionally), but gave in and turned it on. It went straight to "Waking up SlimServer..." (so had no trouble connecting to the network). We're back at the start of the playlist, and I think it's been reshuffled.

Well, so much for updating the router firmware.
That I couldn't play flac at all earlier in the day seems to suggest that there's some kind of interference, though I don't think it's anything we're running. But I suspect that the SB3 turning itself off is something else.

And just as I wrote that, the display went blank again. Music's still playing, but probably not for long. NetStumbler looks "interesting": the entry under my SSID is grey, but there's another on the same channel, no SSID, MAC 000000, WEP encryption on, with the same SNR as my SSID had a few seconds ago; and my laptop seems to think it's connected to a network called "Access Point". What on earth is going on? I'd assumed that this was something to do with how NetStumbler changes settings on the laptop (my web browsers can't resolve URLs when NetStumbler is running), but I'm not so sure now.
Something funny with my network, for sure...

-- Brian

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-20, 19:01
Something funny with my network, for sure...

Definitely. Sounds like you're being out-competed by your neighbors. Perhaps someone brought in a pre-n router and it's blanking yours out.

You may want to look into directional/high-gain antennas for your router.

maggior
2007-01-21, 09:22
Last night I was listening to rhapsody a lot. At one point in time, it just stopped playing music and the screen went totally blank. It would turn on and fail to connect to the network, turn off, etc. etc.

Like you observed, removing power and applying it again breaks it out of this cycle.

When listening to other internet radio or any of my music on my local server, this NEVER happens.

The point is that there seems to be a way that the squeezebox can get into this state regardless of the network setup. Not sure what the deal is.

This doesn't really help you with your problem, but I thought I'd point out that this can happen in situations where the network is set up OK.

Maybe this has something to do with WMA (you mentioned this occurred with WMA files)? Rhapsody streams in WMA, my music on my local server is mostly LAME mp3 and some FLAC. Any internet radio I listen to is mp3 streams.

Have you seen the screen blank/can't connect to the network again behavior with files other than WMA?

I hope you work this out because it is a great device!

Rich

BTW, I think that you may be experiencing a few problems at the same time. The screen going blank thing may be unrelated to the network issue you are battling. To ease on the frustration, you may want to try to attack them separately (if you can).

dlevine
2007-01-21, 14:24
I'm having a very similar problem -- worked fine for a while, then started having problems. Problems include stuttering, jerky display, very slow response to the remote control, and occasionally the music stops completely and the display goes black.

In my case I am located in a dense urban area and I can see 3-7 WiFi networks from different parts of my house. I have changed my network to channel 1, which is well away from any of them, but the problem persists.

The problem is intermittent. The player may work fine for hours and hours, then suddenly buffer fullness goes to zero and the Squeezebox starts stuttering and jerking. This persists for minutes or hours and then stops as suddenly and thoroughly as it began.

The problem is not weak signal strength -- the Squeezebox is only about 6 feet from my wireless router (with one wood-framed wall in between) and reports 98% signal strength. The problem is definitely WiFi-related and not a server problem, because when it is occurring I can eliminate it completely by connecting the player via an Ethernet cable (this isn't a viable long-term solution because of the players' locations).

After trying a wide variety of diagnostics and alternatives I believe I am seeing non-WiFi interference from a phone or microwave oven belonging to a neighbor. Because it doesn't use the WiFi protocol this interference is invisible to iStumbler. I have been able to replicate the symptoms by firing up my own microwave oven.

I have considered buying a Wi-Spy (http://www.metageek.net/) signal analyzer to confirm this diagnosis, but I'm reluctant to spend $100 on a piece of hardware I'm unlikely to use more than once and which won't necessarily solve the problem. (If it's a microwave oven or frequency-hopping phone there's no channel that will be free of the interference.)

What I want to do next is to try a better wireless router. My current router is a cheap piece of garbage from Actiontec (I got it from my ISP), which has very limited configuration options and a permanently attached antenna. I would like to try something from a reputable manufacturer, and if that doesn't work I might add a RadioLabs range extender (http://www.radiolabs.com/products/wireless/wireless-range-extender.php) which is a an amplified antenna. That would increase the signal strength, which I'm hoping would bull through the interference.

Can anyone recommend a wireless router/AP that is better than most at overcoming interference from phones and microwaves? RadioLabs (http://www.radiolabs.com/products/wireless/networking/high-power-access-point.php) and Buffalo (http://www.buffalotech.com/products/wireless/wireless-g-mimo-performance/wireless-g-mimo-performance-broadband-router-and-access-point-with-high-gain-antenna/) both make "high-power" routers, but I don't know if more power will really help.

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-21, 16:20
Can anyone recommend a wireless router/AP that is better than most at overcoming interference from phones and microwaves? RadioLabs (http://www.radiolabs.com/products/wireless/networking/high-power-access-point.php) and Buffalo (http://www.buffalotech.com/products/wireless/wireless-g-mimo-performance/wireless-g-mimo-performance-broadband-router-and-access-point-with-high-gain-antenna/) both make "high-power" routers, but I don't know if more power will really help.

Slim Devices had a one-time recommendation for Ruckus Wireless (http://www.ruckuswireless.com/) routers. The pre-n MIMO routers out there are also supposed to be very good and quite fast. Don't know how good any of this stuff will be for fighting interference, as that isn't what MIMO really addresses. However the most flexible router has got to be a Linksys WRT54GL (or WRT54G v4 if you can still find one) with 3rd party firmware like DD-WRT. This 3rd party firmware will allow you to increase power. You can also use 3rd party firmware on some Buffalo and Asus routers.

Increasing power may not be the answer, and it can shorten the life of the wireless module. The recommendation is usually for high-gain or directional antennas.

Unfortunately if you already have high signal strength, this may be some strong interference. More signal may or may not be able to overcome it.

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-21, 19:02
Definitely. Sounds like you're being out-competed by your neighbors. Perhaps someone brought in a pre-n router and it's blanking yours out.

You may want to look into directional/high-gain antennas for your router.

Actually, thinking about it (and having cooled down a bit :-)), there's a chance that our own central heating might be the (or a) culprit. Though I've had the SB3 for over a year, I didn't start using flac heavily until recent months, and we didn't turn the heating on until quite late this year. That said, the last little bits of misbehaviour I recorded last night happened after the heating had turned off for the night.

How could I tell (in NetStumbler, say) whether another router is "pre-n" (does this mean "11n capable"?) or whether mine is being swamped? I've not seen the SNR of anyone else get near mine. (Right now, mid-50s, others tend to be 20 or lower, and my Signal+ is -42, others are circa -80. Then again, everything's working fine right now.) Also, if someone (like me) isn't broadcasting their SSID, will NetStumbler show them at all?

We've one adjoining neighbour, and another house on the other side. There's a road opposite our house, so there are no other houses that near; yet right now NetStumbler lists 7 other networks (though only 1 of these is active right now). I remember though that even my iPaq could see our network half-way down the road opposite (even if it still couldn't work in the back garden :-( ).

Another thing I've yet to try is to reposition the router - it's rather surrounded by cabinets and bits of computer at the moment! Not quite sure where else it will fit, though...

-- Brian

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-22, 06:55
How could I tell (in NetStumbler, say) whether another router is "pre-n" (does this mean "11n capable"?) or whether mine is being swamped?

You can't, it's a standard 802.11g signal. BTW this doesn't necessarily mean "802.11n capable", if the spec should change these early implementations will be out in limbo. Some manufacturers have promised compatibility with any adopted standard through firmware updates, even hardware updates.


Also, if someone (like me) isn't broadcasting their SSID, will NetStumbler show them at all?

Yes, NetStumbler will still show them all.

Stop the train for a sec, you just mentioned something here. You say you're hiding your SSID. Look at the problems other forum members are having doing this:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=31904

Might want to try enabling SSID broadcast, keeping in mind it doesn't increase security, you're broadcasting it through several other means anyway.


Another thing I've yet to try is to reposition the router - it's rather surrounded by cabinets and bits of computer at the moment! Not quite sure where else it will fit, though...

If any of that is metal, it's blocking the signal.

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-22, 17:43
Stop the train for a sec, you just mentioned something here. You say you're hiding your SSID. Look at the problems other forum members are having doing this:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=31904

Might want to try enabling SSID broadcast, keeping in mind it doesn't increase security, you're broadcasting it through several other means anyway.

Thanks for the pointer, Mark; this does sound rather similar to my experiences! Will have to persuade the SWMBO about 'casting the SSID. I'd like to switch to WPA rather than WEP, but that would mean I couldn't use my iPaq as a remote any more (useful when SWMBO is hogging the laptop) :-(.


If any of that is metal, it's blocking the signal.

I pulled the router about 12 inches forward just to see what would happen - and the signal strength went up about 10%. It *was* sitting next to my slide scanner, which just happens to have a big metal case. The new location isn't ideal (it's usually workspace), but it'll do for now.

When not using the SB3 tonight, I've had it on Network Test, 2000kbps, and it was averaging 99%. I've not been playing flacs tonight yet (wanted to listen to something in particular, amazingly), but it's been doing fine.

Now, last time I said it looked like the problem(s) were cracked, I was proved wrong; so I'm not going to say it this time! :-)

-- Brian

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-22, 21:46
I'd like to switch to WPA rather than WEP, but that would mean I couldn't use my iPaq as a remote any more (useful when SWMBO is hogging the laptop) :-(.

Ouch! That's a rock and a hard place, man...WEP is just about useless. It will deter casual and accidental connections, but if someone really wants to get in it's no big deal.

Brian Ritchie
2007-01-23, 17:57
Ouch! That's a rock and a hard place, man...WEP is just about useless. It will deter casual and accidental connections, but if someone really wants to get in it's no big deal.
Yes, I remember when I installed the router a couple of years ago I read that WEP could be cracked in about a day of monitoring on a reasonably busy network; I thought then that I wasn't likely to use it that heavily. I guess that's changed since then (in more ways than one)!

I'm assuming that no-one in our area (suburban Oxford) is that interested in snooping on our network, and if they want to use it they'd have to spoof the MAC address of one of our components.

Well, the SB3 has been working fine all day, so it looks as though simply repositioning the router was all that was needed (though for all I know some of the other things I tried might've helped as well). Thanks again for your suggestions and pointers.

I'm off to look for WPA-friendly cards for my iPaq...

-- Brian

Mark Lanctot
2007-01-23, 18:56
Yes, I remember when I installed the router a couple of years ago I read that WEP could be cracked in about a day of monitoring on a reasonably busy network; I thought then that I wasn't likely to use it that heavily. I guess that's changed since then (in more ways than one)!

Try a few seconds: google "aircrack".

Glad things are holding for you - hope it continues.

dlevine
2007-02-19, 20:08
Slim Devices had a one-time recommendation for Ruckus Wireless (http://www.ruckuswireless.com/) routers.

I replaced my cheapo Actiontec router with a Ruckus MediaFlex and that seems to have completely cured my problem with stuttering and UI non-responsiveness. It was a little on the expensive side, and it shipped with NO documentation so that I had to work with Ruckus tech support to get it set up, but on balance I'm very happy with it.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Mark Lanctot
2007-02-19, 20:17
I replaced my cheapo Actiontec router with a Ruckus MediaFlex and that seems to have completely cured my problem with stuttering and UI non-responsiveness. It was a little on the expensive side, and it shipped with NO documentation so that I had to work with Ruckus tech support to get it set up, but on balance I'm very happy with it.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Glad it works. There aren't many Slim users using these yet but there are positive reports.

The marketing materials says it's optimized for media streaming. These optimizations are probably secret so I'm not sure how much of its performance is due to MIMO, which is good for media streaming, and which is due to these optimizations.