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Thread: Hex-Net - New User, iOS only - unable to connect with hotspot

  1. #1
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    Hex-Net - New User, iOS only - unable to connect with hotspot

    Hello,

    I am a new user, this is my first post!
    I have a 2005 Audi Allroad 2.7, and I am happy and excited to join the Hex-Net family.

    I have received my Hex-Net, it looks fantastic. Thank you.
    I connected my iPhone to the Hex-Net in AP mode, and I can login and make an Auto-Scan.

    Now, I need help with the STA mode.

    My iPhone is configured as a hotspot, and I can successfully connect my Mac to the iPhone hotspot. I have the VCDS-Mobile iOS App installed.
    I configured the hotspot SSID/Password in the HEX-Net, and it seems to be able to change from AP to STA mode when I press the button, the LED changes color from amber to green.
    But my iPhone does not increase its hotspot client count (in the blue banner), and the VCDS-Mobile App does not show the Hex-Net IP address, so I don't think it's really connected.

    Because we live in an apartment, I am not able to use a "standard" WiFi network to connect both the Hex-Net and the iPhone, I need to be able to connect the Hex-Net to the iPhone Hotspot.

    How can I debug this further?

    Thanks, and Happy New Year!

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    Benevolent Dictator Uwe's Avatar
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    I haven't used iOS in many years, so I'm shooting from the hip: Have you verified that it allows more than one device to connect to its hotspot at a time?

    Did you use the web interface in VCDS-Mobile to configure a profile for your phone's hotspot or did you use the HexNetConfig app on your Mac?

    Some screen shots of the configuration might clues.

    -Uwe-
    The engineering problems are likely insurmountable. It would be like proposing to land a rocket booster section on a barge floating in the middle of the ocean.

  4. #3
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    I would suggest trying to get this set up inside by your mac first, and then move it to the car once you're sure it is configured correctly. Using the HexNetConfig USB utility with your HEX-NET connected to your computer over USB you can check its wifi settings. This will tell you for sure if the HEX-NET is connecting to your hotspot or not.

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  6. #4
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    Hello!

    I had been looking into this issue without much success, and then I put the Hex-Net in a drawer, frustrated. But yesterday night the "check engine light" came up, forcing me to do something. Here is a recap on the situation:

    We live in California, and I received the Hex-Net for Christmas; I tried configuring the Hex-Net using the web interface on the device. After many failures, I removed the password on our home WiFi network, and I was finally able to connect the Hex-Net in STA mode. However, the connection was very flimsy. In our driveway I can connect to the WiFi using my iPad or Macbook, with a fairly strong signal, but the Hex-Net does see only a weak signal. That's a "receiver sensitivity" issue. I work in that field, and I know how difficult/lengthy/expensive it is to design a WiFi product. Antenna design is hard, and often times the drivers from the chipset manufacturer have shortcomings and bugs. Add the manufacturing variations, and it becomes a nightmare. I'd be happy to share my engineering experience with you on that topic. The bottomline is that it is very hard to make a WiFi product work enclosed inside a metal car, in a driveway, even 50 feet away from the router!

    I was able to run some auto-scan tests, but I was not able to upload them (because the connection would drop?).

    Then in early January we moved to Chicago to teach for the winter quarter, and we live in an apartment on campus. It's cold, very cold, making it harder to work on the car in the street. Here we don't have a WiFi, we fully rely on our cell phones. We both have iPhones (5c, 5s, 6) and we connect our computers and iPads to the iPhone hotspot. So, we have extensive experience with the Hotspot feature.

    First, I was unable to configure the Hex-Net using the embedded web server. I tried configuring our Hotspot network, but run into bugs and instabilities. Finally I followed your advice (thanks!) and used my macbook to configure the Hex-Net network, through the USB and Java app. That worked, and I was able to connect the Hex-Net to my phone Hotspot. Once the connection is established, it is strong and stable, because of the proximity of the phone. However, in the last 2 months I have succeeded in connecting to the Hex-Net only 4 or 5 times. I would spend hours shivering in my car, trying to get the Hex-Net to connect, resetting it, etc.. After an hour of trial, the Hex-Net would finally connect.

    My understanding: The iPhone Hotspot tries to save power, so the iPhone broadcast its beacons not too often, far less often than a regular WiFi router. Also, the iPhone Hotspot relies on Bluetooth to send more beacons. Bluetooth being low power, the iPhone can send frequent Bluetooth beacons, and infrequent WiFi beacons. That's why the Hotspot works best with another Apple product, which uses the Bluetooth beacons to help connect to the Hotspot.
    Finally, the Hotspot feature seem to work better with the newer phones. When we upgraded our 5c to a 6, we got better connectivity to our computers.

    How to make the Hex-Net work better? I think it should be placed into a "focused" mode, where it knows to expect an STA connection, and fully focus on connecting to it. At the moment, I think the Hex-Net is in "dual-mode" and still broadcast an AP signal, while searching for an STA in parallel. Also, I thing the Hex-Net is in constant "scan" mode, instead of being focused on connecting to a preferred WiFi. Also, because the Hex-Net is powered by the car, there is no need for power saving, and it should crank up the radio receiver and the update frequency, and essentially behave like a desktop computer trying connect to a WiFi network. I suspect you use a "mobile" device driver and an embedded Linux OS, which would make the Hex-Net behave like a battery powered device, and save power at the expense of WiFi connectivity.

    Finally, you could add a Bluetooth chip to listen to the iPhone beacons. You wouldn't be able to connect with it, because you won't have an MFi chip, but you could detect the beacons and use them to help wi the eWiFi connection. However, that's a lot of money spent for a workaround, and the best option I believe is to use BLE.

    The Hex-Net only needs a gateway, and the data streams are moderate, and WiFi is really impractical, so I think the best route is BLE. Low cost, easy to connect, background refresh, etc.. I feel that you chose a WiFi system because you did not want to go the MFi route, and BLE was too new when you designed the Hex-Net. But nowadays BLE is accessible and robust, and I believe it is a superior solution for the Hex-Net.

    That was a long email; hopefully that's useful to you and others.
    I will now fish my Hex-Net from the drawer and try it out another time.

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    The HEX-NET uses an off-the-shelf WiFi module, with an integral antenna. This allows us to use the module manufacturer's regulatory certifications as opposed to having to apply and have testing done ourselves in every market. The volume isn't big enough for that.

    The HEX-NET does not have an embedded Linux, nor does it use a mobile, power-saving driver.

    We're not going to add Bluetooth to the HEX-NET to try to compensate for Apple's non-standard way of doing certain things.

    Have you tried using the HEX-NET in AP mode? For most actual diagnostic purposes, you simply don't need cloud access.

    -Uwe-
    The engineering problems are likely insurmountable. It would be like proposing to land a rocket booster section on a barge floating in the middle of the ocean.

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    Unless you need constant access to one of the cloud functions like coding (if so, is there a specific problem you are trying to address?) it seems that AP mode is probably the better solution for you. Also, to clarify:

    the Hex-Net is in "dual-mode" and still broadcast an AP signal, while searching for an STA in parallel.
    The HEX-NET has no such functionality. If you are trying to connect to an infrastructure network and the HEX-NET is broadcasting an AP signal, it means that it has fallen back to an AP mode rescue configuration because no infrastructure network could be connected to in range. It sounds like your router may be too far away from your vehicle to work the way you intend. You could try moving it closer, or use a secondary router or hotspot closer to your vehicle.

    --Shaun

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  10. #7
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    Uwe,

    Glad you're using a module, that's the way to go for small batches. The power saving mode can be set through the configuration of the module, between the module and your MCU. Now, a filesystem without Linux can be a lot of fun/debugging, right?

    I would not suggest adding bluetooth in addition to WiFi, but I suggest you ditch WiFi and use exclusively BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). The main application is to connect from the car to the phone/tablet, which are very close to each other. No need for WiFi for that. BLE is not restricted by Apple (unlike the old Bluetooth). Make the dongle a sensor and data collection device, and treat the data on the mobile device.

    WiFi is great when you want to move a lot of data. Normal application is low data. The only case is updating the FW, which can be done via USB.

    HEX-NET in AP works fine, always connect. But I can't send the log files.

  11. #8
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    Shaun,

    You're right, the device probably falls back into AP if it can't connect as STA.
    AP mode works for scanning, but I can't send the log. I can see it on my phone and take a screenshot though ;-)

    I only use my iPhone hotspot at the moment. I would think most people would not want to be tied to a stationary router, as you move the car while collecting data and be more flexible with a phone/tablet. Connecting to a router forces you to stay close to it.

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    All, here is an update.

    Good news, I had better luck using the Hex-Net yesterday. Maybe it's the new FW and Dataset? Or maybe the warmer weather?
    Or rather, it's probably because I had my laptop with me in the car. The laptop connected to the iPhone Hotspot, there were hence more WiFi beacons for the Hex-Net to see, as the Hotspot was active.

    I plugged the Hex-Net to the laptop via USB. At first, the Hex-Net would not connect, it would not see the Hotspot when using the HexNetConfig (empty Wifi networks list).
    I reset the config, and tried again, and tried again. Once the Hex-Net was connected, it was solid. I unplugged it from the computer, plugged it in the OBD port, and it connected flawlessly to the hotspot.

    I stopped and restarted it a few times, it worked solidly. Great!

    --------------

    Now for the bad news. Today I drove without my laptop, and tried to connect the Hex-Net. It connected only once, in about 1 hour of trials.

    My theory is that the iPhone beacons are more frequent when the Hotspot is active or recently active, and that the Hex-Net only listens sporadically for those beacons, so it relies on "luck" to hear the beacons.

  13. #10
    Benevolent Dictator Uwe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by albator View Post
    I would not suggest adding bluetooth in addition to WiFi, but I suggest you ditch WiFi and use exclusively BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).
    That would be an entirely different product, not a HEX-NET.

    Quote Originally Posted by albator View Post
    HEX-NET in AP works fine, always connect. But I can't send the log files.
    The HEX-NET has plenty of internal storage for logs.

    Quote Originally Posted by albator View Post
    My theory is that the iPhone beacons are more frequent when the Hotspot is active or recently active, and that the Hex-Net only listens sporadically for those beacons, so it relies on "luck" to hear the beacons.
    Interesting theory. If correct, it sounds like Apple is once again doing their best to "encourage" people to use only their own products.

    What iPhone and iOS are you using? We have one person left in the office who still uses an iPhone. He's never had any issues like the ones you're reporting, but I might ask the guys to fire up the Pineapple to see what they can see.

    -Uwe-
    The engineering problems are likely insurmountable. It would be like proposing to land a rocket booster section on a barge floating in the middle of the ocean.

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