Living in a block of flats is a nightmare when it comes to getting reliable wireless network coverage, especially when only having 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi as it is a heavily congested frequency. Over the last few months I’ve found the connection constantly dropping on my wireless devices, even within a few feet of the access point.
I use a Netgear FVS318N for my wireless connections and a frustration is that the region is locked to Europe, where the radio power is limited more than other parts of the world.
This means the highest achievable power is half, raising it to full results in this dead end:
Very annoying, this post shows how to get a region locked Netgear use all the power available, and to discover what devices in the area are competing for the wireless space.
For a while I have been looking for simple CCTV solution, where video is captured on a long loop, so when the storage is full the earliest dated footage is deleted to make way for new. And of course, footage is available for immediate review.
Many newer IP cameras, including my Trendnet TV-IP572W comes equipped with a microSD slot for recording on a rotating basis. However, this has two main caveats, firstly the investment in a microSD card to be used solely for this purpose and of a high enough capacity to record enough footage, especially with the introduction of HD capture. Secondly is accessing the footage, as it is effectively held on the IP camera it is the gateway to the data. In my experience this process is slow, with having to download each video file manually and slow transfer speeds.
Imagine wanting to view an event that could have happened over a span of a few hours, and with video captured in segments of 5 minutes at most, the whole process can become tedious very quickly.
Therefore, I came up with another solution, one that uses my server’s hard disks for video storage to save on money while allowing larger video retention than a micro SD card. Also the ability to automatically delete older files to make way for new. This method uses Samba settings of an IP camera to save video to a Windows Server, and on the server itself, employing Disk Quota management to effectively trick the camera into thinking it only has a certain amount of disk space, to allow the cyclic video retention and prevent the footage taking up a whole drive on the server.
I have been running Gigabit Ethernet on my network for a few years, the speed from my everyday laptop was good enough at 40MBps but wasn’t running close to capacity when moving large files to the server, I assumed that this was down to the 5400rpm Hard Drives on the laptop not being able to fill the bandwidth on the network.
Recently while shopping for network cables to connect my new server I though it time to get a new line for the laptop since the plug clip on the current one was broken. I decided to go for Cat 6 cables just to keep up to date and nowadays there is not such a price premium over Cat 5e.
The first transfer of data through the new cable and instantly got 70MBps, nearly double the 40MBps I was getting before. Wondering why there was such a difference I looked at the replaced cable:
Last week my websites suffered their first major outage since I got my new server in April 2011. Luckily it wasn’t the server itself, but twas the internet connection that let me down.
I took delivery of a Netgear FVS318N router to replace a basic hub, installed it and did a bit of cable management which involved unplugging my Sagem F@st 2504 that I use as a modem.
However upon powering up the Sagem after tidying cables, it has no life, apart from this strange arrangement of light on the front:
I called Sky (my ISP) support who happily informed me that there is a common issue with the power supply to the Sagem router that caused them to fail. Wanting to get back on the net immediately and conversation about a replacement power supply giving vague delivery lead times, I opted to purchase the new Sky branded router (dubbed the Sky Hub):
The outage lasted 5 days as I waited for delivery of the new modem. An annoyance of this is that I had a spare, working ADSL modem but this could not be used as Sky does not give out the credentials to log on to their network, instead choosing to pre-load them on the modem before shipping.
Overall its an example of the unexpected issues that can arise when running a home server on a budget.
It has been mentioned in many Sky internet forums that using an unapproved Sky router, i.e. one not supplied by Sky, will be in breach of the Terms & Conditions. However whilst on the phone to Sky broadband technical support the representative told me that it was acceptable to use a 3rd party router if the user was confident and acknowledged that no support would be given unless a Sky provided router was used.
The case may be that you still need to hand over the cash to Sky for one of their routers and keep it to hand, but after that the choice is yours!
Connecting a printer to a server compared to a desktop system is not as straight forward as it may be perceived. Whether the manufacturers software simply refuses to install on Windows 2003 or insists on adding a load of bloatware on your system, here is how to get around it:
Step 1: Start by downloading the basic version of the drivers from the HP website, choose Windows XP drivers if there are none for Windows 2003
Step 2: Open the executable file, allow it to extract and display the first setup screen. Here, depending on the printer chosen it may let you continue with the setup, or stop the installation there telling you the operating system is not supported.
Whatever the installation screen displays, DO NOT CLOSE THE WINDOW, while its open all the files you need are made available. Next navigate to your temp folder. TIP: Go to Start Menu à Run, and type %temp%. This will bring up your temp files.
In the temp folder, look for a folder containing the setup files that were extracted as part of the installation, it will usually have .inf files that contain the printer model as part of the filename, below is an example of the drivers to install a HP C4700:
Step 3: At this point its best to copy (not move) the contents of the folder to a more convenient location. When a copy is made, you can close the installation utility as you have all the files in a new location.
Now navigate to Start > Settings > Printers and Faxes, and then start the Add new printer wizard.
After the intro splash, choose “Local printer attached to this computer” and un-check the box for “Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer”
Note: Step 4 is for installing a printer over a network, if you are connecting via USB, skip to step 5.
Step 4: Click next, on the next screen you will want to select “Create a new port” and choose “Standard TCP/IP port” from the drop-down menu, as below:
This brings up a new wizard, after the intro splash onto the add port screen, type the IP address of the printer:
NOTE: To save reconfiguration in the future, remember to set the printer to have a static IP address as you are not installing the program that find the printer on a dynamic IP address.
The next screen, leave the settings as a “Standard device type” and “Generic network card”. Clicking next brings you to printer software screen.
Step 5: Click the “Have Disk” button and navigate to the copy of the installation files.
Only .inf files show, and you want to choose the most generic file name that is similar to your device, in this case above hpC4700.inf seems the most obvious.
If the right file has been chosen, you see your printer display as below.
If you get a warning message about a digital signature, choose “Continue Anyways”, but make sure you downloaded the drivers from a reputable site, such as the official HP website.
The installation wizards copies the files, then choose to print a test page to make sure all is well, and your HP printer appears in your printers folder.
It was all going so well, got my Raspberry Pi and after the initial fiddle with Debian Squeeze I got another SD card and put Raspbmc on it, things were great!
Only niggle in my head was that the card I put Raspbmc on was 8GB, and that bigger card would be put to better use in my camera that was using a 4GB card. I thought it would be no problem to reformat cards and swap them over?
The 8GB in the camera was fine, and I used the Raspbmc installer as before to load it on the new SD card. The trouble was that when first booted up the Pi, it seemed to freeze on the
Sending HTTP request to server
No problem I thought, hop on my laptop and find out if other users experienced the same. But low and behold the internet on my laptop ceased to to work, with strange requests for proxy passwords to sites like Facebook and even the Weather gadget on Win 7!
First thoughts were that I cooked my router, as I been downloading a lot and on a warm day to (yes there was a warm day … I think!). But after it was off for as long as I could stand, powered it back on and normal service was resumed.
After rebooting all network equipment it finally dawned that the internet would go down for everything connected to my network when the Pi was powered up! I had never experienced this before and could not for the life of me fathom it out. I thought that it had a defect in the Pi meant that some sort of power surge was knocking out the system? This was quickly dismissed as local traffic was unaffected, meaning the network hardware was operating normally.
A quick glance at my Sky broadband supplied Sagem F@ST 2504 modem showed the internet connection had failed, with the internet indicator glowing orange with a red pulse every second. Stranger still, upon unplugging the Raspberry Pi, connection to the net restored within seconds!
So how can a network device have the ability to target and destroy an internet connection? Its my understanding that a Pi has no ability to retain settings other than whats stored on a SD card, but this issue continued when using two different memory cards.
Drilling down to an extreme form of troubleshooting, all network devices, including my second switch/access point was disconnected from the Sagem router. leaving just the Pi connected. Then from Midori on Debian Squeeze (remembering that the internal network was unaffected) rebooted the router using the web interface.
Suddenly the Pi could connect, attaching my whole network back together I found that everything was back to normal,
Laptop, Pi, iPhone, everything!
And this is the worst thing, I don’t know what caused this, and what I specifically did in the reboot process that solved it?
So I would love to hear if this has happened to you, and if there was something you can pinpoint as the issue? This one has got me completely stumped!