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Forum: General Discussions
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DrayTek - IPSEC LAN-LAN a...
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DrayTek Router with LDAP ...
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NCH SoundTap Audio Proble...
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Review: emonPi Solar PV B...
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Review: SMART WIND Vertic...
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Measuring Solar/Wind Prod...
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  Unable to start the Exchange Transport Service after removal of Trend MSA/SMEX
Posted by: admin - 18-08-2018, 02:58 PM - Forum: General Discussions - No Replies

The Exchange Transport Service will not start (or start then stop) after removing/uninstalling the Trend Messaging Security Agent (MSA/SMEX) from the Exchange Server.

Explanation:
Trend MSA (SMEX) installs a "hook" on the Exchange Transport mechanism which intercepts inbound Email for analysis.
When Trend MSA is uninstalled, the "hook" remains in place which either prevents the Exchange Transport Role from accepting inbound messages or preventing the Exchange Transport Service from starting.

Resolution:
The MSA "hook" needs to be manually removed with Exchange Management Shell.
To identify/verify if the "hook" is active run this Exchange PowerShell command:

get-transportagent

If this "hook" is active it will show as follows:

   

To remove the MSA "hooks" run the following Exchange Management Shell commands and choose [A] to remove after each:

Uninstall-TransportAgent -Identity "ScanMail Routing Agent"
Uninstall-TransportAgent -Identity "ScanMail SMTP Receive Agent"

   

You should now be able to successfully start the Exchange Transport Service.

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  DrayTek Router with LDAP (Active Directory) for Dial-in Users
Posted by: admin - 25-07-2018, 03:21 PM - Forum: Networking - No Replies

Setting up a DrayTek Router with LDAP (Active Directory) for Dial-in Users.

1) Enable Remote Access VPN Service - for this example we are going to use L2TP as the VPN Service.
Under VPN and Remote Access, Remote Access Control tick to Enable L2TP VPN Service and click OK and reboot the Router.

   

2) Configure PPP General Setup
Under VPN and Remote Access, PPP General Setup set Dial-In PPP Authentication to PAP Only (this is a requirement for LDAP as explained in the note of the this screenshot).
Enable AD/LDAP, LDAP and adjust the DHCP scope if required for Remote Users.

   

3) Create a VPN IKE/IPsec Pre-Shared Key
Under VPN and Remote Access, IPsec General Setup enter your desired Pre-Shared Key that Users will use when setting up their VPN Connection on their Computers.

   

4) Setup Active Directory/LDAP for Users to authenticate with.
Under Applications, Active Directory/LDAP first configure the General Setup as follows:
Click to Enable and set the Bind Type to Regular Mode and enter the IP Address (Server Address) of your Active Directory Server - leave the default LDAP Port at 389.

   

The remaining steps are where many mistakes are often made.

The Regular DN and Regular Password is used to authenticate with your Active Directory Server and thus a Domain Administrator Account must be used (either existing or created specifically for this purpose).

For the correct Regular DN for your setup, open Active Directory Users and Computers.
In this example, we have color-coded things to make it easier.

   

For the above example, the correct Regular DN should look like this:

cn=administrator,cn=Users,dc=mydomain,dc=local

Note that we have used the account Administrator for this purpose and thus the Password for the Administrator Account will be the Regular Password.

If you are using SBS Server, your Regular DN would look something like this:

cn=My Admin,ou=SBSUsers,ou=Users,ou=MyBusiness,dc=mydomain,dc=local
Note that the CN name "My Admin" is the "displayed" name and not the actual account name.


5) Setup Active Directory/LDAP Profile
The Active Directory/LDAP Profile will connect your selected OU (Folder) containing your User Accounts for Remote Access.
Under Applications, Active Directory/LDAP select the Active Directory/LDAP Profiles tab.
Click to open the properties of the first available Index (in this case 1).

   

Enter a preferred Name for this Profile (IE: LDAP as per this example) and under Common Name Identifier enter cn.
Next click on the search icon (circled) - if all is good at this point you will see a pop-up window of Active Directory items.

Click on the Container or Organizational Unit where your Users are located (IE: in this example it will be CN=Users) and the field AD/LDAP Distinguished Name will automatically be filled for you - click OK. You should now see the correct Base Distinguished Name filled in.

   

The Group Distinguished Name is used for optional filtering as described here by DrayTek:
Group Distinguished Name is used while administrator wants to do an additional filtering. While both Base DN and Group DN are configured, the user account must be available in both path, otherwise, it cannot pass the authentication.

Your completed Profile will now look like this:

   

This completes the setup of the DrayTek for Active Directory/LDAP integration for your Domain Users.
I will add Client-side steps soon (setting up the VPN Connection from a Windows PC).

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  DrayTek - IPSEC LAN-LAN and L2TP Internal RRAS
Posted by: admin - 24-07-2018, 05:54 PM - Forum: Networking - Replies (1)

We have multiple Customers using DrayTek DV2925 or DV2926 Routers.
These Customers have LAN-to-LAN IPSec VPN Tunnels to two of more remote locations.
 
We now have requirements to deploy L2TP Client Connections to an internal L2TP Remote Access (RRAS) Server (due to Apple dropping PPTP in IOS and current Windows PPTP restrictions with recent Windows 10 Updates).

   

Using the DrayTek Internal L2TP Service and/or using the DrayTek VPN Client is not an option in most of these cases (as administration of these connections still needs to be controlled with the user’s account in Active Directory).
 
We can get IPSec LAN to LAN working or L2TP working but not at the same time.

There seem to be solutions available to other manufactures Routers like Juniper, SonicWALL and Cisco but nothing on how to achieve this goal with DrayTek Routers.

Anyone in the same boat?

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  NCH SoundTap Audio Problems - Crackle and Popping
Posted by: admin - 10-07-2018, 07:19 PM - Forum: General Discussions - No Replies

SoundTap (by NCH Software) Audio Problems - Crackle and Popping

I purchased SoundTap 5.05 and had endless audio quality problems on the recorded file's playback.
Random popping and crackling and sometimes skipping (like a dirty audio CD).

I noted through Google searches that I was not alone and this seemed to be a widespread and uncurbable problem.

I spend days trying all sorts of recommendations like using MP3 instead of WAV and drastically dropping the Audio Level Input - none of these helped in the slightest.

 Someone mentioned that disabling Apple stuff (services) cured their problem - I don't use Apple stuff (and never will) so that wasn't my issue but it did lead me to believe that "something" outside SoundTap was responsible for Audio corruption.

So, off I went on a mission...
I closed every single App on my Windows 10 Pro PC and was pleasantly surprised that my problem was resolved.
I then began a methodical process of opening each of my frequently (always running) programs - IE: Outlook, Accounting Program, Excel Spreadsheets, Virtual Hyper-V Machines etc.

It turned out that "my" culprit was the Security Camera's DVR which I always have open in Internet Explorer (IE)!
More so, the ActiveX control that the DRV requires for IE.

I found that to be too disturbing to be true but I was able to solidly confirm it.
Even though the content I was recording was streamed with Edge, having IE open with that ActiveX plugin totally destroyed the audio quality. 

Hope this helps some folk out there or at least points them in the right direction...

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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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