Improve offline performance/reliability

Started by Anzio_
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Anzio_

I'd like to request improved reliability when the light panels are connected to a traditional Wi-Fi network, but blocked from the internet. Right now, the panels behave unreliably (frequent "No Response" in HomeKit, etc) and go bright white while completely unresponsive after multiple hours of being powered on while blocked from the internet.

It'd be nice if the Light Panels would reliably work while blocked from the internet, but still connected to a HomeKit home. Right now, it seems like the controller fills up with failed requests and eventually crashes, requiring unplugging and plugging them back in.

I reached out to support who indicated that this is expected behaviour when the devices are blocked from public internet access. I really like keeping my IoT devices offline, unless they need it temporarily for a firmware update.

Thanks!

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Aliakbar Eski

@Anzio_

what firmware version us your controller running? I remember fixing something along these lines for offline controllers. So maybe you just need a firmware upgrade, and then you can take them offline as well.

Regards

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Anzio_

@"Aliakbar Eski"

Thanks for replying! Looks like my controller is running 3.3.6 with no updates showing as available. Not sure if maybe I'm on a different branch, if there was a fix released earlier. Really appreciate it!

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Aliakbar Eski

@Anzio_

3.3.6 is latest, so you are good there. This is a bug and I am gonna be setting up a test and looking at it this weekend.

How many hours does the Light Panels take to get into this state?

Apologies for this but will have it resolved soon.

Regards

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Anzio_

@"Aliakbar Eski"
Sorry for the delay! It's hard to say an exact amount of time. I'd say it's about 10-15 minutes before the light panels stop responding reliably in HomeKit (i.e. half of my HomeKit requests fail and I need to wait a few seconds to make sure the panels are reachable before sending the request again).

It's at least half a day (maybe a little more in some cases) before the panels go white and the controller stops responding. I was able to witness it the other day, and it seemed like each panel individually went to a bright white from the active scene. Once that started, I couldn't seem to get the controller to respond at all until I power cycled it.

I just gave it a power cycle now, and blocked the controller from the internet and made a note of it. I'll report back with more data.

Side note: I just noticed that the active scene (after about 5 minutes of being blocked) froze in mid-transition for about half a minute. The panels were unresponsive in HomeKit while the scene was frozen, but the scene resumed moments later and it is now responsive again in HomeKit. It looks like the scene freeze coincided with the non-responsiveness.

If I can provide anything else, I'm more than happy to! Outside of this issue, these panels have been amazing and extremely reliable. Very impressed since purchasing them, and I'll likely be picking another set up for another room!

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Aliakbar Eski

@Anzio_

That's great information. I am gonna run the same test at my home and see what's going on. Will keep you posted.

Yes the screen freeze meant the controller did stop functioning correctly which means it will go unreachable in HK as well. They are connected, and that's information for me.

Glad you like the product. Won't rest till its even better!

Regards!

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Anzio_

@"Aliakbar Eski" Happy New Year. I hope all is well!

I was just following up to see if you were able to reproduce the issue? Certainly not rushing for any update or rushing out any fix. I was just curious if you were able to reproduce what I'm seeing on the panels or if you're having trouble recreating this behaviour.

Occasionally, I can get it to perform perfectly fine when blocking the panels, but it ends up back with the old behaviour (scene freezing, no response, etc) after a power cycle.

Really appreciate all the responses here. Always nice when companies put the effort in :)

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Aliakbar Eski

Hey @Anzio_

Happy New Year! Hoping you have been able to keep safe and healthy!

Yes I did setup a test. Although this was 3 months ago, at some point in between I must have power cycled my controller so my uptime is just 28 days.

However in that 28 days my controllers have kept running without going into any abnormal state. They have no connectivity to the internet.

Now in good news, we did recently release a new firmware to Beta with a whole bunch of fixes. Drop in your controller's serial number or DM it to me and I can add you to the Beta group and you can give that shot. That might just fix the issue for you as well.

Regards

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Anzio_

@"Aliakbar Eski"

Wow, you are quick! Got the Light Panels running beta version 5.1.

Unfortunately, the scene still starts to freeze right after blocking the controllers access to the internet and it temporarily goes unresponsive in HomeKit. A freeze seems to occur once every ~24s on the nose. It seems to run smooth as butter with perfect responsiveness as soon as I unblock the panels.

It was worth a shot! I don't suppose I can send any logs from the panels your way or anything? In case it helps at all, I'm using an AMPLIFI Alien and it seems to block packets leaving the network (while still allowing fully local communication); however, it will still answer DNS requests. I'm not sure if maybe successful lookups impact any "no active internet connection" logic that might exist?

I can certainly live with the issue and I don't want to take up too much of your (or the teams) time. Appreciate all the effort you've put into this already.

Side question: Will these panels end up back on the normal release schedule when this firmware eventually gets pushed out?

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Aliakbar Eski

Hey @Anzio_

Yeah, they will keep getting updates as normal, once they connect to the internet. You can just reach out to me every few weeks to check in for a new update and I can tell you when to connect to the internet.

There might be something different in our setups. My router simply does not have internet, while yours is still answering DNS requests. In other words, I don't even have a DNS look up available. (Indeed, pinging google.com while connected to my non-internet network, just leads to bad address)

I don't like that you have to live with this issue so, if you have the capability, block DNS requests to the Light Panels as well and see if that helps.
In the meantime, I will try setting up a test similar to yours. This can take me some time, since my non-internet router is used for other things as well.

I have never run the panels in this scenario so there can be a bug.

An alternate solution is to place the panels in hotspot mode. This will have the panels broadcast their own AP, and you will still be able to control the panels from your app / HK once you connect to the panels AP. The caveat is that you have to connect to a separate AP every time, which may or may not be what you are doing right now.

Regards

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Anzio_

@"Aliakbar Eski"

I really appreciate the effort you're putting out here. Feels good when a company cares about their user experience and actually troubleshoots. I know I sound like a broken record, but I wanted to say thanks again for even hearing me out on these forums.

I'll try a few more tests over the next day or so, but I think that may be the difference causing my Light Panels to misbehave. I'm not sure if this is an adequate test, but I: changed my routers DNS to a non-existent private address so that lookups can't complete and then power cycled the Light Panels. The Light Panels went back to their previous scene and froze immediately for ~10 seconds or so (probably about how long it takes for a lookup to timeout) and then worked flawlessly without any lockups or non-responsiveness. I set the DNS back to my ISP's default and left the Light Panels as is and they started hitting that non-responsive state again after some time.

I'll have to run it a few times just in case it was a fluke, but I think it's hanging on trying to communicate with a device on the internet when it's able to successfully complete a lookup. I don't really have any advanced monitoring on my home network and I don't have any knowledge of what the Light Panels are trying to do, so this is just guesswork.

Absolutely no rush in setting up a test environment for this issue, but I would be interested in hearing if you're able to see the same thing. Curious if it's something wonky with my Light Panels configuration or overall setup.

Stay safe!

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Aliakbar Eski

Hey no worries. Its the least I can do :)

Yeah you seem to be onto something. Let me know the results of your test!

Regards

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Anzio_

Hey @"Aliakbar Eski"

Thought I'd chime in and let you know that I was able to get around to giving this another shot and it seems to be related to the Light Panels being able to complete DNS lookups, but being blocked from the internet (in my case). Unless there's something I'm overlooking or not thinking about.

If I set my routers DNS to a non-existent address (e.g. 192.168.1.1 so no lookups can ever complete on devices using the DNS server assigned to them) and reboot the Nanoleaf Controller: Nanoleafs behave perfectly. I only tested for about 2 minutes or so, but scenes remain active and the Light Panels remain responsive. Instantly responsive to all HomeKit requests. In the two minutes I let the panels operate with the invalid DNS server: I couldn't get the scene to freeze and every request was answered in HomeKit

If I set my routers DNS back to my ISP's DNS servers, which in the case of my setup allows lookups to complete; however, it continues to block any access to outside the network: the Light Panels scene begins freezing periodically about 15 seconds or so after starting. The freezing coincides with it becoming unresponsive in HomeKit and the Light Panels repeat its freeze/unresponsive cycle every 20 seconds or so.

I don't know if this information helps, but I thought I'd pass it along!

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Aliakbar Eski

this is very useful information actually. Its a clear indication of where the issue lies.

Ideally, I should now be able to pinpoint the line of code, but practically it will not be that easy, but this will still help a lot.

Thanks a tonne for this information.

Regards

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Anzio_

@"Aliakbar Eski"

Glad to hear I could be somewhat useful, haha! I’m always available if I can provide any more information or assist in any other way.

Thanks for bringing these awesome unique panels to life for us!

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weathered__glade__272

I see that you are working on this already, but wanted to report having similar issues. I use a Pi-Hole (DNS blackhole) on my network and block outside internet access to all in-house smart devices, so my DNS requests are succeeding while offline like the OP's.

The Nanoleaf behaves poorly compared to all of the other devices on my network when nullrouted in this manner: it makes over 20,000 requests per day (one every few seconds), and often becomes unresponsive. Other devices I use actively only make about 1,000 requests/day.

It seems like the Nanoleaf is constantly retrying for an internet connection and could benefit from better backoff/retry logic when permanently disconnected.

Most common requests:

  • iaso.nanoleaf.me
  • apollo.nanoleaf.me
  • collector.nanoleaf.me
  • daemon.nanoleaf.me
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Anzio_

@"Aliakbar Eski"

Hope all is well!

Just curious if this is something that's still on the roadmap to be looked into? I'm not overly concerned about the panels going white and flickering (as long as this isn't damaging the panels themselves), but having to yell at Siri a few times before I can catch the panels at a moment where they're responding is a little buggy at times.

Thanks! :)

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Aliakbar Eski

Hey @Anzio_

All good here, hope you are doing well as well.
We will be releasing a new firmware for the LP soon, which should hopefully resolve this issue. It doesn't occur for me atleast. My setup is a router with no internet connection whatsoever. So its kind of like one of your setups. I will try and get a date for when that will be out to the public, though I know its in Beta.

Regards

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Anzio_

@"Aliakbar Eski"

Great to hear.

Thanks for the update! Fingers crossed it's resolved in the update. I'll sit tight and watch the release note page to know when I should start the update process for the panels.

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zLockhart

I also have this issue with almost 23,000 requests every 24hours.

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Josh N.

Hello @zLockhart !

Thank you for writing and we do appreciate it. We would like to look into this for you and make sure we find you a solution/answer. If you are referring to the DNS requests can you please provide us with the email address you used to your Nanoleaf account so we can take a look into this? Could you also confirm when did the issue started?

Kind regards,

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anzio

@"Aliakbar Eski"

Hope all is well! I figured I’d chime in here to confirm that the panels work well when blocked from the internet AND are not given the opportunity to resolve domain names (i.e. they cannot have access to a functioning DNS server).

I was able to change the DNS server that’s handed to the panels to an external DNS server (in this case, my ISP’s). Since it cannot reach that DNS server and cannot resolve domain names, the panels behave fine. However, if I change it back to the routers local DNS server (which the panels can still use to resolve domain names even though internet access is blocked) then the light panels choke because they can’t talk to the IP address they were able to resolve.

Not sure if that shines any light on the issue or not. For the time being, I’ve changed the DNS server for my devices to my ISP’s resolver and the panels work well. It would be nice if the panels would fail gracefully if they do have working Name resolution though, since I’d prefer to use my routers DNS cache for my network if possible.

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Aliakbar Eski

Hey @anzio That does shine light on the issue.
Thanks for the info.

I will reproduce this exact same issue on my end using your setup instructions and investigate. We have an internal ticket for this as well.

Regards