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Our DoorBot Has Been Decommissioned: Part 2 – How Fi is Our Wi?

PowerAP-N & DoorBotThe problem with using a less than common Wifi AP is that a manufacturer can say, “we’ve never heard of that make/model”  and hope that they are thus absolved of any possible requirement to help troubleshoot the situation.  Not that the crew at DoorBot took that stance, but I’ve heard it plenty in prior situations.

It recently occurred to me that there was a way that I could confirm the state of our Wifi at the gate location where we had the DoorBot installed. I could stage a video call over Wifi using tools that I already had on-hand. If I could record a decent quality video call from a Wifi connected mobile device that location then it would prove that our Wi is way-Fi!

Staging this proved to be pretty simple. I pointed my Nexus 7 tablet at the school yard across the street, then established a video call using is a free WebRTC-based service from &yet. It runs just fine in Chrome for Android.

Back in my office I put my laptop on a wired Ethernet connection to ensure that the Wifi was only dealing with one leg of the video call. I then used Chrome to join the room. I was immediately seeing & hearing the live scene on the street.

I connected my laptop’s Displayport output to the Intensity Pro HDMI capture card in my desktop PC. The scene showed up in Wirecast where I could easily record it to disk.

In about thirty minutes I had a short 720p recording on disk. I just trimmed away the superfluous head and tail to create the brief clip that you see here.

In just 40 seconds you can see a runner go past, a couple of cars go by and there are people in the playground. It was windy to the trees were moving.

This basically proves that our Wifi should be adequate to support DoorBot. I think that it presents concrete evidence that the DoorBot device is at fault.

As I was writing some part of this summary of our experience with DoorBot I tweeted something to that effect. Someone tending the @teamDoorBot account responded, offering that he would handle the matter personally if I were to email the details.

I sent a brief and less than soothing summary of our circumstance. They didn’t respond directly, in fact they deleted the tweet once the saw my email so as to eliminate the public record. That certainly didn’t inspire confidence.

A short while later I received an auto-generated email advising that, “Your DoorBot is on its way!” Talk about déjà vu. I presume that they’re sending one of the improved models with the external antenna. Since the DoorBot mount is still attached to the fence pole at the gate I’ll certainly give that a try when it arrives.

It’s clear that the behavior of our current DoorBot is at present entirely defined by it’s connectivity issue. On that basis any consideration of the client application behavior would be at very least unkind. Though I am very frustrated with the device, I am honestly trying to retain a balanced perspective.

I’ve decided to hold off posting the rest of my exploration of DoorBot until I’ve had a look the new model. That could take a week. If the Wifi issue is resolved it may yet prove to be an interesting and useful gadget. However, there’s a considerable chance that solving the network trouble will simply reveal some other quirk of it’s design or functionality.

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