Mesh Wi-Fi - AVR is the fly in the ointment

Discussion in 'Networking & NAS' started by RayP, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. RayP

    RayP
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    My BT Home Hub 5 is located in an upstairs bedroom and provides decent wi-fi coverage to my 3 bed semi including part of the lounge. Running SpeedTest on my laptop in the lounge gives me 63Mbps - the same as a wired connection upstairs.

    But on the other side of the lounge where I have my Loewe Smart TV, Sky Q and Oppo 203 UHD player the wi-fi signal is severely hampered by the chimney breast. So all those devices are connected via ethernet to homeplugs.

    Watching YouTube videos on the TV (via ethernet) shows a download rate of around 22Mbps - virtually a third of the wi-fi speed on the other side of the room. Downloading a 4K film from Sky takes several hours and I tend to leave it until I go to bed to start it.

    I want to use the full capability of my BT Hub but the only way possible seems to be via mesh wi-fi. A satellite in the lounge would greatly increase the speed. The proposed location of this satellite would be on the opposite wall to my TV etc. so it can pick up the signal from the router upstairs.

    However, there is a fly in the ointment. Whilst the TV, Oppo 203 and Sky Q box have wi-fi capability the Yamaha RX-A3010 AVR doesn't. It's ethernet only.

    And I have two PCs, a printer and a Synology NAS box in the same bedroom as the existing BT Home Hub 5 all connected via ethernet. The NAS box has my music stored on it which the Oppo needs to 'see' in order to play it gaplessly. I suppose as long as those are connected to the mesh router via Ethernet they will be fine. Is that possible?

    But the AVR appears to be the sticking point since I can't see any way other than ethernet via a homeplug to connect it to this new 'mesh' network. Is that the only solution but given the AVR isn't going to be downloading anything off the internet is it important?

    Any advice greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Chester

    Chester
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    There are a few solutions Ray, let's go through a couple:

    Whole Home WiFi. I think you're considering this kit since you're referring to the term 'mesh'. You can then get a WiFi to Ethernet adapter (one such device is the Netgear WNCE2001, now obsolete) or a WiFi AP (Access Point) in client mode will do the same thing.

    To be absolutely clear, I don't subscribe to the idea of devices using WiFi where timing is critical, so gaming, audio, video, or any high bandwidth applications. You are always going to get faster responses, higher bandwidth and consistent repeatable results over wired Ethernet, and no-one can guarantee this over WiFi. And the more WiFi devices, radio barriers and interference there is, the stronger this statement becomes.

    As you're consuming all ports in the Home Hub, my next suggestion requires two network switches instead of just one. And yes, there is an uplink cable involved, so I hope you haven't decorated recently! Run a CAT5e cable (or 2, materials are cheap, disruption and time are the issues) between the two locations, i.e. where the router is to the AV area in the lounge. Terminate into CAT5e face plates at each end, and then use a patch cable into each of these to connect suitably sized gigabit Ethernet switches. The AV equipment is then patched into this. Upstairs, move one of your devices to the switch so you can connect the upstairs switch to your Home Hub. This provides the best reliability and performance (assuming a cable install made to specifications), but also relieves your WiFi network of a few devices which can improve service there too.

    I understand the latter method may be difficult to do, but it's my highly recommended approach.
     
  3. RayP

    RayP
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    Hi Chester,

    Many thanks for your reply and advice. Let me clarify a few things which may help with your next reply. I'll detail each device downstairs and what I will use it for.

    First of all I don't play games so that isn't a factor.

    Lounge Equipment.

    Loewe TV. Only network requirement is to watch YouTube videos including 4K ones. With a mesh satellite unit on the opposite side of the room (3 metres away) the signal should be excellent. 60Mbps+ should be achievable.

    Oppo 203 UHD Player. The only network requirement is for playing music stored on my NAS box upstairs which sits right next to the BT Home Hub 5. FLAC files. No video.

    Sky Q box. Used to download UHD films. Again, download speeds should be more than double what I get now. I don't watch any streaming content on it.

    Yamaha RX-A3010. No more firmware updates and I don't listen to internet radio. Just needs to be connected to my network.

    Upstairs Bedroom

    BT Home Hub Router connected to master phone socket.

    Netgear Gigabit Switching Box. Used to provide additional ethernet ports.

    Synology DS212J NAS Box. Stores backups, music and photos. Wired Ethernet connection only.

    2 x Windows 7 PCs Ethernet connected via Gigabit switching box to Home Hub 5.

    HP Laserjet printer ethernet-connected to gigabit switching box.

    Running an Ethernet cable from upstairs to the lounge has been considered and rejected because of the mess it would create. I appreciate it's the best option but I don't want the mess.

    That leaves me with a wireless option. The sticking points appear to be the Yamaha AVR but a Wifi - Ethernet adaptor looks to be the ideal solution for that. I assume it can tap into the mesh wi-fi?

    What about the NAS box upstairs? It's essential it's visible to my Oppo downstairs since I access my music files via it. Can the new BT mesh hub 'see' any ethernet-connected components?

    In short I need visibility of both wired and wireless components on my network but this mesh unit only appears to 'see' WiFi ones. That is a nuisance and potentially a show-stopper. Perhaps the critical ethernet-connected components - AVR and NAS box - need a wifi-ethernet adaptor even though one of them is right next to the mesh router.
     
  4. RayP

    RayP
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    I suppose if this wireless option becomes impractical I may need to consider a wired one. I did look through Which? Recommended tradesmen but who does this kind of work? Electricians or different specialists?
     
  5. RayP

    RayP
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    Chester,

    Did some more thinking. How about running a suitable ethernet cable out of the bedroom, down an external wall and into the rear part of the lounge / dining room? It could then be routed under the floor to one access point to the left of the chimney breast. Then route another to a second access point to the right of the chimney breast. The only outdoor section would be around 6 meters down a NW-facing wall.

    Would this be suitable? External CAT5e Outdoor Use COPPER Ethernet Network Cable Reel UTP 100m - EUO-003714 - kenable for HDMI Optical TOS Network Ethernet RJ45 Scart Audio Phono Jack USB Firewire 800 ADSL Cable Leads

    If suitable can you recommend what other parts I need please? Networking is not my strong point.
     
  6. Chester

    Chester
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    That's a lot of questions in that lot Ray! I'm glad you're reconsidering the cabled route, and it's definitely the way to go. You certainly wouldn't need 100m for a couple of >8m runs, but it may be useful for further projects. Yes it's the right stuff. For recessed boxes, you'll need some 35mm boxes, and then the face plates, tools for the job, including a punch-down/Krone/IDC tool.

    I like these face plates because they've got angled outlets and don't sprout cables in towards the room too much. You've already got a switch upstairs, so it's another one downstairs, CAT5e patch leads of colour and length you need (go for snagless to prevent breaking the latching tabs) and you're good to go.

    Not sure about the AP bits either side of the chimney breast. If you wanted to improve WiFi coverage at the same time, it sure is a good time to do it, but I'd go with a totally different solution like Ubiquiti Unify. I'm not sure I want to muddy things too much at this stage though as a worthwhile WiFi deployment can get complex. I'd suggest breaking down a networking improvement programme into separate projects, and crack the cabling and switching first. However, you may want to look at a PoE switch if you're thinking about lots of small devices that could be PoE powered, like WiFi access points. At this stage, I don't think it's necessary, I'm just mentioning it for completeness.

    Oh, as for tradesmen, I think most networking specialists will suggest staying away from electricians, even for pulling cables! That said, some electricians understanding data cabling well and will install to specification. CAT5e is reasonably forgiving to do yourself if you're OK with DIY. If you can drill holes through external walls, thread through and clip cables, chase in boxes into the wall for a flush finish, you should be able to do this no problem. You'll need to understand some dos and do nots first of course.
     
  7. RayP

    RayP
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    Hi Chester,

    I'm afraid my DIY skills are close to zero so unless I can find a suitable tradesman then the wired option isn't going to happen. This is so frustrating because you'd think in this day and age electricians would realise there's a market to be tapped here but it seems wi-fi works for most people.

    The items that use wi-fi are extremely reliable. My laptop is problem free whereas since the rewire the various wired components have become slower and less reliable. I tested download speeds using the ethernet cables connected to my Sky box and it was as low as 11Mbps. The TV using a separate power socket can get as high as 30Mbps but they're on the same circuit. Arrghh!

    All this is on hold until the spring anyway and I can use the info you have kindly provided should I find a suitable tradesman. At least I've deduced the BT mesh route is not viable for my network as a whole so it's still been a useful exercise.
     
  8. Chester

    Chester
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    I think you'll find any electrician worth their salt has plenty of work on without the need of branching out from their main focus. Some offer data cabling, but they might simply do this on the back of already performing first and second fix for mains current applications. It's really not the same at all!

    WiFi is extremely reliable - now! It's a dynamic world that's constantly changing.

    What re-wiring are you referring to? Why would this have an impact on Ethernet appliances? Are you using Powerline adapters, or part of Sky Q? If yes on the latter, no wonder! I regard it as a last ditch attempt to get a network going. I know a Q installer that refuses to use it and instead uses CAT6 and disables the Powerline feature. There are times that Powerline can work, but I wouldn't use it in your circumstances.

    The thing about a certified (or at the very least qualified) CAT5e infrastructure is it will provide consistent and repeatable reliable results, more so than your WiFi network ever will, trust me. That's why it's the 'go-to' method, albeit we also understand it can be the most challenging to implement.

    So I'm glad this has been useful information. I'd have thought, as long as the corresponding physical areas are easy to access and there are no hidden challenges, this install should take around half a day for the trained professional, with attention to detail on bend radii, clipping and sealing, and least amount of aesthetic disturbance in a typical brick building. Add stone walls, thick cladding, immovable furniture or other obstructions, the complexity and time for the job will increase substantially.
     
  9. RayP

    RayP
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    My house rewiring. Before everything was on a single ring main and I always had 3 green lights on the Powerline adaptors - Solwise HomePlug AV 500. A decent enough make. Since the rewire I now have two ring mains and whilst the downstairs sockets used by my AV kit were on a different circuit to upstairs where the router is that was changed by the electrician.

    Understood but if it's not possible to have the cabling professionally installed then I have to look for alternatives.

    It's a 3 bed 1960 semi so the walls are standard brick with an air gap. I shall continue to look for an electrician that might do the work. It's only half a day as you say. Surely one can fit it in providing they're qualified with the wiring involved.

    One suggestion made by an employee at Richer Sounds was to change the router for a more powerful one. He recommended the Netgear Nighthawk. Might that work? I have moved my BT one as far as I can and my kit in the lounge now reports a signal strength of 70% but presumably that could rise with a better router.
     
  10. RayP

    RayP
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    Just to confirm I don't have any hardware from Sky except for the Sky Q box. Looking at my network status in Sky it says the network name is SKYA4DE5, connected to a broadband router and connected to internet.
     
  11. mickevh

    mickevh
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    There's no such thing: Wi-Fi transmit power is limited by law; most kit is, and always has been, at or very close to the permitted max. What differences there are, aren't worth worrying about, (certainly not worth parting with money for.) It's also "Big Wi-Fi Myth Number 3" that ISP's all supply "inferior" routers when it comes to radio transmit power - they don't, it's all much of a muchness.

    Whilst a salesman in a (Hi-Fi) shop is no doubt as well meaning as many if those on the Internet that opine on such things with little or no understanding of radio, let alone Wi-Fi, if he actually had any expertise in the field of Wi-Fi, it's unlikely he'd be working in a shop. I suggest you regard such advise with extreme caution.

    On electricians doing UTP - one of the "problems" with them so doing is that in order to actually prove (certify) the work is up to standards, as well as observing all the sort of things Chester mentions regarding installation stipulations such as bend radius etc. etc. it required that each cable lobe needs to be tested with some rather expensive (thousands of pounds) test equipment to certify each lobe actually is "cat" whatever, so you're average "mains electrical" sparkie (sorry lads, I'm not trying to be disparaging to you, I'm just trying to characterise those in your profession for your average lay person) just wouldn't want to bother with the expense for the "odd bit" of data cabling work they might score alongside all the "twin and earth." You can certainly find plenty of helpful sparks that will pull, and sometimes even terminate, the cable for you "untested," (and sometimes not) but "in the business" we usually rely on specialist data networking cabling companies that have all the relevant expertise and test gear. As you might imagine, it's reflected in the cost!
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  12. Chester

    Chester
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    Just to extend on what Mick said there, the biggest problem, especially with CAT5(e), is that you can 'throw' it in and when it comes to passing say Fast Ethernet (100Mb), it works just fine. Even gigabit, can work well in this situation over CAT5e. I haven't certified any of my cabling at home because I don't have the kit. But, what do you do if problems start to become visible. A quick continuity test works fine, connect kit over patch leads, no issues there, and then put it back and it seems OK, so where's the problem? I'm lucky that my kit was good enough to find a fault and fix it, but it might not have.

    As Mick says, certification equipment and the knowledge and experience to install to specification comes at a cost. What I've tried to convey over my posts is it really is worth it! Or, if you can't find anyone that will perform a certified install, ask them if they have 'qualification' equipment at least.

    When we're talking AV at home, the last thing we want is to be chasing problems. I know businesses may have critical applications to support, but we also have expectations at home to be able to relax and be entertained. That's what we spend our hard-earned cash on right? To have a good AV experience, however we've chosen to achieve this. It's great when it works; but I for one absolutely detest coming home after a long day of being brain fried to systems that equally want to fry my brain in troubleshooting and remedial work. No thanks!

    Cabling guys are out there, and they're not hard to find. When the time comes, throw up a thread on here, maybe someone can help.

    Briefly on the Nighthawk thing, and counter to what Mick has said slightly (although I don't want to tread on your toes dude!), I have, at customer request, swapped out a WiFi router and got better results. Now that might be because it's got better antennae. It might be because I've taken the environment into account (not a site survey) and positioned it differently, or configured the router differently to the one it replaced. Honestly there are so many things to factor in, but yes, it could be the router was just 'better'. By all industry standards and measurements, the service and coverage ought to be roughly the same because of the unlicensed and transmission strength capped radio spectrum. As Mick says, all the manufacturers must adhere to this; like speed limits on a road, that's what they aim for. Now, how they go about this is a totally different thing. Some WiFi routers support some really high-end features these days that BT have not implemented in their routers. Is it worth the change? Up to you. You see, we'd both recommend external WiFi Access Points in situations where an all-in-one WiFi router cannot be sited at the centre of required coverage (taking into account barriers and interference), and definitely where extended coverage is required, like most of the time! Of course they have to be cabled too, and you said that the mess and disruption is out of the question.

    Given an open plan environment in a 'green' site (no neighbours providing interference, and no locally interfering radio products), WiFi is easy to implement and that's what executives latch on to. Back in the real world, whilst technically not complex to set up, it can be horrendously complicated to get the correct coverage and performance.

    Good luck in the Spring, and glad that the thread has been useful for you so far.
     
  13. RayP

    RayP
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    @mickevh and @Chester , thank you both for your knowledge and advice. I certainly won’t bother swapping my Home Hub 5 for another router.

    What I will try is tweaking my existing setup for the 3 components connected via homeplug - Sky Q, Oppo UHD player and Yamaha AVR.

    Currently they are all plugged into a powered Netgear Ethernet hub and that is connected into a single homeplug. Previously I had them plugged into separate homeplugs but had problems with the Oppo UHD player losing its IP address. I was told there can be problems with multiple homeplug close to each other.

    Since routing them into the Netgear that problem has gone away. But I was genuinely shocked at how poor the download speed was when I tested on Saturday.

    With only one Ethernet cable connected I tested the download speed and it did improve to around 18Mbps but still far less than my TV plugged into a homeplug on the other side of the chimney breast which gave me up to 30Mbps. Having multiple devices connected into a homeplug seems to reduce efficiency.

    For now I’m going to have to live with it. Providing I download UHD films overnight it’s something I can live with.

    Thank you both once again. Happy 2018 to you both. :)
     
  14. RayP

    RayP
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    I’m pleased to report a significant improvement in my Wi-fi reception in the lounge. I had a good look at my router cabling and found I could move it a couple of feet further into the room. Doing this has opened a clear route to the kit in my lounge.

    I’ve switched my Loewe TV to wireless mode and reception is 80%. Watching YouTube 4K videos the connection speed is as high as 40Kbps with a buffer health of 20 secs and zero dropped frames. :)

    Watching videos stored on my NAS box via the Oppo 203 is clean with no pauses. Viewing JPGs 3840*2160 is good with no obvious delays.

    The Sky Q signal is 4/5 and downloads are much quicker.

    I shall keep the Yamaha AVR connected via Ethernet But Sky, Oppo and my TV are now using their Wi-fi option and I’m delighted how moving the router just a couple of feet has transformed the Wi-fi signal.
     
  15. Chester

    Chester
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    Glad the nudge got you to check this out. The impact of positioning seems to have been quite extreme in your circumstances, but it perfectly illustrates just how important it is.
     
  16. RayP

    RayP
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    I suppose once the signal doesn't need to travel through the width of a chimney breast (5ft) it will make a huge difference. Probably the equivalent of 2-3 walls. :eek:
     
  17. fraggle

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    Just scan read this thread but I can't see why the Yamaha AVR needs to be connected to the network?

    You say it doesn't need any firmware updates, and you use no streaming services from it.

    So don't bother connecting it to the network?

    Regarding WiFi routers, there are various protocols, 802.11 (b, g, n, ac, etc, see IEEE 802.11 - Wikipedia ), the main difference being the speed they are (theoretically) capable of. Of course the client must support the same protocol to be able to use it.

    They get this speed via using wider bandwidths (i.e. rather than having 32 channels available, a higher speed protocol will use twice the bandwidth reducing the number of channels to 16), and multiple channels - (you'll see mentions of 2x2 or 3x3 support and similar), also features like beam forming where rather than just transmit the legally max power all around, they still transmit the max power but form it into a beam that's directed at your client device(s). Same power in a directional beam = more distance (think torch vs bedside light with the same bulb light power, one can see further). Of course if you have 20 devices, it's having to manage 20 "beams" at once, so the advantage reduces.

    I have definitely found it's a cr*p shoot though, the bleeding edge manufacturers often implement the latest protocols, BUT they can have lots of compatibility problems, causing your devices to drop back to lower speeds.

    Buying an established, but not bleeding edge manufacturer can pay big dividends.

    (just replaced my house WiFi router and speeds increased from a lowly 20Mbps to 170Mbps on one device, and from 5Mbps to 40Mbps on another laptop (only supports 802.11n, not 802.11ac, and only has 2x2 channels). The phone got 170Mbps on both.)
     
  18. RayP

    RayP
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    @fraggle , how strange you would reply to such an old topic. For your info I want the Yamaha to be on my network so I can control it via a smartphone app.

    I changed my HH5 for a Netgear Archer R2800 which provides a far more robust 5Ghz signal than the HH5 did.
     
  19. psychopomp1

    psychopomp1
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    I presume you meant TP Link Archer VR2800? If so, its a great choice :thumbsup:
     
  20. RayP

    RayP
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    I did. Went out walking yesterday so was knackered when I posted that. Although expensive it is significantly better than the admittedly free BT one.
     
  21. fraggle

    fraggle
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    Heh, didn't even look at the dates of the posts. I was reading something else and this thread was in the right hand panel. Can't have been the Trending Topics panel, something else?

    Anyway, that's why :)

    Glad you got it sorted.
     

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