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Thread: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

  1. #1

    Default VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    Introduction
    This is a review for the Sipura SPA-2102, marketed by Linksys/Cisco. Its a Sipura PAP2, with dual line and QoS added. There are different versions of the 2102, this reviews the unlocked NA (North America) model. Only an unlocked version can be freely used on SIP (low cost) providers.

    Voice over IP is a method to convert voice into data and transmit it over a network, generally the Internet. There are two kinds of VoIP. Open standard (like SIP) and closed standards like Vonage. The big plus with closed is that the company is responsible for fixing issues. The negatives are cost and flexibility. For example, a single open/SIP account can be accessed from a box like this or software you install on your laptop. With Vonage, you would have to pay a second monthly fee for a second account to roam with software. The choice depends on your needs, budget, and technical capabilities.


    Guidelines
    a) Keep your overall configuration as simple as possible. The fancier you get, the more things can go wrong. After messing with dozens of settings, I finally wiped the entire mess clean and did the steps below.

    b) Get familiar with the interface. Many changes require clicking on the Admin and Advanced options. These modes don't activate in the most intuitive manner, so only when you see User and Basic in blue, are you there.

    c) Get familiar with firmware updates. 2102's are shipping with very outdated versions (probably overproduced them) and offer several key disadvantages that are easily fixed in a single step. The Voice/Provisioning tab has a section called Firmware Enable. There is special software that comes with the .bin file, but on Mac OS X the simplest way is to turn on your Mac's web server, put the .bin file in the web server folder, and then put the new http address for the file into the Upgrade Rule field. Restart the box when ready (see below). Special note: js has volunteered to host the bin file on a server that your 2102 can download from directly. Send him a PM requesting the link.

    d) Get familiar with the phone dialing codes. After dialing **** to get into the menu, here are some useful ones:

    110# (recite WAN IP address in a cool voice)

    7932# [plus password# if set], then press 1# (enable access via WAN port)

    723646# [plus password# if set], then press 1# (enable admin access)

    732668# (restart/reboot, same as unplug, replug)

    73738# (reset everything but firmware - not to be done lightly)
    e) Find a good provider. I'm quite happy with CallCentric. As a rule, VOIP pricing is a bit confusing, so keep inbound vs outbound separate in your mind. Outbound costs more, so my strategy was to get an area code near friends/family, allowing them to call in for free. In general, I'm paying $5-10/mo for light to medium long distance with two lines, fax out, and 911.

    f) Here's a glossary of terms. See post 22 for tech manual and firmware.


    Setup
    Starting with a blank slate (you just bought it or just reset it, see D above):

    1) Follow your service providers instructions for your device, starting with getting the IP address for log in. In CallCentric's case, use the PAP2 page. The 2102 has two independent lines. Using both requires two independent accounts, each with their own user ID and password. Setup also includes putting in a time server and dial plan string. Click 'Submit All Changes' before leaving each page.

    2) Under Router/Wan Setup, change QoS Policy to 'On When Phone In Use'. This frees up bandwidth for other data when its not needed. Also set QoS Dsq to "TBF" = total bucket filter. This will activate your QoS. Click 'Submit All Changes'

    3) Under Router/Wan Setup, change Maximum Uplink Speed to a value 80% of your maximum sustained upload total. This is not maximum for phone calls, but maximum for all Internet traffic.

    Go here to measure:
    http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/.

    Click 'Submit All Changes' when done.

    4) Under Voice/System, put in passwords for both Admin and User (and remember them). Click 'Submit All Changes'

    5) Under Voice/Regional, change both FXS Port Input Gain and FXS Port Output Gain to -5. This eliminates clipping and reduces echos. If not completely eliminated, try stronger negative values like -6 or -7. North America only: Under Voice/Regional, change Ring Waveform to 'Sinusoid'. Trapezoid sounds funny and won't let your answering machine count the rings. Click 'Submit All Changes'

    6) Under Voice/Line [1/2]. If you have excellent bandwidth (ie cable modem), change Preferred Codec to G711u and Second Preferred Codec to G729a. Also set DTMF Tx Method to Auto. Otherwise, follow your providers guide. Click 'Submit All Changes'


    Extra Notes

    • Sound quality is better than cell phone and even rivals POTS lines.

    • FAX service is a challenge. Using the second line for dedicated fax service allows you to optimize settings for faxing only. See FAX section below.

    • These devices hate heat. If the box gets to warm, it will restart on its own - including the middle of a phone call. See next section.

    • QoS (quality of service) is meant to give priority to voice traffic. This requires the 2102 be right behind the cable modem and the entire network be plugged into it. This is very handy with slower connections but has two limitations on faster ones: 1) it can't handle traffic above about 7500, so if you are paying for 15k service, you only see half with this configuration. 2) heavy network traffic (think multiple torrents) from downstream computers heats up the box. If you are a heavy user on a 10k+ connection, consider installing it downstream from your main router (not using QoS). More QoS info.


    Faxing

    This VoIP box supports two independent phone lines. An ideal use then is to have one line for voice and one line for fax. But fax over IP (foip) on its best day is best described as a black art. In general, configure your 2102 for voice first, applying settings to every tab. Then when you're ready, configure only the Line 2 tab with the settings in this guide:

    http://www.provu.co.uk/pdf/sipura/ip...ra_linksys.pdf

    For extra reliability, get the oldest/slowest fax machine you can find, even the kind that doesn't support 14.4k connections.


    ::::::::::: Read on below for discussion and additional tips :::::::::::
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 07-06-2009 at 12:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Thanks for this review, ElectronGuru. At the moment I am totally unfamiliar to VoIP, so this is a great way to get hit over the head with terms on concerns and approaches and the like. I'm booking marking this for future reference. For now, however, my internet connection is probably too slow to allow me to consider this. I've measured it using speakeasy at about 768 kbps, symmetrical. Not the best, but better than dial up, that's for sure.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  3. #3

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Actually, you bring up a really important point, minimum bandwidth.

    Good quality VoIP only needs about 128K, each direction. The advantage of 1000+ is that you can do more other things at the same time with less concern for packet management (QoS, etc). Almost more important than how much data can be pushed, is how consistently. This tester is more specific and thorough than the speakeasy's general purpose one:

    http://www.voipreview.org/voipspeedtester.aspx


    If you show green on most of these dots and are willing to dedicate 20% of your bandwidth during phone calls, its doable. Just make sure you have or get a box with QoS capability.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Wow! So, you're saying if I have 768 kbps (and that's kilo-BITS-per-second, not kilo-BYTES), and am willing to give up about 128 or more kbps, I can have good sound quality AND uninterrupted internet service at the same time?

    That is so cool! I had no idea. I just assumed my connection wouldn't really be good enough. I think I'm going to start looking into this more. Thanks so much for your review.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  5. #5
    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    OK. So I'm checking out the CallCentric website, and it looks pretty enticing. If I'm understanding things correctly, to do a complete home phone line replacement, I would:

    1. Buy the SPA-2102 for about $70. This will allow me to use my current, plain old telephone via the plain old telephone port(s) on the 2102.

    2. Get an incoming call number from CallCentric for $6 setup plus $6 per month. This is two incoming numbers, if I'm understanding things correctly.

    3. Pay for a Rate Plan for outgoing calls. Unlimited calling in the USA is $20 per month, or I can go with the rate plan, and pay per outgoing call. And it does seem to be a charge per call, and not per MB or per minute.

    I assume you have the pay per call plan, and the personal unlimited phone number, right?

    Do I have things fairly clear in my mind?

    And, why did you chose the 2102? Is it the best bang for the buck, or is it just easy to use, or was it sort of an arbitrary choice?
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  6. #6
    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Like, for example, what about the SPA3102? It only has a single telephone port, I guess, though. Still . . . just curious about the differences/advantages between them.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  7. #7

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Wow! So, you're saying if I have 768 kbps (and that's kilo-BITS-per-second, not kilo-BYTES), and am willing to give up about 128 or more kbps, I can have good sound quality AND uninterrupted internet service at the same time?
    Think about it this way. Standard MP3 bitrates are 128kbps and while MP3 is more efficient, this is one channel of sound (mono) while music is two (64k per). And part of the game here is that while you are paying for bandwidth on your end, the voip service provider is paying for it at their end too, so they are motivated to use (and get you to use) as little as possible.



    Get an incoming call number from CallCentric for $6 setup plus $6 per month. This is two incoming numbers, if I'm understanding things correctly.

    Pay for a Rate Plan for outgoing calls. Unlimited calling in the USA is $20 per month, or I can go with the rate plan, and pay per outgoing call. And it does seem to be a charge per call, and not per MB or per minute.

    I assume you have the pay per call plan, and the personal unlimited phone number, right?
    Keeping in mind that the number of choices gets confusing, lets break it down 2 simplified examples.
    Start here:



    Outgoing - no phone number included

    Pay per call is 0/mo and 2 cents/min
    North Am Unlimited is 20/mo and 0 cent/min

    I went with the first, so I pay nothing per month and a few dollars per month in activity. I suggest starting with this and upgrading if this works out and you exceed 20/mo in usage. BTW, I have two CC accounts and both are configured the same. So both voice and fax are per minute only.


    Incoming - phone number included
    Pay per minute is $2/mo and 1.5 cent/min
    Personal Unlimited is $6/mo and 0 cent/min

    I went with the second, but with a twist. On the right of the page is a sale link. You get Personal Unlimited for $3/mo, but you have to choose from specific area codes, generally in big cities.

    When both are purchased and setup, you will have ONE incoming number. That number will have two 'line' capability, ala call waiting. If you want TWO numbers, you get a two line box (or two boxes) and sign up for two incoming accounts.

    There are NO per call charges, everything is done per month OR per minute. In my case, I get unlimited incoming and pay 2 cents/min for outgoing. When people call in and are local to my designated area code, the call is essentially free for both parties, however long.



    Buy the SPA-2102 for about $70. This will allow me to use my current, plain old telephone via the plain old telephone port(s) on the 2102.

    And, why did you chose the 2102? Is it the best bang for the buck, or is it just easy to use, or was it sort of an arbitrary choice?

    Like, for example, what about the SPA3102? It only has a single telephone port, I guess, though. Still . . . just curious about the differences/advantages between them.
    Here's a nice primer



    The PAP2T is one line, no QoS
    The 2102 is two lines, with QoS (can also function as a PAP2T)
    The 3102 is one line in, one line out, with QoS

    So the big plus of the 3102 is you can have POTS running at your place and go between the phone company and VoIP with the same phone setup. But you give up the second VoIP line to do it. For me, the second line for faxing was more important.

    As for why Linksys, because its a Sipura, one of the oldest names in voip and I liked the features of the 2102. Also important is that this line is popular with a variety of service providers, both closed and open.

    BTW, the best way to deploy this is with a multi handset cordless phone. Plug the base unit into the SPA and scatter the handsets all over your house.
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 06-05-2009 at 12:16 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Extra note: If this replaces a land line (which can function without power) operation becomes more important. Pay the extra for 911 service and put your cable/dsl modem, phone base, voip box, and all routers/switches on a UPS.
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 06-05-2009 at 12:14 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Cool. I just did the more thorough VoIP speed test and I show green on all the dots, and 937 kbps download/upload speed.

    I'm think I'm gonna do this thang! Wow!

    But I want a number which is local to my area (which they are showing as available), and I do want unlimited calls in, $6/mo, and 911 capability.

    I didn't see the link to add 911, but I'm sure I'll find it.

    And I don't need two numbers, OR two lines. I never fax. But, I suppose call waiting isn't a bad option to keep open. Is that hard to configure with the 2102?

    As for the 3102, no way will I keep POTS if I do this VoIP thing. I'm sick of paying those bastids so much money every month for our phone service. It's crazy.

    As for a UPS, I was definitely going to get one for this setup, but the thing is that it seems they are fairly unreliable, and go through batteries (at no small expense) every year or so. Can you recommend a really good UPS, even if it is expensive? And it would only need a minimal amount of VA to run the stuff. Not sure what the total will be when I add it all up, but it'll be small, I'm sure.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  10. #10

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Cool. I just did the more thorough VoIP speed test and I show green on all the dots, and 937 kbps download/upload speed.
    Look'n good! Since you don't need a second line or upstream support, you'll want the cheapest box with QoS, in this case the 2102.


    I didn't see the link to add 911, but I'm sure I'll find it.
    Its actually a legal requirement in the US with primary lines, so sign up is almost automatic.


    And I don't need two numbers, OR two lines. I never fax. But, I suppose call waiting isn't a bad option to keep open. Is that hard to configure with the 2102?
    Have a look here on the left:
    http://www.callcentric.com/features/

    Everything under 'Basic Features' is included with the service and configurable not in the box, but in the CC web site / control panel. Options in the box itself are about making the connection, not so much what you do with it. Think of the box's job as simulating POTS. When you get into the box interface, you'll see what I mean. Options formerly reserved for telcom engineers. I normally pick things up pretty fast, and I spent months learning how not to screw up the config before I came up with the formula in the OP.



    Can you recommend a really good UPS, even if it is expensive? And it would only need a minimal amount of VA to run the stuff.
    I generally prefer Tripp Lite and APC. The tendancy with UPS' is to get a high capacity version of a low end model. I prefer the opposite approach, getting a low capacity, high end model.

    APC Smart-UPS SC 420VA 120V (SC420)

    You can also use the RJ-45 ports to protect your network from spikes on the cable or DSL line. As simple as the unit looks, the battery itself looks even more so. To bad they're not made by AW.
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 06-05-2009 at 05:32 PM.

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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    OK. My 2102 arrives today, and I have set up a CallCentric account, but my local phone number for incoming calls will take a bit longer to be show up. I'll probably wait until I have that to configure the 2102, I think.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see that I can port my existing number over to CallCentric if I want to, although it will take a while and will cost $25. Still, that's a definite plus and something which is, for me, worth the money.

    As for a UPS, I got to thinking that it would have to be huge to last any significant length of time, so I think I'll get a Go Phone for emergency power outage call type situations. Yes, I know, the cell towers may also be down. Still. Plus, we can take a Go Phone with us on long trips, which is a definite plus. The last time I got stranded at an airport and had to call work, it cost me a freaking bundle of money. It was so annoying to find that I couldn't buy a stupid phone card at any store in the airport. Last time I ever fly through Detroit.

    Anyway, I'm excited about this VoIP thing and will be reporting on my experience.

    ElectronGuru,

    One question. You say:

    6) Under Voice/Line [1/2]. If you have excellent bandwidth (ie cable modem), change Preferred Codec to G711u and Second Preferred Codec to G729a. Also set DTMF Tx Method to Auto. Otherwise, follow your providers guide. Click 'Submit All Changes'
    Can you explain? And is 900 kbps "excellent" bandwidth or no? I would guess "no."
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  12. #12

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    My 2102 arrives today, and I have set up a CallCentric account, but my local phone number for incoming calls will take a bit longer to be show up. I'll probably wait until I have that to configure the 2102, I think.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see that I can port my existing number over to CallCentric if I want to, although it will take a while and will cost $25.
    Normally, I subscribe to "all at once" configuring, but since you are porting an active phone number: When the phone number switches over, you want it to hit the ground running, so the box should be fully configured and tested when it does. And configurations for out only (which you can already do) are identical to in/out configurations - so you won't be changing anything later.


    Anyway, I'm excited about this VoIP thing and will be reporting on my experience.
    Looks like you're the first person to try my directions, so report any snags and I can make improvements.


    Can you explain? And is 900 kbps "excellent" bandwidth or no? I would guess "no."
    Correct, essentially "bandwidth to burn". That being the case, once you get the hang of the web interface, its easy to change back and forth. Log in, find the page, change the setting, save the setting, wait a few seconds for the box to reboot, and place your call. The either case, the box will automatically take the bandwidth it needs, its more a question of how much you want to have left for data during calls.

    By all means, try both settings and see if the extra bandwidth is worth it for you.

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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    OK. So, I don't see any place to set QoS to "On When Phone In Use."

    The QOS settings are "QOS QDisc = TBF or NONE," and "Maximum uplink speed = a number".

    I also couldn't find where to set a second preferred codex, but only the preferred codex.

    And, I can no longer adjust the settings on my DD-WRT v23 Linksys router, but that has nothing to do with this 2102 or callcentric. I suspect it has to do with it being a 2006 firmware package that doesn't seem to mesh with the latest and greatest web browsers. I will have to flash my router to DD-WRT v24 SP1 or possibly Tomato, I think.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    And also my download speed is the same, but my upload speed is now 700 kbs, which is, not coincidentally 80 percent of my bandwith, and close to equal to the max I specified in the 2102 GUI.

    I also didn't do anything with the firmware step and .bin file and all that. I'll try to figure that out later. Time to go to bed.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    Well, it turns out that my inability to change settings is because the stupid dd-wrt web gui is incredibly browser picky. Apparently, the fix is to use IE 7 browser.

    I'm not impressed. Oh well, I'll just borrow a PC laptop from work for an evening. Because v24 of dd-wrt has this same problem. I think I'm leaning more and more towards Tomato.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review (SPA-2102)

    ElectronGuru,

    One question:

    How would you recommend configuring the LAN? Should the 2102 ethernet port be set for DHCP, and the router also for DHCP? Or should I set the 2102 ethernet port for the static IP of the router, and the router to the static IP of the 2102? Or what?

    OH! And I should mention that I got everything working last night, but didn't leave it active and set up because I wasn't able to change my router settings to work downstream of the 2102. But, yes, I followed instructions and called out to my landline, and in from my landline to my VoIP line. Very cool. Sound quality was definitely better with the codex you recommended over the 729a (711 was it?) And there was, from my first impressions, minimal delay and jitter and distortion. Better than cell phone, and close to POTS, as you say.
    Last edited by js; 06-14-2009 at 02:38 PM.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  17. #17
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    Static on both.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    So, the VoIP box downstream gets set to the static IP of the router, and the router upstream gets set to the static IP of the VoIP box? And the router downstream is set to DHCP, obviously.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  19. #19
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    That sounds right to me, but you may want to wait for Guru.

  20. #20

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    OK. So, I don't see any place to set QoS to "On When Phone In Use." The QOS settings are "QOS QDisc = TBF or NONE," and "Maximum uplink speed = a number".

    I also couldn't find where to set a second preferred codex, but only the preferred codex.
    These are features available on the current firmware. I have not tested this configuration with 3.x or 4.x, so you can give it a try or upgrade straight away. Finding the upgrade is a challenge so I'll post on that when I find it again.


    And also my download speed is the same, but my upload speed is now 700 kbs, which is, not coincidentally 80 percent of my bandwith, and close to equal to the max I specified in the 2102 GUI.
    The principal here is that when more than 80% of available throughput is consumed, lag time and packet prioritization increases and call quality degrades. 700kbs tested speed means the setting is working correctly. After everything is working, feel free to to play with the number to see if your config needs the margin. Getting the 200k back may be worth it.


    How would you recommend configuring the LAN? Should the 2102 ethernet port be set for DHCP, and the router also for DHCP? Or should I set the 2102 ethernet port for the static IP of the router, and the router to the static IP of the 2102? Or what?
    There are a few options here, but avoid having double-NAT (two dhcp's with nat) and never put two dhcp's on the same network. Whoever is first (connected between the modem and network) should be the DHCP server, with all down stream boxes set to bridged. As you want to use the QoS in the 2102, leave it as is with dhcp and turn off the nat/dhcp in the router. I'm assuming here than the 2102 is set upstream of everything but the modem.

    A network can have fix IP, dhcp without reservations, and dhcp with reservations. For simplicity, set the the 2102 to work with your modem, dhcp and QoS turned on. Set the wireless router with dhcp and nat turned off (use the 2102 as the router). I've never tried it, but if you upgrade to Tomato on the wireless router, it should have QoS and you can reverse the two boxes. For now, lets keep it simple.


    OH! And I should mention that I got everything working last night, but didn't leave it active and set up because I wasn't able to change my router settings to work downstream of the 2102. But, yes, I followed instructions and called out to my landline, and in from my landline to my VoIP line. Very cool. Sound quality was definitely better with the codex you recommended over the 729a (711 was it?) And there was, from my first impressions, minimal delay and jitter and distortion. Better than cell phone, and close to POTS, as you say.
    Now we're cooking! Now we just need to iron out the wrinkles to get you going.


    So, the VoIP box downstream gets set to the static IP of the router, and the router upstream gets set to the static IP of the VoIP box? And the router downstream is set to DHCP, obviously.
    Important: If the router is upstream and has no QoS to give priority to voice packets, priority will be equal and voice packets will have to complete with data packets, increasing jitter and the like. In this configuration, call quality may degrade every time the Internet is otherwise in use. If the router has QoS or the 2102 is upstream with QoS turned on, it manages the packets and give priority to the voice packets.

    Think of QoS like a multi-valve manifold for a garden hose. If the QoS is downstream (at the end of the garden hose), it won't matter how the valves are set, anything upstream can take the water (bandwidth) first.
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 06-15-2009 at 12:56 PM.

  21. #21

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    For the record, this is my configuration:

    CABLE

    - cable modem

    WAN

    - Apple Time Capsule (video server, nat/dhcp on)

    LAN

    - 2102 (nat/dhcp off)
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 06-16-2009 at 01:02 PM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    I'm not sure if these links will work or for how long, but...




    There are two ways to update the firmware, "push" and "pull". The .exe's do a push but requires Windows OS. I describe the pull method in post 1, where you log into the 2102 and specify a path where the .bin file is located (like a lan based web server).
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 06-16-2009 at 01:04 PM.

  23. #23
    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    OK. Excellent. So, the 2102 is immediately downstream of the modem, with QoS on. I set it for NAT and DHCP. Then the Linksys WRT-54GL wireless router, which is plugged into the 2102, is set to "bridge". I had people here at work suggesting to do DHCP on both. That didn't seem right to me. But neither did setting the router for the static IP of the 2102!

    As for my question about static IP, when I was talking about upstream and downstream, I was just meaning input and output, as it were, and was assuming that the 2102 is always downstream of the modem, and the router downstream of the 2102, with QoS on in the 2102. But, I see the confusion in my terminology! Anyway, you'd already answered the question by then, so it's academic at this point.

    I'll try out the new firmware for sure at some point, but for now, I think I'll see how it works as is.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  24. #24

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    Enjoy! And let us know how it goes.


    Extra info: Provided both routers are active (no bridging), both should have dhcp turned on. This gives WAN + LAN-A + LAN-B. But if bridging is turned on (router off) in the downstream box and that box is still running dhcp, there are two dhcp servers in the same environment. In this case, a client box asking for for an IP would get one or the other server and unless the two are setup carefully, can result in fun things like two client boxes with the same address (address conflict). Fortunately, most boxes (including Apple Airport units) tie nat and dhcp together so they turn off and on together.
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 06-17-2009 at 01:56 AM.

  25. #25
    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    OK. So, IE7 does work just fine and allows me to change my router settings. However . . .

    There is no "bridge" mode setting, but I think I've figured out what to do. First of all, in the "Internet Settings" section, there are the following choices:

    Static IP
    Automatic Configuration - DHCP
    PPPoE
    PPTP
    L2TP
    Heartbeat Signal

    So, the only choice here is DHCP, and must be exactly similar to telling your computer to use DHCP to get IP addresses via the DHCP server.

    Below this there is the network setup section, and you can assign the router and IP address and name and such-like, and below this there is a "Server Settings" section.

    Here, you can enable or disable the DHCP function, and if enabled, you can chose from the following:

    DHCP server
    DHCP forwarder.

    I assume that choosing "DHCP forwarder" is equivalent to bridge mode?

    Also of note is the VLAN tab where things look like this:
    VLAN ---port----
    VLAN-W-1-2-3-4-assigned to bridge
    0______*_*_*_*_LAN
    1____*_________None
    2______________None
    3______________None

    etc.

    and something about auto negotiate at the bottom.

    I assume that I should just leave all of this alone, as it is setting up the four hard-wired ethernet ports to bridge to the same LAN, and the wireless to NOT look for a bridge (???) Or something I don't understand.

    Anyway, obviously, I'm going to do some research and actually learn about this enough to know what the heck I'm doing, but in the mean time, if you have any thoughts ElectronGuru, please feel free to share them.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  26. #26

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    Anyway, obviously, I'm going to do some research and actually learn about this enough to know what the heck I'm doing, but in the mean time, if you have any thoughts ElectronGuru, please feel free to share them.

    Lets do a networking primer.

    The Internet started with a fixed number of IP addresses, public addresses. When it became clear that we were running out, we added private addresses. Every public address can support potentially thousands of private addresses. Each device in your home gets a private address, but all activity runs out onto the Internet via the same single public address. Your ISP has a whole bank of public addresses and (for now) gives one to each customer. In your network, that single public address can reside in the modem or in the first router. Routers create walls between networks (public/private or private/private), keeping all the IP addresses and the packets traveling between them, straight. NAT (network address translation) is how packets travel from one side of the wall, through the router, to the other. DHCP is merely a system to automatically dispense IP addresses within a given network, NAT defines the actual network that creates the wall.

    So the Internet Settings tab of your router defines the WAN (Internet) side of the router, and how the box is to create or receive its IP address for the WAN (outside/upstream) side of the wall. A router with its wall turned on, routes packets only to ports on the same side of the wall as the origin of the packet - unless the packet is prescribed to travel through the wall. A router with its wall (NAT) turned off, is basically just a hub/switch. All packets landing on any port, get repeated on every other port that cares to listen. Have a look at this screen grab:

    http://tj.tntluoma.com/files/airport...-selection.png

    Apple routers include an option to turn the wall off, that they call bridge mode. I'm not familiar with yours, but I don't think DHCP forwarding is the same. This sounds more like passing DHCP address assignments through the wall, than turning the wall off itself.

    These are your options:

    1a) Have the 2102 downstream from the wireless router with one NAT in the WR.
    1b) Have the 2102 downstream from the wireless router with two NATs
    2a) Have the 2102 upstream from the wireless router with one NAT in the 2102
    2b) Have the 2102 upstream from the wireless router with two NATs

    Having two NATs is not the best, but if there is no way to turn it off in the WR and the WR cannot do QoS, you won't have much choice. Most likely there is a way, but it will take work to find it. Tomato is even more likely to have it.

    Alternately, you could do config 2a (preferred) but get yourself an Airport Express with known bridge/off capability.

  27. #27
    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    ElectronGuru,

    I do know some stuff about the internet and IP addresses!

    I did research this and found that in order to put the router in bridge mode, you need to DISABLE internet, and yes, set it to DHCP forwarder, and put in the local IP address of the device which is the DHCP server.

    Here is an example link on doing a WDS bridge of two of my exact routers running my exact firmware. The next to the last screen shot shows the relevant stuff. Since I'm not doing a wireless bridge, I ignored all that stuff.

    So, it seemed pretty straightforward. Disable "internet", which is bridge mode. Set the gateway. Set DCHP forwarder.

    But I just tried it, and no dice. Then I noticed on the Advanced Routing tab, that there are also three modes "gateway" "RIP2 Router" and "OSFP Router" (or something like that). Reading the instructions, it was clear I should put it in "router" mode. I didn't know which one, so I tried both. Neither worked.

    I'm so freaking annoyed and fed up right now. What a waste of an hour. This is really p***ing me off.

    I know what NAT is. I know what WAN and LAN and local IP addresses are. I have to mess with the TCP/IP settings on my laptops at work all the time since they communicate with the API laser tracker instrument via the ethernet port. This SHOULD NOT be this frigging hard.

    It's official. I am no longer a fan of DD-WRT. I'm thinking seriously about getting an Apple router device of some sort or another. Airport express probably.

    I absolutely, positively, DO NOT want my VoIP box down-freaking-stream of the gateway. I want an SPI firewall on that drops all anonymous WAN requests on my router. And I want the VoIP box to have QoS and first access to the internet service.

    And there doesn't seem to be a good "manual" on DD-WRT. There's a whole forum, though. Gee. Fun. Just what I wanted to do. Spend 10 hours configuring a simple setup that SHOULD HAVE ONLY TAKEN ME 10 MINUTES.

    Damn I'm mad.
    Last edited by js; 06-19-2009 at 06:21 PM.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  28. #28
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    OK. I calmed down and did some more searching. I found this link on creating a WAP.

    There are some key differences here, including disabling the DHCP server, as opposed to setting it to DHCP forwarder--that apparently is only for a Wireless bridge. Or maybe not only for it. Anyway . . . maybe I'll try again tomorrow.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  29. #29

    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    I do know some stuff about the internet and IP addresses!
    Don't mean to offend. I'm writing assuming others are reading this too. Running screaming into the hills perhaps, but if they get this far, a bit'o context may help.


    I'm so freaking annoyed and fed up right now. What a waste of an hour. This is really p***ing me off.

    I absolutely, positively, DO NOT want my VoIP box down-freaking-stream of the gateway. I want an SPI firewall on that drops all anonymous WAN requests on my router. And I want the VoIP box to have QoS and first access to the internet service.
    Reminds me of how I felt a few days into configuring the 2102 for the first time. It may be that DD-WRT assumes that you would never want to turn off the router feature in a router.

    At this point, I would try running double NAT. If both routers are active at the same time (each with their own dhcp), accessing OUT will be fine. The only trouble would be setting something up to be accessed IN.


    It's official. I am no longer a fan of DD-WRT. I'm thinking seriously about getting an Apple router device of some sort or another. Airport express probably.

    And there doesn't seem to be a good "manual" on DD-WRT. There's a whole forum, though. Gee. Fun. Just what I wanted to do. Spend 10 hours configuring a simple setup that SHOULD HAVE ONLY TAKEN ME 10 MINUTES.
    I havn't tried one yet, but the newest versions have some amazing features, like simultaneous dual band (requires Extreme) and quick add (Internet only) guest access.
    Last edited by ElectronGuru; 06-22-2009 at 07:12 PM.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: VoIP Box Review & Setup Guide (SPA-2102)

    ElectronGuru,

    Right! Understood. No offense taken.

    You can do this with DD-WRT and a Linksys WRT54GL, I'm sure, but at a certain point, I was just like "OK. Screw this."

    And . . . I did indeed buy an Airport Extreme, with the simultaneous dual band feature. I had other stuff to do yesterday evening and today, but I did start digging into Apple's 77 page online manual, and just like I thought, this thing can do all sorts of sophisticated stuff, including WDS (wireless bridging, if you have two, or one of these and an airport express, etc.), but at the same time it is super easy to do the easy stuff, and probably pretty easy to do the difficult stuff, too. Probably all thanks to the Airport Utility program built into OS X . . . but still.

    Seriously, though, about the time that I realized that I couldn't change anything important on my DD-WRT router without IE7, that was about the time I knew I was going to change one way or another. Either Tomato, or an Apple base station. Went with the Airport Extreme as I get an educational discount on all Apple products, being staff at Cornell University.

    I'll report more later, once I've got everything up and running, but I did use the 2102 VoIP box to call my brother and talk for a bit, and I was very impressed with the sound quality. Pretty much as good as a plain old telephone line.

    Anyway, back to my annoyance--I never thought that bridging the router to the 2102 was going to be the hard part! I figured getting the VoIP box up and running was going to be the tricky part. Go figure. Now I understand why I've heard some people criticizing DD-WRT, in any case!
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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