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Permanent Fix for Beebox Wifi Design Flaws

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ExASRockBuyer View Drop Down
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Joined: 17 Sep 2017
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    Posted: 17 Sep 2017 at 1:01pm
Hello,

You may have gathered from my user name I am less than impressed with ASRock, in regards to their TOTAL lack of support -or, at the very least, their acknowledgement of the inherent design flaws in the design of the Beebox WiFi antenna, which causes major website/video buffering, when streaming across the wifi.

I have had this box over a year, now. I was aware of issues with the design from nearly brand new. However, my box did not suffer to the extent of many; until recently. Nothing had changed with regards the box's position, etc. I tried the different wifi bands, but had to stay on 5GHz as my microwave affected it's operation: streaming would freeze.

I was unsure if this was my issue, as my box had always had continually high CPU & memory usage. I increased my memory from 2x2GB SO-DIMM RAM (which was all they had in-store at the time), to 1x8GB RAM, expecting to use one of the other sticks to supplement the memory, only to find you cannot use RAM modules of different capacities -same make & model. And as you can see, it wasn't exactly cheap. My first dissatisfaction with ASROCK. This SHOULD BE STIPLUATED IN THE MANUAL. It doesn't. Memory usage dropped, but I still suffered from the underlying problem. People should also be made aware that the CPU does run quite high, most of the time: 60-85%. This is on W10 x64 non-Pro version, with minimal programmes installed & loading at startup.

Other things I tried to improve the quality of my Beebox experience:
 -originally used a W10 x32 OS image, from Acronis True Image. Reinstalled x64 bit variant: no noticeable difference. Tried various browsers: Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Waterfox. All had same drop-off issues. Just varied the amount of RAM & CPU being used.

                                                              

I use my box exclusively as an HTPC/Browsing platform, in my bedroom, with a connection to my main HTPC, situated in the lounge, via Mediaportal. The memory improved Mediaportal load-times by about half, to around 22 seconds.

After attempting to stream the internet last evening, and it being virtually unwatchable, I decided to ascertain if the issue was the well-publicized wifi one. I moved the box into my computer room, & connected it to my desktop monitor, keyboard, & trackpad. This placed it directly below my AC1200 wireless router, which is connected to my modem. I began with using ethernet for testing.

Guess what: there were none of the issues present in my bedroom. Those being:
 -the aforementioned video buffering, as well as delays in page loading.
 -keystroke delays using Logitech K400 wireless board.

I then removed the USB keyboard & trackpad, & connectede my K400 wireless board. It also worked when in close proximity to the box. Another failure from ASRock; but not completely, I understand this may simply be an issue with poor design from Logitech. I also use another K400 board for my main HTPC. Distance between keyboards & the USB unifying receivers, of both systems is about the same. The signal in the bedroom has to drop from bed level, past the wooden bed-end. The main HTPC is behind glass in it's enclosure, with a similar drop, so maybe IT IS the Beebox unit at fault.

Having determined the Beebox wifi is at fault, I designed a work-around to resolve what I believe should have been a foreseeable flaw, in the unit's setup. It is well known that plastic acts as an insulator: not just for the prevention of heat transferance, but also in attenuating various signals in & around the electro-magnetic spectrum. So, why would anyone design wifi aerials to be covered by the box's plastic casing?

Onto the fix:
 -I had a PCI-E 802.11AC wifi card lying around, from my previous bedroom HTPC. Based off what I had read elsewhere, I determined an external aerial should give sufficient signal to prevent the issues at hand. I disconnected the existing pigtails on the wifi board, & fitted the two U-fl IPX/SMA pigtail leads, from the card, & fitted them to the Beebox wifi card. Drilling holes in the side of the plastic casing, I attached them, for external connection to the aerial.

I initially tried the PCI-E card's aerial on a half metre cable, but the nuts would not fit tightly due to the insufficient length of the connecting threads. This caused intermittent video buffering. Significantly better than originally, but still not acceptable. So I tried using the wifi aerials, on my TP-Link modem. I don't use it's wifi functionality, as I have an AC1200 router for that purpose.

Testing showed minimal-to-zero buffering, as well as page load-times showing huge improvement. Below are some photos to document my fix. Hope it helps others. Maybe ASRock might even consider rectifying the box's inherent problem. Here's hoping. Doesn't matter to me, as I won't be purchasing their products again. And yes, I do have other ASRock components in my home-built computers!

I had made a couple of short videos to support my claim the streaming now works minus buffering, but couldn't work out how to embed them in this forum. I have had to separate them due to restrictions imposed by Imgur. They were taken with my phone's camera.
 
                              
 

     
                      



Edited by ExASRockBuyer - 17 Sep 2017 at 1:07pm
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