Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Sprint device doesn't offer the coverage I need

"I would like your input on a wireless broadband connection. Right now i have Readybroadband which I purchased at Walgreens. It is supposed to have Sprint coverage by what they tell me. I pay $25 per month and it seems to be enough to get what i must get done. But, looking at the coverage for sprint it is not very good in a lot of travel areas. So, would appreciate your input on something. I paid $40 for the device and as I said I pay $25 for the minimum for the month." - Brenda S

If you're going to travel, I would recommend moving away from the Sprint device that you have and going with Verizon. I know it's a pain as you've paid $40 for your Sprint card, but really, Verizon is much better. For $30 a month you'll get 3Gb of data which should be ample for most email and browsing (unless you want to watch YouTube videos or download movies). I have a 3G MiFi data card one and the coverage is excellent and much better than the AT&T card that we used to have (it still isn't perfect though - we're in Delaware at the moment and the coverage is a bit patchy). When you're not using it, you can suspend your payment for up to 6 months of the year - great if you travel part time. Finally, it's a WiFi device which means that you connect up to 5 computers to the same card. The one that they are selling now is called the 'Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi™ 4510L'.

Your other option is to look at upgrading your phone. New phones from Verizon such as the Palm® Pre 2 ($99.99) or the DROID CHARGE ($299.99 - 4G capable) offer the ability to create your own mobile hotspot. That means that they are like a data card built into a mobile phone. With them you can connect up to 5 computers via WiFi without having to have a separate data card. You'll pay $20 / month for 2Gb of data for either your phone or the computers that you connect to it. Just something else for you to think about.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are Tasers Effective Against Bears?

"I am interested in a taser for protection from bears as we do a lot of walking in bear country. To this end we have two questions: Are your devices effective against bears? Are Tasers legal in Canada as much of our RV'ing in the summer is in Canada?" - Bonnie B.

That's quite a popular question and it has a funny answer, but it really depends upon the bear! Joking aside, they are not designed for use against bears. IF you have one and get attacked by a bear, then you can use it. The problem is that a bear's fur is very thick and so the probes my or may not make good contact with the bear's skin. You can still use the stun gun to his face, nose, mouth etc, but that is way too close for my liking. Finally, Tasers are not legal in Canada and cannot be exported outside the US.

A better option would be the Frontiersman Bear Attack Deterrent with Belt Holster (on sale at $51.99). That has a range of 35 feet and it's super-strong formulation is specifically designed for deterring bears. Whilst correctly labeled bear spray (not pepper spray) is legal in Canada, there are some requirements about crossing the border with it that are explained in this excellent article.

I hope that helps.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Do we need both a WiFi and a Cell Phone booster?

"As we study more, it seems that we need both a wifi booster for campgrounds to improve wifi and a separate cell phone booster. Can they be mounted side by side and brought in at the same place? If we get the captifi and bring it through the back window (we are slightly concerned about the opening letting in mosquitoes) , is there an extension for the cable so the computer can be in the front where we actually use it? Or could we put a wireless router in back that would broadcast to the front so we could use both computers and the iPad and the iPhone.
What a puzzle to figure this all out.  I mentioned to Orlan what you said about having plan A, B and C. It made us realize that there isn’t a simple solution." Sandy.
I agree, I think you need both (that's what we have). Let's look at them individually:

WiFi Booster
It comes with a 15' hard-wired USB cable which can be extended using a 15' USB extension cable that we sell. You can go longer, but it gets a little complicated as you need a powered USB cable. It can be mounted anywhere on the roof, and can be located next to a cell phone booster (they operate on very different frequencies). If you don't want to bring the wire through the window, some people will use the vent for the refrigerator. Bring the cable down through the opening on the roof and then out at the bottom or side of the refrigerator (that way you avoid drilling holes in your rig). Then you can run the cable through the sides and backs of your cupboards so that it is out of sight.

You can't use a router as that is designed to take an ethernet internet connection (not USB) and share it amongst multiple computers. You could use the WiFi Ranger, but the basic version of that won't boost the signal and I'm really not sure about the Pro version with external antenna.

Cell Phone Booster
For your cell phone booster, you need an external antenna that is as far away from where you'll be working as possible. If you work in the back, you'll need to mount that antenna at the front and vice-versa. I'd recommend the Wilson DT but I'd upgrade the antenna to an omni-directional trucker antenna as the one the DT comes with bi-directional meaning that you'd need to keep adjusting it every time to parked somewhere (not exactly feasible). That also has the advantage of more gain (i.e. more powerful) and has a mounting spring which you can connect to a ladder for example. That will then boost the voice AND data signals for you iPhone and iPad and a data card if you have one. BUT, the devices need to be close to the internal antenna, so I'd recommend using bluetooth headsets such as the Cobra Trucker.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Who Says it's "either or"?

So here's the photo to show the wife when she says that "it's either a Corvette OR a motorhome"!




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