the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: wifi

the joy of a very good wireless router

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Wifi in the home has been wanting for some time now, so I went to my local Microcenter and purchased an Orbi System from Netgear. It was model RBK20W and was a whopping $173.99. So what is it? Orbi is a “Whole Home Mesh WiFi System” – fancy term for a router and a wall plug Satellite. It’s good for 3500 sq feet, which is enough to cover the three floors in my house. I did a perfunctory review-check and CNET rated it highly. FWIW…

What sold me on it was this: the two pieces of hardware actually “sync” to form one unified network throughout my home. That’s great news, because those wifi-extenders I was using didn’t really work that well. In certain rooms, we would need to toggle our wifi to get it working, and the issues I have had with the Google Home/Nest Minis may also be related.

Anyway, setup was a breeze because the Orbi has browser-based configuration, a big plus over using an app, and another selling point. After a quick firmware update, I setup my WAN, LAN, DNS servers and SSIDs for both wifi and Guest-wifi. I did need to go into my U-verse modem and mark the new router for DMZ services. One niggle, I had to buy a switch because the router has only one (1) ethernet port.

All seems pretty good, I did check “beam forming” to boost quality, and did move the satellite’s placement. The web interface does have a very graphic display detailing Attached Devices to the router, including which access point it’s connected to. It also allows device annotation and is great for seeing exactly what’s connected in my home. Happy wifi days ahead? We can hope!

One the web:
Orbi Wifi System (RBK20W)

hifiberry os

Recently, I came to the conclusion that Chromecast and Roon are just not compatible. While I’ve had issues with connecting the various Google Home Mini’s to my Roon Core Server, previously I never had an issue with my old Chromecast Audio device. The original Beep-killer, it was my go-to wifi device for my upstairs system where it was connected to a Schitt DAC.

After I updated to Roon 1.7 across the board, all my Chromecast devices appeared as available audio devices. I thought the problem was solved. But after a couple of days, the Chromecast Audio no longer appeared, and the Mini’s dropped off one by one. That was the last straw – screw it, enough with the “Roon-tested” gear. I plugged in the old HifiBerry and was instantly streaming music.

Being a Raspberry Pi day already, I decided to update my HifiBerry to their latest software, the new “more user friendly” HifiBerryOS. After downloading and installing it to an SD card, I connected the HifiBerry to ethernet and booted it up. Then, I navigated to it’s local IP (the http://hifiberry.local URL didn’t work) and configured Wifi. Once configured, I powered it down via the software (!!!), and moved it to its new home upstairs, where I now have a reliable Wifi streaming device again for Roon. Also, note that HifiBerryOS is small image, far under 1MB, and supports Apple Airplay, Bluetooth, MPD, Roon, Spotify and Squeezelite as a player.

Checkout how elegant this HifiBerryOS UI is:
hifiberry
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And here’s what it displays when playing:
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Thank you Daniel and everyone at HifiBerry!

On the web:
HifiBerry OS

chumby

This thing's getting RMA'd:

wlan0 is down
failed to obtain IP address
chumby.com is unreachable


And Chumby must have had their Xmas party…

chumby one


What's a chumby? A funny-named device that's a cross between a clock radio and data-enabled cellphone? Chumby Industries says, "Just plug in your chumby, connect to your network, and use your computer to create a lineup of favorites from over 1,500 apps in more than 30 categories. Then let your chumby do its thing — streaming everything you like, from sports scores to stock quotes, from video clips to interactive games, from photos to trivia." So yeah, it's a computer-ish device that's connected to the internet. I want one!

A coupon code (HOLIDAY10) from their Facebook page and $90 later, the chumby one (actually their second model) arrived at my door. Very much the size of a small clock-radio, it sports a 3.5" color touch-screen interface, a large volume knob on its side, 5V AC adpater (it does run on battery, not included), and an amazing 2W mono speaker. After flashing it with the latest firmware (1-0-7) via USB, I was able to connect to my home wifi network. From there, I used my computer to create an account at chumby.com and activate my chumby (now called "chumbly"). Next, again through their website, I set off to configure a "channel" with various "apps" by deleting most everything from the default channel, and adding a flip-style clock, the Weather Channel, Spongebob, XKCD, you get the drift…

When on, the chumby continuously cycles through the various apps on a channel; each time the app refreshes itself with new information from the net. Whether rss feeds, stock quotes, word of the day, Facebook news feed, Flickr albums, Gmail, Twitter, you name it, there's probably an app available. And if you can't find what you want, write your own; each app is basically an Adobe Flash animation. The chumby also plays music very well, from terrestrial FM radio (well, not so well in my case), to Pandora, Shoutcast – why it even connects to my Squeezbox server as player "Neptune"; the only rub is I need to compile its playlist from a computer. And because the chumby is basically a linux computer running an ARM processor, you can do all sorts of geeky things with it too! BTW, it has a fantastic "night" mode that dims the screen perfectly.

Okay, it's a gizmo, it's slightly gratuitous, and really should be offered in other colors. The app selection is superfluous, but it's rather strange that there isn't a "children's" category, because my kids love this thing! The chumby is certainly extensible, but a lot of its value depends on intended use. In the bedroom, it's little more than a clock radio – do I really need to wakeup to Facebook or Engadget news feeds? No, though that might be useful in a kitchen setting, somewhere a computer isn't. It is however the best clock radio I ever bought, one that even connects to my Squeezebox server. What fun the chumby is!

On the web:
http://www.chumby.com/guide
http://wiki.chumby.com/mediawiki/index.php/Main_Page