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A part two. I bumped into the same chap
a couple of days afterward and he said he was
still having problems: all of his powerline
networking adapters were now on the same
phase, and when the factory shut down he
could communicate between his CAD suite
and the workshop machine controllers. But
once some of the heavy plant fired up, the
HomePlugs lost their signal. It has been immediately
evident to us both that the problem was
mains borne sound, and that possibly HomePlug
units werent the right solution for him.
By pure luck, although, that morning
honestly, Im not making this up a parcel had
arrived from the nice people
at Solwise, containing a
sample pair of its new
SmartLink based powerline
networking adapters
which are designed
exactly for noisy
environments like his.
adapters, to give them their
full name, use a relatively
new chipset from Atheros
thats intended to combat
noisy mains.
Where a normal
HomePlug unit transmits
signals via the live and
neutral wires inside the
mains cable, these new
SmartLink adapters can
switch to employ live
and earth instead.

live wire or line
for our international
readers is generally going
to be noisy in a factory
environment, but the earth wire will frequently be
a little quieter than neutral. The switching is
done automatically theres no need to
configure anything.
To be honest, I was a little sceptical surely
the things are connected to the live wire,
and thats still going to be crunching with noise
but my new found
friend and his factory
could give me the
opportunity to do a
correct real world test
on these units. And
you know what?
Much to my surprise,
they did make a difference. It isnt a complete
solution throughput still dropped whenever
the machines started up but the SmartLink
units at least kept the connections alive rather
than dropping them.
We discovered that, though these units
can talk to other HomePlug AV adapters, to
use their Smart Link feature you need all the
adapters in the network
to support it: as soon as
you introduce one
non SmartLink device it
looks to lock all of the
adapters into using live
and neutral. This wasnt
exactly clear from the
documentation, but
knowing how the units
work its hardly a surprise.
I usually like to give
merchandise and services a
real world workout, but
this turned out to be a
more real world
normal, all thanks to an
meet with a red faced
man in a coffee shop.
Finally, just so that you
dont think Im being
mean, I should end by
telling you that Ive shown
him this part of the column
and he laughed, saying hes
more than happy for me to
print the story exactly as
written, so long as I dont
talk about him by name.
What a great sport.
You’ll have read about
the problems with the iPhone five and iOS 6
launch. As long term readers may know, this
column is not on the Apple PR
departments Christmas list, as weve had our
differences over the years. in spite of that, Ive
started to feel a bit sad for the company