1 yr trouble free, now controller offline is the norm

I’ve seen other reports of this; now it has hit me. Same WiFi, same location of access points, same location of Rachio 3. After one year trouble free; now, more than half the time, going into the app shows “controller offline”.

It comes and goes. I went through trouble shooting, picked #2 is blinking and performed a reset of Rachio’s WiFi (as suggested). No help. Connectivity still comes and goes.

The only thing new is iOS 13 on my iPad and iPhone. Would tech support please have a look? Also, would you send my controller the -630 firmware?

Anyone? Is this related to the HomeKit issue?

I had the team send the newer firmware version. If tomorrow still experiencing issues we can look into any networking issues your controller might be having.

:cheers:

The 630 firmware seems to have done the trick. I’ve been checking frequently and the controller has been online every time.

Thanks for your help, @franz!

Ok great, glad to hear that. New controllers get that firmware automatically, unfortunately this is somewhat of a random issue with HomeKit.

:cheers:

Franz,
I have the same problem, the controller will only stay on line for four of five days, then suddenly goes offline, and sits there with second bar blinking.

Initially: I followed the guide, and reset the WiFi connection using my iPhone. That approach was problematical, some times not re-establishing the WiFi connection.

Now; I simply turn off the power, pause for a few seconds, turn the power back on and allow the unit to reboot.
This approach works every time, and is much simpler (than opening the outdoor enclosure, taking off the cover, holding down the WiFi button to reset, and reconnecting via the iPhone app)

I do not use HomeKit…

Model: Rachio 3 Smart Controller (8 Zones),
Firmware: iro3-firmware-hk-5-630
RSSI: -87

This has occurred since I installed the kit a few months ago, very annoying.
Can anyone help me with this, please…

I have an identical Rachio 3 installed in our rear garden, and it is performing perfectly.
RSSI: -61

@rjmcinnes Sorry to hear that. Without knowing much of anything, -87 RSSI is a really weak signal. Any chance you can get the signal stronger, range extender or maybe a mesh network?

:cheers:

Yes, I realise the WiFi is weak, and WiFi is really getting congested at the outside corner location at the front of our home where it is mounted.
I used to have a WiFi two WiFi extenders (Apple Kit) but retired both when my Provider upgraded the network in my street to a Coaxial-Fibre at 50Mbps, and provided a new smart modem a Technicolor DJA0231, with an excellent WiFi reputation. Everything in my house works just fine, even the stuff that used to rely on the now retired Apple WiFi extender.

But it seemed to me it might have been something else, since the power-down/power-up approach automatically reconnects to my WiFi network without any hesitation.

The annoying thing is that the Rachio 3, does not water while Offline.

Well, maybe most of the stuff works fine without them, but plugging one of them back in will likely provide a strong signal to the ‘corner’ Rachio and shouldn’t interfere with anything else. If there is an incompatibility that prevents them from working with the Technicolor, something like
https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Extender-External-Antennas-TL-WA855RE/dp/B0195Y0A42/
should solve the problem ($15.99 as I write this).

Possibly, moving the Technicolor a little will improve the signal at the Rachio by a few dB, which is all you should need. For example, it’s on a shelf and your wife thinks it’s ugly so she put some books and plants in front of it. Either convince her that it needs to be in the open for a good signal, or find another location where it has a clear view but is not unsightly.

@franz , I’m guessing that was done so the controller could be reprovisioned without the user having to press any buttons on the device. IMO, that was a bad design choice; even something as simple as rebooting a router or access point could knock the device offline. The correct (simple) behavior is to attempt reconnection indefinitely (with a delay between retries so failures don’t interfere with other traffic).

If you want to get fancy, when in the AP mode but there is also a previously stored SSID and password, the device should periodically attempt to reconnect to the ‘old’ network. For example, every half hour, try for 30 seconds. Sure, that results in a ~2% chance that a reprovision attempt (by a user who did not press the device buttons) will fail, but that’s a lot better than brown grass.

The controller should reconnect (or try until it succeeds) if it falls offline. Curious if the range extender helps (assuming it should?). If it doesn’t a chance that unit is defective and we can RMA.

Have a great week!

:cheers:

Franz,
I have ordered a WIFI-Mesh-Extender for my Smart-Modem-2, and can expect delivery in week or so. I will let you know how it goes…

In the mean time, as you said, the Rachio 3 does continue to water my gardens on schedule (phew)

(PS: the Apple WiFi Airport Express will only connect to Apple WiFi Networks, and the technology is a bit old hat now, is no longer being updated by Apple, so I am happy to retire that kit).

Thanks for your help, very much appreciated…
I did some more tests this morning, more in my next post.
Robert.

I ran some more tests this morning, to see if I could re-establish the Rachio 2 WiFi connection. Once connected, Rachio 3 typically stayed connected for almost a week.
And a power off-on used to re-establish the connection routinely.

Prior to adopting the power off-on approach, I did reset the WiFi connection a few times successfully, but found process a bit fussy.

Right now, even though I have two bars on my iPhone, I now just cannot persuade Rachio 3 to re-establish the WiFi connection. The Rachio 3 did used to reconnect OK until recently, so thought I would see if I could figure out why.

Each time I try to re-establish the WiFi connection, the process fails with
“An Unexpected error occurred. Try again”

Firstly, I reset my WiFi Modem, and restarted my iPhone (and iMac).
I then followed the steps to reset the Rachio 3 WiFi connection.
a) with the iPhone set to Airplane mode, then…
b) with the iPhone in normal mode (Airplane mode off)
Both approaches fail, with the same error message.
“An Unexpected error occurred. Try again”

But what I did observe, in repeating b) is that during the "Setting up this accessory to join “Telstra197B1D” stage, the iPhone dropped the WiFi connection, back to 4G.
When repeating a) I note that the iPhone also dropped WiFi connection.

I have attached screen captures of the sequence for both a) and b).

Something does not feel right here Franz…

Franz,
Here are the screen captures with the iPhone in normal mode.

And here are the screen captures with the iPhone in Airplane mode…

Is that a typo or do you have three Rachio controllers?

I believe that the former is not true; see


The latter is true, if your AE is so old that it’s b/g only it will reduce the performance of your Telstra modem. But it’s still a quick way to see whether the Rachio will reconnect.

Does your home have Ethernet wiring from where the modem is to a decent location for another AP? If so, you can set up the AE on a different SSID, which you can use just for Rachio (and other low bandwidth IoT devices) and it won’t degrade the Telstra.

If you have such Ethernet cabling, I also recommend wiring the new extender, rather than setting it up in mesh mode.

If your iMac has a wired connection to the internet and is located relatively close to the problematic Rachio, you can set it up as an AP (with a different SSID) and try connecting the Rachio to that. See

Finally, do you have any Android or Fire phones or tablets that you could use to reprovision the Rachio?

A typo, I have two Rachio 3 controllers, one for the front garden, the other for the back garden, mounted where the Retic wiring emerges from underground.

And thanks, I will have a fiddle with the AirPort Express, a nice piece of kit, (my version is 802.11n) to see if I can get the Rachio 3 back on line unit the WIFI-Mesh-Extender for my new Smart-Modem-2 arrives…
No, I do not have any ethernet cables installed in the house (two story, brick/concrete, with no way to get a cable down thru the wall cavity)
Robert.

I have just looked back through the history of this Rachio 3 controller.
It may just be coincidence, but the WiFi re-connection issue seems to have begun after I upgraded the Rachio iPhone App from version 3.15.6 to 4.0.0 after 01 February…
I upgraded to 4.0.1 today, but see no change in behaviour.

Interesting. For most operations (setting schedules, Quick Run, etc.) you don’t need the app. Just visit app.rach.io from your browser. I prefer this to the app for most things, anyhow. If you access it a lot from your phone, put a link on the home screen.

Unfortunately, the one thing you need the app for is setting up Wi-Fi. Do you have another device you can use? If not, possibly borrow an Android device from a friend or neighbor?

Stewart,
Yes, I can setup Airport Express as discussed, but it will function as an WiFi extender only via Ethernet. I simply cannot install an ethernet cable in this house (could do it Bangkok Style out the window, aerial style).
I will just be patient and wait until the WIFI-Mesh-Extender arrives.

I don’t have any AEs so don’t know the details. But as I understand the stackexchange answer, an AE can wirelessly extend another AE (and I assume that you have two). So, you connect one AE to a spare Ethernet port on your modem, just as it was connected to the old modem. It should now be broadcasting the same SSID that it used to (different from what the new modem is sending). You should be able to connect from your phone to the AE to test. Now, the second AE should act as a repeater, same as it used to, and if properly placed, its signal should be reasonably strong at the problematic Rachio.

Stewart,
I borrowed my wife’s iPhone 6, iOS 12.4.5, setup the Rachio app on it, and bingo…
The Rachio 3 reconnected like a dream…
So, it is an issue with my iPhone 11 Pro and iOS 13.4.

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