Picture of the Victor Reader Stream, New Generation Media Player, by Humanware

Solving WiFi Connect Problems, Victor Reader Stream, New Generation




The New Generation of the Victor Reader Stream, the second version of this already useful blind friendly talking book and media player, taps into a whole new realm of audio and textual media, from the web.



Victor Reader has now been Internet enabled, via wireless connectivity through standard WiFi.   Firmware releases since 2013, have added lots of fresh and exciting Internet-enabled features and functions, including the ability to listen to Internet radio, download talking books from the BARD website directly to the Stream without the need of a computer, peruse newspapers by way of the NFB Newsline, and as of firmware version 4.4.8, the current version as of this writing, the Victor Reader  can also automatically download, play, and manage podcasts galore, much as you would do with an iPod.  It does not require iTunes for Podcast management.

Picture of the Victor Reader Stream, New Generation Media Player, by Humanware
Victor Reader Stream, New Generation Media Player, by Humanware.

However, all of these newfangled features require Internet access in order to fully function. So, humanware has equipped the current version of the  Victor Reader with a Wi-Fi radio, and all the necessary software needed to establish stable Wi-Fi connections to users’ home and business wireless networks.  Indeed, we have owned the Victor Reader Stream, New Generation, since the fall of 2013, and have configured and launched wireless network connections from it, to tens of WiFi access points, both at home, and in our travels.

But during our most recent vacation, our Stream would not connect to the Internet wirelessly.  While it still correctly scanned for and listed Wi-Fi networks in range (those that it could currently pick up on its Wi-Fi radio), it would not log into them, even though the correct passwords were correctly entered.  We kept getting that infamous spoken message: Unable to connect to <wireless network name>.  Below, we have listed the steps that we’ve taken, to troubleshoot this network conectivity issue.  The problem was eventually resolved.  See below for details.



For each experiment, we made sure that airplane mode was disabled, and that the little yellow lamp that normally glows when you’re connected, was flashing. This showed that the Stream was at least TRYING to wirelessly connect. However, none of these procedures, except for the last one in the list, restored our Gen 2 to proper operation, though we could observe the stream trying to connect, by the way that the data lights on our access points would flash rapidly, immediately upon pressing the Confirm key, after entering the WiFi password on the Victor Reader’s numeric keypad. So, the Stream was definitely sending WiFi data.

Basic WiFi Checks

Verified that we had the correct passwords for our target Wi-Fi networks. We were able to connect to them successfully with our tablet computers; just not with the Victor Reader.

Tried to log into second and third choice wireless access points (WAPs) as well; all at the same location.

Tried changing the WAP default WiFi channel number to different channels.  This could have ruled out an interference problem on one or more of the channels.  Unfortunately in this case, none of the channels worked.

Verified that all WAPs were set to employ WPA or WPA2 Personal security mode, and that the AES / TKIP encryption mode was set to automatically select the best choice for the connecting devices.  We’ve seen instances where WAPs configured as WEP devices, where the Stream could not connect.  But changing to WPA + WPA2 solved the problem.  But not in this case however.

Verified that MAC address filtering on the WAP was disabled.  No device addresses were being blocked.



Successfully logged into the networks with two other tablet computers, thus pretty much ruling out the access points as potential problem sources.

Executed a hard reset of the Victor Stream, by powering it on, and then pressing and holding the power button for more than seven seconds.

Removed the battery for a couple of minutes, and then reinstalled it.

Fully recharged the battery.

Rebooted our WAPs and routers.



Called Tech Support, and they told us that the passwords we are utilizing might be too short.  We doubted this, since we’ve been successfully using our eight-character passwords up to this point.  Plus, we had conducted no firmware updates or Stream configuration changes at the time that this connectivity issue arose.  However, we configured an access point with a ten-character password.  Had been using a eight-character password before.  But even with the two added characters, the connection attempts still failed.

Verified several times that we were entering the correct case letters for the password characters.

Forced the Stream to create a completely new system profile in its internal memory, as follows.  Power down the unit if it is not already turned off. Then, simultaneously press and hold down the Bookmark (top right) and Number 5 keys. Then while depressing those buttons, we pressed and held down the Power button until the power-up beep sounded.  Typically, this takes one to three seconds.  Then, we released all keys at that tone. The Victor Reader then spoke the following: “Creating new profile.”  Once this profile was initialized, we were then taken to the Bookshelf menu. And, from there, we attempted to sign into each of our two access points. Again, no success.

Many Wifi access points, in their Wifi radio settings pages, allow adjustment of the maximum speed of the wireless network.  In our Netgear WAP, the setting is called,  “MCS Index / Data Rate.”  By default, this is set to “Best.”  However, changing this may prevent the Victor Stream from connecting.  So, unless you have a compelling reason to lower the maximum data rate of your wifi network (and there are some, yes), it’s best not to tweak this and other radio settings.  Unfortunately, no changes here enabled our Stream to connect in this case.



Finally, we took the Stream to a completely different home location, along with the WAPs.  There, it worked!!  So, there may have been some undetectable interference at our vacation spot that the Victor Reader did not like, though we could see none with the Ampd Wireless WiFi Analytics app on our Android tablet.   Nonetheless, the Stream works well here at home.  So, something was amiss at the place we were visiting.  This interference, or whatever it was, did not impact our other wireless devices however.  They worked well the entire visit.

We will likely visit the same place again, and at that time, conduct further experiments to determine what, in that house, might have been interfering with the Stream WiFi.  Stay tuned.  So ultimately, there were no password length issues.

Suggested Reading

References

Revision History

  • 2015-11-17: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-08-30: Added a Suggested Readings section.
  • 2015-07-22: Added tags and link to official product web page.
  • 2014-11-19: Added note about adjusting the wifi data rate on access points, and how this can cause connection failures on the Victor Reader Stream.
  • 2014-11-17: Added the procedure about changing WiFi access point channels to rule out possible interference on one or more of them.  Also added the WAP security and encryption settings checks.
  • 2014-10-27: Added notes that the problem has been resolved by taking the Victor Reader to a different physical location.
  • 2014-10-21: Added information received from first call to Humanware Technical Support, earlier this afternoon.
  • 2014-10-21: Initial publication.