Arlo|Smart Home Security|Wireless HD Security Cameras

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BryanDawson
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I “upgraded” from Ultra when I saw “extended range” claims. I have 4 cameras. The farthest is only about 30 feet from the base station with just one wall (wooden house) with window. Camera keeps disconnecting. I swapped cameras and it connects for a few days then disconnects. This did not happen with the Ultra setup. Same exact configuration. Support said I need to “reposition the camera.” WHAT? As in bring it inside to keep an eye on my Christmas Tree? Why did this not happen before? Almost returning to Costco.

 

I read an article about Ultra 2’s ability to switch to 2.4. Is this a setting? Thiughts

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Retired_Member
Not applicable

I don't own any Ultra camera so I can't comment on how 5 GHz Wi-Fi works on the Arlo system, but I can say from experience that there are probably two elements to the problem.

 

The first is that there is a firmware bug, or a set of firmware bugs, in camera models that are capable of connecting directly to home Wi-Fi.  I can say with certainty that firmware bugs (or 'oversights') exist in the Essential Spotlight and Pro 4 models that are not present in previous models (which could only be connected to a hub).  If the Ultra 2 can connect directly to any Wi-Fi access point then that model may also have the same bug(s).  The cameras will sometimes drop offline and stay offline until they are reset.  I could guess at the underlying cause but it would just be a guess.  Firmware updates are due soon so an angry man might hope the problem will be rectified soon.

 

The second element is that the problem is less likely to occur when the Wi-Fi signal is strong and clear, at least in my experience with 3 X Essential Spotlight cameras.  My Pro 3s are rock solid when it comes to staying online, while my Essential Spotlights drop offline and stay offline every few weeks.  The problem seems to happen more frequently with cameras which have a signal strength that is less than perfect.

 

If you're getting it at a range of 30 feet with wooden walls I would guess the problem is triggered by signal interference (but the underlying cause lies somewhere in the camera firmware).  I've created a series of YouTube videos about 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and Arlo SmartHubs that may help you make your 2.4 Ghz signalling as good as it can be, based on some learning associated with my efforts to get my Essential Spotlight cams working.  I have no experience with Arlo on 5 GHz but many of the same rules likely apply.  Find the best channel and steer the Arlo system onto that channel and the problem will likely happen much less frequently.   It won't disappear until Arlo solve the problem that causes their support staff to believe 'reposition the camera' is a magical act of technovoodoo that solves Wi-Fi problems.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noB-GaOZCzQ

StephenB
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The ultra 2 can choose either 2.4 ghz or 5 ghz WiFi (assuming you have a VMB5000 base).  

 

One possibility is that the Ultra 2 is on the edge of the useful 5 ghz range, and is making the wrong decision (or switching back and forth).  Unfortunately there is no way for the user to tell the camera to use 2.4 ghz (unless you happen to have a different base).  The VMB4000, VMB4500, and VMB4540 are all compatible, and all use only 2.4 ghz.

 

You could try using support I guess.

BryanDawson
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Thanks. Yes, I have VMB5000. I’ve had multiple calls with support and the best is what it always is, reset and reset, power cycle, reset, etc.

 

I agree it must be the 2.4. Maybe I’ll try to connect it to a WiFi extender and connect to my 2.4 network.

Retired_Member
Not applicable

@BryanDawson wrote:

Thanks. Yes, I have VMB5000. I’ve had multiple calls with support and the best is what it always is, reset and reset, power cycle, reset, etc.

 

I agree it must be the 2.4. Maybe I’ll try to connect it to a WiFi extender and connect to my 2.4 network.


If you have the time (and patience) I would suggest keeping a support ticket open until you get an escalation and a satisfactory solution.  If you swapped from Ultra to Ultra 2 and the problem suddenly appeared it's not your WiFi, it's the camera.

It's unclear to me whether 1st level Arlo support staff actually work for Arlo directly or if they work for a contractor - outsourced support.  If they are working for a contractor there is a clear financial incentive on their part to close cases rather than escalate to the people who actually know what they're talking about.  Every escalation is, in a sense, a failure on the part of the contractor to solve the case, which makes them look bad - inefficient, ineffective.  To a contractor, a customer who goes away and throws their cameras in the trash is almost as good as a happy customer whose problem was successfully resolved.  The result of this mindset, if that's what's going on, is it's possible that Arlo have no idea how common this problem is.  If a few hundred instances of this issue aren't sitting in the inbox of an actual Arlo engineer with the right insight and skills this problem isn't going to get solved any time soon.

BryanDawson
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Thanks, I tested by swapping cameras. The former driveway (the location with issues) is now in my backyard. It was fine until today when it lost connection. The former backyard (now in driveway) was fine until a few weeks ago when it started losing connection. The odds of two faulty cameras is slim. This sounds like a base station issue to me.

 

I just removed all devices and re-connected the base and the driveway. First try, the setup on base station didn’t get past the firmware check. Second try it did. Camera wasn’t recognized automatically, bad it took multiple tries to reconnect. Now it’s working and I’m frustrated, knowing it will like happen again. On to the other three cameras.

 

Since distance isn’t an issue for me, I may need to get a simple range extender and join it to my 2.4Ghz. Kinda sucks since it’s basically adding a device to take me back to my Ultra. Not sure if that will impact 4K recording.

BryanDawson
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The Arlo base station connects via Ethernet not wireless. The VMB5000 base doesn’t have a switch for 2.4Ghz.

BryanDawson
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I assume it switches from 2.4 to 5 automatically. I don’t see a way to force either.

BryanDawson
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The question is (assuming not-so-great product support as is the case with Arlo), will plugging the base station into a 2.4 GHz wifi extender limit the VMB5000 base station to more stable 2.4 GHz?

 

I can’t believe we are having a discussion around losing signal at 30 feet. THIRTY.

Retired_Member
Not applicable

To clarify - did you swap Ultra cameras for Ultra2 cameras but keep the original base station?  Or swap out both the cameras and the base station when you upgraded?

 

In my case I have Essential Spotlight and Pro3 cameras connected to VMB4540 base stations.  The Pro 3s stay online, the Essential Spotlights don't - they work for weeks, sometimes a month or two, then drop offline and need a reset.  Arlo advise moving cameras and playing with WiFi channels, despite the cameras staying online and working fine for weeks at a time.

 

There are three things that can change when you move a camera - raw signal strength, signal quality due to the strength of interfering signals from your neighbors striking the antenna in the camera (and resulting levels of signal interference), and signal reflection - duplicate signals bouncing off walls and hitting the antennas on both camera and hub tiny fractions of a second after the 'real' direct path signal.  Each of these factors can influence whether any given signal is distorted or clear, any given Ethernet frame (data packet) is corrupted or not corrupted.

 

Arlo support seem to sincerely believe moving the camera might solve the problem.  This suggests that there is some element of communication between camera and hub which is critical to keeping the camera online over time, and that influencing the three factors listed above can make the difference between that communication being reliable over time, or not.

 

The wild guess part - when they implemented the feature in their new camera models that enables them to connect to any WiFi access point, they messed up somewhere in the code that handles WiFi encryption keys.  The signal needs to be perfect in order to prevent the encryption key getting corrupted.  If the camera ends up with a corrupted WiFi encryption key it's knocked offline and stays offline until reset.  When you add the camera to the account it gets a fresh valid encryption key which enables it to communicate with the hub.  It's a firmware bug.  They need to better account for frame corruption, better error checking relating to any communication that is critical to keeping the camera online.  I stress though, this is just a guess.  I can't think of any other reason at this time why Arlo support would think asking customers to climb ladders to move cameras around seems like a sane idea form their perspective.

BryanDawson
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I “upgraded” the entire system. Doesn’t feel like an upgrade anymore.

Edinburgh_lad1
Luminary
Luminary
You have something between the base station and that specific camera that impedes signal.
Try changing WiFi channels on the router and Arlo will follow within 24 hours. This may resolve the issue.
If not, you'll have to put the base station more centrally, and that would be the only solution.
BryanDawson
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Wifi channel on the router? The base is connected to router by Ethernet cable.

Retired_Member
Not applicable

@Edinburgh_lad1 wrote:
You have something between the base station and that specific camera that impedes signal.
Try changing WiFi channels on the router and Arlo will follow within 24 hours. This may resolve the issue.
If not, you'll have to put the base station more centrally, and that would be the only solution.

This is the stuff - Arlo voodoo thinking.  If there is something that impedes the signal and that were the only issue, changing channel would make zero difference.  That signal blocking would still be happening, just at a very slightly different frequency.  When you change channel you're choosing which signals from neighboring houses are capable of interfering with your Arlo signals.  The signal path remains identical.  Moving the hub affects the strength of signals received by cameras and hub, and the strength of interfering signals from the neighbors striking the antenna in the hub.  Again - if the camera works fine for days, let alone weeks, this should make no difference to whether an Arlo camera stays online or not.  A security system that need completely perfect WiFi signalling to remain functional is not a thing that can be accepted so long as its possible to disrupt WiFi signals from half a mile a way using, among other 'sophisticated' pieces of equipment, a couple of Pringles cans taped together. (not a joke - think 'double-barrel cantenna' - I'd call it a 'NArlo Cannon')

Retired_Member
Not applicable

@BryanDawson wrote:

Wifi channel on the router? The base is connected to router by Ethernet cable.


Watch the YouTube video I linked to get it.  The Arlo hub often matches the WiFi channel of the strongest signal it detects (at 2.4 GHz at least - I'm not sure how it chooses  a 5 GHz channel).  Changing the WiFi channel on your router will probably cause the WiFi channel on the hub to change, depending on how close together the hub and router are placed.  The Ethernet cable doesn't come into it.

StephenB
Guru Guru
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@Retired_Member wrote:
If there is something that impedes the signal and that were the only issue, changing channel would make zero difference.  That signal blocking would still be happening, just at a very slightly different frequency. 

That is true of course, though interference is a different matter.   There have been some cases where posters have found that forcing the base to change channels has helped.

 

Moving the base does of course change the path, which is sometimes needed.  My own home has a central plumbing stack that does get in the way of wifi (I use a mesh in part to overcome that).  If the base is really close to the router, I think the signal from the router can overload the base front end.

 


@Retired_Member wrote:
This is the stuff - Arlo voodoo thinking. 

FWIW, I agree that having the right controls (and actually useful signal stats) would be far better.

Retired_Member
Not applicable

That is true of course, though interference is a different matter.   There have been some cases where posters have found that forcing the base to change channels has helped.


It certainly does help with this issue but it's not the underlying cause.  This is my point - 'move the camera' is not a solution.  It won't work completely for for people who have lots of other WiFi networks nearby and where the channels the neighbors are using are constantly changing because their routers are set to select channel automatically (which is what is happening in my case).  Fixing the firmware so that cameras can't be knocked completely offline by WiFi interference is a genuine solution to the problem, and Arlo can't be let off the hook on this one because it's an appalling flaw in a security system.

BryanDawson
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Update


Still not resolved. Support said to switch my router to use channel 1. I did so on 2.4GHz and reconnected devices. I added a third camera and moved all indoors (some 10 feet from base station) to test behavior.

 

One camera connected automatically, but the third (the offending driveway camera) had to be joined manually. It worked a few days, and then, voila, it disconnected. Since this is the second camera having issues, I am at a loss as to why the third camera is an issue, especially since it’s now inside with no wall or window.

 

ShayneS
Arlo Moderator
Arlo Moderator

HI @BryanDawson

 

Have you updated your case info with this information? I see the support team is waiting for your latest feedback. Case: 42848323

BryanDawson
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I was away for a few weeks and you closed the ticket? Can you re-open? Why was it closed? It is not resolved!

ShayneS
Arlo Moderator
Arlo Moderator

@BryanDawson

 

The support team will close the ticket if there are not any replies/updates after some time. Seeing as you were out for a few weeks, that seems be the cause.

 

Please reach out to the Support Team to re-open your case with these additional details. You can find several options for contacting support though the Arlo Mobile App by navigating to Settings/System/Support.

 

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