electronic brain surgery since 2001

Network Trouble

So here's a story about how I spent my weekend.

I am dissatisfied with my home network, mostly with the network capabilities available in the bedroom. Because, as you know, Kaddi and I like to play adventure games on the Steam Link which needs enough bandwidth and low latency to be able to stream the game from my PC to the TV.

So in general, Wi-Fi sucks at my place. I measured it right next to the access point and on 5GHz I get a meager 23 Mbit/s. 2.4ghz is even worse. I guess it's just because the airspace is totally overcrowded - I see about twenty or more different networks.

Since I rent a place, there's no sensible way to set up network cables. So my network relies on Power LAN. Which is Voodoo. Everyone knows that it never ever reaches the advertised speed outside a lab. But I'm not asking for much. I had a couple of 650 Mbit connectors mixed with some older 200Mbit ones. And connection speeds in the bedroom were horrible. The Steam Link just did not work with that. With the sucky Wi-Fi it was at least somewhat usable - lots of freezes, stutters and shit, but bearable for slow paced adventure games.

So I thought maybe it would help to replace my mix of Power LAN adapters with all the same ones. I ordered four 1200 Mbit ones and it turned out okay in the hallway where speeds now reach up to 450mbit. However in the bedroom it still was not much more than 10 MBit.

Now because I know that Power LAN is Voodoo, I tried the power socket in the hallway right next to the bedroom door and that brought about 110 Mbit. Not too bad. I then switched the new 1200 adapter for an old 650 one and the speed was still about 110 MBit. So I guess it makes not a difference if you mix different speeds as long as they are nominally higher than what you can realistically reach.

So the new plan was this: send back two of the 1200 MBit adapter and use the old 650s instead. Use the hallway socket and lay down a cable into the bedroom. Not terribly sexy but bearable from an aesthetics standpoint.

However I need to connect two devices, the Smart TV (for Netflix and Youtube) and the Steam Link. So I needed a switch. I ordered a network cable and a switch from Amazon on Friday and they offered free same day delivery. Woot! I waited eagerly all day. DHL package tracking sucks though - you barely get any info until the mailman rings. The package finally arrived around 8pm. When I unpacked the switch, I properly read the labeling for the first time: “Fast Ethernet”. Shit, that's 100MBit max. I wanted my 110Mbit!

Back to Amazon on a Friday night. I picked a slightly more expensive Gigabit switch than necessary, just to be eligible for free overnight shipping.

The next day, Kaddi and I spend some time for neatly laying out the network cable, reordering aand fixing up all the other cables with cable ties - you know, making everything neat. Because in all those years I still seem not to have learned a thing about doing this kind of shit before testing the setup…

Anyway the new switch arrives in the evening and we hook it up and decide it's time for a game.

I boot up the Steam Link and it says that it cannot connect to the network and then freezes up. Shit. Reboot. This time we manage to start the game. Which freezes and stutters. A lot. Like unbearable lot.

I notice the lights on the switch behave weird. They flicker as they should for a while, then they all go out at once, then come back up all together again. A bit of flicker and the same spiel again. As if the switch is resetting constantly.

What the actual fuck? I have no idea what that's supposed to be. So I grab one of my old 100 Mbit switches I still have lying around and wire it up instead. It works. From time to time the game stutters a bit with a slow network warning, but not too often. Maybe a bit less than it did when we used the Wi-Fi before.

So, I guess there's another piece of hardware going back to Amazon. I spent a lot of time and in the end, didn't really achieve anything. I dunno what the moral of this story is. But this is my blog. If there's any place where I can tell pointless stories, it's here.

network, powerlan, wifi
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