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Old 10-12-2003, 04:06 PM   #1
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Question Using Wi-Fi (AKA WLAN or wireless) in your AS

I'll soon to be the owner of a new notebook computer equipped with wireless networking. I plan to use this computer on the road in our CCD (has a nice wide screen for DVDs). I was wondering if anyone had camped anywhere that had Wi-Fi capabilities and how did it work in your trailer? I know a lot of the KAO Kampgrounds have wireless. I ask this because we tried using a portable multi-band (wind up type) radio inside the trailer and it didn't receive well at all. AM, FM or short wave. Worked just fine outside on the picnic table. It appears that all that beautiful metal blocks radio waves. I'm wondering if I'll need to add to the antenna farm on top of the trailer.
Thanks,
Ken

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Old 10-12-2003, 04:29 PM   #2
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Ken,

Does your unit have the ability to run on both the 802.11g and 802.11b frequencies or simply just 802.11b.

I know that the g frequency gives you a little added range and from what one friend told me, he was able to get his laptop to work within his trailer.

Hopefully, wi-fi is going to start picking up at the campgrounds and will be more commonplace. For now, there is always a T-Mobile Hot Spot membership which virtually works at any Starbucks and Barnes and Noble.

Josh
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Old 10-12-2003, 04:45 PM   #3
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Both B & G

Josh, The mini PCI wireless card will have a dual band (B&G) capability. I will probably subscribe to T-Mobile also.
Ken
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Old 10-12-2003, 07:55 PM   #4
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We have three access methods when we travel:

- T-Mobile GPRS (Sierra Air Card) $29.99/mon unlimited - usable most anywhere you can get T-Mobile phone access, works well within the trailer, but yiou might need to move about to get the "best" spot
- T-Mobile Hot Spots (802.11b) $29.99/mon unlimited - usable at Starbucks, Borders, and other locations. Have not used from within the trailer via campgrounds access points, but should work OK just as the GPRS service.
- Earthlink dial-in - works well from within the trailer via the phone line connected at the RV site

Have same problems from within trailer on AM/FM reception. Must connect radion to exterior antenna. Also have considerable noise from charger, fans, and lights.

73/gus
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Old 10-12-2003, 08:17 PM   #5
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If you have an 802.11g card in your computer, you should only have the base station set for 802.11g if you don't have any .11b pieces. Reason being is that when you run both, there is a slight performance hit. Running strictly "g" will have a performance increase.

I have g on this laptop and compared to my old b system, the performance is much better. The signal is a bit stronger too, but the Twinkie does still manage to take a few bars pretty easily...

Eric
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Old 10-12-2003, 08:57 PM   #6
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I work for Cingular. So here are some comments on wireless internet on a wireless phone carrier.


WAIT!

GPRS sucessor will be here before the holidays. GPRS (General Package Radio Service) Is going to be replaced with EDGE. This is a faster service and should be here by thanksgiving. T-Mobile and Cingular use almost identical technology and products. Cingular is in the process of converting all it's systems to GSM (the techonogy that GPRS and EDGE run on). Mid 2004 our GSM coverage maps will almost be identical to the TDMA networks. That will be a larger coverage area then T-Mobile.

Also does the computer your looking at suport "Blue Tooth" or Inferred? Most wireless phone products can be used as a modem. The computer needs a way to talk to the Wireless phone. Either way will work but your computer and phone would both need to suport it. Blue tooth is a common machine language. It allows any device that is Blue tooth to talk to any other Blue tooth device with no other software or hardware/cabling needed. It's new here in the states but starting to make a play.

Inferred wil work fine but you will need some software from that wiless phone manufacture so the computer knows how to talk to the phone. These is most of the time a sharewar program available right off the manufactures web site.
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Old 10-13-2003, 06:16 AM   #7
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I have an 802.11b base station in my house, with an outside antenna. I also run an Orinoco card in the laptop that has provisions for an external antenna. When using the external antenna with the card, I can hit my base station from inside the Airstream when the base station is not connected to it's external antenna from about 200' away.

Range to my iPaq 5455 with the base station on it's outside antenna is around 500'.
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Old 10-13-2003, 10:09 AM   #8
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I have Verizon wireless with my cell phone. The modem speed is 14.5 and that my friends is sllllooooowwww. It is ok for doing banking but for any net surfing it is next to unusable. I am not conversant in the new technologies, but I would like to find something faster and more reliable. My laptop is a Sony VAIO and I have the Verizon adapter to attach the phone to the computer.

Getting a signal is problematic in the Airstream. I usually open the window and hang the phone on the curtain edge to get a usable signal.

Any suggestions on how to get a better signal or faster access is welcomed. The wife does genealogy and needs good access when we are on the road.
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Old 10-13-2003, 12:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by startrekker2001
I have Verizon wireless with my cell phone. The modem speed is 14.5 and that my friends is sllllooooowwww. It is ok for doing banking but for any net surfing it is next to unusable. I am not conversant in the new technologies, but I would like to find something faster and more reliable. My laptop is a Sony VAIO and I have the Verizon adapter to attach the phone to the computer.

Getting a signal is problematic in the Airstream. I usually open the window and hang the phone on the curtain edge to get a usable signal.

Any suggestions on how to get a better signal or faster access is welcomed. The wife does genealogy and needs good access when we are on the road.
Some phones do have an external antenna jack. Phone places and truck stops often have the adaptors and antennas to take advantage of them. Set a mag mount on the roof and bring the cable in through a vent and it will work well. Might need a peice of tape to keep it in place and I would pull it back off for travel.

Normal TDMA (Cingular/At&t) and CDMA (Verizon) is about 14.4 max. GSM (Cingular/AT&T/T-Mobile) has GPRS (General Package Radio Service). It's Wireless eithernet but it is a subscribe service. In a good service area 128k line speeds are possible. EDGE (Enhanced Data something) is the new data technology 200k speeds are expected. Will be available before the first of the year.
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Old 10-13-2003, 07:56 PM   #10
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Question I may go GPRS (+ 802.11 B&G)

Toaster, Thanks for the antenna tips. I was doing some surfing today (only during lunch break...) and Cingular isn't availbe here in AZ. To bad. I may go the T-Mobile route and get their GPRS card and Internet access. If I buy their GPRS card, can I use it with their $29. a mo. wireless Internet? Or do I have to buy cellular service also?
Thanks,
Ken
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Old 10-14-2003, 04:59 AM   #11
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Ken,

From what I was once told at a T-Mobile store, you only get the $29 Internet rate when you also have a phone account.

Josh
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Old 10-12-2006, 11:41 AM   #12
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Speaking from the Geek Family

Please, please, please...if you are going to use Wi-fi, PLEASE get an external antenna.

You are NOT going to get decent reception inside an A.S. without an antenna. You will end up having dropped service, fading service, and many times of no service.

And Tech Support is tired of hearing people complain and scream about how the Wi-Fi company is bilking them....when there isn't anything they can do about it.

You can get exterior antennas for Wi-Fi fairly easily and cheaply. If you want to spend the buck, you can get an ultra-power, Uber-rayed, squirrels-within-a-10-mile-radius-are-turning-into-piles-of-ashes antenna and booster that will gaurantee you the fastest signal that the baudwidth will allow.

If you are connecting through a cell phone package (with the cell phone) , please get an extra-long cord and toss the phone part outside in some fashion. The signal tends to be choppy, and often non-existant, inside an A.S.

And when you do call tech support, please keep in mind that tech support people WANT to help you. They WANT you to get on the internet. They WANT you to be so happy at the end of the call that you do a jig on your roof.

So please don't scream at them about what you think about the company policies, the quality of the network or why Utah doesn't have more signal towers. The tech support people don't even have the power to complain about any of these things.

The only thing they have the power to do is to help you get on the internet via that service. That's it. Please remember that.

And please remember that if the service you are getting is free, you are getting what you pay for. Don't call tech support if the service is free.....you'll only be even grouchier.

Peace,
Caliann
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Old 10-12-2006, 01:00 PM   #13
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We've stayed at a couple of campgrounds with Wi-Fi and the signal strength wasn't adaquate inside the trailer to connect. We haven't really had much time to play with it while camping so I'm not sure if we even could have connected outside. Cell phone coverage, when available outside has worked inside the trailer. In marginal cases (i.e. have to walk around outside to find the perfect spot) then no coverage inside which of course is no surprise.

Reading this thread made me realise that the place to debug this is a home, DOH! We have a 801.11g network we use with the laptops and the AS is parked along side the house about 30' from the router. I'd really like to get it working without haveing to have the shore power plugged in so avoiding the use of a router or repeater in the trailer would be required. I don't think the laptop with built in wireless or the PCMCIA card in the other laptop have provision for an external antena so I'm not quite sure what route to take here?

We have the stock TV antenna which I'd be very surpised if we ever used for NTSC broadcast (no tuner in the laptops and don't plan to lug around a television). The coax is most likely RG59 not RG6 but my experience is that it makes almost no difference on short runs with cable broadband, satelites or ethernet over copper. The external antenas seem to use something other than the F connector on coax so maybe the preinstalled cable won't help. Haven't looked at how the CB antena is wired. At least there's a hole already there although the location above the front window maybe less than ideal.

-Bernie
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Old 10-12-2006, 01:00 PM   #14
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And thank you for the voice of tech support.

Really, I work in tech support, too, and I spend a lot of time discussing Bluetooth and hardware problems.

Every now and then we get a customer who prefers to be rabid. In fact, I get them sent to me because I am one of the most patient fellows at our business. It's amazing how many angry types just want somebody to listen to their gripes and say, "There, there" soothingly.

Lamar
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