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Old 11-09-2015, 03:27 PM   #1
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Wifi / Cell Boosters

I am working on my build list for my Escape 21. With all the great help on this forum I think I am pretty close to being ready. The biggest question mark are how best to handle internet access. We plan to do a good bit of boondocking in the west so access to internet is going to be a challenge. I have heard bad reviews about Wifi Ranger, it sounds that the technology has not matured enough to be reliable. Any one here had success with the Wifi Ranger Elite or light using a trailer parks free wifi system? Any alternatives out there that I need to research?

As for cell boosters, has anyone used the WeBoost, Drive 4G-X? How about other ideas?

Has anyone had a 1" conduit run from where they want an antenna installed to the location where they plan to install the wifi/ cell boost equipment? With technology changing quickly (especially cell with the new FCC guidelines) this might be a must to keep up with it.
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Old 11-09-2015, 03:54 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Porsche Pilot View Post
I am working on my build list for my Escape 21. With all the great help on this forum I think I am pretty close to being ready. The biggest question mark are how best to handle internet access. We plan to do a good bit of boondocking in the west so access to internet is going to be a challenge. I have heard bad reviews about Wifi Ranger, it sounds that the technology has not matured enough to be reliable. Any one here had success with the Wifi Ranger Elite or light using a trailer parks free wifi system? Any alternatives out there that I need to research?

As for cell boosters, has anyone used the WeBoost, Drive 4G-X? How about other ideas?

Has anyone had a 1" conduit run from where they want an antenna installed to the location where they plan to install the wifi/ cell boost equipment? With technology changing quickly (especially cell with the new FCC guidelines) this might be a must to keep up with it.
Hi...

I'll be working from our Escape for a few months a year, so Internet connectivity is critical for me. I purchased the Wifi Ranger Elite, but unfortunately haven't had a chance to really test it yet. I bought it based on feedback here and other research that convinced me it was the best option.

I also purchased the WeBoost 4GX and have been able to test that. I have been very pleased with its performance. In addition to that, I purchased the marine antenna and an additional interior antenna. I plan to move the WeBoost unit itself to/from the car (I work in the car while my partner drives).

We are getting a solar panel and wanted the flexibility to easily integrate a portable panel if needed... so ETI is moving the solar controller to under the D/S dinette bench and putting a small hatch (same as used for electrical cord hookup access) so we can easily plug a portable solar panel from outside into the controller. The plan is to use this same hatch for feeding either the Wifi Ranger or WeBoost exterior antenna cable to under the D/S bench. We had some additional 12 and 120 volt outlets placed on the D/S bench so we can power the Wifi Ranger or WeBoost.

We purchased an antenna mast (CP-45... got the idea from someone else on this forum) from Ham Radio Outlet. We'll somehow attach the appropriate antenna (WeBoost or Wifi Ranger, depending on what will work best at the campsite) to the mast and feed the cable from that through the hatch, as described previously.

Hopefully this will all work out well... we don't pick up our 19' until January, so haven't had real-life experience with this setup yet.

Good luck!
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Old 11-09-2015, 04:16 PM   #3
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Thanks Dolly,


I had the same idea about the solar, I am adding the Samlex MSK-135 (135 watt portable solar package to the ETI 150w option (mostly for winter use when the sun is lower) and the Samlex DC-BTS-A-C temperature sensor for the battery charging. I am having ETI wire an Anderson connector directly to the batteries that will connect to the outside solar panels.
I am glad to hear that the WeBoost works well. What type of antenna are you looking at? Which mast did you buy?
I would LOVE to hear how the Wifi Ranger Elite works out.
By installing all these units so close together, the solar charger, Wifi Ranger and WeBoost do you think you will get any electrical interference?
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Old 11-09-2015, 04:45 PM   #4
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This is the mast: COMET-NCG CP-45 | 14 FT 8 IN MAX ALUM TELESCOPING MAST

For the WeBoost (to use when we're camped, not in transit), we got the marine antenna: WSN311130 - WILSON ELECTRONICS 311130 Dual-Band Marine-Mount Antenna

I won't be powering up both devices at the same time... only the one I need based on the specific campsite. I hope we don't get interference from the solar controller. Hmmm... if so, we'll have to do some finagling! Anyone else here have any thoughts on this?
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Old 11-09-2015, 07:52 PM   #5
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I duct-taped a piece of steel sheeting to my roof just above the driver side dinette. I had Escape put an electrical outlet port that feeds into the driver side dinette seat. When I use my WeBoost, I put the antenna with magnetic mount on the steel sheet and feed the lead through the port. Works fine.

I got a CCrane Versa Wifi USB adapter and put its megnetic mount antenna on the roof if needed. I also got a CCrane 14dbi directional antenna which I mounted to a piece of 1" PVC pipe. If I need it, I have a long strip of velcro that goes vertically just in front of the driver side dinette window with a matching strip on the PVC pipe, so I can quickly mount it if needed. So far, I have used the WeBoost and it has worked well. The CCrane omni antenna hasn't worked too well, and I was too lazy last trip to put up the mast and directional antenna. The WeBoost worked on that trip so I justified my laziness as I had a working solution.

I am thinking of continuing the WeBoost approach, and replacing the CCrane with their Super Wifi Repeater Kit so I don't have to get out the laptop for the Versa WiFi setup.

EDIT: After putting all of this stuff in and out, I appreciate a permanent mounted antenna. But I like not having the extra hardware while traveling and the versatility of being able to change the setup as needed.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:16 PM   #6
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This is not a one-size-fits all thing. First of all, anyone who wants to boondock shouldn't expect to get a 4G signal in most places.

Second- do you want voice primarily(including SMS text messaging) or data? The mini mag-mount works better for data than voice for example.

The We Boost Drive 4G-X comes with a mini mag-mount antenna, which is better for data than their mag-mount coil antenna or trucker antenna. Inside the vehicle is a "low profile" antenna, which is 2/3 size of a Hershey bar attached to a cable that goes to the amp. Need to be within a foot of it when signal is low. The gain for the mini vs. coil is 2.3 vs. 5.12, however that is for 3G reception, which is what at this time one is lucky to get when boondocking. The Trucker antenna is 4.1 db gain.

I have an older Wilson 3 Watt booster(801210) and it reaches farther to the cell site than any of the newer amps as the FCC made the booster industry go to 1 Watt a few years ago. The Drive 4G-X supposedly reaches further than the 4G-M, but that is relative. When you read the reviews carefully it is mostly people who live in a generally urban area that have difficulty with signal- not people out in the country.

For the mast, I have 3 sections of 1" pvc pipe that I section together and use the awning bottom hinge as an anchor. I got an 8" round from a welding shop that I drilled a hole in and put a screw into a drywall anchor in a cap that I fitted onto the shortest piece of pipe. I put the mag-mount coil antenna on it and swing it up & over the awning then attach the legs. Works great.

The best advice is to call We Boost and ask to talk with a Senior Technician to discuss your particular needs.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:42 AM   #7
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The best advice is to call We Boost and ask to talk with a Senior Technician to discuss your particular needs.
Ditto. WeBoost tech support (phone or email) has been invaluable... very knowledgeable and very responsive. I've spoken/emailed with them multiple times while working through the various options and scenarios.
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Old 11-10-2015, 04:38 PM   #8
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Thanks Rossue, What is the cable type that the Drive 4G-X uses?
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Old 11-10-2015, 04:44 PM   #9
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Not sure- both antenna wires are fairly thin; have a home unit I don't use anymore and it used coax- and somewhere seem to remember that the trucker/RV one does as well. Best to call them: 866 294-1660.

I do recall that ETI would not install conduit for antenna cable when I inquired.
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Old 11-10-2015, 04:56 PM   #10
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No problem, I think I am going the route that Dolly is by installing an access port right by the awning post so I can put the WeBoost and the WiFi Ranger under the dinette. Your idea for the PVC for the pole is what I was planning on. I am still a bit concerned about the electronics so close to the solar charge controller, any thoughts on that?
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Old 11-10-2015, 07:34 PM   #11
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Having the amp in the dinette area hasn't been a problem; our solar controller is under the passenger side dinette immediately in front of the battery box.

Will probably get a port put in when we visit Chilliwack next Spring. Am also going to attach a ground plane to the rear passenger side solar panel's bolt for when I don't need the extra height of the pole.
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Old 11-11-2015, 10:40 AM   #12
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You may want to look into the wifi system described by this guy:

Private RV Wi-Fi and Making a Better Park Connection for Under $100 | Outside Our Bubble

I had most of the parts for this already for a ham radio project, so I set it up in my basement and got it working, and was able to access it with my laptop, iPad and iPhone.

My local ham radio club set up a similar system at the club house to access the local library wifi system which is 300 meters away. It works well. Instead of an airgateway described in the web site, we just use an old router for that system.

Is this web guru stuff? For sure. But I followed the instructions given in the above web site to the letter and I had no problem getting my system working. Ubiquiti wifi gear is excellent, and there seems to be a lot of used gear on the secondary market. Keep in mind that usefulness will always depend on having line-of-site view of an internet access point with minimum of obstacles such as foliage.

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PS: this is my first post. My Escape 19 Build sheet is due in January so I've been lurking and researching diligently. There is lots of great info on this forum.
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Old 11-11-2015, 11:44 AM   #13
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Jim,
I read Outside our Bubble and read this post previosuly. I am NOT a tech person and I thought this would be above my skill level. You think a none techie could handle this?
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:22 PM   #14
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I believe you could. The "Outside the Bubble" instructions are very good. I'm not a web guru by any means, I followed them and was successful. My setup has cost me under $100 using used ubiquity transceiver and new airgate router. The main concern when you buy one of these units is for the built-in firmware from Ubiquity to be intact and has not been modified, so that the unit can be properly configured out of the box.
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:27 PM   #15
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Thanks Jim, your post was very helpful. The Wifi Ranger has been so problematic that they took down there chat room since it was being overwhelmed with unhappy folks. The Amazon reviews have been very poor as well. I will give this a try!
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:28 PM   #16
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I was just looking at this online today: JEFA Tech: Long Range WiFi Repeater Kit for RVs

Don't know if anyone has tried it.
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Old 12-05-2015, 08:28 PM   #17
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I was just looking at this online today: JEFA Tech: Long Range WiFi Repeater Kit for RVs

Don't know if anyone has tried it.
Or the USB kit - simpler but only 1 PC at a time.

Also interested.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:40 AM   #18
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There is another alternative for the technically-inclined. You can flash an old Linksys router with open-source firmware from dd-wrt.com and then enable the router to be used as a repeater. Then you'd only have to buy an antenna. I wonder if JefaTech is using the dd-wrt firmware.
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Old 12-06-2015, 12:19 PM   #19
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Thanks for the info on the mast, Dolly! We've been looking for something like that. Do you know how stiff it is? Can it handle a bit of wind?

We are having a 21 built (done in Feb) and I decided to wait on installing wifi/cell booster equipment. I want to see the trailer and where everything is. I had ETI drop 12v wires in the cabinets above the dinette. My current idea is to go out the back of the trailer and up a mast that will be mounted to the spare tire holder. I'm really interested in what other people have done. Thanks for this great discussion.
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Old 12-06-2015, 12:46 PM   #20
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I was just looking at this online today: JEFA Tech: Long Range WiFi Repeater Kit for RVs

Don't know if anyone has tried it.
I have one. I got it last year, and while I haven't had as much chance to use it as I would like, I am pleased so far. It seems to work well both to improve signal strength and minimize the effort involved with getting multiple devices connected to a campground network. My intent is to use it with campgrounds that have a week wifi signal at our campsite and for the occasional stop in places like Walmart or a Harvest Hosts site where there is only marginal WIFI in the campground.

I probably made some mistakes on the external antenna setup. I got the "super long range" 65 inch antenna and a 30' coax cable because I didn't know exactly how I would set the antenna and the repeater up. Looking backwards, I would probably get the shorter antenna and only use a 20' coax.

I attached the antenna metal receptacle to an 18" piece of PVC pipe, the antenna attaches to the metal receptacle with a small set screw. Then the 18" piece of PVC screws into a 6' piece of PVC, which in turn slides into a piece of PVC that is zip tied to the tongue jack. I end up with an antenna that is about 12' tall off the ground. I had Reace put in a port like the one used for a permanent electrical cord. I can snake the coax in the port, run it under the bed, and then have the repeater sit on the table at the end of the bed. Eventually, I would like to figure out a slicker way to do this, but so far I haven't had time to do a better installation. The trailer is buttoned up until we head south in a month or so, so I don't have photos. If I get a chance to take some this spring, I will.

The repeater can be used without an external antenna, but the range isn't nearly as good.

I wish I could give you a more informative review, but now know about as much as I do.
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