How To Set Up External Access Over The Internet For Your WowWee RovioPosted by Peter Redmer on Monday, 10 November 2008
One of the most common questions I am seeing on RoboCommunity is: "How do I set up my Rovio to work from over the Internet?"
Truly, the "awesome" factor of the Rovio really comes in when you access it from a computer outside of your network, and get to spy on what's going on back at your lair while you're away. However, getting this to work can be tricky at first, especially if you're new to networking.
Now, I'm no networking "genius," but I have spent a lot of time playing with and enjoying my Rovio from external connections, and would like to share how I was able to get my setup running smoothly. I would also love to hear from other members who have had good experiences accessing their Rovios from external networks.
Background on Port Forwarding
I'm guessing that a lot of you had your eyes glaze over just now. Certainly, setting up port forwarding doesn't sound like a lot of fun. If you're familiar with networking, also, you know how much of a pain it can be.
Especially if you have a cheap, entry-level router like I do. If you can get port forwarding set up on my cheap hunk of junk, you can set it up on anything! (For the record, it's a Zonet ZSR1134WE. It works but is very basic.)
So, the first thing you need to do is "open" up the ports that you'll need to access your Rovio. You have to do this because your router will automatically block traffic from outside your network to the ports where your Rovio resides, for security purposes.
Do you remember the IP address that you assigned your Rovio during setup? Personally, I use an alternate IP address, but the default that is used by Rovio is 192.168.1.18.
Note: If you went with the "recommended" setting during setup, your Rovio may dynamically get different IP's, making it much more difficult to do this. I would always assign it a static IP.
Setting Up Port Forwarding for your Rovio
Now, to the fun part. Every router will be different, but usually, you can access your router's "Control Panel" via the IP address 192.168.1.1. It is here that you will need to search for the place to modify your port forwarding settings.
Chances are, your router makes it easier to find. My settings could be found under NAT => Port Trigger => Virtual Server Setup. When I got there, I saw this screen:
See the parts at the bottom? These are the ports you'll need to open to be able to access your Rovio over the Internet. You can see the section to add them above, and as I clicked the "add" button for each one, they populated in the list. Make sure that no matter what router you are using, that you save your settings.
Note the part where it asks for your Internal IP - this is the IP address that you assigned to Rovio during setup. If you forgot to give Rovio a manual (i.e., unchanging)IP, you can change the settings under the Network tab in Rovio's settings screen as seen below.
*** IMPORTANT *** Many ISP's block port 80 by default. You can change this in the setup screen below to an alternate port, such as 8080, which is what I have used in the past. When you do this, you will have to type the port address after your DynDNS or WAN IP when you want to access your Rovio. For example: myrovio.ath.cx:8080
Your WAN IP
At this point, you're probably thinking this is all good.
"But, but... I still don't know how to get to my Rovio from another computer" is what I hear you saying right now. Obviously, you can't simply type in "192.168.1.?" and punch into your home network, right?
The secret lies in your WAN IP address. See, Rovio should already set up to be triggered when you try to access your WAN from an external network. I'm betting that if you knew your WAN IP, and typed it in your browser while you're off of your network, you'd be able to log into your Rovio.
You can usually find your WAN IP from going to the main "system" page of your wireless router. My WAN IP is displayed on the first page, as you can see from the screenshot. Type this in your external browser, and you should be able to access your Rovio.
Getting a Custom URL With DynDNS for your Rovio
Hopefully, you're happily roaming away with your remote Rovio connection. But what if you're sick of typing in a boring old number? Your Rovio has more character than that!
Fortunately, there's a service called DynDNS that basically, will allow you to get a custom URL that you can type in to your browser in order to access your Rovio over the Web. Here's how!
First, go to DynDNS.com and set up an account. They provide a range of services, but the service you need is called DDNS - or Dynamic DNS. DynDNS has been providing this service for free for nearly 10 years. What a deal!
After you set up your account, go to your "Account" page, and look for "Host Services" in the option panel on the left of your page. Click there, and then on "Add New Hostname," which will pop up in about the top middle of your page. You'll be met with a screen like this:
With any luck, your WAN IP will have been automatically detected. Click on the blue link to populate your WAN IP in the field.
Now the fun part - you get to pick what URL you would like to use to access your Rovio. The drop down box offers a huge list of domain names to choose from.
Setting up Rovio to Use Your New Custom URL
Hold your three-wheeled bases... we're not quite done yet! (That was a bad joke, I know, but couldn't resist.) You still have to make sure Rovio knows what your new URL is.
Head into your Rovio's setup screen and click on the Domain tab, you will see the screen below:
You'll need to input your custom URL as well as the username and password that you used for DynDNS. Once you do this, you should be all set to go!
Note: I was unable to access my Rovio's custom IP from my internal network - so don't be discouraged if it doesn't work. Try accessing your custom URL from outside of your network and it should work.
***REMEMBER*** If you needed to set an alternate web port, such as 8080, make sure that you append it to your DynDNS address or WAN IP when accessing Rovio. I.E., myrovio.ath.cx:8080
I'm sincerely hoping that this short guide helps you get up and running with your Rovio. Unfortunately, there are many problems that can happen with networking that are outside of your Rovio's control, such as issues with your ISP, wireless router settings, and others.
I'd love to hear experiences from others who have had good luck setting up external access, and any tips or tricks for other routers that may help Rovio users. Good luck!