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#715 - 08/09/09 03:14 AM AirTunes dropouts
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
I've been experiencing intermittent dropouts of up to a minute between my Early 2009 White MacBook (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo/2Gb RAM/OS X 10.5.7 [Build 9J61]) and my AirPort Express Base Station.

Apple's techs have told me that it is most likely due to interference from an electronic communication device, like a baby's room intercom (I didn't ask about those damned Nextel intercoms/phones; anybody know?), within 250 feet of my apartment, and I'm hard-pressed to argue, because I live in Brooklyn, and there are an awful lot of apartments and houses within 250 feet of me that I'd have to poll in order to do so.

So... I'm wondering whether anybody knows of any way to shield my Base Station (which only requires a narrow window through which to function with my Mac?)

Thanks.
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#724 - 08/09/09 08:00 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
The interference can be causing problems for either the base station or the mac, or both. Unless you're going to build a faraday cage around your apartment, there's no way to shield anything from interference.

ways to lower the effects of interference:

- change frequencies
- distance yourself from source of interference
- increase selectivity of your receivers
- change modulation
- eliminate the source of the interference
- make adjustments to the interfering equipment
- change polarization
- increase transmit power
- decrease separation of your equipment
- change conditions (move things that are blocking your signal, or reposition things to block interference)

Most of these don't apply for you or won't help enough. The last two are probably your best bet. Get your base and computer as close as you can. Try re-orienting your base and your mac. Multipath is a fickle creature, try small things like rotating your imac 45 or 90 degrees. Try setting the base station on its side or turning it 90, 180 degrees. Vary the direction you are leading cables away from the base or computer. Consider the presence of things like large metal air ducts, pipes, and ibeams in the walls between your base and computer. Consider external antennas where possible. Use highly directional antennas if necessary or for long distances.

If you are using an airport express for airtunes you should know the internal antenna absolutely stinks. Sometimes expresses work better if you plug them into an extension cord instead of an outlet, and move them around until you find a better location for reception. 18" off the floor behind a large TV is usually stacking the deck against you. Most antennas perform poorly when placed near large masses of metal except in specific cases where it can help in a particular direction. Directly on top of a tv is probably also a bad location for an express.
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#741 - 08/09/09 12:37 PM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
knoodles Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Aptos, CA
In addition to all of V1's suggestions have you experimented with the interference robustness feature of Airport?
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#795 - 08/10/09 03:51 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: Virtual1]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Thanks for your suggestions, V1; unfortunately, my options are pretty much non-existent, everything already having been set up as cleanly as is possible within the limitations imposed by my apartment's layout.

I guess I'll just have to continue living with disabling AirTunes and using a cable during peak periods of frustration.

Edit: I just thought of something I could try, but relocating the wiring involved will be a major pain, and I don't think it has much of a chance of working, anyhow; on the other hand, though, maybe my frustration will spawn some ambition. (Stay tuned, but don't hold you breath.)


Edited by artie505 (08/10/09 04:00 AM)
Edit Reason: Edit
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#797 - 08/10/09 04:05 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: knoodles]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> "the interference robustness feature of Airport"

That used to be an option in the AirPort drop-down menu, but it has either disappeared or been relocated to a location in which I haven't thought to look.
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#816 - 08/10/09 09:12 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
knoodles Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Aptos, CA
Artie

Interference Robustness can be turned on or off by going to Airport Utility>Wireless>Wireless Options. This is with AU 5.4.2.

G
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#851 - 08/10/09 07:44 PM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: knoodles]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: knoodles
Interference Robustness can be turned on or off by going to Airport Utility>Wireless>Wireless Options. This is with AU 5.4.2.


Interference robustness is only available on the 2.4 GHz band and not the 5 GHz band
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#852 - 08/10/09 07:57 PM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: joemikeb]
knoodles Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Aptos, CA
I learn something everyday. I just got the new AP dual band and am still playing with it. Took me a while to figure out how to set it up to participate in a WDS network (not an option until you press the option key) so I could use my old airport express. When I get a new airport express I will be able to use the extend network feature in the new base station.
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#863 - 08/10/09 10:48 PM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: knoodles]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Thanks, Gary; got it. (Now to ask joemike what the 2.4/5GHz thing is all about.)
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#864 - 08/10/09 10:50 PM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> Interference robustness is only available on the 2.4 GHz band and not the 5 GHz band

I plead ignorance; what does it all mean?

Thanks.

Edit: Interference robustness as described in AirPort Utility:

"Interference robustness can solve interference problems caused by other devices, such as cordless phones or wireless video monitors. Using interference robustness may affect overall network performance."


Edited by artie505 (08/11/09 12:52 AM)
Edit Reason: Edit
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#886 - 08/11/09 10:52 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
I will take a shot at explaining this. The 802.11 communications protocols define multiple layers of communications. To simplify this explanation I will treat this as if there were only two layers.
  1. The transport layer or how the signal is physically carried from on device to another. In this case it is the RF (Radio Frequency) used.
  2. The Protocols or rules governing how devices interact with one another.
The original 802.11b/g standards used the 2.4GHz frequency band for the transport layer. The problem with the 2.4GHz band is there are a lot of other devices that either intentionally or accidentally produce a signal/noise in the 2.4GHz band. Cordless phones, microwave ovens, even a magnetic ballast florescent lamp can radiate signals or noise in the 2.4GHz band. (2.4GHz is a harmonic of the common 60Hz AC.) This creates obvious stability and connectivity problems for WiFi so "Interference Robustness" was added to the protocols. However, as the saying goes, "there aint no free lunch. Interference Robustness can and will significantly reduce WiFi range and speed so it is not something one uses without good reason.

The draft 802.11n standard (the final standard is at least a year or two away) includes an additional 5GHz band so many (most?) devices built to the draft standard can operate on either or both the 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz band. The 5GHz band offers many advantages including the shorter wavelength signals can better penetrate obstacles resulting in longer range under more difficult conditions and there is less interference in that frequency range. Because of that, Interference Robustness, has apparently been deemed unnecessary -- at least for now. While, some devices can use either band and the later generation Time Capsule and Airport Extreme Base stations are capable of operating in both bands at the same time, most WiFi devices, including the iPhone and iPod Touch, are only capable of using the 2.4GHz band.

At my location I have a 5GHz band 802.11n only network for those devices that can use that protocol/band and a separate 2.4GHz 802.11b/g network created by an older Airport Express for the use of the iPhones and iPod Touch.
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#931 - 08/11/09 10:27 PM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Nicely and clearly written; thanks.

> While, some devices can use either band and the later generation Time Capsule and Airport Extreme Base stations are capable of operating in both bands at the same time, most WiFi devices, including the iPhone and iPod Touch, are only capable of using the 2.4GHz band.

Will my interference maybe disappear if I switch from my AirPort Express BS to an Extreme (Not likely to happen $-wise.) and use the 5GHz band, or does my AirPort card (AirPort Extreme [0x14E4, 0x8E]) mandate the use of the 2.4GHz band for AirTunes?

(Edit: From my MacBook's specs here: "Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking (based on IEEE 802.11n draft specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible")

At any rate:

Interference robustness did not mitigate my dropout problem. (IR turned itself off constantly when it was an option in the AirPort drop-down menu but appears to be stable now that it's been relocated to the AirPort Utility GUI.)

Also, an easy Base Station relocation was not helpful. (I've got one more option, but I don't look forward to the cable relocation job, so the next update will not come as quickly as did this one.)


Edited by artie505 (08/12/09 01:33 AM)
Edit Reason: Edit
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#1038 - 08/13/09 01:19 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Another edit of my previous post: Or does AirTunes work with an "Express" *only* and not an "Extreme?"
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#1054 - 08/13/09 06:43 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
The express has a hybrid copper/tos audio jack. The extreme hasn't, and so is not air-tunes capable. Both have a usb port however. I've heard that only the extreme supports a usb hub and hard drives though, and so the express's usb port is good for just one printer and no hard drive / airdisk - anyone know for sure?

Rear View of Extreme
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#1138 - 08/15/09 02:06 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: Virtual1]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> I've heard that only the extreme supports a usb hub and hard drives though, and so the express's usb port is good for just one printer and no hard drive / airdisk - anyone know for sure?

I don't know *for sure*, but while doing some pre-posting research I ran across several linked docs in which the same thing was said. (None were Apple docs, though.)
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#1169 - 08/15/09 10:39 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: Virtual1]
alternaut Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
The Google consensus seems to say: the Express' firmware limits its USB port to one printer only, while the Extrreme can service multiple printers through a hub.
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#1248 - 08/17/09 01:09 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: Virtual1]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> Unless you're going to build a faraday cage around your apartment, [....]

How about I build a Faraday cage around my Base Station with just a narrow window? (My MacBook, stereo, and Base Station are within 8 feet of each other.)

Also, can you offer any insight into whether the interference may be affecting only my Base Station, only my AirPort card, or both?

Thanks.
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#1262 - 08/17/09 09:06 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
A hard wired ethernet would have significantly more bandwidth, be more reliable, far easier to construct, and cost a small fraction of what it would take to create a Faraday cage environment. FWIW, for security purposes, I worked in a Faraday caged environment for several years and trust me, you would not like it for your apartment.

The interference is not effecting either your Base Station or the Airport card per. se. Your problem is interference with the RF signal traveling between your various devices.
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#1273 - 08/17/09 11:42 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: joemikeb]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
A hard wired ethernet would have significantly more bandwidth, be more reliable, far easier to construct, and cost a small fraction...

Or as I like to say it, "wired where you can, wireless where you can't."
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#1344 - 08/18/09 01:09 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> The interference is not effecting either your Base Station or the Airport card per. se. Your problem is interference with the RF signal traveling between your various devices.

I was hoping that wasn't the case, but deep down I was afraid it was.

Building a Faraday cage around my Base Station, then, will be useless, and building one around my apartment is, of course, out of the question.

I've bitten the bullet and moved furniture and relocated cables with the end result being that I've now got my deuced Mac(hina) and Base Station within two feet of each other with a previously in-between window no longer in-between; I'll report back.

(The problem with hard wiring, apart from my deuced Mac(hina)'s not being stationary, is that I have a roll-top desk, and the roll-top's housing completely deprives three of the desk's sides of cable access.)
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#1388 - 08/18/09 09:50 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
MacManiac Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Paradise....on the central Ore...
The careful application of a high quality Forsner bit of the appropriate size can create an unobtrusive pass-through for your ethernet cable in the back-plane of your desk (normally in the lower corner of one of the cubbies) that doesn't appear to be a hacked out afterthought.....and with some gentle sanding and re-sealing, it can even look as if it were an original part of the design of your classic roll-top desk.

I've modified several high-end pieces of furniture to accommodate such needs without detracting from their original quality or appearance.
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#1411 - 08/18/09 12:58 PM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: MacManiac]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
should also mention that such operations require placing a new end on the cable, so you need a crimper, ends, and know-how.
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#1547 - 08/20/09 12:12 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: MacManiac]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> The careful application of a high quality Forsner bit of the appropriate size can create an unobtrusive pass-through for your ethernet cable in the back-plane of your desk (normally in the lower corner of one of the cubbies) [....]

I imagine you're pretty busy over there, so many thanks for taking the time to think about my problem.

My skills are probably sufficient for the job (discounting the tools I haven't got), but I don't follow your scenario... The back plane of my desk, particularly in the area of the cubbies, is where the roll-top is stashed when the desk is open, so I don't see how a useful opening could be made anywhere other than in one of the side planes, which, of course, is not about to happen.

Under any circumstances, though, the cables involved all come from the right side of my desk and need to go to the left side of my MacBook, which would tend to turn the project into a logistical nightmare, so I'll just move my Base Station around until I finally give up trying and make the best of what I've got.

Thanks, again.
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#2141 - 08/27/09 12:27 AM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> [...] I'll just move my Base Station around until I finally give up trying and make the best of what I've got.

I finally managed to get my Base Station within six inches of my AirPort card, and still no joy.

Oh, well... I guess its hard-wired when it's practical and dropouts the rest of the time. frown

Thanks to all who've invested their time trying to help me out. smile
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#5299 - 10/24/09 10:40 PM Re: AirTunes dropouts [Re: artie505]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
It doesn't seem to me that these two issues can possibly be related, but since there's a tenuous thread tying them together I'm merging their discussions.

Original issue: I experience dropouts while listening to music via AirTunes, and they're accompanied by a general AirPort "failure," i.e. Mail can't fetch new mail, and Safari can't open or reload pages.

New issue:

1. This occurs only when I start up/restart my deuced Mac(hina) or wake it from sleep.

2. AirPort Utility scans and rescans, unable to locate my AirPort Express Base Station, while, at the same time, if I click on the Airport icon in my menu bar it scans and shows "AirPort: On" and locates my network .

3. While this is happening, Mail can fetch new mail, and Safari functions normally, but iTunes returns

Quote:
The remote speaker "Base Station 06da03" cannot be found on your network. Please verify your network settings and AirTunes configuration or select another speaker from the menu at the bottom of the iTunes window.


and the "Base Station" option disappears from the menu, followed by the disappearance of the menu, itself.

4. If I walk away from my deuced Mac(hina) for a while, AU eventually locates my Base Station, the menu returns to my iTunes window, and AirTunes becomes functional.

5. Issue #2 reared its ugly head while I was moving stuff around trying to overcome issue #1, but the end result of my moving was only that my Base Station now resides 6 inches from my AirPort card, rather than 6 feet.

6. A few weeks ago both the #1 dropouts and the #2 failures stopped, but recently, although issue #1 is still absent, issue #2 has reappeared, rarely at first, but now regularly, although not 100% of the time.

7. An Apple "Wireless Specialist" told me that Base Stations suffer sudden catastrophic failure...do not degrade over time.

8. The AirPort card in my Early 2009 White MacBook/2.0GHz Core 2 Duo is not user serviceable, and I've searched, but been unable to locate any substantive information dealing with AirPort card failure.

Does anybody see any pattern in all that background that suggests a possible course of action or, even better, solution?

Thanks.
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