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Networking Basics for myServer 6 control system projects

Most projects for myServer 6 require a basic understanding of computer / ethernet networking.

Here are the essential requirements

All Devices on the "Control" network must have IP addresses that never change.  This can be done via Static addressing (on each device) or via Reserved DHCP addressing (typically done on the "router" that has the DHCP server software).

All Devices must be on the same Subnet (the same network).  Advanced networking techniques can be configured to get around this requirement, but for most all projects this is gospel.  This includes the user interface device (the WiFi "iPad").

Even though myServer can operate without being connected to the Internet for most functions, it is highly recommended that the myServer 6 controller IS connected to the Internet.  Required for:  Allonis to remotely connect and configure the system.  For Weather data (several times a day updates), for TVGuide daily downloads, for optional remote control of the system when not on the premises.

Allonis configures most all systems on behalf of the installer / project owner.  The IP addresses must be communicated via Allonis's Configuration Spreadsheet (including ALL subsequent changes).  To do so, hardware is NOT required to be installed or online to PLAN these addresses (think of this as the networking blueprints to build the network from).  What is required is the networking plan ie: which address ranges do the DHCP server provide ad-hoc device addresses.  Generally the Static / Reserved addresses are outside of this scope.  You do need to know the subnet and gateway settings as well.  Recommended is for the addresses to be in a logical and sequential groupings that make it easier for us humans to read and keypunch ie: TV 1 is IP 192.168.1.101, TV2 is 102, etc.

 

Addtional Networking Information

Networking for Security, Speed and Reliability.

This document is intended to provide computer networking guidance for the Allonis Professional. This document contains information pertaining to the design and implementation of the Local Area Networks (LAN) on which critical components of a Allonis system reside. It is intended to be a conceptual guide, and is not of an instructional nature.

Networked devices on the Local Area Network Components of the myServer system which may reside on a Local Area Network include:

  • myServer Controller(s)
  • Inclusion on the network facilitates programming and diagnostics, both locally and remotely as well as client access.
  • In some cases, controller-to-controller communication will be via the Local Area Network. Communication with Allonis touch screens is via Ethernet.
  • TCP/IP Ports may be defined on an myServer Controller in order to communicate with third-party, Ethernet-capable devices.
  • Third-party control of a myServer system through Host Commands is typically via Ethernet (although RS-232 interface is also supported.)
  • In-wall varieties require wired Ethernet connection to communicate with a myServer Controller.
  • Portable varieties require 802.11 Wi-Fi to communicate with a myServer Controller.

Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) band compatibility:

Successful operation of myServer Media components rely on Local Area Network for:

  • Network cameras or Photos located on client’s computer.
  • Successful operation of some myServer Media components rely on Internet connection for:
  • Weather Component or Web Component.
  • Allonis Digital Music Manager (myMusic)
  • Seeking out, cataloging and streaming the shared music files located on the client’s computers rely on the Local Area Network (myContent).
  • High-level management through Desktop UI requires Ethernet connection.

Relies on Internet connection for:

  • Downloading meta-data and cover art.
  • Internet Radio
  • Streaming Video (Netflix / Amazon Prime)
  • Streaming Music (Google Play / Songza / TuneIn)

Allonis Energy Management Solution

  • Energy Meter communicates with an myServer controller over the Local Area Network
  • Relies on Local Area Network for communication with myServer Controller.
  • Relies on Internet connection and port forwarding for remote access to home system.
  • Relies on Internet connection and port forwarding for remote access to home system.

iPhone and Android app (myUI)

  • Relies on Local Area Network Wi-Fi for communication with myServer Controller in the home.
  • Relies on Internet connection and port forwarding for remote access to home system. Network-related setup instructions specific to each of these products can be found in their individual install sheets.

Keys to Success: A successful Allonis system installation depends on the stability, reliability and longevity of the Local Area Network. There are three keys to success:

  1. professional IT expertise,
  2. High-quality equipment
  3. solid network design and configuration intended for an automated environment.

 

On-site professional IT expertise: Networking is a complex subject, involving both an art and a science. It is imperative that the Allonis integrator becomes familiar and fluent in the networking discipline as the Allonis system becomes increasingly dependent on Local Area Networks to function properly. It is essential that the Allonis professional responsible for the successful installation of an Allonis system employ the services of an IT professional, whether by hiring an IT professional, subcontracting with a professional, or working with our specialized networking partners. Please note: It may be tempting, both from a financial and an egotistical perspective, to try to learn and do the networking yourself. However, there are frustrating, time consuming, and expensive challenges for the untrained, that don’t even pose an issue to those who are network trained and certified. A recommended network specification is included at the end of this document to assist in communicating your requirements to an IT professional or a Allonis Networking Partner.

High-quality equipment: Typically the environment in which a Allonis system is installed is more demanding than the average home. A solid network is crucial to the success of the installation it is imperative that high-quality equipment be used. The size of the automation system, area which needs to be covered with Wi-Fi signal, amount of traffic, network security requirements, and the number of devices on the network all typically exceed those of the average home. Allonis recommends that you use enterprise-grade routers, switches, wireless controllers and wireless access points (as these components may be required).

Typically components: Working For The Allonis Professional designed for small-medium business applications are sufficient; whereas those designed for the general consumer market may not be adequate. Your router should have firewalling and IPSEC VPN capabilities, DHCP server, and, typically, gigabit throughput on its wired ports. Having a Dynamic DNS (DDNS) feature is a great benefit as it allows a home with a dynamic WAN (Internet) IP address to be located remotely at anytime, thus allowing remote access with ease.  myServer also supports Dynamic DNS providers.www.DynDNS.com and NoIP.com are examples of DDNS services.  Allonis can help you setup these services as well.

Note that the combination of high bandwidth streaming applications (typically video) on the network may dictate the gigabit specification. The router may or may not have wireless capability included, but should not be placed in a metal enclosure if wireless. Switches (as required) can be gigabit rated, and will be enclosure or rack-mounted depending on project size and requirements. Gigabit requirement is becoming more prevalent in media streaming and Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives. It is recommended you calculate expected bandwidth prior to specifying the network for the project. WAP(s) and bridges (as required) should be compatible with IEEE 802.11n and are strongly recommended to have dual band (dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio) capability. Dual band access points allow for clients with 5GHz radios to communicate over the less crowded 5GHz band. This mostly unused band allows for interference avoidance as well as increased network throughput (300mbps) with 802.11n clients. Simple and solid configuration Typically Class C addressing is sufficient for the number of nodes found on even a very large residential premise. In some cases a robust network will contain multiple VLAN’s, each representing a class C network. While VLAN’s are traditionally popular in corporate environments they are also useful in the residential automated environment. When properly implemented VLAN’s allow for security (separate guests from homeowner for example) as well as traffic priority (allow the automation system traffic to have top priority over the network for example). For security, we expect that router-based firewall and wireless security measures be implemented. Firewall on Allonis wireless TPTs should remain OFF. Allonis highly recommends that you discourage client use of wireless TPTs for web browsing (other than specific purposes built into your design, such as traffic, stocks, tide, and similarly trusted sites.) Recommended antivirus software on wireless TPTs includes products from AVG and Kaspersky.

Allonis recommends permanent static IP addressing for Allonis devices on the network (with the exception of auto-IP addressing Ethernet Bus devices). For best practice, set an IP address range for Allonis IP devices that is outside of the DHCP address range and maintain a consistent addressing pattern from project to project.

Often, it's difficult to find out a devices current address on the network.  Here is a slick tool to help do that: Advanced IP Scanner 

Use a network discovery and IP scanning application that can assist to better understand the network, such as FING. http://overlooksoft.com/ FING is free and available for iOS and Android and can assist in identifying devices on the network and if there are any IP addressing conflicts.

 

ISP supplied modem/router combination devices may have incompatible settings that can cause issues between the myServer controller and the controlled devices (see tips below). It is recommended not to use these modem/router combination devices, because the end user may not have access to all services of the device. The ISP may have sole control over the device settings and send updates to reset, reinitialize, or replace the device at their discretion.

Reliable Wireless Networking: If wireless iPADs® and/or IP-based remotes are part of the Allonis system, then a well-designed wireless network is crucial to the success of the system installation. We would assume that the typical Allonis home is too large to be covered by a single access point. While there are several approaches for creating a wireless network large enough to cover large areas, Allonis strongly recommends you use a managed wireless system. Managed wireless systems include a wireless controller which continually manages the wireless environment. This approach is characterized by a distributed set of wireless access points interconnected by a wired Ethernet backbone. This presupposes that the location of WAPs is pre-determined and with wires run accordingly. Use of PoE for powering access points is recommended as it would allow you to surge-protect and power-condition the wireless system. Make sure the IT professional is involved in this design and that they are aware that high access point density is desirable, Ideally, proper placement of each WAP would allow roaming within that scope without transferring between WAPs. Where such a design is not practical, it becomes critical that the distributed network be set up correctly, for example: each WAP should have the same SSID and channel and the same wireless protection credentials. This aspect and others will be managed by your wireless controller.

Allonis recommends, sells and installs the OpenMesh line of WiFi access points.

Wireless Networking Methods of last resort: Wireless Distributed Network - When retrofitting a building that lacks the wiring required for the Ethernet backbone of a multiple-WAP distributed network, it may be necessary to deploy a wireless distributed “bridge” or “mesh” network. This method is typically a little more expensive and challenging than the first option and presents latency issues for any control system. Range Extenders Another option exists, which is not a distributed network, but simply an extension of a single WAP’s range. One device that has been tested by Allonis is the Luxul Pro-WAV WiFi Range Extender. It amplifies the signal from your WAP bi-directionally and sends the signal out in a circularly-polarized fashion, which allows greater range for the out-bound signal, and aids in the distinction (and therefore the elimination) of reflected signals. Extended range does not guarantee signal quality. There will be cases where a range extender cannot penetrate an environment where materials such as stone, marble and concrete are used. In addition, Luxul’s product, at the time of this writing, is uni-directional, meaning the unit needs to be placed at one end of the project so it will cover the whole area.

Allonis does not recommend that you setup a separate network for the home owner and the automation system. This will cause confusion and wireless interference as the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi spectrum only allows for three non-overlapping channels to be used at the same time. Using VLAN’s is the recommended method for separating and controlling network traffic.

IP Private Network Minimum Specifications:

  • Components: Small-business-class-rated router ?
  • Firewall protection enabled ?
  • Supports DDNS ?
  • Supports IPSEC VPN access ?
  • Supports DHCP address reservation ?
  • Supports multiple-device and multiple port-per-device port forwarding ?
  • Gigabit hard-wired ports as necessary (for DMM, non-Allonis streaming devices)
    • Small-business-class-rated wired switch(es) as required ?
    • Gigabit rated port(s) for DMM and other streaming devices
    • Small-business-class-rated WAPs as required ?
  • IEEE 802.11a/g/n compliant
  • Wiring o CAT5E-300 minimum; CAT6 recommended for gigabit requirements
  • Wireless Network o Bands: b/g or b/g/n
    • Consider the option of a separate VLAN and wireless SSID for wireless control devices, co-existent with client’s data and wireless SSID network.
    • Design for adequate coverage of the space, typically through one of three infrastructures: One/two WAP (range extenders not recommended); more than three WAP’s = use a wireless controller!
    • If one/two WAPs: ?
  • Designed and positioned for adequate coverage of all areas of interest, taking into consideration sources of attenuation and interference. o If three or more WAPs: ?
  • Each WAP designed and positioned for adequate coverage of an area of interest, with the collection of WAPs covering all areas of interest. Scope of ranging for each wireless device to be provided, with intent that each device’s scope may ideally be covered by a single WAP. Use PoE to power WAP’s ?
  • All WAPs set up with same
    • Channel
    • SSID
    • Wireless security key
    • Above will be done automatically when using a wireless controller.
    • Supplied wired ports

Provide wired port for each of the following:

  • myServer Controller(s) Qty:_______ ?
  • Digital Music Manager (gigabit) Qty:_______ ?
  • Energy Meters Qty:_______ ?
  • 1080HD Qty:_______ ?
  • Third party devices
    • Security System _______
    • Cameras _______
    • Access Points _______
    • Pool/spa control _______
    • A/V Devices _______
    • Other _______

Addressing: Class C addressing scheme should be sufficient. Use caution if/when venturing into class B

Preferably no subnets employed unless you use a professional IT expert, preferably an Allonis networking partner.

Networking tips

When it is possible ALWAYS run a network wire and don't use wireless


If you require wireless, here are some tips:

1) Set a fixed IP Address instead of a Dynamic.  You can also have the DHCP server reserve IP addresses for specific devices that connect to the network.

In the task bar left click on the wireless connection status icon

The general tab should be highlighted click on properties

Scroll down until you see Internet Protcol (TCP/IP) and double click it

Now if you have the obtain an ip address automatically checked this could be your problem.

Check use the following ip address and enter in your

ip address

subnet mask

default gateway

Even though myServer supports using PC Names, a more reliable trouble free means is to reference IP address and not rely on Name Resolution to convert a PC Name to an IP address (which in reality is what the system is really using anyway).

You can use a DHCP server to administer static IPs by having the DHCP server provide an IP address for a particular network card MAC address that is trying to get an IP. So, the PC is configured for using a DHCP address and the DHCP server gives it a preconfigured IP address when the PC connects. Then, any myServer components that need to be configured for the LAN - use the IP address.

2) Use only one wireless hub in your Wireless Network Connections Preferred Networks.

3) If you are having issues connecting from a client machine you might want to consider making an 'entry' into the clients hosts file. This will explicity map an ip address to a PCname. So, on the client machine you would want a host file that 'resolves' the myServer machine pcname to its correct ip. Hosts files are usualy found in the c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc directory and can be edited by notepad. an example of a hosts entry would be

192.168.123.109 mediaserver

wherein the .109 is the ip of the myServer nachine and mediaserver is the pc name

4) Use either Port Reflection or Split DNS to allow myServer to be accessed from both the Internet and Intranet.

Determining a PC's IP Address

  1. Click on "Run" from the Windows Start Menu.
  2. Type CMD and hit the Enter Key. A DOS window should open.
  3. Type IPConfig at the command line. You should see your PC's IP address in the list that is generated.
    • Note that if you have multiple network cards (wireless, ethernet, second ethernet etc.), you might see multiple IP addresses in the corresponding groups of network settings.

 

Determining a computer's MAC Address

  1. Ping the device you are interested in determining it's MAC
  2. Enter "arp -a" on a command line
  3. Look for the IP address of the device you are interested in...the MAC address is to the right.
  4. You can copy / paste this MAC into Allonis configuration spreadsheet or into the myServer driver settings / command.

Using myServer to ensure your router is online

Internet
This process pings the Internet every two minutes for a response. myServer also attempts to open a webpage from a different Internet server If no response is received and the webpage is unsucessfully loaded, a command is issued to power the Internet router off and back on after a brief pause. Both are used to put better validation that the one webserver is just offline for some reason or is set to not respond to a ping (getting more popular now a days).

MLStartup Plugin – MLTimer|Enable~Internet is executed in the System.Startup script.
MLTimer Plugin – Timer 1 – Internet is set to run at an interval of 120 seconds. The Alias is Internet, and the MLServeCmd is MLPing|209.85.173.103. This is a repeating task. The results of this ping test update the Server Variable server_209.85.173.103_internetstate to 1 (pingable) or 0 (not pingable)
MLInsteonPLM Plugin - ID 0002 – Alias Internet Router is controlled via… 
Automation Rule (1)
Whenever server_209.85.173.103_internetstate equals 0
AND
server_server1_internetstate equals 0
Then Macro|Lighting.0002|SwitchPower_Off!MLPause|5!Lighting.0002|SwitchPower_On

(note that you will not see this server variable until MLTimer fires the Ping command. To manually trigger the MLTimer to do that, send a MLTimer|Enable~Internet command in myServer's Send Commands window.)

It is recommended that the router's power supply is plugged into an Appliance switch or other relay type device and not a lighting module. Lighting modules commonly pass some voltage even when "off" which a router may not respond well to.

Network Configuration for external viewing of myServer graphics

 

  1. Verify what the myServer variable is using to display the .swf files. In this example it was machine name (ie http://sr1710:6246/images/MLWeather/44.swf
  2. Add a port forward on the router to send 6246 to the inside LAN NAT of the server.
  3. Add a static entry to the HOSTS file on the remote windows machine that is running myServer outside the firewall. This is located in \windows\system32\drivers\etc. Add a line with the hostname from Step 1 above and the outside WAN address of the router. For the example one would have 'sr1710 67.220.21.55'. If the machine name was sr1710 and the IP address of the outside interface 67.220.21.55.
  4. Restart myServer client on the machine. You should now see the myWeather pictures.

Putting your myServer home on the Web

If you have a dynamic assigned IP address from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), you can incorporate software / service from www.noip.com. You simply apply for the free service and configure your home's website address (like www.myhome1.servehttp.com). While you are online at www.noip.com, download their Windows application. Next, install the No-IP DUC software on your myServer PC. You will be asked for your NoIP account name and password.

NoIP software then communicates your current IP address (assigned by your ISP) and NoIP maps that to your established www.myhome1.servehttp.com address.

Then, in myServer Options, configure the Network tab so that the webserver is on port 80 (the standard Internet server port). Restart myServer3.

Now, any web pages in your myServer\HTML directory are accessible via the Internet at your new domain name.

How to use it: Build a index.html webpage and copy that to the myServer\HTML\index.html You might use this page to link you to the various webpages for Lighting / HVAC / Movies / Music etc.

Try access to that new webpage from your work office: http://www.myhome1.servehttp.com/index.html

You should now see your webpage rendered for you in your office.

Note that your server is now on the Internet and you must use a firewall to keep hackers out of your LAN.  It is NOT recommended to put Antivirus on myServer PC if it will never be used to surf the Internet.

 

 

Putting your myServer home on the Web - Port Forwarding

To make use of the myServer controller and to use the mobile phone, tablet, and Windows applications from outside your network you must configure what is known as port forwarding. When accessing the Gateway on the internal network it is usually assigned an IP address something like 192.168.x.y. Where x is usually 0 or 1 and y is a number from 2 to 250. These are the usual numbers but what is used on your network depends upon how the network was configured. Outside the firewall instead of that IP address, the connection is made to the IP address of your DSL or cable modem and to a port number. Port forwarding makes it possible for requests to arrive from outside the firewall and be directed to the network device – the Gateway – associated with that port. If you have multiple routers in your system, you want to configure port forwarding on the one that connects the outside world to your network. For example, you may have a DSL or cable modem that brings internet access to your home and a wireless router as a wireless access point. The DSL or cable modem is where port forwarding must be configured. Most routers have a firewall component that may also need to be configured. Some routers configure the firewall automatically when you configure port forwarding to allow a port through the firewall while in others you must configure the firewall separately. Also, some routers have configuration that will block any “WAN to LAN” (from outside your network to inside your network) unless that is allowed. This may need to be set to allow access. The bottom line is that there may be many steps necessary to get port forwarding correctly configured on your router to allow access to your network. Unfortunately, this is where the story gets a bit hazy. Each router has a different method of setting up port forwarding and providing instructions for all routers is beyond the scope of these instructions.

Knowning setting up firewall items like Port Forwarding can be difficult, Allonis has pre-configured the myFirewall2 and myFirewall4 products to make this much easier.  See their product page for more details.

Mapping Drive Letters in Windows

Vista

XP

 

Wireless Networking Tips

Netstubbler Network Tool

A great program for network management is "Netstubbler" (should be free) to truly discover how your wireless network perform and you can view any other network that enters the home and view what channel they are on and make sure your system is configured to another channel. Download this program directly on the touch screen so you can see exactly how it will react. Try to have the network between -30 to -50 at worst.

Wireless Access Point Tips

It is recommended that the wireless LAN run on a different subnet than the ethernet LAN. For example, wireless is 192.168.2.X and the wired would be 192.168.1.X. This is to make sure when a wireless device is docked (and connected to the wired LAN) and then the device is undocked (connected on the wireless LAN) that the transition is quick. Windows struggles with switching if on the SAME subnet, and then gets a different IP address. A quality router is used to bridge between the two LANs so that they both can talk to the other LAN. This is especially useful for wireless / dockable UMPCs.

 

Cheap APs are prone to drop connections even when they seem to have good signal strength. This is due to link quality. Radio strength has little impact on this and is very misleading. Most consumer APs start to roll off at ranges greater than 30 feet. Add a couple of walls or worse other wireless signals and thing can get ugly fast. To add insult to injury, combine signal hostile technologies like wimax and N and the problems multiply. The best way to combat this is to switch to better APs and in some cases more of them.

For a home user these are overkill, so take the suggestion as you like: look into some of the business class units by Proxim/Orinoco, Cisco/Linksys and Engenius. They are not cheap but make up for it in the way they handle low quality links. Most will throttle the connection to keep link quality up. Slowness is always better than dropping the signal and waiting for a reconnect. Also these units handle roaming better so you can install more than one without experiencing dropouts.

Look at the channels you are using. 1,6&11 are the only 3 that don't overlap. I recommend avoiding 6 however since it is the default on 90% of the APs on the market. I have found the best combination of channels to be 1,2,11-14. These have the least overlap and keep you as far from 6 as is possible.

Last thing most routers do not tolerate,is mixed speed connections. This will slow down the router to the lowest common denominator including signals from other APs. So if you are picking up old B signals in your area they can cause problems with your network. The same holds true for N and other booster technologies. These boost speed by using more channels. More channels mean more overlap and potentially more problems.

Recommended Networking Products

  • Cloudtrax WiFi management site
  • OpenMesh Access points

Network Definitions

Default Router

A default router is a router that sends packets within the local network to destinations outside of the local network, or receives them from outside and propagates them onto the local network. It is also referred to as a Gateway.

Ethernet Hub

Inexpensive four to 16 port devices that provide a way to physically tap into an existing Ethernet connection and expand the plugs available, but do not perform any packet routing.

Gateway

See Default Router above.

IP Address

Internet protocol address is a unique number that is used to represent every single computer in a network. All the computers on the Internet have a unique IP address. The format of the IP address is four numbers separated by dots (e.g., 198.168.0.1).

IP Mask

An IP mask is a pattern of bits in IP address format (e.g. 255.255.255.0) which, when "and"ed with your IP address, produces a network address. If an outgoing packet's network address has the same network address as the source of the packet, it is sent on the local network wire, to be received by a device on that local network. Otherwise, it is sent to the gateway, to be routed to a device existing on another network. The IP mask for any device should be assigned by whoever manages the local network. An IP mask is also referred to as a Subnet Mask.

IP MTU

IP MTU is the maximum packet size that the device can transmit. It is not necessary to change this value from 1500 for an all Ethernet network.

IP Table

An IP table lists IP IDs and their corresponding IP addresses.

MAC Address

MAC address is a unique hardware address assigned to every network device in use. The MAC address is assigned by hardware factory and is never changed.

Network Address

A network address is a pattern of bits in IP address format that is shared by all network devices on a given local network. For example, network address 192.168.2.0 describes the local network where all devices have an IP address of 192.168.2.x, where x is any value from 1 to 254.

NMS TRAP CATCHER

NMS trap catcher is the address of a SNMP monitoring station that sends any alarm messages that the monitored device wishes to send. Router Router is a communications device that routes data between networks.

Subnet Mask

See IP mask above.

TCP/IP

TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. It is quite simply a standard set of protocols that govern the basic workings of the Internet that was implemented in 1982.

The TCP part is all about ensuring that data is transmitted correctly between two computers. If any errors occur these are detected and the data is retransmitted. The data transmitted is split up into small portions called data packets. The IP part of TCP/IP is how these data packets are moved from one point to another. Each computer on the Internet has a unique IP address and the data packets are moved from the source to the destination through many different computers which is controlled via TCP/IP. This protocol is used on the Internet and also by computers which are part of a LAN