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Old 07-21-2015, 11:47 AM   #1
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1986 31' Sovereign
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Question Wifi booster help

Hi!

We're trying to figure out a way to get a better wifi reception in our Airstream - the campgrounds' free wifi are never strong enough to offer a decent connection and we need it to work.

I saw something which looks interesting in Camping World's website. But I was wondering if we need to buy this kind of product from a camper store?

What device would you all recommend?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Julie
1986 Sovereign 31'
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:17 PM   #2
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The vast majority of campground WiFi does not work worth a damn, and no booster or amplifier will change that. The problem is too many users on too little capacity of a system. Then there are the users who think that they can stream music, movies, You Tube videos and so on, which slows the systems to a crawl. Often campgrounds use their own extension systems, too, and that is another issue. In essence many if not most campground WiFi systems are little more than a simple home stile router which the campground has installed (with maybe some extensions.. again which further limit the capacity)

If you want WiFi in a campground, in your Airstream, and you "need it to work" about the only thing which will be reasonably reliable is your own WiFi hotspot connected to a cell phone network. Then you have a system with a possibility of reception. Still, you essentially cannot stream video (and probably much music) because the data allocation is limited and expensive. But email, web searching and less intensive data use will be fine. And security will be vastly improved over any public WiFi connection, so your data will be safe.

And this assumes you have cell reception at the campground location.
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:45 PM   #3
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Hmmm, this is not good news... Using our cell phone is a bit scary because of data limit. Plus we post/send pictures sometimes. And I admit I was hoping to be able to stream movies. :0/
Well thanks for your answer, we will revise our Web usage plans!
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:00 PM   #4
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July,

You are in the right part of the forum, have a read of some other threads, lots of good info, don't be scared to ask questions, this is a really helpful community!

I am still working on my wifi/data set up as I work from my airstream... A lot!!
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:02 PM   #5
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While most campgrounds have terrible wifi, that's not always the case.

A simple solution would be to purchase a Pepwave SOHO router from a place like 3gStore. Make sure you pick up a pair of antenna's with it.

The pepwave can pick up stray signals and rebroadcast them in the same way the overpriced Wifi Ranger does.

And if you want to go the extra distance, you can buy cable & an external omni directional wifi antenna for the router.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:23 PM   #6
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I am hoping my SOHO arrives in the next few days, I am in the airstream all of next week and will have time to dial it in first!!
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:28 PM   #7
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We spend a lot of time boondocking in a cell-thin area about half way between Ft. Collins and Cheyenne. We find that a small Wilson amplifier makes all the difference between spotty signal and solid 4G. I tried the $ 400 version, with a big directional antenna for a house installation, but ended up returning it. It didn't give us any more signal than the small omnidirectional magnetic antenna they supply for the mobile amp. We stick the magnetic antenna to the awning mechanism, right above our entrance door. Seems to be the only thing I can reach up there that a magnet will stick to. But it sticks well.
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Old 07-21-2015, 02:24 PM   #8
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Julie check out the blog at Technomadia | Adventures in Nomadic Serendipity and their companion site at RV Mobile Internet Resource Center. Lots of information that can be overwhelming.

For WiFi boosting I've used the WiFi Ranger products. Currently the Go2 and their Elite antenna setup. But primarily in semi urban areas. What you will find with WiFi at most RV locations is that it is woefully short in the amount of bandwidth available especially in the evenings when everyone wants to do exactly what you mention, 'watch an occasional movie'. I can probably count on a couple of hands the number of times that there has been that kind of bandwidth available. Happy just to be able to surf the net and get emails.

I also work about 50% of the time from the Airstream on the road. My goto device is a Verizon MiFi unit. That along with a cellular booster (WeBoost 4G-X) and an external antenna open up a lot more areas to camp at. Antenna can be the short mag mount that comes with the unit. I also have a trucker mount Wilson omni directional antenna and one of their highly directional Yagi wedge antennas. I mount those to the top of my flagpole if I need even better signal reception.

So if you absolutely need a connection to do you work then you probably need both. A WiFi booster like the WFR or Pepwave units and a MiFi cellular puck. If you had to only choose one then my vote would be for the cellular setup. Much better chance of getting a speedy connection. (albeit pulling down movies is a data hog and can quickly run up the bill).
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
While most campgrounds have terrible wifi, that's not always the case.

A simple solution would be to purchase a Pepwave SOHO router from a place like 3gStore. Make sure you pick up a pair of antenna's with it.

The pepwave can pick up stray signals and rebroadcast them in the same way the overpriced Wifi Ranger does.

And if you want to go the extra distance, you can buy cable & an external omni directional wifi antenna for the router.

Bold- THANK YOU SO MUCH! I have been following this thread, looking for a way to boost the signal from our neighbor, who so graciously lets us log on to his Internet while we are in our Airstream. You stood out as one in-the-know with tech-y things from previous posts, so I valued your input. Wi-if ranger was a bit more than we wanted to go so we took your advice and got the Pepwave- WOW! Got it from the 3G store ( maybe they should give you a discount with the business you are sending them?).....It didn't take much to set up after watching their video on their site and now I have my iPad back- oh joy of joys! I had been relegated to using my laptop and putting it "just so" in the window to get two bars....now we can even stream- our neighbor has a fiber optic connection so it doesn't impact him much. And now I don't have to be glued to the window....thanks again and happy trails to you....
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:57 PM   #10
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Just to report back. 2 days into using the SOHO. It just works. I use the app on my iPad to connect the 4G when I need it (like now) and when I am done I disconnect.

The most impressive part of he SOHO is the internet speed feels like 4G. The Surf OTG and TPlink I used mad it feel like I was on 3G !!
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghaynes755 View Post
Julie check out the blog at Technomadia | Adventures in Nomadic Serendipity and their companion site at RV Mobile Internet Resource Center. Lots of information that can be overwhelming.

For WiFi boosting I've used the WiFi Ranger products. Currently the Go2 and their Elite antenna setup. But primarily in semi urban areas. What you will find with WiFi at most RV locations is that it is woefully short in the amount of bandwidth available especially in the evenings when everyone wants to do exactly what you mention, 'watch an occasional movie'. I can probably count on a couple of hands the number of times that there has been that kind of bandwidth available. Happy just to be able to surf the net and get emails.

I also work about 50% of the time from the Airstream on the road. My goto device is a Verizon MiFi unit. That along with a cellular booster (WeBoost 4G-X) and an external antenna open up a lot more areas to camp at. Antenna can be the short mag mount that comes with the unit. I also have a trucker mount Wilson omni directional antenna and one of their highly directional Yagi wedge antennas. I mount those to the top of my flagpole if I need even better signal reception.

So if you absolutely need a connection to do you work then you probably need both. A WiFi booster like the WFR or Pepwave units and a MiFi cellular puck. If you had to only choose one then my vote would be for the cellular setup. Much better chance of getting a speedy connection. (albeit pulling down movies is a data hog and can quickly run up the bill).
I have unlimited data on my Verizon phone but usually cannot get much of a signal inside the Airstream. I was told by Verizon that I could turn on my hotspot for an additional $20/ month. How do you connect the outside antenna? Do you run the cable through the door? I thought the antenna had to be mounted on a metal surface. I am so confused!! Could I just buy a cell booster and antenna and a flagpole and be set?
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Old 07-28-2015, 12:52 PM   #12
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Unless you phone has an antenna jack, you don't say which phone, then you can't do a direct connect outside antenna.

Antenna needs to have a ground plane. A simple metal pie plate with one of the short stubby antennas used with a booster is fine. I used a small square of flexible magnet up over the door on my last trailer.

If you don't have an antenna port on the phone then you would need to go with a booster that uses either a cradle mount or inside antenna to pick up the signal from the phone. Popular models available at Amazon or 3gstore. WeBoost is the former Wilson Brand. You would end up with a cradle/inside antenna, booster and then still need to run an antenna to the outside.

I ran my original setup through the door. Antenna wire was very small. On the new Classic I ran a wire from the cabinet with the DVD player, down to the refrigerator ventilator door on the curbside. When I get to a camping spot I put an antenna on top of the flagpole and attach the antenna wire to the end of the cable I pulled from the interior locker.
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Old 07-28-2015, 09:47 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info Gary. I'm using Verizon with a samsung note 4 so I will probably go with the booster and inside and outside antenna. Just need to research 4g boosters.
Thanks again for the advice.
Dave
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Old 07-28-2015, 10:03 PM   #14
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weboost/Wilson is a solid choice. If you have a wind up antenna for your TV then you can put the phone antenna there. I have my internal ante main the AV cupboard above my dinette.
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