New outdoor WiFi access point

Looks like I was a little optimistic about the WiFi in the house reaching the greenhouse! Although my iPhone was showing 1 bar on the house WiFi, the Ubibot sensor could only hold onto the signal for about an hour or so. Clearly, the WiFi from the house was at it’s limit. Time to invest in an outdoor WiFi access point!

I updated our internal WiFi access points (we have 3) in the house last year to TP-Link EAP225. There are three of them in different parts of the house. These were installed about a year ago and we have been pleased with the performance. See here. However, they do need to be rebooted every 2-3 months. After this period, they don’t appear to be able to hold a connection for any significant period of time. I have the latest firmware installed on them, but this hasn’t fixed the problem. Rebooting them does the trick! Maybe a future update will fix this issue.

I decided to use the outdoor version of the new WiFi access points that we are using inside the house. The first unit arrived quickly from Amazon. Unfortunately, it was DOA and had to be returned – the green light on the POE injector went out every time that the EAP was plugged in. Not good. I tried different cables. I even tried different POE injectors. Same result. Like a flat tyre that I put on three different wheels. It was still flat!

The replacement unit arrived next day.

I think longer term the right place to install this unit is actually in the greenhouse itself. This will keep it out of the worst of the weather and I have a conduit installed to the greenhouse. It should be straightforward to run an Ethernet cable out to the unit and power it using POE. But for now, I am just going to install it temporarily to see how well it performs.

Update on WiFi access points

Yep, they work! We now have around 60Mb/s through WiFi rather than the 5Mb/s we had previously! I have replaced both of the old TPlink 801ND.

When we originally moved into the property, we were on a slow broadband connection so the bottleneck was the broadband connection and not the WiFi access points. Now we are on Superfast Broadband, the bottleneck isn’t the broadband anymore, but the access points. It was time to change.

The property is large so we need multiple WiFi access points to ensure that every room is covered. Because we have ethernet access points everywhere, it is straightforward to install individual WAPs connected to a central switch. There is no need for an expensive Mesh network.

Plus, these new access points look much neater than the old ones!

New WiFi access points

Well, with the Corona Virus lockdown in full swing, it is time to get on with those jobs that have been hanging around for a while.

Next up: New WiFi access points.

While trying to fix an issue with a laptop on our wired network yesterday, I spotted that a number of devices connected to our network switch were connected at 100M rather than 1000M. In fact, this was the problem with the laptop connection – for some reason it was connecting at the slower speed. Anyway, while fixing that problem, I noticed that there were a number of other devices connected at 100M.

The Loxone mini server was one. No great drama there as the throughput is going to be low. But the WiFi access points were also showing up as connecting on 100M rather than 1000M (gigabit connection). Well, a quick look at the specs for the access points (TPLink 801N) did indeed confirm that they only support 100M.

When we moved into the property, we were on a slow broadband connection (just about 8Mb/s download) so the WAPs connecting at 100M wasn’t really a problem. However, in 2018 BT’ Infinity became available and our connection suddenly stepped up to around 60Mb/s download and 15Mb/s upload.

Time for some new ones! The existing WAPs have been installed since 2014. You can still buy them for around £30, but after 6 years I don’t think they really owe me anything.

In terms of replacement, I was looking for something with a gigabit connection to the network. Plus something that looked half decent. I settled for a TPLink AC1350. I have been happy with the original TPLink, so I decided on a simple upgrade for a faster, better looking unit.

I have bought one unit which arrives tomorrow. If it works ok, we will need a second one. But let’s just try one to start.

TPLink AC1350
New WiFi access point – TP Link AC1350

TV distribution amplifier

LDU608G

I guess that it isn’t surprising after living in the house for five years that some pieces of kit need to be replaced.

This week I have had to replace one of the TV distribution amplifiers. Not surprising, but not the first one that I have had to replace since we have been here. The TV signal started to get a “bit blocky” on some of the HD channels. Eventually, I tracked it down to one of the amplifiers – there are two in the property (I wish I had labelled some of the cables better!). I suspect a recent thunder storm might have been the culprit.

Anyway, I have taken the opportunity to replace it with a slightly better unit. This Labgear amp looks and feels particularly well made. They aren’t expensive either – about £50 from Amazon.

Wall lights

As well as installing the carbon monoxide detectors, we have also installed some new lights. Until now, we have had some bare wires sticking out of the wall (safely terminated, of course).  We had been waiting to find the right lights and we struck lucky a couple of weeks ago in John Lewis.  We bought a couple of Tessa uplighters for the lounge and a small waterproof bulkhead light for above the shower cubicle upstairs.

Two of these have just been installed in the lounge.  These are Tessa plaster wall lights from John Lewis.  They can be painted, but these are left just as they came out of the box.

Two of these have just been installed in the lounge. These are Tessa plaster wall lights from John Lewis. They can be painted, but these are left just as they came out of the box.

I don't really like this photo much, but if you turn the flash on it doesn't help and if you take the photo with the lights off, that doesn't work either.  Anyway, hope you get the idea! Tessa plaster wall uplighters from John Lewis.

I don’t really like this photo much, but if you turn the flash on it doesn’t help and if you take the photo with the lights off, that doesn’t work either. Anyway, hope you get the idea! Tessa plaster wall uplighters from John Lewis.

 

Carbon monoxide detectors

We fitted the carbon monoxide detectors today.  These were installed into each of the rooms where there is a solid fuel (i.e. log burning) stove.  The units have to be main powered and linked into the same circuit as the heat and smoke alarms elsewhere in the building.  We took quite a bit of time looking for half decent units – a number of the units were large and chunky.

These units from Kidde just look like a smoke detector.  They were around £40 each and were supplied by www.discounthomelighting.co.uk.

If one of the heat or smoke detectors is activated, all of the connected alarms will go off.  These CO alarms will display “FiRe” on their LED display.  If one of the CO alarms detects carbon monoxide, all of the connected CO alarms will be activated.

To comply with the latest building regulations, carbon monoxide detectors need to be fitted in rooms where there are solid fuel stoves.  With three log burning stoves, this means three detectors.  They also need to be hardwired into the heat and smoke detectors in the rest of the building.

To comply with the latest building regulations, carbon monoxide detectors need to be fitted in rooms where there are solid fuel stoves. With three log burning stoves, this means three detectors. They also need to be hardwired into the heat and smoke detectors in the rest of the building.

One of the three carbon monoxide detectors that have been installed today.  This one is in the snug.  The log stove is a Firebelly FB1.

One of the three carbon monoxide detectors that have been installed today. This one is in the snug. The log stove is a Firebelly FB1.

Viewed from underneath there is a red LED display that shows the parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.  Unsurprisingly, it has a reading of zero.

Viewed from underneath there is a red LED display that shows the parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. Unsurprisingly, it has a reading of zero.

External lights

While we have been sorting out the small wall at the front of the property, we are also sorting out the uplighters that will light up the front wall at night.  This has been a little more involved that I first imagined.

There seems little point in shining light onto the wall directly underneath a window – it isn’t going to show any texture on the wall and it is only going to shine light inside. So we have decided to place the lights evenly under the parts of the wall without windows.  I think this should work, but I am worried that the lights are not evenly spaced.

The next concern was how far do the uplighters have to be from the wall to illuminate the wall.  This obviously depends on a number of factors – type of light, type of lamp, distance between the wall and the lamp etc.  The only really way of finding out what it might look like is to try it!  With that in mind, we put a plug on one of the lights and experimented with how far away it should be from the wall.

This shows the effect of one external light positioned about 50cms from the base of the way.  This is using a 5W LED lamp with a 45 degree spread.  We will position 5 lights along this wall to show up the texture of the stone.  We are using Robus uplighters.

This shows the effect of one external light positioned about 50cms from the base of the way. This is using a 5W LED lamp with a 45 degree spread. We will position 5 lights along this wall to show up the texture of the stone. We are using Robus uplighters.

Lights in the older part of the property

We now have lights in the older part of the property.  We have had them for a week or so, but now we have light switches to turn them on!  Previously, we had to revert to using an iPad to turn the lights on and off.  Bizarrely, I could turn the lights on and off anywhere in the world – except (apparently) the room that I was in as there was no light switch. It doesn’t take long for the novelty of having to use an iPad all the time to wear off.  And before you ask, yes, you can use an iPhone too!  See previous post for information on the web interface.

In this part of the building alone, there are around 20 lighting circuits (a lighting circuit is a group of lights controlled by a switch) and about the same number of light switches.

Today we have installed all of the light switches and, after a bit of messing about, the switches do seem to control the right lights (most of the time).  Since the mapping between lights and switches is done in software, we can always modify the arrangement later on (unlike in a conventional system).  We had to reprogram a few of the switches, but all in all, it went pretty well. We have removed the stainless steel front plates from the switches.  This allows the rooms to be decorated without getting paint on the switches (and still being able to turn the lights on and off).  For more information, see previous post on light switches.

As well as the lights, the bathroom extractor fans are also controlled by the lighting computer.  This means that we can configure the system so that the extractor fans do not come on after midnight (say) as this might disturb others in the house.

In the upstairs bathroom, there are two lighting circuits.  One controls that main lights (and turns on the fan).  The other controls the LED lights in the shelf and along the plinth for the bath.  This circuit does not turn the fan on.  This means that you can have a bath and just turn the LED lights on without having the fan running.

This is one of the switches with the stainless steel face plate removed.  We will put the face plates on once the rooms have been decorated.  This is a Schneider GET Ultimate two gang switch.

This is one of the switches with the stainless steel face plate removed. We will put the face plates on once the rooms have been decorated. This is a Schneider GET Ultimate two gang switch.

ignore the cardboard box over the toilet and the board over the bath.  This is the upstairs bathroom with the main lights and LEDs turned on.  The extractor fan is running.  This is controlled by the left button.

ignore the cardboard box over the toilet and the board over the bath. This is the upstairs bathroom with the main lights and LEDs turned on. The extractor fan is running. This is controlled by the left button.

And now with the main lights off and just the LED lights on.  These are only 1W put these LED lights put out a lot of light.

And now with the main lights off and just the LED lights on. These are only 1W put these LED lights put out a lot of light.

Carbon monoxide detectors

The building inspector came around yesterday and everything went well.  We have one more visit due.  This is when the building work is all finished. Usually before moving in.

On his way out, he mentioned that one of the things that they would check on final completion would be the carbon monoxide detectors.  Apparently, we need a carbon monoxide detector in every room where there is a solid fuel stove.  It can’t be a standalone one (those cheap battery operated units), but must be connected into the same circuit as the smoke detectors.

This is a bit of problem since some of the ceilings have now been plastered.  The electricians have had to cut a couple of holes in the ceiling to pull a new set of cables through.  It could have been worse – the rooms could have been decorated!

Progress on the home automation

While work is progressing on the first fix electrics in the extension, we are starting to terminate the cables for the lighting switches.  All of the cables of the lighting and data will terminate in patch panel.  This allows us to easily test all of the connectivity as well as being able to reconfigure the cabling at a later data.

There are 19 lighting switches in the older part of the building.  The cables will terminate in a single 24 port patch panel.  Patch leads will then connect the relevant port to the correct connection on the lighting computer.

The data connections will terminate in two 24 port patch panels since there are more than 24 data connections in this part of the building.  These will be connected to a Netgear network switch that will be connected to the broadband route to provide wired Internet access into each of the rooms.  There will be a second Netgear switch in the extension and the two switches will be connected together.

It will probably take a few days to get all of this connectivity working!

The top two consumer units house the Loxone kit - a server, 2 extensions and a dimmer unti.  The bottom consumer unit contains the breakers and RCD.  Underneath this there is a small data comms cabinet.

The top two consumer units house the Loxone kit – a server, 2 extensions and a dimmer unti. The bottom consumer unit contains the breakers and RCD. Underneath this there is a small data comms cabinet.

All of the Cat5 cables from the lighting switches terminate in this patch panel.  There are 19 in this half of the building.  There will then be a lead from the patch panel to the Loxone lighting computer which is housed above.

All of the Cat5 cables from the lighting switches terminate in this patch panel. There are 19 in this half of the building. There will then be a lead from the patch panel to the Loxone lighting computer which is housed above.