Monday, March 2, 2015

Setting up Asus RT-AC68U with Billion 7401VGP-R3

I'd been finding the wireless capability on my Billion 7401VGP-R3 was starting to degrade. Mainly that after a period of being on, it would occasionally start dropping devices and then not let any new ones connect until it was rebooted. Update to latest firmware didn't help.

The modem capabilities of the Billion were good, and I wanted to keep the VOIP capability to run the home phones. So I looked at AC wireless router options, and the Asus RT-AC68U got the nod as a good quality option.

There are a couple of possible ways to set up the AC68U so that it works with another modem/router like the Billion. One way is to turn off DHCP on the Asus and plug an ethernet cable into port 1 (rather than the WAN port) and likewise connect it to the Billion the same way. This allows the internet connection to get through, but takes up one of your ethernet ports.

The way I ended up running it (thanks to the tip from Pete at Whirlpool) was to turn on "Access Point (AP) mode", accessible Advanced Settings -> Administration tab in the router config.

Screenshot selecting Access Point mode

After changing to this setting, it will ask how you want to set up the IP address of the AC68U itself. You can let the DHPC-capable router on the network do it (which in this case I kept as the Billion), but since I'd already "lost" the AC68U once during the setup process by an automatic IP address change, I decided to keep it manually set:

(Incorrect) Manual IP settings for RT-AC68U

So far I haven't had any issues with this setup.

I had one issue, where the AC68U would occasionally drop one of the wireless connections and then seem to reboot. I think it was due to the Billion router allocating the same IP address to another device as the one I'd manually set on the AC68U. This was a bit silly by me, so I updated it to one well outside the Billion's DHCP range. For whatever reason it required a gateway address this time too. So far these settings have proven okay.

Updated settings below:

(Updated) Manual IP settings for RT-AC68U

Here's a colourful diagram of the entire network setup:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

PCT-MP4711 KVM: Nice experiment, not without problems

UPDATE 8/3/2015: The system exhibited similar (though far less pronounced) symptoms without the KVM being plugged in, so it may have been the mouse starting to fail that caused the dropped connections. I've tried a new mouse and it seems okay, but still need to set everything back up again with the KVM to clear its name.

While it looks like I was too hasty on the judgement, the frustrations with the device still stand. Post title updated to reflect the discovery.

A little over 12 months ago I bought a PCT-MP4711 4-port DVI/USB KVM to switch keyboard/mouse/monitor between two or more machines.

In the last week I started noticing some drop outs where the mouse/keyboard would lose "sync" for a few seconds. While working this is annoying, while gaming it's catastrophic. By coincidence I'd just installed a new router at the same time, so I initially thought it was a network issue, but have now proven it was the KVM.See above: perhaps not

Don't look at me!

I noted at the time that the 1 year warranty was a bit worrying, and it turns out I was right to be worried. It lasted essentially the 12 months and a few days before becoming unusable. You get what you pay for, etc, etc.

The thing always was a bit temperamental — particularly the key-based shortcuts to switch between settings. Sometimes you'd have to press the combo three, four, five times or more to get it to register. And sometimes it would stop working and require the USB connectors (which give the box its power) to be disconnected to reset the thing.

In the end it was an okay experiment, but I don't recommend anyone buy PCT equipment based on my experience. Unfortunately other equivalent options are much much more expensive, so while it was an okay stop-gap, the lack of longevity is a major let down.