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Need Help Troubleshooting Connection Drops Between AppleTV & Time Capsules to Airport Extreme

Posted on 2015-02-16
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Last Modified: 2015-02-21
Using:
Apple AirPort Extreme ver 7.6.4
Apple Time Capsule ver 7.6.4 (first unit)
Apple Time Capsule ver 7.6.4 (second unit)
Apple TV Model A1427/Apple TV Software 7.0.3 (6917)

I have been using these devices (and other wi-fi connected devices on my network) for over a year.  Generally all works smoothly with the exception of the above noted Apple TV unit which periodically suffers from disconnections and usually exhibits slower downloads than other Apple TV units in our home.

The configuration is shown in the attached image.

What doesn't show in the attached image is the Apple TV (aTV) unit which since yesterday has stopped connecting to the router (Airport Extreme).

I can connect wirelessly from my MacBook Pro (MBP) to the two Time Capsules, which are set in Extended Network mode, but since yesterday, their front-panel LEDs are blinking amber and I'm getting the error message "The Airport Base Station was unable to extend the wireless network".

The Airport Extreme is on the main floor of the house while the two Time Capsules (TCs) and the Apple TV unit I'm referring to here (not one of the two listed in the attached image) are located in the basement.  The TCs and aTV are well within range of my router.  The signal strength on the TCs is 'excellent'.  Since yesterday, the connection was dropped on the aTV so it is now showing zero signal strength.  Usually it shows 'excellent/full signal strength'.

I suspect among other things that I'm not configured properly overall because my wireless transfer speeds (when I backup or xfr between computers and TCs) are quite slow for what is supposed to be blazingly fast hardware on an 802.11n network.  It took close 24 hours to back up a 750GB iMac across this network last week and my MBP is similarly slow to perform it's backups.  I'm guessing this may have to do with communication conflicts or delays between the router, TCs and connected delays (in other words, if I was connected to just one of the devices, say just to the TCs, and not to the router, things might be quicker, don't know; reason I didn't set it up that way is that I will sometimes power off the TCs for an extended period of time).

I've tried powering off the TCs and aTV and then power cycling the router, then powering back up the TCs and aTV (which normally resolves issues) but this hasn't fixed my problem.

Any idea how I can reconfigure this to work properly (i.e., re-establish dropped connection, improve network speed, improve stability)?
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Question by:qeng
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40612239
There is no attached image.
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by:
strung earned 333 total points
ID: 40612276
In the meantime, try power cycling the Airport Extreme, making sure the two TC's are turned on BEFORE the AE. Apparently the sequence of powering up these devices is critical.

In other words, you need to power up the TC's before powering up the AE.
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40612490
My bad ... attached image follows.

I will try the power cycling sequence you recommend (I had power cycled the AE but had powered up the TCs afterwards ... in the past this has not been an issue since I periodically turn off the TCs and turn them back on, they had generally re-connected without issue).

Do you know whether it is the same recommended sequence for the Apple TV, namely turn of AE, power cycle aTV, then power on the AE?
AirPortExtreme-Network-Config-Issues-201
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40612492
I don't know if that is the recommended sequence with the AppleTV, but it is worth a try.
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by:strung
ID: 40612497
Let me know if rebooting the AE solves the problem before we try to delve deeper.
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Assisted Solution

by:serialband
serialband earned 167 total points
ID: 40612573
Do you have lots of interference?  If you have lots of neighbors with Home DSL or Cable, they'll mostly be on 2.4 GHz and default to channels 1, 6, and 11.  You'll usually connect to channel 1.  You should change channels if you can.

You might want to consider only enabling the 5GHz range and disabling the 2.4 GHz antenna.  5GHz is less crowded right now and will be slightly faster.  That will eventually change as people figure this out.  For now, if all your devices support 5 GHz, it's a better frequency to use.
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40612700
Strung,

Good catch on the power-up sequence; that seems to have re-established the connectivity between the AE and the TCs (front LEDs now green and no error message reported in Airport Utility).

Problem persists with the aTV.  I followed the same sequence as for the TCs but it wouldn't connect.  Tried power cycling it after that ... no change and tried using the built-in 'restart' function.  It still refuses to see a network, nor accept to connect with mine if I explicitly give it the network name.

Not sure what's up with the aTV.
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by:strung
strung earned 333 total points
ID: 40612719
Here is an Apple KB for troubleshooting AppleTV connectivity problems:

http://support.apple.com/en-ca/TS4546

Is our ATV trying to connect directly to the AE or indirectly through one of the TC's?

Have you tried a hard reset of the AppleTV by pressing and holding down the reset button, then setting up from scratch?
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40612723
Also, is the ATV physically close enough to one of the TC's that you could connect them by ethernet?
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40612759
What's weird is the aTV isn't seeing any network, neither mine nor any neighbours.  I would qualify my environment as being relatively interference free.  Fairly large lots in a residential area.  My MBP picks up 3 networks including my own.  The other two are relatively week signals.

I tried connecting the aTV up through Ethernet to my laptop (MBP).  It obtained an IP address (may have simply acquired the MBP one, not sure) but wouldn't connect to the internet.  Tried doing a 'restart' on the aTV in that mode but no improvement.

I've since disconnected the Ethernet cable and done a 'restart' with it in wireless mode.

Still same condition as before.  No network recognized and it won't connect to mine even when I explicitly type it in.
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Assisted Solution

by:strung
strung earned 333 total points
ID: 40612793
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40612994
Took the aTV over to my MBP and restored it to factory conditions via iTunes.

Upon re-connecting with the TV it did see my Network but I wasn't successful in getting it to accept the password ??

I'm quite sure I typed the right one (being careful with caps etc.).  Did a restart, was able to see my Network but in the process of trying to get the aTV to accept it (using automatic config) nowhere did it pass through the password entry routine.

Since then, a few more unsuccessful attempts to get it to connect to Wi-Fi.  Going through a 'restart' function each time.  The first few times through it would at least 'see' my network but wouldn't let me connect to it.  Now, it won't see it nor will it recognize it even after I explicitly type it in.

Hmmmm.
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40613017
Thx for the link to the replacement program.

My unit 'almost' matches the replacement criteria (ends with DRHN but the third and fourth, or fourth and fifth character pairs, depending on which section of the reference article governs, don't match, mine are H0 and HZ).

However the article also mentioned that eligibility was based on units running software version 5.2.1 (mine is and was running the current 7.0.3 version).

Regardless, it may be worth a try anyhow.

Not sure there is much else we can do.  It's given me problems in the past but never to the point where I can't get it to reconnect after various restarts and power cycles.

It's acting like a flaky unit.
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40613024
Let's hope Apple will replace it free of charge. Let us know how you make out.
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40613122
Will do.  

Should I leave this question open for a few days or is it possible for me to add comments to a closed (answered) question later?
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 40613131
Probably easier to leave it open for a few days.
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40613135
Thx Strung.  Will do that.
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40620860
I was just about to close out the question and say that it will be a while before i can get to an Apple TV store but thought I'd just check one last time on the status of the aTV and ... EUREKA! (well sort of, I'm not 100% convinced this is stable yet).

In spite of the fact that I had tried unsuccessfully for a few hours, a few days ago (after I'd updated the aTVs software by connecting it via USB to my MBP) to reconnect the aTV to my network, now, a few days later, it has reconnected itself to the network.  However, I note that its connected to my TC2, which is working in 'Extending Wireless Network Mode' which is probably ok (read below though!??, a problem has cropped up with that re-connection while I'm writing this!!?).  I'm going to guess (feeble guess) that this delayed re-connection had something to do with the AE automatically renewing the IP after the aTV's DHCP lease expired but that it took 24 hours to do so (maybe something to do with the AE's DHCP lease renewal set to 1 day).

Now, a few minutes later, without me changing any settings on any of the above mentioned devices, the TC2 was showing (on Airport Utility) 'Device Not Found ... was previously part of your network .... ' yet the aTV appears to be working fine.

Now, a few minutes later still, my AE, TC1 and TC2 are all showing 'Device Not Found ... was previously part of your network .... ' in Airport Utility, yet my actual network connections seem to be working fine (I don't remember this happening before) and I can access the internet and my TCs wirelessly from my MBP.  It's almost as though Airport Utility is now mis-reporting the network connections status (this may well be a totally separate issue from the earlier aTV re-connection problem).

Is there something wrong with my overall network configuration that I should be fixing?

Also, as regards the specifics of my devices acquiring IP addresses, is there a more robust way for me to specify to my AE to always give an IP address to certain devices, say maybe based on their MAC address, without them having to renew their lease?  I'm wondering if that would make my setup more or less robust since if the aTV loses connection, which it had been prone to doing in the past, would it then fail to negotiate it's pre-defined IP with the AE.  I also don't know if that type of approach (ie pre-defining that device X is a trusted device and always give it an IP) needs to be setup just on the AE or it requires configuration on both the AE and the aTV.  Not sure if the way I'm explaining all this is making any sense?

I understand just the basics of static vs dynamic IP addresses and of networking and to the best of my knowledge my AE is assigned a dynamic IP address from my service provider.  The AE then assigns (I believe) internal IP addresses as a DHCP server to my wireless devices (DHCP clients).  I have everything set to automatic except that I'd set my AE to serve IP addresses over a range of approximately 200 addresses e.g. 10.0.1.1 through 10.0.1.200 or something like that (going by memory since I can't check it at present, given that Airport Utility is showing 'Device Not Found ...').

I tried quitting Airport Utility and restarting the app but it's still showing the AE and both TCs as 'Device Not Found ... was previously part of your network .... ', yet my connectivity seems fine at the moment both to the internet and wirelessly between devices.

Not sure what's going on but I have a hunch that it may be at the root of some of my 'random' connectivity problems.

Any ideas?
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40620903
For the record, about 30 mins later, without me doing anything, Airport Utility now reports the AE and both TCs as connected to the network (status went from amber to green).
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Assisted Solution

by:strung
strung earned 333 total points
ID: 40621030
I was about to suggest that you use static IP addresses for the two TC's and the ATV.  Use addresses in the same subnet at your AE, but outside the range used by the DHCP server. So, for instance, use 10.0.1.201, 10.0.1.202 and 10.0.1.203.
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Author Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40621034
Ok thanks.  I'll give that a shot.
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by:strung
strung earned 333 total points
ID: 40621045
I believe when you set the IP statically, you should also set the subnet mask to 255.0.0.0, the gateway or router to 10.0.1.1 and the DNS server to 10.0.1.1
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by:serialband
serialband earned 167 total points
ID: 40621847
255.0.0.0 is the default subnet mask for the Class A range of 10.0.0.0 IPs, but you can still set a class C subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 in that range if you so desire.  As long as the subnet mask matches on all your systems, it will work.

Setting it to 255.255.255.0 means that 10.0.1.0 - 10.0.1.255 is your subnet instead of 10.0.0.0 - 10.255.255.255 of the class A range.
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Author Closing Comment

by:qeng
ID: 40623324
Thanks guys.  I will keep this info for future reference and try the static IP route if connectivity becomes an issue again or if/when I have time to troubleshoot network speed.
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