Staying Connected While on the Road
Updated November 2016
Staying connected on the road is essential for us. Whether it’s posting the blog post you are reading right now or making sure we can do our day jobs, we need to be connected at all times to maintain this fun lifestyle!
How do we do it? We do it with a collection of technology that we put months of research and testing into. It doesn’t hurt that I do this for a living at Axiom so let’s put all those years of experience to work for us!
There are 3 key components to our connectivity which we will discuss below. You can also check out our detailed video walk-through here or click on the link above.
The brains of our operation. Our Pepwave Max Br1 Mobile 4G enabled router (Update, the BR1 is no longer available on Amazon however Pepwave has released a entry level product called a Surf-on-the Go unit which is quite a bit cheaper (about 100 bucks) with many of the same features including Wireless/Cellular support. It does what the BR1 does however it supports a USB cellular stick rather than a direct SIM card). This isn’t your average hotspot or Linksys router. This is 3 devices in one that keeps us connected at all time. First it acts like a regular router, allowing all of our devices to connect to a single internet connection while keeping us safe behind a firewall. Second, it’s wifi repeater which means it can capture any wifi signal it finds (like campground wifi, Starbucks or McDonald’s) and rebroadcasts it inside and around our coach as our own private wifi. Third it has a Verizon/ATT 4G modem built into it with redundant sim cards for ultimate redundancy. Its completely automatic, switching from campground wifi to cellular as necessary to ensure we are always connected. It even keeps an eye on our data usage and sends us emails or switches connections automatically if we get close to our data plan limits. This thing rocks (and no we are not paid to say that).
Directional Wifi Antenna
Even the best router or wifi repeater can’t do much when it’s sitting inside a giant metal Faraday Cage aka your RV. Yes RV’s are wifi killers and having good antennas located outside of your rig is absolutely necessary for fast reliable wifi. We use a reliable, inexpensive, directional panel antenna to boost our signal. You can learn more about our specific setup by watching our Campground Connectivity Video.
Lastly we have our 4G Cellular Booster. The roof mounted antenna on this unit can turn barely 1 bar into 3-4 bars of 4G data with a flip of a switch. It isn’t cheap, and we’d say this is probably the least used item in our arsenal but when we need it we REALLY need it. On the bright side this unit boosts multiple devices simultaneously and works on AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile
Here is a complete diagram of our setup. Click the image for a larger view.
Where to Purchase?
- Pepewave Max BR1 Router – Available at 3gstore.com here.
- Update 11/2016: Pepwave On-The-Go Router – A cheaper alternative with many of the same features at a fraction of the price. Available on Amazon here.
- TP-Link Directional Wireless Antenna – Amazon Link
- Update 11/2016: New Model: 4G Cellular Booster by Weboost designed for mobile applications. This model includes an trucker specific antenna which avoids the need for a grounding plate. – amazon Link
- Wireless Network Signal Strength Finder – Android Play Store Link (Apple does not support wireless scanning on mobile devices but you can use this application on a mac desktop or laptop/macbook)
- Antenna Mount – The RAM antenna mount with 8.5 inch extension is available here (amazon link) – You will also want the bar mount which can connect to your ladder (amazon link) or a surface mount that can be screwed to roof or other mounting surface (amazon link) – the mount was technically designed for monitor mounting applications, but it makes for a great surface mount.
- Secondary Antenna Option – A friend we saw used a tube/rod holder from RAM to quickly mount up antennas and accessories to his roof. Here is a link to that option as well (amazon link)
For questions concerning setting up a solution of your own feel free to post comments below. We will work to reply to your questions within 24 hours of posting.