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How Do You Stay Connected?
Total Views: 2361 - Total Replies: 37
Feb 23 2009, 7:33 pm - By KevsKnight

For an upcoming discussion at the Rally, I am trying to find out how NuRVers are staying connected. EVDO? Satellite? Park wifi? Starbucks hotspot? What do you like? What do you feel you are missing? What would be your dream setup? Have you used other types and were not happy?

I'll start :)

We are currently using EVDO as our primary connection, park wifi as our secondary. Park wifi seems to be getting better all the time, and when we look for a park to stay in, that is one thing on our criteria list. We have had real good luck with EVDO coverage, and I like that Ang can surf while we are driving. I also use it at rest stops, fuel stops, etc.

We use to use EVDO and HughesNet on a tripod setup. I liked the fact that the satellite would work from pretty much anywhere, but did not like hauling that big dish (.74 meter) and tripod in my basement. I also was not able to use the HughesNet connection for work because it didn't work with VPN very well. It also took me forever to point that dish sometimes. Other times it went up quickly and easily.

Current setup:

I now use 2- USB720 EVDO cards on Verizon Wireless. One is typically plugged into my main production machine as a dedicated connection for VPN, the other card is plugged into a Cradlepoint MBR1000 wireless router. The router sends the wireless signal to all of my network devices - two laptops, Tivo, and a Stilleto Sirius receiver.

When in low-signal areas, I have an antenna on an 18' telescoping aluminum pole going into a Cyfre Dual-Band wireless booster, which feeds a distribution  antenna that distributes the cell signal to the wireless cards and two cell phones.

When using park wifi, if we are far enough out that the signal is low, I have a omni-directional antenna I put at the top of the aluminum pole, and that feeds into a Linksys bridge, which then plugs into the Cradlepoint. The Cradlepoint is able to take an incoming signal other than the EVDO, and use EVDO as a fail-over if the other connection drops. 

With that combination, we are able to easily run three laptops, Tivo, Sirius receiver, two cell phones, and anything else we need to put on the network. It also allows me to share with neighbors if I am feeling generous :)

So, what choo got?


I have washboard abs. They are just hidden under 50#s of laundry.
Feb 23 2009, 8:23 pm - Replied by: Technomadia

Here's a link to our current setup..


We also just added in an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid for receiving HD TV on our Mac Mini media server.   And we're also currently researching a universal wireless repeater for utilizing free WiFi in the trailer. :)

 - Cherie

Cherie and Chris / Technomads / www.technomadia.com
1961 GM 4106 - Vintage Bus
On the road since 2006 

Feb 23 2009, 8:34 pm - Replied by: wwaddell

@NuRVers Kathy and I use our Verizon wireless broadband and a Cradlepoint 1000 wireless router in our motorhome for connection anywhere even on the road just like you do... and we have the external antenna for the 720. 


We don't have the wireless booster, but after reading it from your post, will be looking at that as well.  We also loved the telescoping pole idea - could have used it a couple of times on our last trip up the CA/Oregon coast.


Thanks for the great idea...


Wes and Kathy



Wes and Kathy


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Feb 23 2009, 9:03 pm - Replied by: Emmymau

First line of defense is always free wireless, when it can be found or when parks provide it.  When that fails or we're in BFE, I use a Verizon aircard USB modem thingy.  (Yes, that's the extent of my technical knowledge on the subject. I do cars, not electronics...)   Lexie uses the same thing, but from Sprint.  Usually the Verizon card works better, but the overage charges, should you encounter them, are ridiculous.

1995 National RV Dolphin 533--the Incorrigible
1993 Ford Ranger--not yet named
Mushroom--the ship's cat

Feb 23 2009, 9:35 pm - Replied by: LiveWorkDream

Great topic Kev. Here's our specs:

Mobile Satellite Internet
  • Datastorm F2 .98 meter Satellite Dish
  • Datastorm D3 Controller
  • HughesNet 7000S Modem
This is the mid-range plan, between consumer and commerical use. We signed on with it so we could have the option to upgrade to commercial at some point, and we need faster speeds than the consumer line.

Overall we've been happy with it. We wanted it because our preference is to park  out in the sticks, oftentimes where cell phones don't have service (like here in Big Bend, people have been coming up to us, begging us to open up the wifi!). We wanted a guarantee that we could be online, anywhere, and mostly we have. We've had Internet far more often than cell service. Nothing like being online from the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

Only downsides:

  • A few times we've gotten FAPd (like last night when we tried video conferencing for the first time).
  • We had a thingy go wrong (ask Jim), and we had to drive all the way to Motosat's HQ in godforsaken Salt Lake City to have it repaired, there was no way around that.
  • If we want to be sure of service, we avoid parking under trees at all costs. I like trees. This part sucks.
  • Our speeds are sporadic. We've heard HughesNet just has way too many people on the same sats.
  • Our dish is so damn huge that we constantly hear stupid jokes about it.

Lately I've been wondering if we might be better off with an EVDO system like yours, but after paying $8k for the system and $124 a month for the service for the next year, we're too far into it now to back out. They've got us.

I tend to get more irritated with this steup than Jim does. He's way more zen about it and has nicer things to say.

Working and Living Our Dream Life
Feb 23 2009, 10:01 pm - Replied by: KevsKnight

I'm glad we have a satellite perspective! If I was to do sat again, I would go with the monster F3 and a big data plan. I think that will carry the VPN, but could go to $3-400/month. That would be a large nut to choke down, but would gladly do it if allowed me full VPN and public use at the same time, as well as a MUCH higher FAP rate, and decent use of VOIP.

It is nice to be able to stay out in the boonies, away from cell service, but with my business, I have to be able to be on the phone with clients when they need me. If I was away from cell service and had the satellite, I would need to run a reliable VOIP client AND VPN at the same time.

So, right now, we look at being around cell service as a cost of doing what we do. However, some day, we would love that limitless freedom of being able to be out in the sticks. But, knowing us, if there wasn't a good sushi bar or dive bar close by, we wouldn't be hanging there too long anyway ;)

Thanks for all of the input so far. Looking forward to reading more!


(and welcome to Wes and Kathy!!)
I have washboard abs. They are just hidden under 50#s of laundry.
Feb 25 2009, 4:07 pm - Replied by: EVDOalex

Technomadia wrote:
Here's a link to our current setup..
We also just added in an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid for receiving HD TV on our Mac Mini media server.   And we're also currently researching a universal wireless repeater for utilizing free WiFi in the trailer. :)
 - Cherie

If you have an airport express, you might want to try using it to extend campground wifi, and feed it via ethernet into your CTR350. Its an easy way to do what Kev is doing with his Linksys bridge.

I should also note that as a tertiary backup for GPS, your Cradlepoint router display your position on Google Maps, by reading the GPS info coming from the Sprint EX720. (you might need a firmware update on the CTR350 to get this feature to work)
Feb 25 2009, 4:16 pm - Replied by: KevsKnight

EVDOalex wrote:

i should also note that as a tertiary backup for gps, your cradlepoint router display your position on google maps, by reading the gps info coming from the sprint ex720. (you might need a firmware update onctr350 to get this feature to work)

Any word on when VZW will join this century and add this feature as well? Would be killer to have.

I have washboard abs. They are just hidden under 50#s of laundry.
Feb 25 2009, 5:30 pm - Replied by: EVDOalex

KevsKnight wrote:
Any word on when VZW will join this century and add this feature as well? Would be killer to have.

no idea. stupidity on their part not to support it. hope they do, someday soon.
Feb 26 2009, 1:39 pm - Replied by: whatifound

We use Data cards in our laptops and life is good. We had a wifi router set-up for awhile, but since we are often apart and outside the rig each having our own cards means we are never without the mighty internet. Well, almost. When we travel I like to work online and there are a few dead areas, sometimes in mountains or really long stretches of noplace, but if there are cell towers there is internet. I do have to say our first set of cards were from Verizion and we dumped them in favor of AT&T...coverage is MUCH better.
We did get a couple of those "trucker" antennas for low lying areas and they help some I think. We only really use them when we are stopped. He has his going thru the floor (engine compartment) and outside to be fastened on the ladder. I leave mine inside, just propped up in a corner. And they do help where we are now, surrounded by high trees.
But just using the cards works, no big equiptment to buy, no extra wires, or wiring and the speed is just fine...fast enought evrywhere, really fast when you are near big cities.

Feb 27 2009, 5:19 pm - Replied by: RVoutoftheRatRace

We have a Datastorm F1 automatically deploying satellite dish on our fifth wheel roof. Very easy to use since we just hit a button, but makes it difficult to find a site in forested areas since we have to have a shot through the trees. This isn't a big problem in the west, but is a much bigger deal in the southeast so far. A tripod is the only way around this but has bulk and time to setup downsides.


Our backup is tethering our Verizon phones. We have an unlimited data plan so this works pretty well when we can't get a perfect site and also while driving. Expensive though and only affordable because my employer pays for most of it. This has really saved us in the southeast where cell service is pretty reliable due to the well distributed and dense population.


We have a Wilson trucker cell phone antenna and amp which gets us a signal almost everywhere. The downside is the phone has to have an antenna jack to connect to the amp which limits mobility and some phones don't have a jack. I would try a repeater connected to the amp next time so we had signal throughout the RV. But, I understand that the best performance is obtained with a hard connection so it might not be as useful.


Kevsknight, where did you get the telescoping antenna mount? Have been looking for something like this to get the antenna up higher and off my ladder.


We really like to be out in the middle of nowhere so our setup is about the minimum we can get away with and still have reliable phone and internet.

Oh, we run everything through a Linksys wireles router. 2 laptops, 1 wireless printer. Really like being connected anywhere in the RV with no wires.


Another upside to most of this is the low power consumption. Our router, satellite controller, laptops and cell antenna amp all run off of our 12 volt system. I can run my satellite and 17" laptop for about the same energy as one 60 watt light bulb. This lets us run with relative impunity out in the boonies with our four batteries and solar system.


Dan & Jenn

Who says work has to be done in a cubicle?
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