Back in the box

Ethernet over power line. It’s been around for a while and was even meant to be one of the ways that broadband was going to be delivered to the nation…some time back in the late 90s I read that. It’s now here and ready for the home. Or not, as the case seems to be in my home.

I picked up a pair of 85Mbps adapters from eBuyer that were in a deal of the week thinking that I could replace the cat5 that runs across my lounge. I’d toyed with the idea of a wireless repeater for the other side of the room but it’s not difficult to overwhelm a wireless network so I wanted to keep it to wires. Powerline HomePlug seemed a great middle ground.

Except they’re shit. I can’t really dance around the issue. For a start they arrive with a Windows only utility. This is, in my book, unacceptable when it comes to network devices. But hey, they’ve just got to be plugged in, wired up and you’ve got a bridge, right? No, apparently not.

The wiring scenario is cat5 between laptop and router then router to hub on the other side of the room which deals with the connections to the Xbox and the Popcorn Hour (old XBox as was). I removed the router/hub cable and attached a Homeplug at either end. They immediately decided that they felt at home using 192.168.0.1 which just happens to be the IP of my router.

So, unplug, reconnect to router and change its IP to 192.168.0.100. Reconnect everything and it seems to be okay. I can see the PCH so I transfer a video over and watch it. Then I try to browse the network from the PCH back to the laptop and it’s like downloading South Park over a 33.6kbps modem at my parent’s house. Once I finally get through scanning the local network, selecting my laptop and choosing the network share it’s back to normal speed.

Well, that’s a bit crap. I’ll deal with later thinks I cos it’s time to play some Dead Space. Fire up the xbox and it’s not logged in to Live. Strange. Manual login? No can do. It’s got an IP of 192.168.0.2 and using 192.168.0.1 as the default gateway and DNS. Problem is, that’s the Homeplug device which doesn’t fulfil those roles. Much hammering at it later I gave up and reinstated the old wire.

That was all last night. I figured I’d try again tonight but even booting into Windows and trying the utility yielded no joy. All it allows is setting up a “private network” of devices. Actually, it won’t even allow that as it crashed when I tried to change the network name.

What’s annoying me even more is that if I point Firefox to 192.168.0.1 while the Homeplugs are connected I get a web app asking me for a u/p. There’s not u/p mentioned anywhere though! Extensive googling turns up nothing so for all I know the answer to my problems is in there somewhere.

Waste of fucking money. Further googling finds more people having problems with these devices when used with Xboxes, Sky+, cable PVRs, etc. Back in the box and going on ebay. Of course, ebuyer’s return policy states that to return it the box must be unopened.

I reinstated the old cable and tidied it up a bit. Cat5 round the skirting for a while longer yet.

Comments (2)

James TurnbullFebruary 6th, 2009 at 8:52 am

They sound well rubbish. Power is so volatile that it was never a good idea to try and get a consistent network connection through it.

I don’t see why you can’t do it wireless though? Is it the speed?

rossFebruary 6th, 2009 at 9:52 pm

With modern wiring you can achieve a reliable connection from what I hear. Certainly no worse than tales of people’s wireless giving out when the microwave is on, etc.

It was definitely speed with the wireless. It’s 54Mbps burst speed IIRC and certainly way below that sustained. If I leave the laptop on wireless I can only transfer files at ~1MBps over to the PCH. By plugging in I get 4-5MBps. Oh, that and I’ll get cancer. 😉