[Ovmsdev] Lessons learnt, production batch #2 and onwards

Mark Webb-Johnson mark at webb-johnson.net
Mon Apr 23 16:44:25 HKT 2018

Well, it has been an interesting few weeks as the first production batch of OVMS v3 came online. I don’t know about for others helping out with support tickets, but I’ve sure learned a lot - especially about what can go wrong for inexperienced users trying to setup a complex product. 14 support tickets were opened, along with another perhaps 6 calls for help via other means, and here are the most common problems encountered:

Switched from Access Point mode to Client mode, and lost access.
Can’t get into module via USB (drivers seem ok, but terminal emulators, and baud rates, are beyond most people’s understanding).
Too hard for most to do a factory reset.
Can’t see modem ICCID when powered off.
Modem powered off by default, unless the little tick box is clicked.
Server v2 off by default, unless the little tick box is clicked.
Upper vs lower case on command execution.
Unable to do firmware update in Access Point mode.
Password confusion (wifi client vs module vs server vehicle vs server account vs access point vs OVMSinit vs etc etc).
wifi vs modem switches and DNS settings.
Modem SIM registration issues (can’t see, or don’t know how to see, status of simcom).
Don’t understand how to check status.

While some of these issues have been addressed, I am reluctant to release a new batch of modules to the world, especially this time with less technically capable users coming online.

It is probably not ‘fun’ work, but I think we can make this much simpler for new users. We can lead them through the setup in the following stages:

Require, as a pre-requisite, users to initially setup the module within range of a home wifi / cellular hotspot connection.

Factory default, use Access Point mode, SSID OVMS password “OVMSinit”, and no module password. Have them connect to the module over wifi Access Point, and <>.

The web interface then shows them a list of WiFi access points in range, and asks them to choose one and enter the password for that access point (clearly labelled as SSID, and "<SSID> Password”).

The module then reconfigures as Client + Access Point mode, and tries to connect to the client wifi, as well as keeping the access point connection open. If not ok, tell them and go back to #3 for them to try again.

When ok, proceed to ask them to update the firmware. This will do a simple OTA download over HTTP, then reboot.

When back up, in one screen ask them to enter all the details for their network, and configure appropriately:
Use Wifi?
WiFi Mode (AccessPoint+SpecificClient, or ScanningClient)
OVMS Access Point SSID
New OVMS Access Point password (as OVMSinit is insecure beyond initial setup)
DNS (default: google, or custom)
Module password (as default empty is insecure beyond initial setup)
Use OVMS Server v2?
Vehicle type
Vehicle ID
Vehicle Server password
Vehicle server (openvehicles, dexter, or custom)
Use modem?
Modem APN, username and password (default: hologram)

Test each of the above, and show them the results. Set auto appropriately, and disable quickstart then reboot.

The point is to lead them through each of the steps, test each setting and show them the result.

Technically, my only concern is the switch from AP to AP+client mode and whether the existing wifi connection will die or survive the channel switch. We also have to do a wifi scan, in Access Point mode, but I think we can do that by just temporarily turning off access point or doing it before the access point is brought up. Both these will depend on how ESP32 handles it.

I’m happy to do a lot (if not all) of the above, but will definitely need help with the web side.

But, first let’s agree on the proper list of questions to ask and flow to follow.

Regards, Mark.
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