1 (edited by gminpa 2017-03-16 20:49:28)

Topic: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

I've just read the entire thread about Pandora stopping.  I thought about adding to that thread, but my problem seems to be more generalized.  It happens on many sources, and on two different C1s.

I first got the Chumbys several years ago (back before Woot became the POS it is today).  I often listened to audio; either Pandora, Shoutcast (IIRC), and often one of several of My Streams.  I don't recall having any problems.

Then as I acquired other audio gear, the Chumbys fell into a period of disuse ... only retained for the various clock widgets.

A few days ago, I decided to try listening again.

Pandora was a flop.  It would play part of a song, then silence.  Part of another song, then silence.  During the silence, the small text at top left of screen said it was still playing the same channel.  This would repeat multiple times, then the Chumby would just quit playing and go into Idle state.

I then tried IHeartRadio.  Basically the same behavior.  (I also discovered that some of there Genre listings are full of crap.  e.g. Jazz / Smooth Jazz 94.5 is definitely NOT smooth jazz.)

"OK," I thought, "maybe these services have changed since the original Chumby days; maybe they don't work for anyone."  So I decided to try a few of My Streams.

I tried a local NPR station that is professionally streamed at 96kbps and is extremely reliable.  I had similar problems with all three of its different program channels.  Sometimes (situation #1) audio goes dead for a few seconds, then resumes; this repeats.  Sometimes (situation #2) connection seems to drop, then re-establishes a new stream.  (I know this because when you first connect to a stream, there is a :15 "welcome" voice message.)

I tried a 160kbps stream  generated by Icecast on a PC here on my own local network.  Again, there is frequent re-buffering.  IMHO this eliminates a lot of variables.  My server sends out a continuous stream, never sends any other queries (are you still listening? etc.) and streams very reliably both within my local LAN and also over the internet to other locations.  Only Chumby chokes and rebuffers.

Finally, thinking this might be a memory issue (as suggested in the Pandora thread) I streamed a station that uses a 64kbps bitrate.  Same thing ... after a while, it either rebuffers, or goes to "Idle" and needs to be re-started manually.

BTW, My Streams are all plain vanilla MP3 streams.  The URLs are either MP3 or M3U.  I can listen to all these streams just fine on my PC forever ... literally for days! 

I have tried all these tests over the past few days, on BOTH of my Chumby Ones.  It's not just one defective unit.  It's not my network (AFAIK).  The C1s are now in the same room as the WiFi router, so there's no question about weak signal and dropouts.  The C1 info screen says Signal Quality: 100%.

It seems to me that there's some fault in the way the C1 gets the stream, buffers it, plays it.  Because of the fact that it's dropping the stream, then establishing a new connection, I think the problem is somewhere before the decoding of the stream data.  It might be a memory issue, but I doubt that it's related to audio buffer size (that wouldn't cause the stream to drop).  And AFAIK, it did not do this a few years ago (prior to shutdown of the original Chumby website).  I don't know enough about what firmware is fixed "in the box" and what might be downloaded from the website at some point. 

By the way, I have only one widget (Station Digital Clock) so nothing is cycling in the background.  And when I am playing audio, I always leave the screen on the station where I started the audio playback.  So there is no screen switching going on, no animations, etc.

I sure hope this data provides a clue for somebody.  My situation has changed, I listen to some talk shows where the C1 audio system would be adequate and much more convenient than anything else. And now Chumby can't play audio correctly.  :-(

Someone please help!!!

Re: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

What version of firmware do you have on your devices?

Re: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

Hello Duane, thanks for the reply.

C1 #1
HW: 10.8,  SW: 1.0.7,  FW: 1.0.3454

C1 #2
HW: 10.6,  SW: 1.0.7,  FW: 1.0.3454

Incidentally, the INFO screen on both devices shows "Link quality: 100%"

But if I access the internal web server (using the browser on my PC) the stats ranges from "62/70" to "68/70."  I'm not sure whether this is a discrepancy from the INFO screen, or whether it is just reporting the same data in two different formats.  (i.e. 68/70 is 97%, a little bit of rounding results in 100%)

I might also mention that each unit has a good, fully-charged battery.  Presumably that would provide some extra current capacity, and smooth any ripple, in case there's an issue with the AC adapter.  (Then again, I don't know how the power circuitry is designed; maybe the battery is off-line unless the power jack input voltage disappears.)

Just speculating:  is there any process that would "take over" or "take priority" on the WiFi connection, making the media player wait to get more packets?  That might explain both the buffering and the dropped/re-connected streams.  But again, I'm fairly sure that neither unit exhibited these symptoms a few years ago.

BTW I have just ordered a Classic, so in a week or so I should have some more data points to report from a different model.

Thanks again for any light you can shed on this mystery!

Re: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

Still listening here.  There seem to be fewer dropouts today, but the problem still exists.  I've been thinking about this, and have a few specific questions.

1.) If I'm listening to one of My Streams, is the connection (for the audio data) directly between my Chumby and the stream server?  Or does the data go through the Chumby servers somehow?

2.) Same question, except in relation to listening to a Pandora stream?

3.) Does Chumby use some pre-existing media player app (VLC, etc.) or does it use custom-written SW to play the streams?  What is the size of the buffer that's used for audio streaming?  (Perhaps it is very small.)

4.) Is there any way to monitor data rate to and from the Chumby?  A graphical representation would be best, but a list of numbers would be better than nothiing.  I have been watching the C1's Wireless Stats page, and never see any errors.  But I have no idea how much data is going to the C1, and no idea how "smoothly" it is flowing.  (e.g. network congestion might be causing problems ... although I can listen to the same internet site on my PC at the same time, and there are never any dropouts on the PC.)

5.) Is there any slim chance that some unknown code (badly written app? or malware?) might be running, thereby causing gaps in the Chumby's incoming data stream?

Thanks again for anyone's thoughts about this!

5 (edited by gminpa 2017-03-28 12:14:17)

Re: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

UPDATE:  I received a Classic a week ago, and have been listening on that device since then.  In general, it seems to be less prone to dropouts and disconnect, compared to my two C1s.  This makes me wonder whether there is some difference in the amount of buffer used in the two different models.

(Also, the Classic touch screen is much more sensitive, which is much better than the C1s.)

However, on two occasions, when listening to Pandora, the Classic has reset itself back to the default screen in my channel, which is a clock screen.

Today, after going back to the clock screen for a few minutes, the screen went black.  The Classic does not respond to touchscreen or to top button push.  It feels a little warm, although not what I'd call "hot."  After unplugging and re-plugging, and trying the power switch, still dark and silent.  I'm going to let it cool down for a few hours, then try again, in case it's a thermal issue.

Re: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

Have you considered that your C1 might have a failing power supply? Random failures like this sometimes indicate you're hitting the right side of the bathtub curve, and a new PSU might be the solution.

Just a thought...

Re: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

songmaster wrote:

Have you considered that your C1 might have a failing power supply? Random failures like this sometimes indicate you're hitting the right side of the bathtub curve, and a new PSU might be the solution.

Just a thought...

or, if you're handy with a soldering iron:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgbhG7JyT50

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.

Re: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

I suppose anything is possible.  But the C1 has a fully-charged battery in it.  It will run for a significant amount of time on battery power.  So I'd think the battery would make up for any temporary under-voltage situation, and would "smooth out" any small amount of ripple from the AC adapter.

Still, I'm looking around locally for a suitable regulated adapter.  If I find one, I'll certainly swap out the present one and see whether that makes an improvement.

Re: Audio rebuffering and dying, many different sources

I made a C1 ps the other day with a 5v2a ps from digikey, and one of their plugs: CP-017-ND

Cleaning up any loose bits and bytes.