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Do Lifx Bulbs Really Talk To Each Other On An 802.15.4 Mesh Network?


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#1 upstatemike

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 10:48 AM

Supposedly Lifx bulbs can communicate with each other on an 802.15.4 mesh network but I am having trouble seeing that in my installation. I have a string of bulbs in fixtures going down my driveway which i would expect to be the ideal demonstration of the mesh since each bulb in line can act as a relay to help move the signal as you get farther from the Wi-Fi Access Point. In theory the last bulb in line should have just as strong a signal as the first one but the RSSI numbers for the AP show the last bulb to be at a much lower signal strength than the nearer ones.

 

So does this mean the bulbs maintain the direct connection to the Access Point but don't use it and instead relay through the nearest bulb? Or is the mesh used for something else besides status and command signals? How do I verify that the mesh is functioning and what exactly it is doing?



#2 LarrylLix

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 02:24 PM

Supposedly Lifx bulbs can communicate with each other on an 802.15.4 mesh network but I am having trouble seeing that in my installation. I have a string of bulbs in fixtures going down my driveway which i would expect to be the ideal demonstration of the mesh since each bulb in line can act as a relay to help move the signal as you get farther from the Wi-Fi Access Point. In theory the last bulb in line should have just as strong a signal as the first one but the RSSI numbers for the AP show the last bulb to be at a much lower signal strength than the nearer ones.

 

So does this mean the bulbs maintain the direct connection to the Access Point but don't use it and instead relay through the nearest bulb? Or is the mesh used for something else besides status and command signals? How do I verify that the mesh is functioning and what exactly it is doing?

 

Hmmmmm... what is the length of your longest trouble lamp cord?  :rofl:

 

In routers there is also a switch that determines if your devices can talk directly or have to be bounced through your router. I am not sure how a router could possibly control that though. If possible, and it seems to be, perhaps that is disallowing your bulbs to mesh. It would have to be some enable/disable that is issued when the IP address is handed out. Need somebody with better Ethernet knowledge here.



#3 vc1234

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 08:17 PM

As of about a year ago, the Lifx bulbs used ordinary wifi.  I doubt they have moved to a 802.15.4 network (which would impy zigbee or zwave, or similar, see ITU G.9959).

 

Now, there are proprietary attempts to build a wifi mesh(Google and others), but the results are probably less than impressive, notwithstanding attempts to standardize the wifi mesh (EasyMesh).

 

Lifx bulbs as far as I know do not have wifi mesh building functionality and operate as simple wifi end devices.



#4 upstatemike

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 09:54 PM

Question is based on this statement:

 

"LIFX installation is as easy as screwing the bulb into your light fixture. Each LIFX bulb has a built-in Wi-Fi chip that can communicate with your router, Android, or iOS gadget. And if you have multiple bulbs, they can talk to each other on a 802.15.4 mesh network, like the kind used by the Zigbee-based Hue."

 

From this article:

 

https://www.cnet.com...x-bulb-preview/

 

 

Never mind. I found a Reddit post that explains that 802.15.4 was deprecated with firmware 2.0.

 

 

 
level 1
skyfia
 
LIFX Employee8 points·11 months ago
 

As others have mentioned, this was a feature in the first LIFX light, but was removed in the 2.0 firmware version, which was released publicly about 4 years ago. We think that there was a blog post to that effect when it came out, but we have since changed blogging platforms and that post has vanished.



Edited by upstatemike, 20 October 2019 - 10:12 PM.


#5 ano

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 10:27 PM

Supposedly Lifx bulbs can communicate with each other on an 802.15.4 mesh network but I am having trouble seeing that in my installation. I have a string of bulbs in fixtures going down my driveway which i would expect to be the ideal demonstration of the mesh since each bulb in line can act as a relay to help move the signal as you get farther from the Wi-Fi Access Point. In theory the last bulb in line should have just as strong a signal as the first one but the RSSI numbers for the AP show the last bulb to be at a much lower signal strength than the nearer ones.

 

So does this mean the bulbs maintain the direct connection to the Access Point but don't use it and instead relay through the nearest bulb? Or is the mesh used for something else besides status and command signals? How do I verify that the mesh is functioning and what exactly it is doing?

Only one of them talks to WiFi, the other communicate via 802.15.4.  Pretty neat.  If you have lots of bulbs would you want them all taking up a unique IP address? I wouldn't.



#6 LarrylLix

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 11:10 PM

Supposedly Lifx bulbs can communicate with each other on an 802.15.4 mesh network but I am having trouble seeing that in my installation. I have a string of bulbs in fixtures going down my driveway which i would expect to be the ideal demonstration of the mesh since each bulb in line can act as a relay to help move the signal as you get farther from the Wi-Fi Access Point. In theory the last bulb in line should have just as strong a signal as the first one but the RSSI numbers for the AP show the last bulb to be at a much lower signal strength than the nearer ones.

 

So does this mean the bulbs maintain the direct connection to the Access Point but don't use it and instead relay through the nearest bulb? Or is the mesh used for something else besides status and command signals? How do I verify that the mesh is functioning and what exactly it is doing?

Turn your router Tx amplitude down by small steps and see if you can make the furthest bulbs fail while the closest ones don't. If they always quit together then it would be reasonable to assume, they talk by  echoed signals to each other.



#7 upstatemike

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 11:38 PM

Only one of them talks to WiFi, the other communicate via 802.15.4.  Pretty neat.  If you have lots of bulbs would you want them all taking up a unique IP address? I wouldn't.

They do all have individual IP addresses (I can see each one in my router) which will become a problem at some point if I keep adding bulbs. Also per my post above the behavior you are describing was deprecated 4 years ago or more when firmware version 2.0 was released which was long before I ever purchased my first Lifx bulb.



#8 upstatemike

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 11:40 PM

Turn your router Tx amplitude down by small steps and see if you can make the furthest bulbs fail while the closest ones don't. If they always quit together then it would be reasonable to assume, they talk by  echoed signals to each other.

No point since I can see each one in my wireless access point interface along with the IP address assigned and the RSSI signal level.



#9 LarrylLix

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 09:56 AM

No point since I can see each one in my wireless access point interface along with the IP address assigned and the RSSI signal level.

Because they talk to each other, shouldn't nullify the capability for your router to see them, though. As I understand it they still talk on standard WiFi channels.

 

Would they have installed a protocol switch in them to offer the choice of protocol?


Edited by LarrylLix, 21 October 2019 - 02:28 PM.


#10 ano

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 12:35 PM

Because they talk to each other, shouldn't nullify the capability for your router to see them, though. As I understand it they still talk on standard WiFi channels.

I have 5 bulbs, that show up as one IP address. I'm glad mine doesn't work like yours.


Edited by ano, 21 October 2019 - 12:36 PM.


#11 LarrylLix

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 02:26 PM

I have 5 bulbs, that show up as one IP address. I'm glad mine doesn't work like yours.

I don't have any LIFX bulbs. How do the bulbs pick who is going to be the WiFi spokesman?



#12 ano

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 03:25 PM

I don't have any LIFX bulbs. How do the bulbs pick who is going to be the WiFi spokesman?

I think its just the first one you power up.  If that light looses power, another one can take over.  Now the negative of all this, at least for the Gen 1 bulbs, was that they communicate your WiFi password over basically unencrypted 802.15.4, SO it was apparently easy for someone to find your WiFi password in this way.  I'm not sure if upgrades ever fixed this. 



#13 LarrylLix

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 06:28 PM

I think its just the first one you power up.  If that light looses power, another one can take over.  Now the negative of all this, at least for the Gen 1 bulbs, was that they communicate your WiFi password over basically unencrypted 802.15.4, SO it was apparently easy for someone to find your WiFi password in this way.  I'm not sure if upgrades ever fixed this. 

That seems odd that the series of bulbs would need the WiFi password when only one speaks for the group. Maybe the hop was really dumb as just a bridge, but then it would seem the first bulb would get really busy and could bog down in bigger systems.

 

*SIGH* it seems this massive Remote Control fad  is going to be a problem for everything, no matter what protocols are used...more speed!...more speed!   I am impressed with my new laptop connected at 866 Mbps to my routers now.

      Cripes I still thought my GigaBit switches and wiring  were the fast connections!


Edited by LarrylLix, 21 October 2019 - 06:29 PM.





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