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RV Internet Access and RV Dedicated Wi-Fi

Wifi
It seems that Wi-Fi is one of the most important items for an RV’er these days. Who am I kidding, it is REALLY important. Even more so to the upcoming RV’er who live on the web and thus must be sure to have access. Brenda and I are some of those people. Everything we do, we seem to do on-line. Be it planning our next stop, shopping, or to make a living, the web and thus the Internet, is the place we need to be.

Now I will say that there are a lot of places in the USA that you may care to go that you simply will not have ANYTHING. No 3G or 4G, nor Wi-Fi. You will be so far out that you will be cut off from that ever vital data stream. That is of course unless you have satellite Internet service. We did have, at one time, a DataStorm G74 automatic satellite dish with service via HughesNet. But that subject for us now is in the past.

So that leaves us with what seems to be a growing question we receive. What do we do personally for Internet on the road? Let me start by making this clear…This is the way WE do it. There are surely less expensive devices and even the hardware we use for the radio (Wi-Fi Antenna) can be purchased for much less money if you know how to deal with setting it up. But even though I do know how to setup such things, I opted for ease of use and thus paid for a setup with custom firmware that makes the experience much more enjoyable. Their are A LOT of products on the market.  So again, this is what we do and how we do it.

Please note: We paid for everything we use. We did not get them for free from a company to “Test” and thus hopefully market by talking about it on our blog. In fact, EVERYTHING we have ever reviewed or recommended we paid for. This is because we also do not ever want someone to question why we may be recommending this over that. We do not want to have a question in someones head if what they are reading is really an ad for X product or if there is a bias. In today’s world, this is actually called “Brand Journalism” or “Native Ads”. Simply put, ads that do not read as ads, but really are. Here is a funny video about it… “HBO – This Week Tonight – John Oliver’s – Native Ads” .

So, this will be quick and easy overview of what we use and how…So lets get to it…

Improving Cell Phone Reception…(Which also means improving 3G/4G data reception.)

Wilson Sleek 4G

Wilson Sleek 4G

Wilson Sleek with HotSpot MiFi

Wilson Sleek with HotSpot MiFi

 

The quickest thing to use these days is a Wilson Sleek 4G. The Sleek is a reception booster that is an all in one simple package that you can mount to your dash or somewhere else if you choose. You connect the antenna, plug it into 12V and place your phone (or MyFi or HotSpot) into the cradle. It really is as simple as that. The cradle has a booster (amp) built into it as well as a patch antenna. Your phone will see that and use it like it thinks it is the cell tower. (And it is, as the cell tower is actually just repeated.) This will boost your reception of both the voice side as well as the data side of the phone or HotSpot.

 

 

For even better reception you can mount an external antenna on the roof and run the lead to the Sleek vs. using the antenna that came with it. We mounted a Wilson Roof Mount Cell Antenna and ran the cable down the driver side windshield post to under the dash and then to the Sleek. (Proper cables, extensions, and adapters may be required.)

Our Sleek mounted on our dash.

Our Sleek mounted on our dash.

 

It is good to note however, that this is an amplifier. And as such, it does require having a good signal to boost. In other words, if you are in a very poor cell area, it will have a very poor signal to amplify. But also good to note, that the antenna it comes with is better than the antenna in your phone and thus you will do much better. And even more so if you use a roof mounted antenna as that is even more powerful and thus can receive and transmit to a cell tower that is further away. For example…we have had cell and data service when the coach next to us had none based on our setup with a roof mounted antenna and Sleek. In fact, as I write this, we are in a park where cell service is bad.  I get one bar and 3G. If I put my phone into the Sleek, I get three bars and it switches to 4G data speeds.

 

There are also repeating systems that will take the cell single and then repeat it inside your coach. While these can be good, it is only good if you are close to the internal antenna or if you have a good outside signal as these are mostly used to bring the cell signal inside an enclosure. I do not prefer this approach as it greatly varies vs. having your phone or HotSpot right next to the patch antenna that is in the cradle. I did have this at one time, but stopped using it when the Sleek came out a few years back.

Hint…If you are in a bad cell area and the only way to get service that does not drop calls is if your phone is in the Sleek, use a Bluetooth headset to talk on the phone. As such, you can walk around your coach and your phone can stay in the cradle.

Wi-Fi and Boosting RV Park Reception…

Ok, now these are the two questions that I seem to get over and over. “How can I improve the Wi-Fi from the park inside my RV?” and “How can I better protect myself on an open Wi-Fi network?” The answer to this is of course that it can be done in a few ways and with a large number of different products. I will however talk about our current setup. Of course we have used over the years, and thus have experience with, a number of different products.

WiFi RougeWave Radio

Wi-Fi RougeWave Radio

 

The way we handle BOTH of the above questions is to use a Wave Wi-Fi RogueWave. What the heck is that? Simply put, it is an Ubnt Bullet radio with an 8.5db antenna with custom firmware that makes it easy to use. The unit shows you all the SSID’s (Wi-Fi networks) in the air at the location you are at. You then simply click on one to connect to it. So now you may be asking, “How is this different than using just the Wi-Fi in my computer?”  For one, it is a large 8.5db antenna and thus it cannot just only pull in a better Wi-Fi signal, but it also can transmit a better signal based on the powerful 800mW (+29dBm) output radio it has. After all, it takes two to have a conversation.

 

 

 

Quick Lesson… A lot of the time, you may be able to “see” a good signal and think you have a great connection. But in fact, your computer, phone, tablet, or whatever is reporting the power of the signal it is seeing. The park could be putting out a very strong signal from a powerful radio. However, your computer is sending out a transmission that is to weak too reach back to their radio. In simple terms, in a crowded room, they are using a megaphone to talk to you and you are trying to whisper back to them. Oh, and you are doing this over all the other talking that is going on, aka noise, in the room. Make sense?

So what this means is it is a two way street. You need both sides to be able talk and that is where such a devise such as the WiFi RogueWave comes in as it not only receives a signal very well, it can also talk back just as well. Lets’ face it, we have all be in an RV park where you are parked far from the access point so you can not use the Wi-Fi. So this greatly helps in an RV park where the spot you may be in usually has poor Wi-Fi as you will now have the power of the RogueWave. In fact, I have been in an RV park where the Wi-Fi was so poor, I was able to use the RogueWave to connect to the McDonalds down the road. (Ok, no need to debate if I should have done that.  But I did at least buy an Iced Cafe Mocha Latte.)

Oh, that also brings up a good point. Even if you have a WiFi RogueWave and thus a good connection to a park Wi-Fi, this does not mean they have good Wi-Fi or even good Internet. Many factors come into play when using a free network. Some of which included the number of people using the Wi-Fi, the amount of data service they have coming into the park, and the equipment they use. Some parks may have Wi-Fi but what that could mean is that they have a home Wi-Fi router in their office, and if you can see it from your site, you can use it. In that case, the RogueWave can be of help to reach such a poor setup. But let’s face it, bad is bad and in that case not even the Rogue will help. So that is when you are surely glad you have your own HotSpot and Wilson Sleek.

Also this answers that second question as to using an open Wi-Fi network and Wi-Fi security. The RogueWave has a built in router and firewall. As such, you do not get a public IP from the network that everyone else is also on, you get your own private IP handed out by the RogueWave and the RogueWave gets the public IP. As such, anyone that may try to look for other computers on a network to gain access to will not be able to reach your computer.

Rogue Wave Parts Included In Kit

Rogue Wave Parts Included In Kit

The WiFi RogueWave is simple to use. It does require power and two network cables. You plug in the power and that goes into what is called a POE Injector. That stands for Power Over Ethernet and does nothing more than uses some of the wires in the network cable to carry power to the RogueWave so then only one wire is needed to go to the RogueWave. (Which is good if you mount it outside, as you should.) The other network cable then plugs into the other side of the POE and then into your computers, or routers, network port. Note…your computer would need to be set to get an IP via DHCP. All are defaulted to do this and unless you changed it, you will be set. Using your web browser you then go the RogueWave’s user interface and select the Wi-Fi network you want to use.  Poof, you are now on-line.

NOTE: You can also use the RogueWave to connect to your own personal HotSpot’s wireless SSID. Be it your phone acting as a HotSpot or if you have a MiFi or something like it. So if you want to use your own HotSpot for whatever reason, if you have it turned on, you will be able to see it’s SSID in the RogueWave’s interface and be able to connect to it. One of the nice features of the RogueWave is that you can store favorite Wi-Fi SSID’s to automatically connect to. So I have my phone and Brenda’s phone in the list so whatever one we may activate, if not wanting to use the parks Wi-Fi, it will auto connect once it sees it. Thus ways are using the RogueWave to connect to Wi-Fi.

 

Cradlepoint Wi-Fi Router

Cradlepoint Wi-Fi Router

But wait, what if you want to use more than one device and not connect it directly to your computer? The answer is to use a Wi-Fi router. (Which you can also purchase at the same time through Land and Sea WiFi – Best prices I found for the Wi-Fi RogueWave.) The RogueWave is still used, but instead of going into your computer, you plug the network cable into the WAN port of the router. Any Wi-Fi router you may choose to use will work. Sorry, but I cannot walk you through setting up the router as their are many types. But most of them come with simple setup wizards to help you get going.

The best part of using a router is that all your Wi-Fi devices can then connect to your own private internal network and have Internet access via the RV Park or your HotSpot through the RogueWave. As such, you always connect to your own SSID and not the parks.

This also means you then can use a Wi-Fi printer as it you would just connect it to your own private Wi-Fi network and then can use it without turning on a HotSpot, as you may have to do now.

Ok, so that was A LOT of information and it may or may not help you and may end up leaving you with more questions than before. There are a number of products that cater to the RV’er that we have tried, but we have found the above solution to be the best.

For example…We have tried, and tried, and tried to use the WiFiRanger which caters to the RV industry, but it was just way too buggy and could not be counted on. So much so that we believe, as others, they took down their own customer support community forum as it was just filled with complaints. Now I am not sure if the product has improved or not, but all I know is that it was a major issue to keep running and something I could not count on. And Wi-Fi is something we have to count on. And that was a product that was actually given to me, free of charge, to use in hopes we would blog about it. I could have been writing about that.

WiFiRanger Company…If you have fixed your issues of the past, please feel free to let me know, as I kind of liked the interface. Me being a techie, I like bells and whistles, thus offering some more control. That is something you do offer over the Rogue as the Rouge is it just point and click with not much more needed to be done. (It really is simple and efficient.)  Then again, not being able to control my own DHCP server with static IP’s was an issue with the Ranger. Maybe you also fixed that. You have a lot of users, and thus I have to think, and hope, it is much improved.

The below links are to the parts we use in our motor coach for full time Internet access even when traveling down the road…

Wilson Sleek 4G
Wilson Roof Mount Cellular Antenna
Wilson Home Office Kit can be used for to window mount the antenna if not using roof mount.
WiFi RogueWave Kit
Asus RT-N66U Wi-Fi Router  (This would be overkill for most users but I wanted dual-band.)
Samsung S4 Smartphone (Used as a HotSpot in the Sleek cradle when not using RV Park)

 

Our WiFi RogueWave

Our WiFi RogueWave (Click to enlarge)
Our coach does not have a ladder, thus the roof mount.


Our Connection Path For Access…

- RogueWave is plugged into the WAN port of the Wi-Fi router.
- All personal Wi-Fi items are connected to BottNet.
- Wi-Fi RogueWave is connected wirelessly to RV parks Wi-Fi or our HotSpot.
- If using our HotSpot it is always in the Wilson Sleek 4G cradle for boosting.
- Internet is then available to all devices over our private network.

 

 

Few, that was a lot to write.  So lets also try it in a video chat which some of you enjoy and asked for…

Click For Part Two — > Wi-Fi and Security on an RV parks open Wi-Fi network.

Please be sure to share this if it was helpful. :)

37 thoughts on “RV Internet Access and RV Dedicated Wi-Fi

  1. Pingback: Wi-Fi and Security on an Open Network | Outside Our Bubble

  2. Jackie Fare

    David:

    We are new Tiffin owners (2015 31SA) and have been reading your posts on the tiffinnetwork.com for several months. As well, we have watched some of your YouTube Videos and recently, I subscribed to your blog,which is immensely enjoyable and informative. You are your wife, Brenda, are a plethora of information for ALL RV’ers and Tiffin owners, especially. You seem very detail oriented, something my husband and I both admire :). PLEASE read this info: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-There,-Their-and-They%27re and change your usage of these words accordingly. It simply drives me nuts when reading your blog how frequently you misuse these! Surely, I am not the only person who has noticed this?

    I hope this has not offended you. Please keep these informative blog posts coming!

    1. David Post author

      There, Their, They’er…It will be ok. Just take a deep breath and let it all out. Better now? :) Yes, not the first time we have heard it. Oh well, we try and try and their, or is it there, always seems to be a mistake in how we use it. But thank you kindly for the kind words on how we help others. We try to share information that we think will help, be it travel notes, technical info, or advise. Not only on this blog, but also in the RV parks where we meet all kinds of people. Oh, and no offense taken at all.

      DISCLAIMER: All spelling and grammatical errors done on purpose for the proofreadingly challenged.

      1. Jackie Fare

        OK, I took a deep breath. Ahhhhhh………

        So, I see that in addition to being an encyclopedia of knowledge on a hundred (at least) things that I know NOTHING about, you have a wonderful sense of humor! I love it! Though I should’ve guessed that to be the case from watching some of your videos. Please keep up the good work and please keep sharing your knowledge and adventures.

  3. Grant Gravois

    David, Thanks for the great information. I was also impressed on how you handled the critique of Jackie Fare. However, I don’t have to be as nice. I thought it was hypocritical of him to critique your usage of some words when he had run on sentences and improper usage of “are” instead of “or”. It was funny that he was throwing you under the bus while his bus was rolling over him. Jackie Fare shouldn’t throw stones when he lives in a glass house. He owes you an apology!!!!!

    1. Jackie Fare

      Grant, Jackie is a she, not a he, a fact you may have picked up on had you read the sentence in my post where I mention “my husband and I.” Thank you, though, for pointing out what you thought was my misuse of “are” and “or.” In reality, I meant to say “and,” not “are” or “or.” That clearly puts me amongst the “proofreadingly challanged” that David mentions :).

            1. runningliner

              Just in case will write in Japanese

              親愛なるデービッドへ

              素晴らしい記事とビデオにとても感動しました。
              私が大学のころ、もし貴方のような教師に出会えたらとても
              幸せだったに違いありません。
              重要なポイントがうまく要約されているし、テーマの深い知識も
              よく伝わります。
              これからもご幸運を祈ります。
              広いアメリカのどこかでまた貴方と再会できればうれしい限りです。
              日本語で書いたのは、自分の英語のレベルが低くて恥ずかしいためです。

              —Translated—
              To David Dear

              I was very impressed with the video and great article.
              When I was a university, I am very Once you meet a teacher like you if
              Must have been happy.
              Important points are summarized well, and also a deep knowledge of theme
              I propagated well.
              I wish you good luck in the future.
              And I’m glad if you can reunite with you again somewhere in the wide American.
              It was written in Japanese, it is because it is embarrassing level of my English is low.

    1. David Post author

      Sure, you can use a CradlePoint as it has WiFi as WAN in the unit. (Aka, uses any WiFi source as a WAN device.) But to put it on the roof, you need to make sure you have purchase a unit that allows for an external antenna.

      The other draw back is the speed hit you “could” take. The reason for this is that the radio in the unit has to do both communications. It needs to talk not only to your device, as a normal WiFi connection, but it also needs to talk to the WiFi you are using as a WAN device. So you take a speed hit.

      Would you notice this hit? Not a normal user for the most part. But when I tested, and I have been using CradlePoint also for years, when I connected it to my 4G HotSpot to use as a WAN, I could get 19MB down when I plugged my computer into the CradlePoint via cable. However, I could only get 11MB if I connected through WiFi.

      Using another antenna takes that added stress away and the Rogue in this case talks only to the WiFi being used as WAN with the internal WiFi then only taking to your device only needing to route the data between them.

      Hope this helps. Oh, I LOVE CradlePoint and even have it recommended on our recommend page. It is sure a more technical router as it is made for industry. I am only using the Asus now as I wanted to do 5Ghz inside the coach and CradlePoint just recently came out with a dual band router, but it is $1,000. Ouch.

      Hope this helps.

  4. Steve Matthias

    The RogueWave only supports 802.11 b/g. and not 802.11a or 802.11n which is found in some campgrounds. Have you found this to be a problem?

    Thanks, great information

    1. David Post author

      Hi…

      Most campgrounds use B/G/N and most throttle you down anyway that you could never see the speeds offered via the use of a N radio. (Not only that, but most do not even have enough bandwidth coming in to support the speed.) N is more at home, at home, or used when on an internal network talking to other devices.

      Oh, I also think they now do have a N version of the WiFi RogueWave. I think if you ask about it, you can order one with 802.11 B/G/N support which uses a Ubnt M2 radio with their custom firmware.

      Forget 802.11a for campgrounds as “a” is 5Ghz and not likely as most devices as 2.4Ghz. Same goes for 802.11ac as it is also 5Ghz. I do not foresee, at this time, dual band RV Parks. But some day. Then again, they still need the incoming bandwidth to support the users.

      But parks that have N are backwards compatible per the protocol specs. So no need to run our and buy something new. (Hard to find anything new that does not have and N radio these days.)

      (For those wondering what are talking about, 802.11a/b/g/n/a/ac are WiFi defined specs (protocols) that dictate not only the frequency used, but the speeds it can support.)

      1. Cherie - @Technomadia

        For RV Park campgrounds, that’s a great point.

        But you have to consider your own personal application too. For us, we get a lot of our WiFi when driveway surfing with friends, family or private businesses who let us use their parking. In those situations, the other protocols are useful.

        1. David Post author

          Hi Cherie!

          Sure they are useful. But when using the Internet, you surely are limited by the bandwidth that they have coming in. And in most cases, you would never realize the speed of the N radios, even at home, when on the Internet. (Again, in most cases.)

          As mentioned, for internal use when talking say to server on your wired network for backup or something, then you surely can benefit. But in that case, you would be on your own internal Wi-Fi router vs going out using a Rogue or Ranger for Internet access which we were chatting about.

          If your radio uses N, great! For as you know, you are then always backwards compatible and you are all set. The good news is as people or parks upgrade gear, they usually then have B/G/N gear.

          Take care!

      2. Chris Dunphy

        Hi David –

        I think you might be missing out on how prevalent 802.11n is now. Right now where we are parked a scan with our roof WiFi reveals 19 802.11n networks, and only 2 802.11g networks within range.

        And I’ve even run across 802.11n networks that have backwards compatibility with 802.11b/g disabled.

        Well over half of the commercial campgrounds we have stayed at this past year with WiFi have had 802.11n, and that percentage is only increasing.

        Up close the extra speed of N will not matter for campground WiFi, but N speeds drop off slower over distance than 802.11g – and at a given distance N will usually be at least twice as fast as G. At the fringes of campground WiFi when speeds are dropping down to just 1Mbps, 802.11n can make a real difference.

        802.11n is also better able to deal with signal noise and reflections.

        Overall – there really isn’t any reason to choose 802.11g over 802.11n anymore when buying new equipment. The extra cost of 802.11n that used to be there is essentially gone now.

        As for 802.11a and 5GHz WiFi — as I understand it, a lot of campground WiFi (especially newer Tengo deployments) actually uses 5GHz to broadcast between the central office and the hotspots throughout the park, using 5GHz as the backhaul. If you have 5GHz on your roof, you can bypass the crowded hotspots and sign right into the backbone this way.

        I haven’t done enough testing to recommend 5GHz as being worth the cost. But 802.11n is always worth going for now when buying new equipment.

        Cheers,

        – Chris

        1. David Post author

          Thanks…I fully understand the use and how N is out there and being used. :) Of course it is, it has been out for a long time, approved in 2009, and it is hard to buy new gear that does not have an N radio. The point I was making was for most RV parks, it is not “needed” if all you have is G currently. I did not want people to think they needed to run our and buy new gear. You really can not choose much anymore as N is really what you find currently when you purchase a new device. (And yes, the Wi-Fi RogueWave now a B/G/N version using an Bullet M2. You just need to ask for it as the site has not been updated as they just got the custom firmware done from Fire4.)

          “our roof WiFi reveals 19 802.11n networks” – Yes, and that would make sense as a radio will alway send out the top protocol it supports. But my bet is that all of those 19 802.11n networks will also allow for lower protocols to connect. I for would would love to turn off B as then the radio would would not have to content with the overhead. If a radio is locked down to only deal with one protocol such as N, then it surely is more efficient. But that surely is not the normal roll out for public Wi-Fi use as I am sure you would agree.

          As far as the 5Ghz back-haul, I would find it hard to think that anyone who put in a 5Ghz for use as a back-haul would allow client access on it. It usually, and should be, locked down. After all, that the back-haul is used for just that…a large pipe to connect usually two locations as if it was a wire. Not as an open AP to be used. I have installed such Wi-Fi systems in parks and used 5Ghz gear just for that purpose. You can also use 2.4Ghz for this but the spectrum is too cluttered and thus, as you know, noisy. Thus 5Ghz is the best if you have line of site.

          Here is a link to an image of a park I just redid for the owner. (free of charge.) I used 5Ghz radios as dedicated back-hauls just as you mentioned you are seeing. You can clearly see the speed difference in using such radios as dedicated links vs the others that are also used as AP (2.4ghz) at the same time…

          http://OutsideOurBubble.com/images/Southwoods-RV-Park-Ubnt-WiFi-Network.png

          …it is one of a number of parks we have helped along the way as we find Internet to be so poor and parks not being able to afford the new gear plus cost of design and install that some companies want. In the case above, tress were the killer and thus we needed to do pruning to say the least. :)

          I would love 5Ghz in parks for those that can use it. (Tress are even a larger issue then however.) But I do not see the parks doing that any time soon based on the costs involved and for the fact that most devices are 2.4Ghz. (Though our MacBooks are dual band as well as our Samsung Android phones.) As such, I use 5Ghz, like I am guessing you do, in our coach. But yes, N is in use all over the place as people have surely upgraded or added gear. (I am at a park using…ready…B. Ouch! And it is a resort!)

          All in all, great info as always as it helps others to know what they can do on the road. So thanks for all you guys do to help others!

  5. Mark

    David,
    This is a very appropriate post. We do look for a good WiFi signal when we evaluate RV parks. The signal is always weak. We often stay a month or more at the same park when we travel in the summer. I have a TV satellite dish on my RV that I do not use. However, I was thinking of re-purposing it to get better cell hot spot or WiFi signal by putting the Wilson antenna or the RogueWave in front of the dish to concentrate the signal on the antenna. Do you think this would be a benefit?
    Here is an example
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Cell-Phone-WiFi-Signal-Booster-Antenna/?&sort=ACTIVE&limit=40&offset=40#DISCUSS

    PS Jackie, that fact that it drives you nuts is your problem not David’s

    1. David Post author

      Hi…

      Well, hummmm, you could do that. But why go though the trouble? Just get a unit like I mentioned that has a 8.5db gain antenna and you should be fine. I would hate to have to put up the dish each time and point it. The other issue you could run into is reception vs transmission. If pointed right, you will surely receive a WiFi AP’s radio signal from a longer distance based on the platter of the dish. However, you may not be able to talk back to that AP radio as I am not sure how the platter would react to sending a single from an omni antenna. A platter is used to collect and direct a signal into a radio receiver. Though it surely can also send out by bouncing off the platter…but I would think that would scatter it more and make for the signal to arrive at the receiving AP at different timings and thus make for rejection. A directional radio/antenna may be better suited for such use.

      Dish used with directional Wi-Fi antenna

  6. Kelly Hogan

    David,

    Thanks for including a request for updated information on WiFiRanger. It sounds like the information you have is several years old. I’m not sure what version WiFiRanger you have, but I believe I gave an indoor test unit to you in Indiana two years ago at FMCA for you to evaluate? I supplied it after we did some drone discussions and talked tech. (BTW, I now have a DJI Vision drone..) That would be about 3-4 firmware releases old, so would you let us know what firmware you used for your evaluation, as well as what hardware platform you have? You would need to compare our current Marine2 or MobileTi products to the Rogue since they are our outdoor products, and be running current firmware.

    The Rogue Wave is a far different product than the WiFiRanger. It is basically an ethernet “bridge” and has little enhancements for RVers. Combining the complexity of a cradlepoint router and a ethernet bridge is fine for people that want to tinker with things and have networking experience, but the 1000′s of RVing WiFiRanger owners simply want to scan and connect, or better yet, let the WiFiRanger make the connections automatically. Our customers typically want to get on with other things than mess with the complexities of the process of connecting. In our opinion the complexities of the wave approach will confuse the owners and be more frustrating than success.

    WiFiRanger recently evaluated a Rogue Wave setup in house, and found that it was basically a Ubiquiti Bullet with an antenna. It’s firmware IMHO was no better than the standard AirOS that comes with the Bullet, so if people want an ethernet bridge, why not recommend them just using AirOS that comes with the Bullet, and save a few hundred $? Other than saving network keys, we saw little difference, and in some ways AirOS was superior. Also, since it only connects to one device, a high powered Alfa USB device would be an even less expensive solution.

    However, we published a comparison here between a WiFiRanger and the Wave. (albiet a marketing driven format, but the differences are stark and significant)

    https://www.wifiranger.com/solutions-mobileti/marine-wifi

    As for our forum being gone, let me update you on the facts. We removed the forum and replaced it with a ticket management system, a knowledge base of solutions, and moved our public facing discussions to social media, including facebook. We found that managing and supporting our customers on a company sponsored forum did not allow for point to point communication effectively and increased confusion of solutions as products evolved and people grabbed out-dated information. We had lots of praise as well as challenges, but it was not removed due to your assertion.

    It’s also worth noting that WiFiRanger hires RVers as our support people, meaning that our support staff are real full timers as well as company employees. This insures we stay in touch with the needs of the RVers, and as RVers ourselves, we will continue to build the easiest products for people to use. In fact, we just returned from the FMCA rally in Redmond OR, where we set up 7 WiFI repeaters, brought in 100Mb of fiber internet, and gave it away to the attendees. The FMCA attendees transferred hundreds of gigabytes of free WiFi as part of our involvement.

    While there are lots of technical solutions to obtaining WiFi, WiFiRanger will continue to develop products that make it easier, more secure, and more automated to stay connected for mobile lifestyles.

    1. David Post author

      Hi Kelly!!!

      Nice to hear from you. Yes, you remember correctly about me flying a UAV and glad you picked up a Phantom. I also have now a Vision 2+ and find it great for quick deployment.

      I fully agree that I at this time I have an older unit and did said that it was given to me. I did try to work with the Ranger and your staff several times when the Go was bricked (frozen to those that do not know what “bricked” means) on two separate occasions from from trying to do firmware updates. Both times I had to send it in to be fixed and that is something I can not afford to have happen as I need my Wi-Fi. I can only hope that your current product line has been changed to a degree that it stays running, for that was one of the biggest issues, it would just stop or even disconnect, or brick. Poof, gone. Need to reboot if you could. How many were replaced? (Which is to your credit for stranding behind the product and thus customer service.)

      You clearly know I am not the only one to have such issues. Even other advanced users such as Mr. Adams got upset with it publicly on your community forum. Taking down the forum, in all reality, was clearly seen as a move to hide the issues and was talked about on public RV forums. But I do agree taking it to social media such as Facebook can work, but surely is not something that is trackable such as the threads were. So it is a good move marketing wise. If not, you could have just closed the form but left it visible, but that would not have helped the Ranger as you know. Thus the total revamp of the site. (Which is good.) As you are aware, I built my living on building very successful communities. So yes, I know the forum concept quite well being involved in them from 1995 and thus agree with your move business wise.

      One of your products is also just a Ubnt Bullet with custom firmware. So you are using the same hardware for your MobileTi as the RogueWave. But the RogueWave surely is not hard at all and not complex to use at all. As you are well aware, you can plug it into any computer or router and it will just work. No setup. And if used via direct connect to a machine, you ARE behind a firewall. And like your MobileTi, the Bullet M2 (or Ti) is directly connected to an antenna, in your case, a 3db Laird vs a larger 8.5db. Thus the rogue would/should have more range and power. But then again, anyone could just take off your Laird and use a different antenna to get that gain and have a more powerful Ranger. (Not sure if the Sky would work for us as we have risers on our roof sides, but I like the concept of a low profile setup.) But I know I would add a larger antenna…but that’s me. :) But saying one could use just buy a Ubnt Bullet M2 for like $75 with the AirOS firmware vs using the Rogue is true. However, the same holds true for you, as your product is the same hardware. :) But as you also know, the AirOS it comes with the Bullet is not made for your average user, as I also mentioned. I can set them up, no issue for me, yet I choose to use the Rogue based on it being quick, easy and will connect auto connect to any device I told it to remember. You can not do that directly in the AirOS.

      In regards to the page you referenced, I am sure it is marketing driven comparison as you mentioned, for looking it over, a person that knows both products can see that as most of the items/features does require your Go router. But yes, as I also mentioned, you offer more to the user in a number of ways. I really liked how it would check for the best connection and can auto connect on to any open network, though that can be dangerous and may be illegal. :) It had smarts and could use 3G/4G USB modems or HotSpots when an open network was not available (on The Go) for connections. And even though you could do the same using a CradlePoint as you mentioned, it is clearly harder to setup a CradlePoint for the normal user as the CradlePoint is more geared towards business and is very solid in operation. I know their product line quite well as I had worked with them for years on the road.

      Love your new ride you brought to the FMCA rally! It beats what you had when we parked next to each other. Congrats! Supplying data to the rally attendees is a clear marketing move as I bet they had a sign in page to use thus seeing a message from Ranger. (I am guessing as I was not there..and if you did not, you missed out on a great ad placement. :)) But regardless, great move again as who does not love free data!!! (And it surely was not cheep for you to do…so thanks for helping the RV’er who attended.)

      As for your WiFiRanger Ambassadors, so I think you call them, yes, another great move. But they also sell the product, unless that has changed. As I told you when we met, it was a great idea as you have a rolling sales/support force. ;) In all reality, I do think it is great that you use RV’ers as the needs of an RV’er surely is different and unless your in house staff has lived some life in a RV, then it is not the same. Knowing how one uses such a product on the road is key. So kudos!

      But yes, be happy to take another look if your current firmware and hardware in the Go/Mobile is stable. Like I said, I really, really, really wanted to work with it, and you, as I loved how it was geared towards the RV’er and that you are trying to work with the industry. I even brought it, and you, up to Mr. Bob Tiffin when our coach was being built at the beginning of this year. :)

      Thanks for making your post, it makes me feel better that the WiFiRanger is still progressing and surely has to be more stable now than when I, an others, used it. Readers can check it out at https://www.wifiranger.com/

      Oh…Unit = RB751U-2HnD (A Mikrotik unit.) Not sure on Firmware unless I boot it. Sorry.

      Take care, keep safe, and hope to see you again.

      1. Kelly Hogan

        David,

        Several of your assertions are incorrect. Please see clarifications.

        1) There were about 65 units that had manufacture bad flash. We replaced every one that we were aware of. I’m not sure why you “could not afford to send yours in” because we provided UPS return labels and directions. This was nearly 2 years ago, and is referred to as the /141 issue.

        2) Ambassadors do not sell product. They are support and pre-sales oriented. We never implemented commissions.

        3) We did not take the forum down as you assert. We improved our ability to service the RV market with better tools.

        4) Every feature described is included in both stand alone products (MobileTi and Marine2) as they are routers as well. The Go2 router is an option that provides parallel operation.

        5) Nothing about checking an open signal is illegal. We do not crack keys. We automate the same process a human would do to check open signals and the speed they provide.

        6) We use UBNT and Mikrotik hardware, but hardware is the simple part. The hard part is in our firmware which is where value is seen. We also insure FCC compliance with our firmware which is a requirement of using carrier grade equipment.

        7) Most high gain wireless antennas are not mobile rated. The unit Rogue uses will fail over time if mounted to a moving vehicle. We tested this extensively before settling on a mobile designed antenna. We have a custom made high gain, dual band antenna we are testing for future product, and currently used in our Marine line.

        With thousands of WiFiRangers in the field, we continue to listen to the RV/Marine community and build product for it. Many DIY options exist, but none are as polished and easy to operate as our solution. This is why the average RV’er would rather use our solution than mess with a bag of parts and a science experiment to connect to the Internet every time they move.

        1. David Post author

          Thanks…

          1) I did not say I could not send it back, I sent back TWO units. I said I could not be without data and thus could not count on it. Glad you handed the replacements as you did.

          2) Great that it was never implemented.

          3) No comment needed.

          4) Good to read. Then MoblieTi than can be used with any router and you still can get the power of your firmware.

          5) Nope, not an issue to check a network, but auto connecting to it for use can be. Thus the confusion as I read it as automatically connect.

          6) Agreed and is why I said that I do like some of the control in your firmware and that it offers more options. The Rogue offer just quick and simple connection. It is made to do one thing and it does it well.

          7) They use marine antennas and that, IMHO, are solid. I have had one on a coach for a very long time. Can it fail, sure. Will it fail, unsure. But same can be said for any product. It does not cost that much for a new antenna though. Glad you are working on your own high gain antenna. Dual band at that. So great!

          As far as a “Science Experience” for other products, I surely do not see it that way. In the case of the Rogue, you can just plug it in, pull up the page, and connect. If you choose to use a router, in todays world, routers walk you though a quick setup wizard. But I still say I like what yours can do with some of the features.

          Glad you are listening to the community. As you know, the RV area, for as large as it is, can also be very small. You market into this area greatly while others do not.

          All in all, look forward to seeing what you have coming out and thank you again kindly for the replies as I am sure it can help others when it comes to keeping connected on the road.

          Take care, keep safe.

  7. Steve Matthias

    David, Chris, Kelly — Thanks to all of you for a GREAT dialogue on WiFi in the RV. It is a complete instruction book for those of us who are trying to find our way to the best solution to this issue. While each of you have STRONG feelings for the device (Rogue Wave or WiFi Ranger) or the solution you favor, I congratulate you all for the professional way you have conducted this discussion. Great to see those who have different views can present good information without slinging negative comments are the other responders.

    Congrats and thanks again for great information.

  8. David Post author

    Sure thing Steve. No reason to be otherwise as the goal for all is to help people be connected online. The tools one uses comes down to a personal choice. This article was written as I was asked for it over and over. Asked to talk about how we do it and why. Even in the post on satellite TV service I was asked over and over again about doing one for how we do Wi-Fi.

    In hindsight, maybe I should not have mentioned my issues with the Ranger product, but I posted it as an example of the issues I had and why I am using what I am using. Their are not a lot of players in this market. I am glad that the Ranger is advancing and expanding product lines as I did try hard to use the product and would be willing to take another look now that Kelly says they have new firmware/products etc.

    BTW…I forgot to mention in the article that Chris & Cherie, aka Technomadia, have a book on the topic and they do use the Ranger product. http://www.rvmobileinternet.com/book They also cover news and announcements that affect mobile users at http://www.rvmobileinternet.com/ .

  9. Steve Matthias

    Yes, i have followed Technomadia andI do have their latest book. I know they are very loyal to the Ranger products and have great success with it.
    BTW, if you ever lose your quadcopter in Bremen IN again, call on me as I I live close by :)

      1. Steve Matthias

        Yes, I followed your “search and recovery” efforts on your blog. Please keep posting your videos, they are great. I used a GoPro on my car for Auto-X races. I can only imagine the hours you must have in editing those videos.

  10. Bill G

    Dave, I have RG6 installed up to the roof of my Phaeton. Do you think I could use a balun to convert CAT6 to RG6 and be able to use the RogueWave?

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