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Thunderheads: March 2012

Supporting the Cloud
— Meet Michael Toenies —

Hello. My name is Michael Toenies, and I’m with the Technical Support team at Digi International®. I’ve been providing Technical Support to the IT industry for over 18 years, the past 13 of them as a member of the Digi® family. Since 2008, my main focus has been supporting the exciting iDigi® Device Cloud™ and Drop-In Networking product lines. I’m a huge fan of the iDigi Thunderheads and the audience that reads it, so I wanted to contribute an article that gives you some tools you can use to ensure your devices get iDigi connected and you too can be part of the Internet of ANYthing™.


Getting iDigi Connected
— A Troubleshooters Guide —

Meet the iDigi Servers
We won’t be able to get iDigi Connected if we don’t know what we’re connecting to. I’d like to help you get started by first of all discussing our iDigi Device Cloud server. The iDigi Device Cloud is our premier subscription-based cloud computing platform. It has been designed to meet the toughest standards of the device networking and management industry. At a network level, the server goes by several names:

my.idigi.com (login)
device.idigi.com (login)
energy.idigi.com (login)
app.idigi.com (login)

All of these resolve to the same nslookup address, which is something we’ll go a bit deeper into later. The iDigi Device Cloud also has the developer sandbox, so you can try out our state of the art iDigi API and the powerful iDigi Manager Pro™ device management interface free of charge for up to 5 devices. The sandbox has a name of its own:

developer.idigi.com (login)

Why talk about these network names? Well, we can’t really introduce you to our servers properly if you don’t know their names right? Actually, this will be an important piece of information we’ll talk about later. You will also need to know this if your device is in a disconnected state and you engage with Digi Technical Support.

Common Issues
Since my focus in Digi Tech Support is helping our customers get iDigi connected, at some time or another I’ll pretty much see any issue a customer using our equipment or services can run into. Today I’d like to discuss some of the more common issues at a high level, but also link you to some resources you can use as a shovel if you want to dig deeper and get your hands dirty fixing an iDigi connectivity issue yourself.

“Common issues” are really just indicators we have to tell us that something is preventing the device from communicating with the iDigi Device Cloud. For example, when using a ConnectPort® X2e for Smart Energy gateway or Digi’s ERT/Ethernet gateway with your Smartlee™ account you might see this:



While over on iDigi Manager Pro, you might see this:



Or even the dreaded:



Yes indeed, these error messages mean we have a problem. But it also means we are now aware that there is a problem. The next step is to find out what caused this dreadful state of iDigi non-connectedness and fix it!

Common Causes
If you have a cellular device and are seeing one of the errors above, the first thing to check would be that you’ve configured your gateway properly to connect to the cellular network. This can be done by pointing a web browser at the IP address your gateway is using on the Local Area Network (LAN) to check the cellular configuration using the Web User Interface (Web UI):



Judging by the red ink on that screen, I’d say this device needs to be provisioned, wouldn’t you? There’s a button right there on the screen which will help you provision the gateway for your chosen cellular provider. To make the configured settings on that page “live,” use the “Apply” button on the page once the changes have been made and you should be all set. Take note of the iDigi link under the Configuration menu on the left of the screen. This is where you configure which iDigi server you want to connect to. Do you remember their names?

Here at Digi we really want our products to be as plug-n-play as possible so you’ll always have a “WOW” experience with them. Unfortunately, the plug-n-play focus that will work for 98% of our customers also conceals the fact that certain key pieces of information are required in order for a Digi gateway to successfully get back to the iDigi Device Cloud. If those blanks aren’t filled in during a plug-n-play install, you’ll need to know which pieces of information are still missing, as well as how to configure those pieces manually. However, not all of our products have a Web UI. In a moment we’ll visit the Command Line Interface (CLI) of a Digi RF gateway and do our configuration and troubleshooting from there.

When you connect an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connected Digi gateway to your LAN, it first tries to acquire an IP address from a router with enabled DHCP server on your network. If successful at acquiring the IP address, it pulls in the default gateway and DNS server addresses at the same time if possible. The default gateway address is what tells the gateway where the exit door on your LAN is (i.e. how to get to the Internet of Things and the iDigi Device Cloud). The DNS address is where the name of the iDigi Cloud server is paired with an IP address. Think of DNS as a giant phone book, which knows the number (IP address) of the iDigi Device Cloud (developer.idigi.com, my.idigi.com, etc.) so that your device can phone home. If you’re unsure of what DNS server address to use, Google’s primary and secondary OpenDNS servers (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.8.4 respectively) know how to get back to the iDigi Device Cloud.

If you don’t have a router on your network or the DHCP server is turned off, you’ll have to configure the required information manually using the Command Line Interface (CLI). You can access the CLI via telnet or ssh session to the IP address of your product. If you don’t know the IP address, don’t worry, you can discover it using the Device Discovery Tool for Windows.

The CLI commands “set network ?” and “set mgmtconn ?” will show you the command options and syntax to configure a static IP address, default gateway and DNS server address manually, while the CLI commands “ping” and “set trace ?” are very useful for troubleshooting. For more info, we have a Knowledge Base article which has screenshots of the CLI commands and a step by step walkthrough to configure and troubleshoot an iDigi connection from the CLI.

The ConnectPort X2e for Smart Energy has neither a CLI nor Web UI enabled by default. However, if you push the little button on the corner of the faceplate, a temporary Web UI will be enabled which can then be used for network and iDigi configuration. After the button is pushed, the Device Discovery Tool for Windows can be used to find the ConnectPort X2e SE. If you select the “Open web interface” option, you’ll see the temporary Web UI, which looks like this:




The screen above is the homepage, which basically tells us what information the ConnectPort X2e SE learned when it was plugged into your LAN and how far the connection into the iDigi Device Cloud progressed. If it appears like the screenshot above, with the Network Connectivity Status green and all boxes checked, you’re most likely already connected.

Any unchecked boxes on the homepage indicate which piece(s) of required information are still missing from the configuration and will therefore need to be configured manually. To configure an IP address, default gateway or DNS server address on a ConnectPort X2e SE, click the Configuration ⇒ Network link of the ConnectPort X2e SE’s Web UI and access the Network Configuration screen:



“Server Address” is the very last field on the Network Configuration page. This is where knowing our iDigi server names comes in handy again. The device in the screenshot above is configured to talk to the iDigi Device Cloud (my.idigi.com). If, for example, you wanted to reconfigure this ConnectPort X2e SE to connect to the iDigi Developer Cloud you could change the Server Address field to developer.idigi.com, then press “Apply.” Lastly, when changes to the Network Configuration are made, click “Reboot.”

If you’ve made sure your Digi device has an IP address, default gateway and primary DNS server address, you should now be connected to the iDigi Device Cloud.

Firewall Concerns
If you’re still seeing a “disconnected” status at this point, you may need to talk to the Network Administrator (or whoever setup the LAN for you), because the last common cause of a failed connection into the iDigi Device Cloud is that your network firewall isn’t allowing the outbound connection to the server. To create a firewall rule which will allow this traffic, your Network Administrator would want to do a nslookup of the iDigi Device Cloud servername you’re trying to connect to (e.g. my.idigi.com), then allow outbound socket connections to that IP address on TCP ports 3197 and 3199 (the TCP ports iDigi talks on). You’ll also want them to open UDP port 123 (NTP time-server access) as gateways typically require access to an NTP server as well.

Resolution
I hope the preceding article helped get your device iDigi connected, or at least provided you with some valuable information should you ever need to troubleshoot your connection into the iDigi Device Cloud. Digi Technical Support stands ready around the clock to assist you should you need a helping hand or your technical questions answered.


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