Tenda Nova MW-6 — add new Nova unit to network

In general, I like the Tenda Nova MW-6 wireless mesh system. It manages to get wi-fi into all the rooms in my flat even through fairly thick walls. It even powers our CCTV comms and the Nova unit for that is stuck inside a cupboard in the building’s foyer, a number of thick walls away from the base unit in my living room.

In my review of the Tenda Nova I gave it 4.5 stars and I stand by that in terms of my its day-to-day operation and usefulness.

There is one infuriating aspect, though, and that’s when you want to add a new Nova unit to your existing system. It’s unaccountably difficult to do. By that I mean that, although the process itself is simple, it takes numerous attempts and a lot of arseing about to hook the new unit up.

According to Tenda’s instructions, when I plug a new unit in, it’s supposed to pop up a dialog asking if I want to allow the unit to join the network. I’ve now got five units on the system and I’ve never yet seen that dialog.

No matter, in the Tenda app there’s an Add Nova option under settings. You plug the unit in, wait for about 30 seconds for the blue light to start flashing and then run the Add Nova routine.

You’ll be prompted to scan the OR code on the bottom of the new unit with your phone’s camera and it should then add the unit to the network. Alas, I’ve never got that to work either.

However, at the bottom-left of the scanning screen there’s an Enter SN button you can press to manually enter the serial number found on the bottom of the Nova unit. The serial number is written in a font only owls can read but humans can just about see it with the aid of a magnifying glass.

I have found that entering the serial number directly is more successful than scanning it. Even so, it can take numerous attempts.

Sometimes it still remains stubborn. You will have exhausted all known swear words and invented a few of your own by now, but stick with it and try a reset first.

If you look at the bottom of the Nova unit you’ll see a reset hole. The bottom of the unit is patterned with holes to make locating the correct one as difficult as possible, but it’s a smidgen bigger than the other holes. That hole may have an icon next to it. I can’t be sure even with a magnifying glass — it may just be a smudge — and I don’t possess an electron microscope.

Anyway, if you take a needle or the end of a paper-clip or even the nib of a pen and jam that into the hole, it will reset the unit. You must hold it in there for 20 seconds or so. The light on the unit will first go light blue (not to be confused with the darker blue light you see when setting it up) and then it will go white when the reset has finished. Only now can you stop pressing that reset button.

Eventually that light will go (dark) blue and then it’ll start to flash and you’re ready to have another go at connecting it to your network.

The point is, the thing will eventually connect, you just have to keep trying. Your temper may have driven you to commit many acts of violence in the interim, but you should get there. Think 10+ attempts and a couple of resets for each unit before it deigns to connect.

I can’t help but think this process should be much, much easier. Once it’s all connected up, though, it’s pretty reliable.