- Todd Gillespie
Got Tech Gear on Black Friday, Now What?
Face it, you're not good at setting up this stuff. Smart home setup, WiFi upgrades, fancy video doorbells and TV's just aren't your thing. If your last DIY project was more like a DIWhy (did I do this?) then you may need a little help. Luckily, the folks from Black Dog IT's Residential Division have some tips that will give you the confidence you need to setup those cool devices!
Everything starts here. If your WiFi is bad everything else that depends on it will be too! That's your smart TV's, your gaming systems, your Alexas, your cameras and so forth. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, and WiFi is a big mama! If you got a great deal on a new router that isn't a mesh system - I hope you kept the receipt. While there are situations where a regular WiFi router is better than a mesh setup (hint - they involve finances) we almost exclusively recommend you go mesh. This means Google WiFi, Nest, eero, Orbi and Ubiquiti AmpliFi to name a few. If you've got one of these sitting in a shiny new box at your home congratulations! This really is the way to go.
Most, if not all of these products allow you to setup them up over an app. This is usually pretty simple and straightforward. Just do what that the app tells you. Most will walk you through the entire install, from what to plug in where, to selecting a password.
Some general thoughts on setup - your mesh system will likely come with two or three devices. The main device replaces your old router. It will likely be in a corner of your house somewhere, as most internet providers take the path of least resistance when setting up your modem, and existing phone or cable lines likely came in there, making it easier on the installer. Setup your next device about 2-3 rooms away. If you live in a ranch home, and you utilize the basement, this should be on the floor without the main device, and preferably in the center of your home. If you don't utilize the basement, place it 2-3 rooms away on the same level.
If you're in a two story and have only two devices in your mesh network try to place one on each of the two most used floors of your home. Of course, you're probably limited as to where the main one is located. If it is in the basement, then place the second device on the main floor, again preferably in the middle of the house. If you have three devices, with the main device in the basement, try placing the main floor satellite between about a room off center back towards the device in the basement. The third device would go on the second floor about a room or so off center in the other direction.
Try to position all the devices at or near eye level and avoid tucking them behind other objects like dense plants, walls, or thick doors. Also, try not to put them inside cabinets or other furniture. The less that is blocking their paths to communicate with one another, and all your devices, the better!
Download a free WiFi signal tester on your phone and go to the points in your home that really matter. Check around your TV's, your gaming systems and the areas you work with your laptop or tablets. Signal strength is measured in decibel millawatts or dBm's. I know you don't care! It is helpful to know that it is measured in negative numbers, so a signal strength of -41 is fantastic, but a signal strength of -80 is not so good. If you're getting numbers between -38 and -61 you should be golden. If your numbers are worse than that, you may need to move your satellites around.
Lastly, make sure you have your system secured! This is the most important step. Get into the configuration settings of the device, either through the app or through the user interface through a web browser. Change the name of your network, and definitely change the password from the default settings. Also, if the device has it, change the password for the admin settings as well, and do not use the same password you used to log onto the WiFi!
If any of this sounds too daunting - call us! Check out everything we do for our residential customers here. We would be thrilled to help you out!
Smart Home Setup
Sweet! You got an Echo Show for $10 when you brought that Ring Doorbell. Smoking Deal! There were a ton of great Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals on all kinds of smart home tech, hopefully you were able to score some! Now though, comes the difficult part - setting it all up! Were going to concentrate on some of the basic stuff.
If you're brand new to this smart home / personal assistant thing - Alexa is Queen! The first thing you need to know is that you will require an Amazon ID in order to make her work her magic. It's easy, just jump online and head over to Amazon.com and get yourself setup with an account. You don't need a Prime account, but it will give you more features for sure!
Once you've got an Amazon account setup, download the Alexa app on your iPhone or Android. Plug in your Echo (the Echo is the device, Alexa is the voice on it!). Now use the app to connect the Echo to your home WiFi. It's really eazy. Finally, start talking to Alexa. She will ask you some setup questions, just answer those and you'll be ready to actually start using it.
Some cool things to setup - you're just scratching the surface right now. You can add so much to Alexa. Smart bulbs that turn on and off with voice commands, video cameras that can display on your television when you ask them too, music that can play in every room in your home and so much more.
You can also setup routines. For example you can say "Alexa, top of the morning to you" and that can trigger a series of events. It will start off by turning on your bathroom lights. Two minutes later it can raise the temperature in your home by three degrees and simultaneously play your favorite playlist on the bathroom speaker. There are so many things that can be done, the possibilities are endless. If you're reading this article that may be a little advanced for you, but you can read how to do it from our friends over at https://www.tomsguide.com/us/how-to-create-an-alexa-routine,review-4931.html.
Let's show those porch pirates who's boss!
Installing a video doorbell is pretty easy, usually. Here will discuss the Ring doorbell, but it's pretty much the same process for all major brands.
The first step is to charge the battery. Do this whether you plan on connecting to your existing doorbell wiring or not.
Download the Ring app on your smartphone and create your account.
Put the battery in the Ring unit.
Push the button just below and to the right of camera itself. (you should not have the unit mounted to your home yet!)
Open the WiFi settings on your smart phone.
Connect to the Ring network.
Go to the Ring app and enter in your local WiFi info. At this point your Ring is online.
Have a helper hold the camera in place where you are planning to mount it. Look at the video on your app and make sure you're covering the area you need to. If not, consider using the mounting wedges or locating the unit elsewhere.
If you're replacing an existing doorbell, cut power to it at the breaker and uninstall the doorbell button.
Connect the two wires from the house to the screws on the back of the Ring. It doesn't matter which wire connects to which screw. (Sounds Sketchy I know, but it works) Skip this step if you are not tying into an existing doorbell for power.
Put in four screws to mount the Ring to your exterior wall/door. If you're screwing into wood, you should be fine with just the screws. If you're securing to brick or stucco, use the anchors provided.
Put the face plate on the device.
Turn power back on.
Now, that is a lot of steps, but it's not as hard as it looks. Of course we're here to help, so if you decide not to tackle this one on your own - call us at 402-881-3782, extension 2 or email us at email@example.com and we'll get someone out to you!
Few things are as scary as the moment you first place your $1,200 TV onto a wall mount and remove your hands. Will it hold, or will you be picking up Samsung pieces off the floor?
There are several factors that come into play when you're mounting a TV. What is the wall made out of? Where are the studs? What are the studs made out of? How do I route the power? What type of mount do I use. There is so much to consider.
First you need to pick out your mount. Start by deciding if you need it to be fully articulating or not. If not, you can get away with a mount that is basically stationary but will usually allow you to tilt the TV. These mounts are generally a little easier to install and a little less expensive. Pay close attention to the size and/or weight restrictions on the mount. Buying the wrong size could prove expensive!
Once you have a mount picked out, you need to understand how it functions so that you can get it mounted correctly. What I mean by that is you have to find the center. The center of your wall, and the center of where the TV will be on the mount. Some articulating mounts, especially the ones with a single arm, fully fold in with the TV off of center by a few inches. You need to understand that and put it into your calculations so when you mount the TV, it is actually mounted where you intended it to be!
So now you understand the function of the mount, and you know where you want it on the wall. Now you need to find the studs. If you're lucky they'll match up with where you want the TV to be mounted, although that's unlikely. Many of the dual arm mounts allow you to be a bit flexible with where the mount lines up to the studs. The mount itself may not be where you want it, but it is put into the stud, and you can adjust the arms to center the TV. This takes some trial and error. Once you figure it out use the mount to mark where your screws should go. You'll need a helper. Make sure the mount is level and use a pencil to mark your spots.
Drill pilot holes where the lag bolts will go. The mount you purchased should have the hardware needed and some instructions.
Install the lag bolts. While this is going on, have your helper install the arms on the TV.
Look at cabling. Do you have electrical directly behind the TV or are you going to need to go into the wall? Or, do you care if wires are exposed?
If you want to hide the wires make sure you are complying with local building codes. An electrician could be very helpful at this point. If you want to go on your own look for in-wall installation accessories that can help. Drill the holes for these - typically one directly behind the TV, and another near the floor that will allow you to plug in the device to an existing outlet.
Hang the TV on the mount and plug things in.
If you find yourself in a situation where you can't hit the studs, you can use Flip Toggle anchors to secure to drywall, though it is not ideal.
If you are going into steel studs, it is recommended that you use Flip Toggle anchors in those as well - making sure you install them right to the center of the stud.
Hopefully this helps, but if not - don't worry - we're here to help. TV mounting is right up our alley! Call us today at 402-881-3782.
We just covered a few of the thousands of cool tech gadgets you may have purchased on Black Friday. While we certainly hope this helps, and you feel confident in doing this yourself, we would love to come help! You can read about all our residential tech services here. Our prices are extremely reasonable and you'll find that our technicians truly care about you and the tech in your home! Call us at 402-881-3782.