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Old 05-29-2012, 08:12 PM   #141
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Okay, so I spent about two hours messing with the thing tonight, with no luck.

The problem I'm having is that the fuse blows as soon as I try to turn it on, but I can't figure out why. I was able to find them at Radio Shack if anyone needs them, by the way.

But there is definitely a short-circuit somewhere. We all know positive comes through the center wire of the coax, and the negative comes through the outer wire, but it took me a while to realize that the retrofit coax connector has to be connected to the board for it to actually GET ground - otherwise it's sending 12 volts up but no circuit is completed, and of course it won't work.

So, once I have the retrofit coax adapter connected to the board and hit the retrofit switch to apply power, the fuse blows, and sure enough I have continuity between the +12 volts wire from the fuse (which goes to the switch then the retrofit coax connector) and ground. However, removing the retrofit adapter and testing it separately shows no continuity between the +12 volts (center wire) and the casing, so it seems fine. Additionally, I have no continuity between the two wires of the coax cable to the antenna, either. So where the heck is the short?

It's almost as though there is some interaction with the Winegard board - like perhaps it's wired backwards or something like that. There is apparently NO short when hooking the antenna coax cable directly to the board - I did this and it did not blow the camper's fuse. Therefore the WifiRanger and the antenna cable are apparently not shorted, which implies it has to be some kind of interaction with the retrofit kit.

Or maybe I'm overthinking it. It was a long, busy weekend.

Things for me to check next (now that I'm inside and thinking it through):
1. Are the power and ground connections to the Winegard board going to the right spots, or did I reverse them?
2. Is the center conductor of the Winegard antenna coax connector indeed +12 volts like it's supposed to be? Or is it ground? This would explain the problem immediately. (I already tested that the threads on that connector are ground.) If the center conductor is also ground, then it means the Winegard board is bad or something like that. It also means there is no way the amplifier on the antenna would ever work.
3. If #1 or #2 turns out to be the answer, how in the world did it work once?
4. Does the fuse blow if I connect the retrofit connector to the board without the antenna cable attached?

Does anyone have any suggestions for things I should check?
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:44 PM   #142
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Gene - I agree with Dave's comments... I think the Sky is an excellent product; I had some difficulty setting it up initially, but only because of my hesitation to screw something up. It is working very well for me.

WiFiRanger - I really have to commend you for taking the time to answer and respond carefully and professionally to all of the posts. Your help is greatly appreciated, and in many cases, customer service is what sets one company's product apart from another. I am very disappointed that Airstream (Thor) corporate is no longer active on the forums, because I think their ability to handle and respond to constructive criticism can only help their reputation and improve their product.
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Old 06-03-2012, 12:22 PM   #143
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Skater, did you get yours to work yet?

I am still waiting for WFR to explain how the lights and switches on Kit 2 have any purpose if they are located behind the wall plate.

I have still not ordered Kit 2 and still have not returned this thing. I'm glad it works for some and maybe you have the time or interest to figure it all out, but after a several hours of reading about it, asking questions, talking to someone at WFR, installing, trying it out, struggling, there has been more than enough time spent on this.

I got it because I have be able to get internet at bad campgrounds with weak signals. Bad wifi is a fact of travel and has been, so far, annoying, but not crucial. However, this year I do have to have internet, and will probably keep fooling around with this only because I have to.

I would not recommend it to anyone who wants simplicity, has trouble with electronics or does not absolutely need wifi.

Gene
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Old 06-03-2012, 01:48 PM   #144
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Gene;

I disagree a little. The problem is with the retro kit. The kit is only necessary on older trailers and for someone who wants to watch cable at the same time someone else is on the internet.

The Ranger works just fine on newer trailers, from 07 on. I have almost no electronics skills but attaching the Ranger to the antenna was simple.

During the past 5 weeks we have stayed in over 15 private parks. Our experience was that a weak WIFI signal in all but one of those parks was not the problem. Rather, a lack of band width, ie not a lot of capacity, that only a allowed a few people to be on the system, was the major problem.

So, I would not agree that you need to have electronics capability to install the Ranger. As long as you do not need to install the retro kit, the rest of the operation is pretty simple.

John
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Old 06-03-2012, 02:53 PM   #145
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I agree, John, no particular skill is needed to install the Sky. I didn't find it hard to install Kit 1, but I'm not sure everyone could do it. To determine which is the hot 12 v. wire behind the wall plate I had to use a multimeter and not everyone has one of those.

I also agree that bandwidth is the problem at many places. I'm unsure whether the CG's where the wifi signal gets dropped over and over is a bandwidth problem or a weak signal. The effect of companies like Tengo that filter wifi is also unclear, but my (and others) experience is that anyplace with Tengo is one to avoid if you can. I have wondered whether the use of a booster makes you get in the front of the line of all those trying to get on (and stay on) the park wifi system—when I tell CG's that wifi is very important to us, they often put us really close to the office where the antenna is. Of course, some CG's have multiple antennas and sometimes they put us close to one of the others. Closer makes for better chance of a connection when things are busy (usually 8-10am, 5-9 pm) I guess.

Our trailer is one year newer than yours and as far as I can make out, a kit to bypass the antenna booster circuit is necessary when using cable TV. But Kit 1 actually seems to have been designed to boost amps in the coax to the Sky when there's not enough to share with the antenna booster. If I understand it, Kit 2 is mostly to avoid having the booster one when watching cable at the same time. I don't know if it solves both problems.

In several weeks we will be at a CG where there is wifi and cable, and can see how this thing works there.

I don't stay at many motels or hotels anymore, but wifi is usually never the problem it is at CG's. Differences are MH's and 5th wheels blocking signals and Airstream being a metal cage also blocking signals. The Sky doesn't have to be all that powerful because it is outside the cage and higher when the antenna is raised. A high gain antenna attached to the TV antenna would solve some of that, but would have to have a wire snaked into the trailer and that was what I wanted to avoid; and there's no provision for an external antenna for an iPad.

Gene
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Old 06-04-2012, 06:23 AM   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Skater, did you get yours to work yet?
No, I haven't had the chance to look at it since I posted about it last week. We've been so busy actually camping that I haven't had much time to work on the camper (it's a good problem...I think). The camper needs a good cleaning and two light bulbs have to be replaced before I can get back to the WifiRanger. Our last two trips, and our next trip, are at places that don't have Wifi anyway, so the WifiRanger hasn't been the highest priority.

Also, I'd argue that a multimeter is something every Airstreamer should have and know how to use; they'll need one sooner or later!

I want to be clear, though - I think the problem I'm having is something to do with the wiring in our trailer (specifically, the board for the antenna booster), not the fault of the WifiRanger.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:17 PM   #147
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I've exchanged some e-mail with WFR and they confirmed my thoughts—Kit 2 will not allow access to the RF switch or enable you to see the on light for the red button. To use the things in the back means removing the wall plate repeatedly and eventually the screws holes in the wall won't hold the plate anymore. To install the kit on the inside means a messy job with holes for 12 v. wire and coax.

I made a few suggestions to them for a better solution. The more workable one as I see it would be a 2nd wall plate with 2 switches. Lights, or buttons that stay in when on, or toggles—all could work. Lights are nice because you know there is 12 v. to the plate. The RF switch doesn't need a light, but some way to know which way it is switched. Blank plates are cheap and it is easy to drill holes in them. If in mass production, a simple jig could be used to drill them. The customer would have to open another hole close to the original wall plate—that is the biggest challenge for some. It would have to be close to draw wires between them—2 short coax and one 12 v. hot wire—and have enough space behind to do this.

Gene
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:17 PM   #148
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Wow, okay. Whew. I have it.

For some ungodly reason, the RV-7010 (Winegard model number) wall plate I have has an interesting habit of shorting out the antenna connection when the wall plate switch is off. It fixes it when the switch is on, usually, I think. Talk about frustrating - I can't even get it to do it consistently. Helpful hint - fuses are Radio Shack part number 270-1052.

Anyway, I have the WifiRanger working right now, albeit at home. Typing this through it, in fact. I finally did some of the speed testing I'd hoped to do weeks ago:
  • Laptop is sitting on the credenza where you'd usually put a CRT TV. Door is open during these tests.
    • Home network signal strength = 31%. 18 ms ping, 4.91 Mbps download speed, and 6.22 Mbps upload speed.
    • WifiRanger signal strength = 50%. 19 ms ping, 8.82 Mbps download, 7.04 Mbps upload.
  • Laptop sitting on the bed to simulate us laying in bed using our phones. Camper's exterior door is closed.
    • Home signal strength = 28%. 81 ms ping, 3.47 Mbps download, 4.74 Mbps upload.
    • WifiRanger signal strength = 42%. 75 ms ping, 3.92 Mbps download, 7.26 Mbps upload.
Note I have 25 Mbps service in both directions, so presumably the speed is being hurt by the difficulty in getting a wireless signal in the camper next to the house. You'll note the WifiRanger speeds are actually faster than I got with the home Wifi connection from the same spot. Presumably, this means because the WifiRanger has a stronger signal to the home network, it's dropping fewer packets and thus is faster. Cool!

In the second test (bedroom) clearly the improvement over using the home network is in the signal strength, not the speed. But we bought them to get a better signal strength, and it does do that. I'll watch for a campground where we get Wifi outside but not inside and play with it a bit more there.

As a statistician I have to point out that this is a sample of size one and not really statistically valid. Tests were conducted using a 2.5 year old Macbook Pro, percentages were from iStumbler. I had planned to test it in the bedroom, at the far curb of our property, etc., but frankly I ran out of energy after just getting it working.
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:00 AM   #149
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Skater,

Glad you go it working and are focusing on the problem.

Have you tried it with cable? Can you attach the trailer to your home TV system? I'll be at a CG with cable in a couple of weeks, so I'll start screwing around with this thing then. Waiting for Kit 2. Maybe they'll create a Kit 3 along the lines I suggested to them—would seem to solve all problems (except the Winegard plate problem).

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Old 06-07-2012, 10:32 AM   #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Glad you go it working and are focusing on the problem.

Have you tried it with cable? Can you attach the trailer to your home TV system? I'll be at a CG with cable in a couple of weeks, so I'll start screwing around with this thing then. Waiting for Kit 2. Maybe they'll create a Kit 3 along the lines I suggested to themówould seem to solve all problems (except the Winegard plate problem).
I haven't, and that's a good point - if the antenna booster has to be on, then the cable connection isn't going to work very well if I need cable + WifiRanger. For us it's not a huge problem because we usually don't even take a TV with us on trips, but I can think of one particular trip in August that we might want the TV (Olympics will be on), so perhaps I should solve this issue.

My biggest question is whether this short-circuit is normal behavior for the Winegard board. If it is, then I'm not sure what to do...if not, replacing the board is easy enough. Or perhaps it's time to see what the Retrofit2 does - I wasn't really reading those posts.
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:23 AM   #151
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Question?!?

I have a 34 Classic and the problem I am dealing with at the last 3 parks ( for the last 3 weeks) is being able to use the WiFi. The signals show up on my airport and are full signals or just 1 bar off. But when I try to use the internet then my browser tells me there is no connectivity. Right now,as I type, I have a full signal and the speeds are great. I am currently outside of the AS. Being inside of the AS is more of a challenge to connect. I have read many threads that the metal of the AS causes the signal to "bounce around". Will the WiFi Ranger help me to get a stronger signal inside the AS or are my problems with the CG Bandwidth? I want reliable Internet , but don't want to spend money on something that won't correct my specific issue. Does the Ranger enhance the signal strength on the Interior?
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:59 AM   #152
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I experienced the same dilemma with reception inside the AS. My understanding is that with WFR will provide that capability to receive "available" signals without problem. The main problem with the WFR is that in most units one person cannot watch cable TV while another "surfs" b/c the "booster" must be on to power the WFR and that action interrupts the cable signal....at least in our unit and with others as I have read.

I am ready to purchase as soon as I see a video of the install of the retro fit kit II which negates the problem with the "booster".

Stay tuned........ Zigi
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:25 PM   #153
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There are several problems at a CG with wifi:

1. Poor wifi set up at the CG.
2. Airstream is a metal cage which interferes with radio signals.
3. Giant RV's between you and the CG wifi transceiver.

The WiFi Ranger Sky solves #2, may solve #3 (Sky mounted on TV antenna is higher than some of those giant RV's). It may help a bit with a bad signal because it may amplify it somewhat and it may pick up a better, open wifi signal from somewhere else you can get onto.

The Kit 2 seems to solve low amps problems with the 12 v. to the Sky plus the cable TV issue, but is an ugly install. Kit 1 only solved low amps problems. I have suggested to them a third solution to solve the ugly install and we'll see how they respond; apparently they are looking into it.

So far as I understand, and the learning curve for me has been steep, this is what is at present.

Gene
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Old 06-11-2012, 03:14 PM   #154
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I just went back and looked for the Retrofit2 post and read the announcement and description for it (here if you don't remember or haven't seen it before). All I can say is, ugh - how in the world am I going to get those cables out to a spot where I can actually attach them to it?

I think a better solution for me would be to have a separate connection for the cable TV entirely; it's not like we're going to watch TV in the bedroom ever so I can just disconnect the cable TV connection and use it directly or something.
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