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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 10:22 AM
bjw10 bjw10 is offline
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Default Extending range without using a bridge??

Bought sonos yesterday, returned it today and am gutted! So I could do with some assistance if anyone knows of a solution to my problem.

We live in an old house with very thick walls that will not allow the positioning of bridges to reach the kitchen where I want a ZP S5, which is the main reason for buying the system in the first place.

The system worked fine on test in the study alongside the pc and router and also when I first moved the S5 to the kitchen, but everything went downhill from there. Now I can't play anything on the S5 and the PC Controller can't even "see" it.

Clearly there was some sort of signal for it to have worked at all, but presumably not strong enough for sonos to "accept" it on a permanent basis.

It is not practical to run new cable across and so I was hoping that something like a wall plug adapter could provide the ethernet link via the mains electricity cables. Alternatively, might some higher strength wireless switch (not sure if I am using the right terms here) do the same job.

Sonos support tell me not, but I am desperate to find a solution.

Thanks in advance, all suggestions welcome (as long as they're printable!)
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  #2  
Old Sep 17th, 2010, 10:33 AM
Ubertaffy Ubertaffy is offline
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when you say running cables is not an option, are you thinking as creatively as possible? you have a computer with music at one location and a placement you'd like the S5 at another and you say running an ethernet cable will not suffice. That's fine, but is there a middle option? what about running a cable part way to a bridge from one of the edges? what about re-positioning where your music is stored (or using a network drive in the first place) closer to the places you want the music? the walls are thick but what about the floors as far as going down then over then up? (either wired OR wireless) I'm just throwing out ideas to make sure everything has thought about and while network-over-powerline might work (and others on this forum use it) its not technically supported.
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  #3  
Old Sep 17th, 2010, 02:35 PM
bjw10 bjw10 is offline
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I guess it's always possible to run a cable, but at what cost (physically and emotionally!). We refurbed the entire house just a few years ago and then was the time to do it whilst floors and walls were all ripped to bits - but we didn't. To do it now would most likely see me in the divorce courts. So, let's just say that it is not a solution that I am prepared to consider at the moment. If there isn't an easier way, I'll probably just leave things as they are.

What are the dangers of using something that is "not supported"? Isn't it a case of it either works or it doesn't? Be interested in what anyone has found to work that isn't too complicated?
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  #4  
Old Sep 17th, 2010, 03:11 PM
buzz buzz is offline
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bjw10,

For a while, I lived in an 1820's era 4-story house and the kitchen was added to the rear of the original building. The original brick rear wall of the house was retained.

In my case there was an unfinished basement under the house and a crawl space under the kitchen. It was not much fun, but I was able to run a network cable to the kitchen. As a test, I ran the system without using the network cable. The router was on the 4th floor. With a ZonePlayer near the router on the 4th floor, the kitchen wireless ZonePlayer was on the edge. I needed to carefully place both ZonePlayers and there could be good and bad days -- mostly bad if the neighbor was using her 2.4GHz cordless phone. If I placed an additional ZonePlayer on an intermediate floor, kitchen operation was solid until the neighbor used the phone.

If running a wire is not practical, you could drop a ZoneBridge or another ZonePlayer between the kitchen and the study. Conventional wisdom suggests that the ZoneBridge should be located about mid way between the study and kitchen, but I'll bet that your situation is asymmetric. Probably the wireless signal inside the main house is OK, but there is a dense wall between the kitchen and the main house. In this case a ZoneBridge located closer to the kitchen would work better.

There could be some strategically placed windows. In my case the room above the add on kitchen had a sunroof. If I placed my 4th floor ZonePlayer near the rear window, there was an easy shot through the 2nd floor sunroof and a ZonePlayer on the second floor, above the kitchen, that provided excellent wireless coverage for the kitchen ZonePlayer. Eventually, the kitchen was remodeled and the kitchen ZonePlayer was moved to the 2nd floor sunroom.

Sonosnet, WiFi, and power line adapters have different strengths and each technology is eager to embarrass the others. In general I find sonosnet to be the most robust, but occasionally one of the others will work better in a given situation. In terms of cost, there is not much difference between a power line adapter and a ZoneBridge.

From your description indicating that the system almost works, I would use a ZoneBridge to provide better coverage for the kitchen. Power line adapters might work, but the wiring in old houses can be very strange, potentially causing some heartburn for the power line adapters.

Controlling your system from the kitchen could be a problem if your controller is a wireless computer or an iDevice because these units will require WiFi coverage. Note that ZonePlayers and ZoneBridges will share their wired or wireless network connection. You could plug your laptop into the kitchen S5's network jack. At that point, your computer will be a full partner on the network.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 06:40 PM
dinkeldorf dinkeldorf is offline
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You might need to frankenstien this - power line & bridge. Which begs the question - why not just use an additional s5 as a bridge atop the power line? More tunes & more commectivity. Or power line & access point - this would help with i device control. Without knowing your exact layout, try stuff & good luck!
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  #6  
Old Sep 18th, 2010, 12:26 AM
buzz buzz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjw10 View Post
What are the dangers of using something that is "not supported"? Isn't it a case of it either works or it doesn't? Be interested in what anyone has found to work that isn't too complicated?
The only downside is if there are issues with non supported kit, SONOS support will not provide any detailed help. The SONOS units can provide SONOS support with extensive diagnostic data. The diagnostic data allows support to quickly pinpoint the root cause of an issue. When 3rd party communication hardware is in the loop, the SONOS diagnostics will clearly indicate that there is a communication problem, but since SONOS support cannot fetch diagnostic data from the 3rd party boxes, detailed support for these devices is not practical.

For example, the power line ethernet extenders are working very well for some and not at all for others. If there is trouble with the power line extenders, SONOS support will not help you to get the power line extenders working.

Recently, I replaced a pair of power line extenders with a ZoneBridge. The extenders had been working for a couple years and suddenly became intermittent. I suspect that there was a hardware failure, but it also could have been a change in the power line environment. If the problem was caused by the power line, replacing the extenders would not have resolved the issue. Since the problem was intermittent, I could have been fussing with things over a period of days. In about 5 minutes I replaced the power line extenders with a single ZoneBridge and the problem was resolved.
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  #7  
Old Sep 18th, 2010, 03:43 PM
bjw10 bjw10 is offline
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Thanks all for your feedback.

The cable solution really is not one that I think I can follow and nowhere else in the house appears to give me a good enough signal for one or more intermediate zone bridges or even S5's.

Unfortunately, I do not have plans of the building that I can attach, in order to illlustrate the problem, but maybe I can describe it instead. The main part of the house is formed from a pair of 3-400 year old cottages, which are typical of the period making the house quite long and relatively narrow. There are comparatively modern brick-built extensions built at right angles to each end of the original cottages with a terrace in between.

The original walls are all made of a material called cob and part of the refurb was to strip off all the plaster and then to fix expanded metal mesh to the cob to strengthen it before dampproofing and replastering. With the benfit of hindsight, I now realise I should have invested in Cat5 cabling, but at the time we were spending so much money that something had to give!

The pc/router is located in the study in one of the extensions and the S5 is to go into the kitchen located in the other. Although the distance is only 40-50 feet and there is not a huge amount of brickwork in the way, the Sonos signal proved unsatisfactory regardless of where I positioned it, although initially it did work for a while. There are no windows that give direct line of sight between the two points.

I did a walk test with both the S5 and the CR200 controller through the main part of the house between the two locations, checking the signal strength in each room along the way. Whilst there was often some signal near the doors, this always disappeared when you got into the room. The intermediate walls are at least 2 feet thick and with the mesh on top, seem to be pretty resistant to Sonosnet, althought DECT phones work tolerably well.

Hopefully, the above explains my interest in the powerline route. The electrics in the house are all new, so hopefully that shouldn't be a problem. On the support issue, is it a regular occurrence that you need to contact Sonos for support unless you are changing or extending the system? To me it seems like it's come down to powerline or nothing, so if anyone has a set-up that has worked for them I'd be interested to know exactly which products they used.

One last point, iDevices have been mentioned a couple of times and am not sure what they are. Can someone enlighten me?

And thanks again for the responses to date.
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  #8  
Old Sep 18th, 2010, 04:31 PM
buzz buzz is offline
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bjw10,

With regard to the "iDevices", this is a little code word that many of us use on the forums to indicate an Apple iPod, iPhone, itouch, iPad, or whatever they think up next.

Actually, it is rare that one must use the SONOS support resource. On the forums we have a higher concentration of support issues than you'll find in the wild. In many respects the forums are like a hospital. After the quick tour, you come away thinking that "everyone" is sick.

I am familiar with your type of construction and how these houses seem to "grow" over the centuries. I suspect that WiFi performance is not good either.

Power line extenders offer a relatively straight forward solution to your problem. The ultimate solution might include a combination of cleverly located ZonePlayers, ZoneBridges, and power line extenders.

Don't overlook the possibility of providing a "backbone" of ZonePlayers or ZoneBridges on the floor above or in an attic.

The main reason some of us are not fond of the power line extenders is that if they don't work, the situation is much like a crying infant. There many causes, only one symptom, and the darn things will not talk to you. Diagnosing power line extender issues is difficult.

As you install the power line extenders, try to use circuits that are on the same side of your circuit breaker panel and avoid circuits that include large machinery (air conditioners, washing machines, fans, refrigerators, etc.) and surge suppressors. In your house this may be difficult because you probably have multiple power panels. Power line extenders may have issues passing a signal from panel to panel. Don't plug a power line extender into a surge strip unless it is known that the strip will pass the signal. Most high end surge suppressors will suppress the power line carrier.

Don't be too discouraged that the original house designers did not anticipate the needs of frail, modern communication systems. You'll need to experiment a bit, but you should be able to prevail.
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  #9  
Old Sep 19th, 2010, 12:12 AM
bjw10 bjw10 is offline
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Buzz,

Many thanks again for your thoughts.

You are absolutely right about the electrics. There are power panels at each end of the house with a sub-main connecting the two.

The backbone in the attic is one possibility that I had considered might be feasible. Although the walls are pretty much the same thickness on both ground and first floors, there are significant gaps between the top of the wall in each attic (either side of the chimney breast) and the underside of the roof. These bits of cob were not covered in metal mesh and I did actually think to include power points in each of the three distinct attic spaces.

I take your point about "crying infant syndrome" and would rather not go there at this time of life, having successfully managed to avoid doing so up to now. However, I think I might still try the powerlines as a first option and fall back to the attic backbone, if necessary.

Do you know if it is possible to determine in advance whether powerlines will communicate via our wiring configuration or is it just a case of suck it and see? You mention a surge strip. I do not believe they are common in the uk. I have fitted a separate surge protector on the pc's but that is all unless it's something in the control panel. Is that what you mean?

Finally, do you or anyone else have good experience of specific powerlines that have proved successful? There's such a range of kit out there, I have no idea which to choose. Netgear for example, have 7 different domestic products all of which seem to do broadly the same thing!
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  #10  
Old Sep 19th, 2010, 03:45 AM
ratty ratty is offline
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"Surge strips" are just power strips (aka "extension cords") with a surge suppressor built in - the kind you used with your PC.

As far as powerline adapters go, I've had quite good results with devolo. They're a German outfit who specialise in this type of device. I still use them for connecting appliances like BT Vision, which is quite happy streaming standard definition video over them for IPTV viewing.

For a time I used them with Sonos, mostly with good results but the occasional glitch when the mains was dirty of an evening. Those were the 85Mbps variant, and there is now a faster 200Mbps "AV" type which you might want to try. Devolo supply some handy PC utilities which can tell you how well the devices are communicating with one another. Do bear in mind that the displayed raw connection rate at any instant is around 2.5 times the effective data rate owing to protocol overheads. The devolos do tolerate being plugged into power strips (not surge suppressors) but don't like being in sockets near to switched mode power supplies (plug-top supplies, such as the one for the ZoneBridge, are a case in point).

Given that you have two mains circuits - one at either side of the house - one possibility you could consider is to use two pairs of adapters. Run powerline over each separate mains circuit from the extensions back to a central location, and then bridge the two together by connecting the adapters back-to-back via ethernet cable. The two pairs of adapters would be given different security keys in order to isolate one pair from the other data-wise.

Food for thought anyhow.
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