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  Home Automation (Smart Home) - My Experience
Posted by: admin - 11-05-2018, 08:05 PM - Forum: Home Automation - No Replies

You are no doubt reading this because you are investigating the ability to automate your home (Smart Home) and are wondering on how to go about it.
Well, that is where I started – I am sharing my experience here with you.

I started off motorizing all the blinds in my house because I was tired of doing the morning and evening ritual of walking around to each room opening and closing multiple blinds.
This ritual became very boring and was akin to waking up in the morning and getting ready to go to school.

So, with all Blinds motorized and the ability to open/close them with a single press of a button I decided to take this a step further?
Why not Voice Control the process and add the ability to turn On/Off lights and other appliances?

I liked the idea that I could be able to turn On/Off the lights and Lock/Unlock the door when my Cellphone's GPS got within 200 meters of the house rather than having to fumble for keys and look for light switches when I got home.

So, off I go on a mission.
I purchased a bunch of Amazon Echo, Echo Plus and Echo Dot devices to scatter around the house.
The first week was fun and I loved the fact that I could ask "Alexa" to play my favorite Radio Station (iHeart Radio 104.1 The Spot) which I listen to all the time.
I was really amazed over the sound quality of such small devices and the nice bass they carried.

I was a little dubious about having to install an "App" on my phone for Amazon's Alexa but, because it is a requirement, I learnt to deal with it and hope that all my personal information it wanted from my phone wasn't going to be given to the World.

For the Blinds I had to purchase a BroadLink RM Pro to link to Alexa and learn the Blind's Remotes.
The BroadLink RM Pro can learn and replace Remotes that use RF (Radio Frequency) like Garage Door openers and IR (Infrared Red) like TV Remotes. You can then use your Phone as the "Master Remote".
For this, I needed to add another "App" to my Phone and give BroadLink all my personal information on my phone.
Linking the BroadLink RM Pro to Alexa proved to be a big challenge - I had to use IFTTT (pronounced "ift") Website, add another "App" and give it permission to my Amazon Account (this is called "Linking").

I am still battling with the Alexa integration with the Blinds but what I want seems to be possible - this is an ongoing affair.

Next, I bought a bunch of Jinvoo WiFi Light Switches.
I had to re-wire all the Light Switches in the House as the necessary (Neutral) wires didn't exist - a costly exercise of over $500 just for the cable excluding the electrician.
With that out of the way, I had to install yet ANOTHER "App" to link the Switches to Alexa and tell it that it could have access to all my personal information on my phone (a requirement). However, I love the fact I can turn On/Off lights by asking Alexa.

At this point I was already feeling extremely uncomfortable that I had given my personal life away to multiple "Apps".
Sure, I can control these things (Blinds, Lights and my Front Door etc.) from when I am on the beach in the Antarctic (providing I have Internet connection) but I have got to a point where I feel extremely vulnerable and open to malicious attacks from those Internet hackers - all it takes is just one single breach on of one single "App" (or Cloud service) and my life is ruined.

I am currently sitting on the fence wondering if I should pursue further automation in my personal space (called "My Home").

So, at present, I am in a stalled situation wondering if I should install MORE "Apps" or wait another 10-years for technology to catch up and give me the ability to control my Home without the need for an "App" or even an Internet connection.

I HATE "Apps"... I NEVER had "Apps" before... now my life is FULL of "Apps" and I am scared Sad

I will update my experience here on "Home Automation" as it progresses (or regresses).

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  Review: emonPi Solar PV Bundle
Posted by: admin - 20-04-2018, 06:39 PM - Forum: Alternative Power - Solar, Wind & Hydro - Replies (1)

I received my emonPi and was eager to get this up and running as soon as possible.

I got the basic Solar PV bundle which included the emonPi, AC/AC Power Adapter, WiFi Antenna and two CT Sensors.

   

The emonPi is based on both Open Source Hardware (Raspberry Pi) and Software (Linux) so I already knew that it wasn’t going to be as simple as they said it would to set it up – I was proved correct.

   

It all looked pretty basic to begin with so I connected up the emonPi to the AC Adapter.
The AC Adapter’s plug was not available for Australia/New Zealand so, when I placed the ordered, I randomly chose one of the other two countries offered.
After sourcing an EU to AU/NZ Adapter I plugged it in but the emonPi would not power-on.

After fussing around and checking that the voltage was actually correct I decided it was time to RTFM (Read The on the F.cking Manual) on their website: https://openenergymonitor.org/ 

The documentation told me to plug in the 5V USB Power Cord – a little confused I opened the empty box to check where this thing was – nope, not there and apparently not supplied.
The AC (to AC) Adapter is used to reference the Mains Voltage for Measurement and NOT power the emonPi.
So, off I go again to town to buy a 5V USB Adapter and Cord (yes, had to buy them separately).

By now, half the day was gone before I could even turn this thing on!
Never the less, I saw some hope after I saw the emonPi turn on and it’s LCD showed me good things.

Following the instructions, I connected to the emonPi with my Phone and managed to quite easily get to the WiFi Setup Menu to configure.
Only problem is that I could NOT pick-up my WiFi Network – I could see ALL other neighbor's WiFi Networks except my own.
This resulted me in doing things like power-cycling my WAPs, upgrading their Firmware and power-cycling the WAP and emonPi countless times...
Eventually and REALLY frustrated I discovered incomplete bits of information on their Website which indicated that the Raspberry Pi does NOT by default support my WiFi Network’s Channel 13! I could not see a WARNING LABEL anywhere in the box/packaging that would indicate that I had just entered Hell! 

WTF!

Off I go again to figure out how to make this emonPi work with my Channel 13 WiFi (changing the Channel is NOT an option as it is a “clean” Channel and managed by the Ubiquiti Server which controls 6 UniFi AC Pro WAPs).

So, once again, I hit Google to get some solutions.

The emonPi Forum provides “sketchy” and incomplete information on how to enable Channel 13 - the information may be relevant to Raspberry Pi and/or Linux experts but certainly NOT for a normal man-in-the-street.
Eventually Google told me that I had to change my WiFi Regional Settings to include a country that supports Channel 13.

OK, that was the end of what I call "Day 1".

DAY 2
Another day later and using an Ethernet cable to connect to emonPi and forcing myself to learn things like SSH and use a program called Putty to log into the old DOS (Linux) command Operating System (Linux)…
After numerous rejected attempts to log in to the DOS box and stumbling upon the correct username and password, I then proceeded to copy and paste commands scoured from various sources on Google to try and get this emonPi to work on modern day WiFi Networks that include Channel 13.
After banging out some DOS commands I managed to EVENTAULLY enable Channel 13 - however, the settings would not stick. After shutting down and re-starting the emonPi, all the DOS commands had to be entered again - after asking Google even more questions I managed to make the settings stick with a stupid and simple DOS command.

That was Day 2 and unfortunately not much time left in the day to actually (eventually) install this thing - that will be a "Day 3" thing...

This is so far my summary (to be updated as this project progresses):

- I was impressed by the quality of "the little box" and how neatly it was assembled - well done guys.
- My first beef with this setup was the lack of a 5V USB Power Source and Cable to actually power the unit? Surely this should have been bundled with the unit? I have never bought an electronic/electrical device that does NOT come with a Power Source - you need to address this guys.
- Not everyone in the World lives in the UK or EU - there are some folk who live in foreign (and awesome) places like Australia and New Zealand - why AU/NZ options are not available is a little beyond my comprehension.
- The setup for WiFi on Channel 13 sure threw a curveball and spanner in the works for a non-Linux/Raspberry Pi expert – surely this should be addressed/configured BEFORE shipping out a unit to a country that DOES support Channel 13?

A normal European purchaser who operates their WiFi on the "lower crowded" Channels and has the correct plug and a spare 5V USB Power Source lying around will have this unit up and running in around 15-minutes or less.

I have since lost excitement in this appliance due to my inexperience with Linux (my time is better spent elsewhere) and those other stupid Power requirements.
All I wanted and expected was something that was plug-and-play and I could setup and record the output of my Solar and Wind generation - am I asking too much or did I make a wrong decision in choosing a "simple" device I could use to monitor my power generation?

Watch this space for developments... DAY 3 will happen when I have gained a bit more confidence.

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  Review: SMART WIND Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAT)
Posted by: admin - 30-03-2018, 03:02 PM - Forum: Alternative Power - Solar, Wind & Hydro - Replies (1)

UPDATED: 2018-04-11

I thought that the SMART WIND Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAT) deserves its own review so here goes.

Without repeating why I chose this VAT Turbine, you can read my full blog here: www.computersense.co.nz/forums/showthread.php?tid=205
Here is a link to my YouTube Video showing it in action: https://youtu.be/lD5yic_TPB8

The particular one I have been testing was ordered with additional three blades (6 blades in total) and rated at 750W 0-36 Volt 3-Phase AC Output.
I was stung pretty hard with import tax but that is because I got the Turbine and additional Blades at the same time which pushed me past the minimum "free" import duty total.
This was my first lesson learnt.

This VAT was advertised as having the ability to install on a deck or balcony so I thought that it must be a good Turbine and would be able to generate power in low-wind conditions.
After receiving the Turbine and some testing at ground level with very stormy weather, I became disappointed in its output.
Spinning the Turbine with an electric drill was the only way I could make it produce any significant power but nowhere near the rated output of 36 Volt (unless I disconnected all load while spinning with an electric drill at full speed).

OK, so now I realize that the Turbine's advertising was based on the Turbine Generator's "theoretical" output - the Generator might be capable but the Turbine is simply not efficient enough to drive the Generator.
It seems that all Wind Turbines are rated by the Generator they use and not the Turbine itself which is very disappointing - they all shout about their low-wind speed startup but this is pure fiction and totally unnecessary in the real world when maintained high-speed is necessary.
This was my second lesson learnt.

Feeling very disappointed with this Smart Wind Turbine I decided to carry on and install it on a mast in a permanent location above the garage roof.
I felt that maybe I could live with a lower-output if I changed the Inverter to match it's lower-voltage (actual) output - more on this below.

   

I was thinking about changing the blades from these "bucket" types to a "wings" but there is not enough evidence that they would produce enough to warrant the cost of changing.
What I have learnt so far is that Vertical Axis Turbines (VAT) are useless compared to Horizontal Axis Turbines (HAT) - a scientifically and industrial proven fact.

So far, for this review, I will give this Smart Wind Turbine a rating of 2.5 out of 5.
The reason why I have not given it a higher rating is because I have not yet tested the other cheaper Chinese "lantern" type Turbines (that are getting really bad reviews).
VAT are seemingly and seriously low in efficiency - but, what does one do in a residential area where Turbine noise could be a real issue?

To compensate for the lower-than-advertised Turbine Output (and total failure of a DC input Inverter - as per my Blog linked above) I have ordered and will be installing an even smaller Inverter with lower start-up voltage (12V instead of 24V) and lower Wattage (300W).
Theoretically, the smaller Inverter will at least produce "something" (based on measured output) rather than spinning away doing nothing.

UPDATE:
Last night we had hurricane-force winds (with tornados in surrounding regions).
One blade was found disintegrated in the garden this morning.

     

I know why this blade disintegrated and I will not tell you publicly because it is embarrassing Smile

Anyway, I removed the other 2 corresponding blades to balance it (the original 3 blade configuration on purchase of the Turbine) - I have another spare blade that needs slight repair (due to damage in transit).

Today, with only 3-Blades I noticed that the Turbine had difficulty in starting and getting to a decent rotational speed.
So, for this type of VAT, you DO need a minimum of 6-Blades if you want it to generate any type of output.

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  Tingen Electric - TEG-1000G-WAL 3-Phase 1000W Wind Inverter
Posted by: admin - 29-03-2018, 06:16 PM - Forum: Alternative Power - Solar, Wind & Hydro - No Replies

This is my review (so far) on the TEG-1000G-WAL 3-Phase 1000W Wind Inverter.

So far, the Inverter seems to provide everything that is needed for a Wind Inverter that supports Monitoring via WiFi.
I have not seen any other Inverter smaller than 1000W that allows remote monitoring.

My Wind Turbine is small to medium sized 750W (0-36 Volt AC) Vertical Axis Turbine (VAT) by Smart Wind.
You can read more on this here: www.computersense.co.nz/forums/showthread.php?tid=205

The first thing that I noticed when I plugged it into the mains was the constant high-pitched squeal it makes - possibly a transformer that is not properly sealed?

The Inverter's specifications are as follows (the Inverter is 3-Phase AC Input but sticker on Inverter shows DC Input):
   

When there is not enough input voltage from the Turbine the Inverter will show "Starting Voltage Too Low" like this:
   

The Specifications indicate that the "Start Voltage" (voltage for generating power back to the Grid) is 22V.
During testing, I found that the Inverter would "trigger" at 14.5V or above like this (the "Starting Voltage Too Low" warning goes away):
   

While I am happy that the Inverter does not complain about "Starting Voltage Too Low" above 14.5V I am unable to see any power generation through the LCD panel or the WiFi Shinemonitor website like this:
   

On a windy day with Turbine keeping the voltage mostly above 14.5 Volts the Shinemonitor website and the Inverter LCD says that there was no power generated back to the grid.

I do not have any other means of testing the output of the Inverter so, for this reason, I started this new post here:
http://www.computersense.co.nz/forums/sh...hp?tid=210

So, at the moment, I do not know or have the means of testing the Inverter if it is actually good or faulty.

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  Measuring Solar/Wind Production Output
Posted by: admin - 28-03-2018, 06:40 PM - Forum: Alternative Power - Solar, Wind & Hydro - Replies (1)

Updated: 2018-04-15

While expanding my Solar/Wind generation project, I encountered a big problem in monitoring the power output of generation devices (Solar and Wind Inverters).

I started off using a Growatt Inverter for my Solar project but then later added a Mustpower to expand the Solar.
Now I have recently added a Wind Generator which uses Shinemonitor to monitor Wind Power generated.

All these different devices from different manufactures use different Cloud services which I HATE!
I hunted high-and-low for Inverter's that could be directly and remotely monitored either via WiFi or Ethernet to local Software installed on a private Server or PC.

It seems that no such concept exists and all Inverter Manufacturers use their own Cloud-based systems.

This creates a few frustrating issues:

1) Inverters cannot be monitored in real-time and the refresh intervals (the interval at which the Inverter sends its current output the Cloud) are poor. The best refresh interval I have is 5-minutes on all Inverters.
This creates a problem when trying to analyze something like the output of the Wind Inverter which has a very erratic output (the nature of wind) and comparing instantaneously to a wind-speed meter (anemometer) - pretty much impossible.

2) The Inverters are specific to their own Cloud service which results in having to log on to three different Cloud service accounts.
For your information... I absolutely HATE Cloud services with absolute passion!

What pissed me off a while back is when I called a supplier for information on an Inverter and I was told "Our Inverters can only be monitored in the Cloud and that this is is the future and that I needed to get with the times!".
To say that I was really angry is an understatement but I managed to keep my mouth shut by hanging up the phone!

I could possibly live with Cloud if the data refresh interval was around 5-seconds - but 5-minutes!
Maybe Cloud is OK for someone who is daft and/or doesn't want to know what's happening in real-time and only wants to check the stats once a month.

I am certainly convinced that I am not the only frustrated person and the only person in the world that has this major grievance.

So, the hunt is on for the best viable solution to cure this dreaded "Cloud" disease.

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  Yealink YS33 / W56H Headset Wiring Pinout
Posted by: admin - 23-03-2018, 02:32 PM - Forum: General Discussions - No Replies

Follows is the Yealink W56H Headset Wiring Pinout for the 2.5mm Headset Jack.

You will of course be aware that Yealink's W56H Cordless Handsets have a 2.5mm Headset Jack but Yealink do not supply Headsets with a 2.5mm Jack.
We have tried other Headsets like Xenexx but the quality is really bad.

So, buy yourself a Yealink YS33 Headset, snip off the RJ9 Connector and solder on a 2.5mm Stereo Jack instead like this:

   

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  Wind Grid Tie - My Story
Posted by: admin - 01-03-2018, 07:08 PM - Forum: Alternative Power - Solar, Wind & Hydro - Replies (19)

UPDATED: 2018-03-28

Like my Solar Project (explained here http://www.computersense.co.nz/forums/sh...hp?tid=118) I got stuck in to play with Wind Power Generation in a Grid Tie configuration.
Just like my Solar Project, I decided to dive in and learn from my mistakes - to me, its more of a hobby but with great results and I can easily afford mistakes.

Before I ordered anything, the first decision was to figure out what turbine would best meet my requirements.
While living in suburbia, my first consideration was the neighbors (unfortunately) - firstly the turbine noise and then the aesthetics before deciding what type of voltage I needed (AC or DC and whether to use 12V, 24V or 48Volt).

While the traditional Wind Horizontal Axis Turbines (HAT) you see everywhere are by far the most efficient, they supposably generate a lot of noise and in a built-up area can cause a neighbor-problem while not even mentioning what damage could be caused if the Turbine self-destructed.

I had NO choice other than to choose a Vertical Turbine (VAT).

After weeks of investigating viable Turbines, I chose to ignore the cheap Chinese "Lantern" versions (which didn't come anywhere near my power requirements) and get this 750W Smart Wind Turbine (from eBay and an awesome seller "makemu.eu" with really fast shipping - good seller but the VAT Output specifications proved to be very overrated - read on).
The Wind Turbine came with 3 blades but I opted to upgrade and purchase at the same time another set of 3 blades (6 in total) - I had this "feeling" I would need them.

The Turbine also came with a 3-Phase AC to DC Voltage Rectifier which was neat (and in case I had chosen a DC Input Inverter).

   

The Turbine (like most) uses a 3-Phase (three-phase) Generator.
3-Phase is good for minimal voltage loss over long runs of cable. 
This particular Turbine I chose has a 0-36 Volt AC / 750 Watt Generator.

   

Now, remember, this is a "Grid Tie" Story...

Next on the list was a Grid Tie Inverter.
Because I had opted for a 3-Phase 0-36 Volt Generator I decided to get a decent and compatible 3-phase 1000W Inverter without having to convert AC to DC before the Inverter input (there are various types/models to choose from including DC input from a DC generator).
I elected to add a WiFi Dongle and Dump Load Resistor (although I would not need the Dump Load Resistor in Grid Tie but thought it would come in handy if I wanted to experiment).

   

During testing (at ground level), I found that the Turbine would never reach a speed high enough to generate sufficient voltage to trigger the 3-Phase Inverter (even during a recent hurricane - at ground-level the wind was too buffered and erratic for a VAT).
The "start" voltage to the Inverter was too low and it only triggered when the Generator was turned with an electric drill before it started feeding back to the Grid (this is when I started to realized my worst fears).

I knew from this point on that I had become a victim of all those YouTube videos and Internet hype over how efficient VAT is on a domestic scale.
It's sort of like those assholes on the Internet who still believe the World is "flat".

Flat Earthers = VAT Turbines
Normal Folk = HAT Turbines
Real Folk = Solar

I wasn't about to give up on my investment and continued to install this VAT Turbine on a decent mast - I already knew from my electric-drill tests that I had unwittingly become a "Flat Earther". 

Knowing VERY well that this VAT Turbine would NEVER generate enough power (without the help of a powerful electric-drill running at full speed that would destroy the VAT's Blades).
So I had ordered and received a MUCH smaller 300W DC Input Inverter before the Turbine was finally installed on the mast - my heart was already torn to pieces by YouTube crap and I knew that this was bound to be an EPIC failure Sad

With the Wind Turbine permanently mounted (as shown here), I had the 1000 Watt Inverter and smaller 300 Watt Inverter hooked up and ready to generate me some free power. 
As you can see in the image above, I fed the 3-Phase AC from the VAT directly in to the 1000W Inverter then connected the AC/DC Rectifier in parallel.
YouTube told me to do this so I can benefit from lower start-voltages to the smaller 300W Inverter when the wind is not strong enough to trigger the 1000W Inverter Smile

   

With a week of gale-force winds I predicted and confirmed the results:

ALERT: The 1000 Watt Inverter did not triggered once! - It was shortly disconnected because of it's standby power consumption.
ALERT: The 300 Watt Inverter kicks in for a few seconds every few minutes or more.

I must say that the 300 Watt Inverter kicks in VERY quickly (less than a second when its required 11.8 Volts is met - which was advertised as 10.8 Volts).

The problem is that the Turbine will NOT and NEVER reach an adequate rotational speed to either maintain a decent voltage for the 300 Watt Inverter and nowhere near enough to spark the interest of the 1000 Watt Inverter.

Yes, a sad fuc-king story.
The average Voltage generated is around 6 Volts on a normal day and NOTHING above 12 Volts on a stormy day - very sad for a 36 Volt Wind Turbine rated at 750 Watts!

I spent the next few weeks staring at the Output of the VAT and hoping that something might magically happen - it never did Sad
I hate to be beaten and wondered about trashing the VAT and erecting a small HAT (Horizontal Axis Turbine) and using only the 300W Inverter - maybe I could at least generate a "little" something rather than giving up...

Please learn from my experience and remember that a Wind Turbine is rated by the Generator that it uses. You will only achieve maximum-rated output if you spin the Generator with a powerful electric drill - too fast for wind to turn.

UPDATE:
Yesterday (2018-03-27) the Wind God was on my side and I noted that the small 300W Inverter was triggering quiet often (but getting only 1 bar output of 3 possible bars) but Voltage would not go above 12.5V. The Inverter needs 11.8 Volts to trigger.

I remembered reading about something that José said in his Post Reply about converting AC to DC before the Inverter.
So, while the VAT was generating 10 Volts, I quickly unplugged the AC/DC Rectifier (removing the 300 Watt Inverter) and the voltage suddenly spiked on the 1000 Watt Inverter to 19 Volts and the 1000 Watt Inverter suddenly triggered!
FU_CK I said to myself!

The 1000 Watt Inverter needs exactly 14.5 Volts to Trigger then turns off at 15.5 Volts.
I have not seen the VAT produce anything higher than 20.5 Volts but I am not always looking at it when wind-level is high.

So, at the moment, all is not lost - José has solved my problem and I will NEVER use a AC to DC Rectifier ever again!
Now I am about to buy a smaller 600 Watt direct 3-Phase Inverter from Aliexpress - only problem is that I cannot find a small Inverter that has WiFi like the 1000 Watt Inverter.

I will continue updating this blog... watch this space.

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  Adobe Reader DC Not Opening
Posted by: admin - 12-01-2018, 06:28 PM - Forum: General Discussions - No Replies

Open a PDF Document with Adobe DC Reader and nothing happens!

Look in Task Manager, Processes and you will see one Acrobat Reader instance for each time you try to open a PDF Document (try to open to open it 10 times without success will create 10 Processes). Only when you kill all the processes are you able to open DC.

Up to now, each time this happens we remove DC and install version-old to fix the problem.

Found a described Registry Fix that "apparently" fixes the issue (by turning off Protected Mode) but it has not been fully tested.
Give it a go:

.reg   AdobeDCIssue.reg (Size: 366 bytes / Downloads: 49)

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  Set Regional Date/Time Settings for all Users on Server 2008 / 2012
Posted by: admin - 30-11-2017, 02:01 PM - Forum: General Discussions - No Replies

We recently needed to set the Regional Time Format on a Domain Joined Remote Desktop Server (RDS), particularly the a.m / p.m to military time AM / PM.
After users set their Time Format to the format above, the settings would revert back to Windows Default (a.m / p.m).

Resolve this issue by creating a Group Policy on the Domain Controller as follows.

1) Open the Domain Group Policy Management Editor and create a new Group Policy Object (for this example we used “Regional Settings” as the name) and Edit it.
2) Expand User Configuration, Preferences and Control Panel
3) Right-click Regional Options, click on New and then Regional Options
4) Customise your Regional Settings as required and press F6 at each changed field to make it stick – you’ll see the field underline change from dotted-red to a green line.
5) Apply the settings and Link it to your Domain (right-click your Domain and select “Link an existing GPO…” and select the Object you created (IE: “Regional Settings”)

   

Open a command prompt on the Domain Controller Server and the RDS Server and run “gpupdate” to force immediate Policy propagation and get your Users to log off then back on again.

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  UniFi Guest Portal CONTENT ENCODING ERROR
Posted by: admin - 02-11-2017, 02:00 PM - Forum: Wireless Networking - Replies (1)

Running UniFi Controller Version 5.5.24 with Java 8u151.

Guest Portal would show "CONTENT ENCODING ERROR" or broken URL.

Downgraded Java 8u151 to 8u131 on the UniFi Controller computer to resolve the issue.

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