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Author Topic: wifi on the road  (Read 1009 times)
fraser8
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« on: February 19, 2012, 12:14:16 PM »

I did a search and didn't find to much on the site but here goes.
I currently have Verizon 4G mobile hot spot. I'm not terribly impressed with it, lots of dropped signal, poor skype and magic jack performance etc. Any suggestions or better ideas??
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Fraser Field
Deroche, BC, Canada
Where the milk cows out number the people, but they can't vote
1972 Prevost, Detroit 8-71/740 Allison automatic, Jakes
Hobbies: restoring classic cars, www.oldambulance.com, arranging old car tours: www.coasters2010.com, www.canadiancoasters.ca
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2012, 12:21:10 PM »

There is an active topic in this regard over at BNO.

http://www.busnut.com/bbs/messages/11/71793.html?1329672693

Also see technomadia's blog. They did a great seminar in Arcadia on this topic.

http://www.technomadia.com/2011/09/10-tips-to-keep-connected-us-mobile-internet-options/

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2012, 12:43:49 PM »

Its getting increasingly hard to find open wifi Fraser but if you're talking about boosting park wifi here's what we do, in increasing order of difficulty:

- an external USB dongle hung out the window will make a big difference.  Even taping the dongle to the inside of the window is often better than the built in wifi antenna.  I built a reflector for a dongle many years ago but I wouldn't recommend that to anyone else now because there are other better alternatives.  I've also been known to tape the dongle to the end of a straightened coat hanger to get some additional elevation on it.

- a Pepwave Surf 200 is an extended range wifi receiver that connects to the wifi signal and attaches to your computer with a Cat 5 cable.  We have used that with good success on the road.  Configuring it isn't completely intuitive but you get used to it.  And its cheap - maybe 30 bucks.  This spring I bought an external yagi antenna for ours along with about 30 feet of coax so I can put the antenna on top of the bridge on the boat.  That hasn't been as successful as I hoped it would be but it helps when the signal is too weak to bring in on the external dongle.  Lots of times you can see a signal with the internal computer antenna or the dongle but the transmit power is too low to get back to the access point.  The Surf 200 overcomes that with additional transmit power.

- this spring I bought a Cisco RE1000 range extender.  It cost in the neighbourhood of $100 so its getting up there for what I'm prepared to spend but it works really well.  Again configuration isn't entirely intuitive - the instructions that come with it are useless because they assume you will set it up once in your house and never change anything.  What it does is connect to the remote wifi and then rebroadcast the signal.  You log into the extender using the same login information that you would to login to the wifi.  I haven't used it on the bus but there's no reason I wouldn't. On the boat I mount it as high as possible facing the wifi source.  I've used it on a couple mile range successfully but I wouldn't recommend depending on that distance.  Half a mile is pretty reliable.

The last two of these solutions can be attached to a router as a WAN connection.  That lets you set up your own onboard wifi system.  We have the bus wired with several Cat 5 connections so we don't have to depend on wifi.

If you want reliable high speed internet wherever you go then there is only one solution - a Hughes Datastorm.  We use a Hughes tripod system and there are still plenty of places where that is our only reliable connection.  Lately I've been playing around with using it on the boat.  About a week ago now I had a connection with the dish sitting on a floating dock.  The tripod is actually a pretty easy system to setup and I like it because it lets me locate the dish remote to the bus when we're parked under trees.  Right now there's a bunch of roof mount Datastorm systems for sale because people are abandoning them for 3G/4G systems so now is a great time to buy one if you are interested.  I'll bet you could buy a good system for under $1000 - for sure no more than $1500.
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2012, 01:33:45 PM »

Fraser -

We played around with a Verizon 4G hotspot from Samsung a couple of months ago, and like you - were not impressed.  We experienced a lot of drops, and having to reboot the device frequently. We've been hearing a good number of complaints about the 4G network, particularly in areas on edge between 3G & 4G and there not being seamless transition between the two.

In our technomadic opinion, the 4G network is not yet up to snuff for our needs.

For now, we're opting for reliability over speed, and stick with a 3G plan from Verizon. But instead of buying it direct from them, we go through Millenicom (www.millenicom.com - Advanced Plan), where we get 20 GB per month for $59.99 with no contract.   

We also tether off our AT&T iPhones, which are able to receive their 3G+ network (which is not quite 4G, but is higher speed than Verizon's 3G network and has the reliability).


Between the two, we keep a fairly good connection as we roam.

We're also experimenting with a WiFi Ranger Pro & Boost system right now that allows us to receive a distant WiFi signal and use it inside our bus.  In general though, we don't find public WiFi to be usable enough to depend on, and prefer to 'bring our own'.   But the WFR is quite useful for when we're parked near a friend's house and utilizing their private network, and when we're using cellular, it's also our router.

When all else fails, we also carry a HughesNet satellite tripod system.  It's generally a slow and latent connection, but it gets the job done and lets us be in places off the Coverage map.

Best wishes,
 - Cherie

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Cherie and Chris / www.technomadia.com
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Dreamscape
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2012, 05:45:45 PM »

While on our trip from Texas to Vancouver, WA last year we used the Hotspot on my Droid phone. I was impressed with it. It cost us an extra $20 a month, and can turn it on or off as needed.

We've used several devices and found this to be the best connection so far. Granted it's not super fast, but it did work fine for our needs. We didn't stream videos, mostly stayed in touch with family and friends and of course checking the various bus boards.  Grin

If you are looking for free, lot's of places now advertise free WiFi. Some State's have it available in their Rest Areas.
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2012, 12:29:05 PM »

I would read and keep up with all the posts on the Escapees website.  They have a section devoted to mobile internet, with lots of current information.  Good place to keep up on current equipment and developements, what works and what doesn't in different parts of N. America.
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fraser8
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2012, 06:15:53 PM »

Thanks for all the info. There is some interesting stuff on the Excapees site
http://www.rvnetwork.com/index.php?s=a54efa9d6c0be1a45c1138ba36534b20&showforum=33
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Fraser Field
Deroche, BC, Canada
Where the milk cows out number the people, but they can't vote
1972 Prevost, Detroit 8-71/740 Allison automatic, Jakes
Hobbies: restoring classic cars, www.oldambulance.com, arranging old car tours: www.coasters2010.com, www.canadiancoasters.ca
Retired Paramedic
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