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RainMachine HD - hanging periodically

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    The beta update for HD12/16 is available would be great if you could update, remove the "Keep display on ..." setting and let us know if it works better.

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    Pitmancd

    Ok, great.  How do we get it?  Procedure to install it??

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    David Browning

    Beta firmware info available here:

    https://support.rainmachine.com/hc/en-us/articles/230333608-Beta-Channel-Changes

    Note I had to go under Advanced Settings which is not on that page to enable Beta Quality Updates.  I have updated the firmware on mine and am disabling my static IP assignment to see what this does for me.

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    Aechelon

    FYI, the beta firmware does not appear to fix the WIFI connectivity issue.  On v.4.0.1115 my HD-12 is still dropping connection after a few days and not able to reconnect without a reboot.

    Looking at the release notes for v.4.0.974 I'd be suspicious of any commits related to the following:

     - Added dynamic support for changing the WIFI modules. This is limited by a list of known modules that we know to be working but it can be extended.
    - Added support for dual-band (5GHz) WIFI adapters based on RealTek 8814 chipset.
    - Reworked the WIFI reconnect algorithm to improve connectivity on some corner cases when using repeaters or dual-band routers.

    Particularly that last one...

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    Noopara (Edited )

    The problem being discussed here is somewhat related to the problem I've seen a few times.  I have an HD-12 and HD-16 and they both lost remote access a few times and the only way I could restore it was by rebooting the units.  Both units have a static IP address.  My plan to fix this is to implement a daily power cycle reboot initiated from my HomeSeer system.  I haven't had time to implement it yet.  If it's possible for the HD RMs to reboot themselves at a settable time that may solve it.  That may also solve the other issues discussed in this thread.  This was what I was doing with mcsSprinklers which I was running on an Odroid and Windows before that for 10 years and it was 100% reliable.  That's what I'm looking for here.  If the RM hangs though it won't execute the reboot so an independent watchdog would be the way to go which I plan to implement with HomeSeer.  It could be done easily with an arduino.

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    Gillyboy

    Have there been any update or fix?? 

    The HD12 was cycling back online every so often.  I can confirm this because I set the app to notify when HD12 is online.  At first, I thought it's weird I kept getting "Rainmachine is online" messages every few days.  Now, I couldn't even get access into the machine remotely.... we have poor access to the machine physically, so any help is much appreciated.

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    Aechelon

    For what it's worth, in my case the issue was due to a flaky/failing WIFI adapter.

    I haven't had any connectivity issues since replacing the adapter with a TP-Link TL-WN823N (over a year ago now).

     

    Replacement was plug-and-play: turn off the RainMachine, unplug the old adapter, plug in the new adapter, turn on the RainMachine.

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    Gillyboy, please check the uptime (you have it on dashboard on Web UI or on System Settings on local device).

    If uptime doesn't say that RainMachine restarted recently than it should be network related from and would be good to know how often does this happen. Please also check signal strength for wifi  from local device UI (Settings > Network Tools)

    P.S. There is also a possibility to get this Offline/Online events when we are updating software on cloud server, although these should be rare, maybe once per week.

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    Jdilembo (Edited )

    I had this exact same issue with my HD16 I purchased 04/14/17.  Worked fine for the first year or so, then it constantly disconnected from the wifi.  When I went to reconnect, it took multiple attempts, finally ending up having to restart the unit.  Set static IP, but this did not work.  Per Rainmachine's direction I set the display to stay on, but dim.  This seemed to work.  Last week I went to do something with it and the display is now DEAD!  And the unit is offline.  As I'm out of warranty support wants me to ship it to them to repair, of course at my expense!  Why bother?  I already pad over $250 for the unit.   I purchased the Rainmachine unit specifically for the display! Now it is useless!! I will be purchasing a Rachio 3 tonight.  

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    RainMachine Nicholas (Edited )

    Sorry to hear that ! For what is worth, if only the display doesn't turn on the RainMachine would still run and would be accessible from network/phone. If the green led (near the power wires) doesn't turn on maybe it's just the transformer that got bad ? Worth trying to measure it with a multimeter and/or replace it.

     

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    Hobby Klus (Edited )

    My touch HD12 also has network issues since last year (when I bought it). Yesterday I replaced the WiFi dongle with the TL-WN823N as suggested above. It seemed more stable and responsive after this "upgrade", but today it was again unreachable. When I used the fing network scanner I noticed no active services. After touching the irrigation key, for a short time service 21h (ftp) became active. But after a second scan this was gone again. Only after pressing reboot everything worked OK. Strange thing is that service 21h was not available after reboot (only 22, 80, 443, 8080 and 8081).

    The wifi signal strength is about -56dBm. What more can I do to help you solving this issue, it is really annoying!
    I have connected it to my guest WiFi, would switching over to wired Ethernet (via USB adapter) make any difference? I guess not since it seems that the internal network server drops off.

    Thanks.

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    Ron I.

    Is there a supported USB-to-ethernet adapter? A wired connection would be just fine for me. Here's an inexpensive one that looks good on compatibility, do we think it will work?

    https://smile.amazon.com/Plugable-Ethernet-Network-Compatible-Chromebook/dp/B00484IEJS

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    Hobby Klus

    If have read somewhere that the very cheap ones which won't need a driver for Windows XP have the best chance to work.

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    Pitmancd

    Sorry, but I gave up, and went to Rachio 3.  So much better.  I think these go on sale on May 1 at Costco for $179:

    https://www.costco.com/rachio-3-smart-sprinkler-controller%2c-12-zone.product.100481393.html

     

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    Hobby Klus

    Problems can always be solved. I'm sure that Rachio has its flaws too. When rainmachine can beat this bug, they (still) have the best controller and you know that probably too ;)
    I have full trust they will crack this soon.

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    Aechelon

    Off-topic but the biggest issue with Rachio is that all access is routed through their cloud API, meaning when your internet connection goes down you lose access to your sprinkler system.  That's a deal-breaker for anyone trying to keep automations entirely on-prem.

     

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    Hobby Klus

    I have the issue now again when I try to access the controller while the sprinklers are active. Fing network scanner shows again no active services... It should not be so hard to find the root cause I would say.

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    Hobby Klus (Edited )

    When I do a resend confirmation on the controller, the services are back online, except port 21 (ftp) is back instead of 22...

    After some time, port 22 is back and 21 is gone. And now also port 80 shows, I did not see that before.

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    We don't use port 21, port 22 is on if you enabled ssh access and port 80, 8080, 8081 are for web interface and api access.

    P.S. The problem with these kind of issues is that they aren't very widespread and we can't actually replicate them consistently. Mostly these happens to people with dual 2.4/5GHz networks or low wifi signal. We've seen people solving these issues by having either a separate 2.4GHz wifi router or using a separate wifi AP for 2.4 GHz. 

    In the last versions we have updated the WIFI adapter (the black one) which looks like it works better.

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    Ron I.

    Nicholas, thanks for jumping in. I understand how this kind of issue can be hard to troubleshoot, especially if it's with an external component like the wifi dongle. There seems to be a cluster of us who all have the same issues, so maybe it was a bad batch of dongles or something.

    Can you comment on the compatibility of a wired adapter like this one?

    https://smile.amazon.com/Plugable-Ethernet-Network-Compatible-Chromebook/dp/B00484IEJS

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    Hobby Klus (Edited )

    Check https://support.rainmachine.com/hc/en-us/articles/360009411393-Ethernet-for-RainMachine-HD12-16?mobile_site=true

    I can hardly imagine that dual WiFi networks would have any influence, but I have an Asus RT-AC68U dual band router and I use the class B adresses on my router (172-range) for what it's worth. And although you do not use port 21, I really saw it active multiple times after a reboot. It feels like the internal network server has some sort of time out and drops off. But if Ethernet would solve this it would be great!

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    Hobby, do you have a separate network for 2.4 GHz WIFI (separate AP name) ? 

    That's why we usually see from user reports: dual band wifi without a separate 2.4 network, mesh and wifi range extenders.

    We do have some of these in our lab but we don't get the issue with fail to reconnect. 

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    Hobby Klus (Edited )

    I have 2 of these Asus routers in an aimesh configuration. I have a 2.4GHz and 5.GHz network, both with a different name and I have a 2.4GHz guest network with another name. The rainmachine is connected to the guest network over the main router (aimesh does not support guest network on slave routers).

    I have the connection issue randomly, I noticed it twice in the last week after manual starting of the watering program and trying to enter the rainmachine about 5 min after the program started.
    I use the fing network scanner app to check which services are active. When there is no communication, fing shows always no active services on the rainmachine IP address. At that same time the WiFi icon on the rainmachine always shows 75-100% signal strength and the settings show that it's connected to the network.

    Just let me know how I can help in finding the root cause. I'm sure the problem will show again within the next days so I can (try to) check everything you need.

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    Would be great to check from time to time the Signal Strength from the unit menus > Settings > System > Network Tools.  It should be constantly over -60dbm.

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    Hobby Klus (Edited )

    Just saw a blinking wrench.

    Network tools shows:
    WiFi connected: true
    Gateway reachable by ping: fail
    DNS1 reachable by ping: fail
    DNS Google reachable by ping: fail
    DNS can resolve Google: fail
    HTTP call to Google: fail
    www.google.com: no address associated with host name
    DNS can resolve NOAA: fail
    HTTPS call to NOAA: fail
    WiFi signal strength:-61dBm

    Rest tested OK.
    Is this all caused by -61dBm WiFi??

    A reboot did solve it and WiFi strength shows -65dBm although WiFi icon shows max strength too! I think if the rainmachine only works with WiFi signals better than -60dBm it is a weak system. Overall, above -67dBm is generally considered to be a good connection.

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    Probably it does fluctuate, the antenna inside that adapter is pretty small. Maybe you can point your AP antennas to get better coverage towards RainMachine. 

    Also as debug, using a USB extender cable to move the wifi adapter from RainMachine to another position might give an idea about signal coverage.

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    Hobby Klus (Edited )

    The blinking wrench was back this morning! I've improved WiFi reception by moving the router and antenna directions. It's now only 5m away from the router (and 1 brick wall and a wooden cabinet door in between both).

    WiFi strength showed -56dbm.
    Fing showed no open ports, but received a bonjour service. Ping command received no response.

    So I do not think it's related to WiFi signal strength. To my opinion it is some sort of power management issue, same as suggested before by someone else. Why not implement a periodic restart of the services or complete program? I cannot imagine this is not reproducible in your lab, it is happening on a daily basis at my place. Can it maybe have something to do with (a bad or no response of) the weather service? I had such issues too with my Domoticz. Or is it possible to enable some error logging?

    I've ordered an Ethernet adapter to rule that out at least.

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    Hobby, you could enable the option to keep display on to see if there is any improvement from Settings > System > Display > Keep display on but dim it after 2 minutes.

    I wonder if in these cases if something doesn't change in AP WIFI configuration, like a channel change, BSSID change that makes our Android WIFI stop connecting.

    I'll ask the dev team is there a way to get more information from your device by enabling some debug mode for Android OS.

    P.S. The logs and debug level for application in general can be changed from, for example Web UI, Settings > System Settings > Log Level and logs can be viewed from 

    Setting > About > View Logs

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    Pitmancd

    Y'all know these issues have been going on since at least 2018.  Right??  I reported an issue back in February 2019 that my unit had been failing since 2018.  Same issues as what's being reported here with the WiFi dongle, etc., etc.  It all seemed to be related to a firmware update.  And then in June of 2019, after setting the screen to stay on because of this connectivity issue, the unit completely died.

    Aechelon mentioned these units being great because they don't need the internet (like other brands such as Rachio's cloud API).  But if RainMachine can't get their units to work consistently, then what good are they?  The internet is pretty reliable, at least worth the risk versus having an irrigation controller that hasn't worked well for quite some time.

    I would have hoped that with as many issues that are being reported that RainMachine would have resolved this by now.  :(

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    RainMachine Nicholas

    I understand that and we are trying to improve, but please understand that we also have to worry about many other users that don't have these issues.

    We have all the interest to fix this, as mesh WIFI will become much more widespread in the near future.

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