View Full Version : SB3 Wireless Signal Strength Drops For No Reason

2008-02-06, 21:18
Update: Here is a video demonstrating the problem that I describe in detail below:

I have had my SB3 for a couple of weeks now, and one problem that I keep having relates to the wireless signal strength.

If the unit is idle (read: off) for a length of time (overnight) then the signal strength of the unit drops to ~20%. If I powercycle the unit then the signal strength usually returns to ~70%. When the unit is operating at ~20% the audio (flac) cuts in and out. When the unit is operating at ~70% the audio is fine.

Since a powercycle of the SB3 returns the signal strength to ~70% and my laptop registers "Excellent" on its wireless card I feel safe to rule out a wireless network problem.

I searched these forums for similar problems but failed to find any.

2008-02-09, 20:42
Bump. Added link to video in original post. Anyone else see this behavior?

SqueezeCenter Version: 7.0 - 17314 - Windows XP - EN - cp1252
Server IP address:
Perl Version: 5.8.8 MSWin32-x86-multi-thread
MySQL Version: 5.0.22-community-nt

Platform Architecture: 586
Hostname: omgwtfbbq
Server Port Number: 9000
Total Players Recognized: 1
Cache Folder: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\SqueezeCenter\Cache
Plugin Folders: C:\PROGRA~1\SQUEEZ~1\server\Slim\Plugin, C:\PROGRA~1\SQUEEZ~1\server\Plugins

Player Information
Name: Living Room
Model: Squeezebox v3
Firmware: 86
The IP address for this player is:
The ethernet MAC address for this player is: 00:04:20:07:e2:b0
Wireless Signal Strength: 62

2008-02-10, 07:15
Actually I wouldn't necessarily rule out a wireless network problem. Comparing a laptop to an SB in terms of signal strength doesn't particulary give you useful information because they may have different wireless transceivers with the laptop being more sensitive and the aerial configuration is almost certainly different.

However, I'd suggest that you contact Slim support, if you haven't already done so.

2008-02-10, 07:22
Signal strength is a measure of the received signal. Many devices such as laptops reduce the Wifi signal strength when there is no traffic for a period of time.

Have you checked whether your router is changing signal strength ?

2008-02-10, 09:07
Many devices such as laptops reduce the Wifi signal strength when there is no traffic for a period of time.
Understood, but when I power-on the SB3 and generate traffic, the signal strength does not improve. My router (and no router that I've ever heard of) does not have a provision to lower signal strength if no traffic is generated - it would have to lower the signal strength for ALL connected devices.

I will contact support and see what they have to say. Thanks for the replies.

2008-02-10, 10:20
I've narrowed the problem to be some sort of communication breakdown between the Squeezebox and my Linksys WRE54Gv1 wireless repeater. When the signal strength is at 70% the Squeezebox and repeater are talking to each other properly. When the signal strength drops to 20% then the Squeezebox is attempting to talk directly to my router.

Since this communication is dropped when the SB3 is idle I am thinking that it is some sort of a MAC address caching timeout. Unfortunately I have no visibility into either side to see how this is setup (I'm no programmer). Does the SB3 have the ability to 'force' a MAC address of its upstream wireless peer? At least then I can force it to talk to the repeater exclusively and never talk directly to the router.

If you know of some other means to examine the MAC address table / timeouts please let me know. I did fire off an email to support as well.

2008-02-10, 11:35
If you are running Vista - then you can download from MS a WLAN monitoring tool.

Other than that - perhaps Ethereal/Wireshark may help but I think it would get very technical.

2008-02-10, 11:53
Wireless repeaters can be odd devices especially as they are also working as network bridges.

What I'd guess is going on, though not sure how it might get there, is that at some point the SB3 attempts to associated with your main AP. The bridge sees that it is now on it's host side and stops communicating with it so as not to create network problems. The power cycle starts it reassociating with the repeater.

I'm wondering if for some reason the SB is loosing contact with the repeater, initiating a broadcast for the SSID and getting first response from the AP. Perhaps the server logs may tell you if the SB3 is going missing.

Does the repeater have a management interface that you can look at to see what it thinks is where or any logs it might keep?

If you are unable to resolve the problem then I'd suggest turning it into a straight AP and link it back into the network with a Homeplug type device (assuming you are repeating because you can't get a cat5 to it's position).

2008-02-10, 12:02
Oh by the way, as you mention powering up and down the SB3 as opposed to power cycling it. You are aware that using the remote to "turn off" the SB3 doesn't actually turn it off. It just puts it into a state where it doesn't play music and it displays the "Powered off" screen which is usually the clock but can be changed. The SB3 remains fully active at all times and is continually talking to the server at least once per second. It is the server that is providing the data for the screen display, in this case the clock. The SB3 also has almost absolutely no understanding of the IR remote signals it is receiving and relies on the server to understand them so it needs to be communicating to 'understand' the turn on button.

This makes it unlikely that a cache timeout on the MAC is occuring and more likely a forced flush.

2008-02-10, 12:10
I am trying a workaround - I added the SB3's MAC address to the deny filter in my router. That forces it to talk through the repeater in order to get back to the SC7 box. So far its still showing 68% signal strength after an hour of 'powered-off' mode. I'll let it ride and see if it stays that way.

And yes - I'm aware that the SB3 is always 'on' which is why I was specifically stating that I was power-cycling the unit to resolve the problem. The video shows me physically unplug and re-plug the power.

2008-02-10, 14:35
I believe that you can allocate a different SSID for the repeater and connect to that ID from the SB. This will prevent it roaming.

If you deny access on the router, it will still try to switch over but probably lose the connection completely.

I have oly dabbled with this - so YMMV.


2008-02-10, 14:47
I believe that you can allocate a different SSID for the repeater and connect to that ID from the SB. This will prevent it roaming.
My repeater must reside on the same SSID as the router so this is not an option. I thought of this earlier and was disappointed that it was not possible - it would have been a simple fix. Unfortunately, both wireless repeaters and powerline networking bridges are expensive.