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Staying Connected: When You Can’t Get Away From It All

By Jenn

Working from the T@b is a long term goal that I am pecking away at slowly, but surely. One of the biggest challenges I face is connectivity for both Internet and cellular. I need to be online, all day, every day that I am working. There are 2 scenarios that I need to prep for in order to go FT: connected via WiFi, whether it be a campground or a library, and connecting via the mobile hotspot on my phone.

I did a moderate amount of research and borrowed from the knowledge and experience of the Technomads and Gone with the Wynns.

Wi-Fi

My set up is partially complete. The Wifi Ranger is the mostly highly recommended set up by most Rvers. It is also a little more expensive. The second part is a Ubiquiti Nanostation M2 that I planned to mount to a flagpole. Truthfully, I was not planning to invest on Wifi CPE this year, but found a great deal on an open box item from Amazon, that did not appear to have been used at all, so I snagged it.

The Nanostation M2 was reported to have been difficult to set up. It really was not, difficult, at all, but if you do not the difference between a static and dynamic IP, it might be above your paygrade. But, it really is not complicated and if you are a little bit savvy, you can figure it out. I followed this Youtube tutorial and it went off almost without a hitch. I think he said the IP address incorrectly at one point, but I was able to figure it out fairly easily.

So, here is what my set-up entails:

  • Ubiquiti Nanaostation M2 – this is a Wifi radio that repeats and strengthens an existing Wifi signal, like Wifi at an RV Park. This requires a/c power. This means that you will either shore power or another means such as an inverter connected to your battery orn12v outlet to power the device. I use a Goal Zero Yeti 150. Theoretically, you could power over d/c power. The radio is powered via PoE (Power over Ethernet.)
  • Amazon Basics 25′ Ethernet cable
  • Ubiquiti Air Gateway – essentially, a wireless router for your Nanostation. This allows you to connect to the Internet without a LAN (ethernet) cable. The Air Gateway plugs directly into the Nanostation PoE Adapter.
  • External mounting is optional, but I opted to utilize the Ubiquiti universal mounting bracket on a Flagpole to Go pole. I mount this in a clamp-on fishing rod holder. The fishing rod holder has holes in the bottom, so rain water drains easily.

I am giving this a test run at home and so far, so good. I notice some speed degradation, but I think that is fairly predictable, given my home WiFi has to go through several walls, including external brick. Line of sight is a key factor, regardless of which Wifi radio option you pick. In addition to mere connectivity, you create your own SSID, giving you more security.

So far, I am happy with this solution, but need to do a more in-depth testing to determine if it was worth the investment. Depending on the results of the test, I might not need the WiFiRanger.

https://youtu.be/ABZheW7pqFU

Cellular

If you have traveled the Southwest, you know how spotty cell service is, away from cities. I need cell service for conference calls as well as for a back-up data hotspot. I picked up a Weboost 4G-S. The research I did on cellular boosters led me to make a decision now rather than later because it appears as though although new technology will be available soon, none of it offers a significant improvement and the prices for the current batch of devices seems to provide a better overall value. Weboost, formerly Wilson Electronics, has long been the favorite in the RV world in terms of RV boosters. I picked up a window mount for the antenna.

My local tests are not really great indicators of the performance of the Weboost, as cell service is fairly good in most areas of the east. Check back for an update later this fall.

I have some time to work out the bugs and am looking forward to a more rigorous test this fall.



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