Friday 27 December 2019

Solved - Av Access USB prevents system boot

In a previous post, I'd detailed my setup of using a  4KEX100-KVM  to extend an unRaid VM to a very remote screen over ethernet.

This has worked out great, with one exception. With the Av Access transmitter USB plugged in to my server, the system would not post. It was necessary for me to unplug the USB, wait for post and unRaid to start booting, then plug the USB back in.

This was a chore, especially as my server sits in my attic and can be a pain to access.

I was living with the issue as thankfully I don't need to reboot too often, but in researching something else recently, I came across a known issue with some older USB devices. It turns out that some USB devices feed +5V back to the host adapter. This can result in some motherboards failing to post - my symptoms exactly.

The extreme solution is to sever the +5V wire in the USB cable (!) but before going that far, I decided to try placing a USB hub inline between the USB host adapter and the transmitter unit. Hey Presto! I can now boot and reboot without issue.

All hail the interweb.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Video Surveillance on unRaid

Inspired by everyones favourite unRaid you tuber SpaceInvaderOne's then partially completed series on setting up CCTV in unRaid, I figured it was time to get started on a little bit of home security.

I'd previously worked on building an interface to my legacy Comfort alarm / home control system, and that's fine for basic alarm, but video was always the next step.

SpeaceInvaderOne conducted a basic analysis of cameras and software available, before publishing a walkthrough of how to set up his chosen Shinobi docker. This, along with some other research, started me on my journey. I went ahead and purchased two of the SV3C 1080p PoE cameras he mentioned. These would connected to the spare PoE ports on my Unifi Switch 8 (see my Unify blog post for more details).

I tried installing Shinobi, (before the walkthrough dropped), and failed miserably. In any case, I'd previously researched the area and at the time decided that Blue Iris looked like the best option for scalability and integration.

Saturday 24 August 2019

UNIFI: The start of something big....

'Dad, the internet's slow!'
'Dad, can you restart the Wifi?'
'Dad, will we ever have WiFi in the kitchen?'

It was getting tiresome. A few years ago, I'd augmented the ISP all-in-one modem/router/WiFi with an Archer wireless router and a couple of Huawei extenders. This was an improvement, but never a satisfactory, long-term solution.

I'd been reading a lot about the Unifi range from Ubiquity and this week bit the bullet and purchased;

The idea was to provide decent wifi throughout the house, with 2x access points connected to the Switch from which they would receive both data and power. As an added bonus, the fully managed switch also supports link aggregation, so I could leverage both ethernet ports on my recently reconstructed MediaServer8.

Despite copious amounts of reading & research, and pre-installing the Unifi Controller Docker on unRaid, setup was not as smooth as it might have been.

Thursday 15 August 2019

Total Harmony

It was getting quite ridiculous. This is the set of remotes I had built up to control my HT. From right to left; Receiver, NowTV box, PVR, FireTV, BluRay, Projector, Squeezebox, DAC.

It's little wonder no-one else in the family used the system!

In the past, I'd used various Logitech Harmony remotes but all had outlived their usefulness and have been retired. A few months ago, I'd picked up a Harmony Companion set on Amazon warehouse for a steal, but hadn't got around to configuring it all until now.

VM Audio Solution

When setting up VM access over ethernet using the AV Access device, I noted that one issue was the failure of my Harman Kardon Soundsticks to work with the system. Plugging them in to the receiver USB port would result in intermittent but regular screen blanking.

A few readers suggested additional power and I purchased a USB power/data cable, but that didn't work.

Next, I tried a cheap and cheerful external USB soundcard. I plugged this into the receiver and attached some powered speakers. This worked, in that my OSX VM recognised the device immediately and could play audio, but it was annoyingly distorted - just enough crackle & pop to distract.

Next, I tried attaching the USB soundcard directly to the (passed through) USB adapter on the unRaid box. I then passed the audio out to the AV Access transmitter audio in and attached the speakers to the receiver audio out.

Hey Presto, perfect audio*. No crackles, pops, noise or distortion. The lesson here is that with this method of video/IO/audio distribution, the soundcard needs to stay upstream. My SoundSticks are now moved to another workstation where they can be attached to that VMs USB adapter directly.

My final working audio chain is;

PCIe USB Adapter -> USB Audio Card -> AV Access TX Audio In -> AV Access RX Audio Out -> Speakers

*When I say 'perfect', I mean adequate for needs in that system sounds and youtube audio plays just fine. I wouldn't be using this set up for anything close to critical listening.

Friday 9 August 2019

MediaServer 8.2

It’s been over 5 years since I built MediaServer8, an unRaid based system that looks after not only storage duties, but also hosts my main workstation, manages whole-house audio systems, whole house LiveTV and PVR, home automation and a bunch of other stuff through dockers, VMs and plugins.

The AMD FX8320 based system has been rock solid in all of that time. Indeed, the only problem I’ve ever had occurred in the past week when my dual 1TB spinners assigned to a cache pool started showing millions of unrecoverable BTRFS errors. Fortunately, I rescued my appdata and domains folders in time. My docker image was not so lucky :-(

A few months ago, the itch emerged and, try as I might, I found it difficult to resist the urge to scratch. There was nothing wrong with the system per se, but with ‘only’ 8 cores and 32GB RAM, it was a bit restrictive in the number of VMs I could run simultaneously, and no real scope for growth. I had a particular hankering to virtualise the dual boot Hackintosh the family use daily, as well as a few other utility systems. Threadripper was calling. Here’s how I answered....

Friday 26 July 2019

Routing VMs anywhere

I'll start my saying that these things are freaking amazing!

I've been running a few VMs on my unRaid box for a while now. Specifically my main workstation (Win10 /OSX switchable), as well as some utility boxes.

One of the challenges has been physical location and signal transfer - my unRaid server resides in my attic and any VMs that required an interface (display & USB), would need to be located within the reach of a HDMI run.

This ruled out virtualising some systems, including a Win 10 / OSX dual boot hackintosh that's the main system the family uses. It's miles away from the server with no hope of running cables.

I'd toyed with HDMI over ethernet before, with little success. Recently, however, I came across the Av Access range of products...

Wednesday 10 July 2019

OpenVPN via tethered connection - no root, no PC software installs

A while back, I'd installed an OpenVPN docker on my unRaid server to allow me access home systems remotely. It worked for a while, but recently I'd been unable to use it as a lot of computers I use away from home are locked down by corporate IT.

I'd installed OpenVPN client on my Android phone, thinking I could tether from a PC and access home systems that way. No dice. It turns out Android specifically restricts tethered connections accessing VPN connections due to security concerns. Workarounds are either root the android device, or install some kind of proprietary tethering. The first I didn't want to do, the second I couldn't as the PC does not permit software installs.

I was about to give up when I came across Every Proxy, a very simple android app that installs a https or SOCKS proxy server. Now, when I tether my android to PC (WiFi or USB), I can enter the proxy details in the browser config. and, hey presto, the PC can access the OpenVPN tunnel to my home server and I can access unRaid or any of my VMs (via vnc).


Saturday 15 June 2019

UnRaid Not Accessible from Windows 10 Explorer

I recently updated a Windows 10 PC to the latest and greatest through auto updates. (currently Windows 10 Pro Build 1803). After doing so, I found I could not access UnRaid either by name or IP address. (Windows explorer was showing an unspecified errorcode Ox000 )

After a bit of GoogleFu and some trial and error, the following steps worked for me;

  1. Run services.msc and set Function Discovery Resource Publication Service to automatic(and start it).
  2. Enabled SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support under Control Panel ->Programes & Features -> Turn Windows features on and off.
  3.  Run gpedit.msc and set Enable insecure guest logons to enabled (under Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Network -> Lanman Workstation.

I'm unsure if all of the above are necessary, but 3 was required for me after 1 & 2 solved the basic error. There may be other ways to solve this, the above worked for me.

Tuesday 1 January 2019

The Grand Plan

Welcome to Mediaserver8, a place where I document my adventures in home automation and media serving - mostly for my own reference and future sanity!

I'm going to keep this post on top and maintain the overview schematic at Gliffy to offer an introduction to my HA system as it evolves. (Here's a direct link to a scalable version of this diagram).


Read on for a detailed breakdown of this setup...