Internet Checking Device for Basic Users to Check Cat5 Status

So I have had several requests to build a small applicance that simply checks if internet is present on a Cat5 line. I have a friend in the Solar Installation Profession, and they are not internet or computer people. They want to be able to test if a Cat5 they are given on a customers site, has valid working Internet on it.

So I thought it would be pretty easy to make and implement. As with most of my projects I was thinking LCD and such to make it fancy and awesome, but I quickly ran out of inputs on the Uno. Plus wanted to keep these devices on the cheap side.

So I was thinking Uno with Ethernet shield. Then there would be several lights indicating progress of connecting to the internet, so they could "see" where it dies if they get no internet to know where to troubleshoot.

I have spent considerable time looking for such a device, because there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. BUT I could find NOTHING remotely close to meeting my needs and especially for sub $100ish.... So let me know if I missed a device that already does this....

Lights will be bi-color LED, Start RED, and then turn Yellow during test, and green, If each test passes from left to right through each test. Last test being DNS

Here is my front Panel express sketch up of the front plate so far while I wait for my Uno and Shield in the mail. What are your thoughts???? THANKS in ADVANCE!!!

I could find NOTHING remotely close to meeting my needs and especially for sub $100ish

I've never looked and there may be something, but if not why not roll your own board with a CPU and a W5100/5200 chip.


Rob

If I was going to do full scale production I would roll my own PCB too. Looking for cheap and fast to build. Getting printed PCB would eat most of my savings for a small run of these. But this is just to crank out 3-5 of them for my friend and perhaps one or two for me.

You can get 10 custom 2-layer PCBs for about $10 these days, that's way cheaper than strip board so it's cheap, not necessarily fast though.

What about the new Yun board, that has ethernet built in I think.


Rob

Where can I get boards that cheap?!?! The Yun had two things that scared me away (Linux) which I know 0 about. AND they are kinda pricey... :(

Where can I get boards that cheap?!?!

There are many places these days, it's a brave new world for PCB making. Here's one

http://imall.iteadstudio.com/open-pcb/pcb-prototyping.html

They start at $9.90 for 50x50mm 2 layers.

They will do short-run PCBA as well, something I'll be checking out soon.


Rob

Funman1: I have spent considerable time looking for such a device, because there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. BUT I could find NOTHING remotely close to meeting my needs and especially for sub $100ish.... So let me know if I missed a device that already does this....

Any reason you can't just use a budget laptop?

There are Arduino compatible devices with integrated Ethernet, or you could use an RPi, but just plugging in a laptop with a simple application to display network status seems like an obvious easy solution. For example, modern versions of Windows provide a mimic diagram showing the connectivity of the local network interface.

They don't want a laptop that's what they have now. If I can plug in a device and check all those things in less than 10 seconds with no computer knowledge. Then I don't have to worry about laptop boot times, laptop batteries running dead, dropped or broken LCD screens Etc.. Plus then they don't need to even know how to use a computer (Even better!!)

What should the (human) interface looks like?

is it a red green LED that flips between connected /not?

Should it give some information on an LCD like DHCP server, IP address and netmask? These are probably the next items a user wants to know.

Be aware some network provider (employers) only allow devices with registered MAC addresses on their network. A MAC not registered will not get an IP from the DHCP. More security measures exist that make it difficult for the device you want to make to be fool proof.

Is it safe to assume the network will provide DHCP? Not all networks do, and it would be possible to use the network without it if you configure the client appropriately.

Thanks for the questions.
No on the LCD screen, I started the project with that as a goal, but quickly scrapped it.
Trust me, the people that will be using these know NOTHING about networks, so displaying IP, GW, DNS settings would not benefit them in anyway.

They do HOME solar installations, I’m aware large companies would not allow DHCP and such without authorization.
Again this device will be used by NON TECH solar installer people, in a HOME environment… :slight_smile:

I know us geeks want to amp it up and make it useful to us,
but that’s not the goal/objective of the project LOL :slight_smile:

Thanks for the input so far :wink:

What do you need internet connectivity for in a home installation? What do you do if it isn't there? I'd assume that if there's no connectivity, in an average user's home network, it's quite likely that the homeowner will find it hard to resolve.

Funman1: Thanks for the questions. No on the LCD screen, I started the project with that as a goal, but quickly scrapped it. Trust me, the people that will be using these know NOTHING about networks, so displaying IP, GW, DNS settings would not benefit them in anyway.

But they want to know if the device is connected to the internet to connect something else to it. That else thingie needs information to work, which unless DHCP is running, should be entered manually...

They want to be able to test if a Cat5 they are given on a customers site, has valid working Internet on it.

Don't you mean this?

They want to be able to test if a Cat5 they are given on a customers site, has valid working network on it.

Nothing you are suggesting checks the internet connection, only the localnet.

What is the purpose of having an internet connection for this device? Is it going to communicate with a device on the internet?

edit: If what you say is true, and the user is not network savvy, the only LEDs on that device that will mean anything to them is the power and battery.

ok you guys are missing the point here hahah. These guys are simple installers with no tech skills. if the box reports no internet then they call in their IT guys. The company that installs the solar needs to "watch" their installed systems so they are plugged into the homes internet. If the box says no internet then the installers will call out the network specialist to the home to resolve the issue.

Yes it DOES check internet. Yes the first 3 lights are for localnet if that is successful all the way to DHCP

Then the next light tests http connection (Internet) to a website via IP address only NO DNS used for this test.

If that passes, then it checks to see if it can resolve a FQDN via DNS (IE: can it connect to google.com website?)

If that passes, then it has all the workings of valid internet they can then plug in the Cat5 to the solar system and wait for the guys in the main office to see it come online.

These guys are simple installers with no tech skills. if the box reports no internet then they call in their IT guys. The company that installs the solar needs to "watch" their installed systems so they are plugged into the homes internet. If the box says no internet then the installers will call out the network specialist to the home to resolve the issue.

Well, if that is the case, then get the below, power it with one of those battery emergency mini usb power supplies, plug it into the Ethernet cable being tested, and use the tech's smart phone to wirelessly connect to it and see if Google can be reached,.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mini-Pocket-USB-Wireless-WLAN-WiFi-Router-AP-Client-Repeater-Adapter-802-11n-/290909269129?pt=COMP_EN_Routers&hash=item43bb8b2c89

Funman1: These guys are simple installers with no tech skills. if the box reports no internet then they call in their IT guys.

In that case, all your tester needs to do is attempt to connect to your target server. If it succeeds, everything is OK. If it fails, all you need to know is that it can't connect; reporting the status of DNS and DHCP and so on is irrelevant since the people doing those tests can't make use of the information and the people competent to solve the problem wouldn't be relying on the 'internet testing for dummies' device to tell them what the problem is.

Given that your actual appliance is also going to attempt the same connection, the whole testing activity seems rather redundant. It will either succeed or fail, and if it fails then all you need to know is that it failed - which you can determine by the absence of a successful registration at the server.

What you're trying to do is certainly possible, but the reasons you're presenting for wanting to do it do not make much sense.