back to article D-Link DHP-306AV powerline Ethernet adaptor

I use a couple of Devolo dLAN AVplus powerline Ethernet adaptors at home, to hook up my wired-only Sony Bravia connected telly to my router. They're great adaptors, but with a pass-through three-pin power socket, they're bulky. D-Link's latest adaptor, the DHP-306AV, offers a more compact alternative. D-Link DHP-306AV D-Link's …

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Silver badge

More info please

I know it's rather specialist, but after many articles on Homeplug and RF interference on the Reg. would it not be possible to put a broad spectrum RF analyser in the vicinity, to see whether these are good or bad?

And are the UK models two pin like the pictures?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: More info please

The UK edition has a standard UK three-pin plug.

Oh, and buy us a broad-spectrum analyser and we'll do the test.

FWIW, I've tested lots of these devices and had Radio 4 FM on in the background entirely without interference.

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Re: More info please

> Oh, and buy us a broad-spectrum analyser and we'll do the test.

I'm sure if you ask them, the RSGB can find a member that will test them for you and tell you how bad they are.

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Happy

Tell you what

I'll see if I can find a cheap multi-band radio. I'll enquire about the address to send it when I've found one.

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Bronze badge

Radio 4 FM

Unfortunately that's not a fair test - at 93MHz or so it's a VHF frequency, and these things mangle lower frequencies than that. Moreover, FM has a very non-linear response to interference, so you'll hear nothing until it approaches the strength of the wanted signal. There is more than one sort of radio!

Try Radio 4 long wave at 198kHz, AM...

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Looking for proof

"I'm sure if you ask them, the RSGB can find a member that will test them for you and tell you how bad they are."

I'm sure they would. But if you look for evidence, you will always find it. How about they just test them instead of assuming they will be "bad"? And also, test them *outside* of the building in question - most tests I've seen are tested while sitting next to the mains wiring, which is unrealistic. Ham radio enthusiasts won't install them anyway, so it's only of concern if neighbouring buildings interfere, which thus far I've not seen a problem with it - only problem I've seen is when plugging a multi-brand radio into the same main ring.

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't it LW radio 4 that's the problem

Isn't it LW radio 4 that's the problem?

AFAIK Radio 2 is lower in FM than Radio 4, so would be more at risk anyway

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Radio 4

I replied to Tony's comment but it wasn't published. I made the same point as you (specifically, Radio 4 VHF/FM is on 93MHz or so, compared with Radio 4 long wave (LF/AM) which is on 200kHz or so, so LW would be much more vulnerable). The difference om frequency between R4 and R2 on VHF would be insignificant.

But there is an additional reason why interference would be suppressed: the FM system has a very non-linear response to interference, so you're unlikely to hear it until it approaches the strength of the wanted signal. With AM, in contrast, you will hear it even if it's quite a lot lower.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Radio 4

AM? You'll be defending your black-and-white telly next...

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AM

Even your colour telly uses AM, for the video signal.

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I don't believe it

Leave the DHP-306AV plugged in but not connected to a local device and after a minute or so, it drops down to less than 0.01W, popping back up to 0.02W every five seconds or so to keep the powerline link alive.

I don't believe these numbers. 10mW?? An ethernet port takes more than that. How are you measuring this? I would expect figures around 4W and even that would be good.

Can you give us proper numbers please. It's important; power consumption is the big downside of powerline networking.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: I don't believe it

We will check the numbers and get back to you all.

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PoE

Anyone know if you can get a powerline ethernet device that also delivers Power over Ethernet, which would make these things perfect for connecting to PoE enabled CCTV cameras and WiFi access points.

Also, why don't they put the ethernet connection on the top rather than the base or side, then they won't snag on anything...

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Anonymous Coward

'Cos there's only one or two chipsets

and they have the ethernet MAC at the bottom (bring your own PHYS).

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Hot or warm powerline adaptors?

good article- how hot do the plugs get?

My first set of powerline adaptors (Vesenet) was forever hand warm and eventually gave up the ghost after 1 year of continuously plugged in. My second set from Belkin is only connected when I need it - it too gets warm.

What are the experiences others have on lifetime and heat issues with powerline adaptors?

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solwise

Both my blue (non passthru) and white ones (passthru) get warm, the blue ones have been runing for 3 years constantly the white for 2 years constantly. Had a failure after one day on the blue ones which was replaced almost instantly and has worked perfectly ever since.

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Heat issues

I went through five Netgear HDX adapters in seven months where they would get extremely hot to the touch in operation and then simply die after a while. Organising replacements is a bitch too as Netgear support isn't familiar with anything outside of routers.

I changed to the Devolo AV adapters, and they've been going strong for two years now, and are only warm if I kick em by mistake rather than burning hot.

Biggest thing seems to be checking they have enough ventilation ports, but the Devolo kit is very very reliable and much much lower latency than the Netgear.

We use four of em round our house, one for the wireless extender and two for awkward to access rooms and they work great.

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Pint

Split phases or transformers can be a hassle

Some (many?) people have split or two phases (two hot wires plus neutral) power line supplies and should these adapters be on different phases loss of signal can affect operation.

I solved this by using 0.1 ceramic capacitors between the phases to improve signal transmission.

Often power suppliers will equip street side transformers with similar devices on request if you want to connect across therm to, say, a neighbour.

If in doubt find an electronics technician - there should be a fuse or breaker protection between where the capacitor is attached and the meter - even it is on a shared circuit (i.e. doesn't have to be dedicated).

Switched power supplies in equipment can play heck with these devices, as can fluorescent lights.

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Linux

question for Tony Smith

Tech Spec sheet Minimum System Requirements (for PC Utility Software): " Windows 7, Vista, XP SP2 or 2000 SP4" ... will these work with Linux? Or will they work but you just can't use their utility software? Why do you need the utility software anyway?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: question for Tony Smith

They'll work just fine. All you need the utility for is uploading new firmware - I suspect most users don't bother with this anyway - and for setting a specific encryption key.

BTW, last I looked - just now, in point of fact - Devolo *does* provide Linux software for its powerline adaptors.

http://www.devolo.co.uk/consumer/7_dlan-200-aveasy_starter-kit_downloads_7.html?l=en

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Badgers

Nice but

Great concept well done.

But realistically another illegal Radio Transmitter using a testing loop hole for certification. Just like all the other Networking over mains.

I bet it still connects WITHOUT any mains wiring. Extension cable and switched of table lamp on a UPS will be enough aerial.

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Gold badge

I still don't get it.

A Wireless-N Router can be easily had for under 70EUR these days and range extenders knock in at under 50.

You'd have to have an absolute shitload of dead zones in your building before these puppies start to make sense financially. Even then, if two or more devices need connection at any given point, the wireless option's still the cheaper one.

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Radio 4 FM

Only damaged by the true Gbps adaptors.

Try BBC WS, or CBs or Shannon Air Radio reports on Short Wave.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Radio 4 FM

I've tried Gbps adaptors and they sure as heck *don't* harm Radio 4 FM.

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If Gbps PLT adaptors *don't* harm Radio 4....

Can you explain this, as well as interference to DAB?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3yVu5IfaEY

Gbps PLT based on the Gigle chipset operate from about 2-30MHz and 50-320MHz. The HF spectrum is notched in the Amateur bands, but the VHF spectrum in current products are not notched at all. The can lead to interference FM (whole band), CAA VHF and DAB to name a few services.

Gbps products have been tested in a UKAS laboratory and consistently fail EMC test specs that they claim conformance to. I can back up my argument; can you?

Also, I'd be interested in seeing a Reg Hardware test of these Gbps devices and actually demonstrate under real-world domestic conditions that the devices actually achieve anywhere near the throughput that they claim.

What is interesting is that domestic wiring and spurs become of resonant lengths at VHF, which means that a given Gbit PLT in the real world produces a non-deterministic RF transmitted spectrum from the wiring.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: If Gbps PLT adaptors *don't* harm Radio 4....

http://www.reghardware.com/2009/11/02/review_networking_belkin_powerline_hd/

And no, I didn't see near-Gigabit speeds with these, but then I've never seen any powerline product - or wireless, for that matter - deliver anything like the 'up to' speed.

As for the interference, all I can say is that I had my radio on while testing - simply because I always have it on when I work at home - and did not notice any such loss of signal.

To be fair, the radio's up on the wall, well away from the powerline kit, so I probably wouldn't have noticed the popping heard in the video, but I would have heard the complete disruption of signal.

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@TeeCee re cost

TeeCee, I use Netgear XEB1004 85Mbps adapters that cost £75 the pair and have four Ethernet ports on each unit to connect my AV kit at the back of my telly to the Internet. The Nintendo Wii has Wi-Fi and no Ethernet so I leave it to its own devices but both the Xbox 360 and PS3 are connected over Ethernet. No doubt in time I will have a TV that uses Ethernet and if I update my superb WD TV to the new WD TV Live Plus that will also sprout Ethernet.

Why don't I just use wireless? I find it easier to use Ethernet for static devices as it is rock solid reliable and I have never noticed any problems as a result of using HomePlug. Also it beats the arse out of attempting to enter WEP/WPA security keys using a virtual keyboard to make a wireless connection with your games console.

In time I expect every device in my living room will demand an Interrnet Connection and I shall continue to use Ethernet rather than wireless wherever possible and I have no intention of stringing Ethernet cable around the house. HomePlug for me thanks.

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FAIL

Train wreck

Wait till you get a tower block stuffed with these things and not only do they wipe out huge chunks of genuine legally used spectrum, but also start to wipe each other out.

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Anonymous Coward

PLA

Most DSL providers in the US will not support PLA . PLA screws DSL up.

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FAIL

Radio 4 FM isn't going to be affected by these

But Ambulance services, the Police, Military etc etc all use shortwave radios, and these devices defecate all over that spectrum.

Let me repeat that, the interference these devices cause you probably won't see, which is one of the problems. "Hey, it works for me, so why should I care?"

"The D-Link adaptor has push-button encryption: press the key on each adaptor and they'll jointly agree on and share a 128-bit AES encryption key. "

Oh, I wonder why they would need to use encryption? Oh, that's right, it's because the house wiring acts as a broadcast antenna (mains wiring isn't shielded) so any Tom, Dick or Harry can sniff your network from down the road.

It's just a shame that the group fighting against these devices seemed to have hired a web designer from 1997:

http://www.mikeandsniffy.co.uk/UKQRM/

I think a far more interesting story for the Reg to print would be about how these devices have been certified for use when they clearly and plainly cause problems to other SW band users. They are not fit for the purpose they are sold for.

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There two kinds of Gbps PLT

<<http://www.reghardware.com/2009/11/02/review_networking_belkin_powerline_hd/

And no, I didn't see near-Gigabit speeds with these, but then I've never seen any powerline product - or wireless, for that matter - deliver anything like the 'up to' speed.>>

Those have 1G ethernet. They are not the "real" Gbps adaptors. They work to 30Mbps.

Adaptors that *really* go faster than 100Mbps use VHF.

It's much cheaper and more reliable to run Screened Cat5e along edge of carpet or skirting board. And it really goes at 1Gbps, doesn't interfere with Marine HF, SW, CB, Aeronautical and DSL or be interfered with by CFLs or SMPSUs.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: There two kinds of Gbps PLT

No, they go rather faster than 30Mb/s.

Even plain old 200Mb/s adaptors can easily get above 50Mb/s.

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Nice write up for a Dlink review

'Offers nothing over other products but basically does the job'. Much though I like my Devolo boxes, at least Dlink have scored on a functional system at a reasonable price.

I would have thought for the average user a passthrough would have been a positive advantage, bulky or not, though.

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Anonymous Coward

Have you tested reception in next-door's house?

Many of these devices claim that your electricity meter blocks it, but none of the testing I've seen backs that up. It worked pretty well at long range to boot.

We found that you needed *massive* in-line inductors to block it from a nominal 'next door'. A domestic situation wouldn't have that.

I believe that is the main reason for the encryption pairing system - without it, roughly 1/3 of the people on your housing estate join your network. With it, you're all primarily network contention.

(It's possible that it couples across phases in the substation as well - we didn't test.)

This is also true of WiFi of course, but users expect radio to go a long way.

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Thumb Up

here you go

I have 3x 1004 netgear homeplugs (same as someone above). In in hallway with router, one in the shed and one in the living room. All 3 are on different "rings" but same consumer unit. My robertson LW doesnt complain (switch the microwave on to kill that!).

Had them for a year and they are still trucking. Never switched them off. It can stream 1080p to my XBMC

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FAIL

Horrific Devices

Terrible devices. I often listen to Radio 5 on AM for the football and its the case that you can be driving through a built up area in traffic and you'll suddenly hear the unmistakable sound of a powerline adaptors coming out of your speakers.

Now granted the signals don't travel very far, but it's still not acceptable that people can install devices that interfere with the broadcast bands. Let alone the security implications of squirting this data outside of the building (the fact that the newest devices have encryption is very telling).

And before someone tells me to stop listening to AM, I believe testing has shown the latest generation of these devices also interfere with FM and DAB in exactly the same way.

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Stop

further evidence...

FYI

quote verbatim: "Tried, and failed. The things kept on losing connection in our avetage 3 down, 3 up semi, and yes, the FM radio wipeout is all true. We were told it's just a handful of radio enthusiasts getting interference from these things. Well, I can confirm it affects your radio one listening (or whatever else you listen to) as well. Total wipeout in fact, which wouldn't have been so bad had they woprked properly!"

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/comment/1730244/solwise-1000mbps-mediaxtream-homeplug-av-adapter

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evidence?

Quoted from a comment to a review, by someone who didn't even state make & model of device.

Yep, that sounds like reliable evidence to me...

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Pint

Inductive interferance?

I have Netcomm powerline adaptors and they simply refuse to work if any high current device is turned on ANYWHERE in our house. Oil column heaters and clothes dryer are prime culprits.

It may be that the Netcomm ones are just plain crap (Netcomm stuff has never been great) but I don't want to go out and buy a different brand just to try it out. It could also be the poor wiring in our house. We don't have anywhere near enough power points so everything is connected using multiple power boards. It is not possible for me to dedicate power points to the devices because each room typically only has a single or in a few cases a double outlet and these crappy netcomm units don't have pass through.

Has anybody had experience with high current devices fubaring these EoP devices?

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