Monday, July 30, 2012

Configuring the Radiolabs USB Repeater

How it Works


The CaptiFi WiFi booster uses it's powerful amplifier and antenna to talk to the campground (or other location's) WiFi signal. Because of it's power and the fact that it is outside and higher up, it is able to do a MUCH better job of connecting to the remote WiFi signal than your laptop. 

The CaptiFi is connected to the USB Repeater (the blue box). This device tells the CaptiFi what signal to connect to, and then re-transmits the boosted WiFi as your own local WiFi signal (or hotspot). This hotspot can be used up by multiple computers, smartphones, iPads, Kindles, Roku boxes etc. Because it is a wireless signal, you can connect to it from anywhere inside your rig, or indeed even if you are sitting relaxing outside!

Configuring your System

[Note: the photos below are a little small - just click on them to expand them]

Each time you move to a new location you need to "tell" the CaptiFi what signal you want it to boost. You do this as follows:

1. Make sure your USB Repeater (the blue box) is connected to the CaptiFi and turned on (duh). You should see the blue power light and then after a 20 seconds or so, the blue WLAN light.

2. Connect your laptop to the WiFi signal called "11n 3G USB Router" which is the local signal from the blue box. Open a browser on your computer (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome etc) and in the URL bar (the address place at the top) enter 192.168.2.1 - you will then see the login prompt. Login (admin, admin). This connects your computer to the blue box. Once you have logged in, the system will take you to a page (like the one below) full of mumbo-jumbo. Don't freak-out, it's super easy from here.




3. At the top of the window, click on "Easy Setup" and then select the "USB Wireless Adapter".



4. Next you have to tell the USB Repeater which WiFi network to connect to. To do this, click on "Site Survey" and then wait for the system to come back with the names of the WiFi networks that the WiFi booster can "see".



5. Select the WiFi that you want to connect to. If you're just looking around for a WiFi to hop on to, then look under "Encryption" for a WiFi that is listed as "None", meaning that it is open.



6. The next screen allows you to enter any password that your Campground gave you to use with their WiFi.  



7. The next screen is where you configure your own local WiFi (the signal coming from the blue box). In box A you enter the name of your local WiFi (in this example "TechnoRV WiFi Booster"). In box B you can tell the blue box to encrypt or password your own WiFi signal to stop anyone else from using it. To do that, select "WPA2-PSK". Don't worry if you have no idea what that means, it's just the name of the algorithm used to encrypt the signal. In box C, select "TKIP" and enter your password (it must be at least 8 characters long).


8. Once you are finished, hit "Done" and the system will say "System Re-booting". As it re-boots, it will kick you off the local WiFi, so after a minute or so, re-connect your laptop to your new WiFi network (in this example "TechnoRV WiFi Booster"). The system should come back with a "Wizard Success" message, but don't worry if it doesn't.

9. To check everything is okay, click on the "Status" tab at the top left and then you should see in box A a "Connected" message which means that the WiFi booster is connected to the campground WiFi. Box B tells you the name of the signal that it is connected to.



10. Finally, try navigating to Google or your favorite website. If everything is working correctly, you should be online. If not, either the WiFi you connected to is not working, or you messed up. As a test, take your laptop nearer the WiFi signal your trying to connect to and see if it works without the booster and blue box (sometimes you can connect to WiFi signals that don't go anywhere and aren't connected to the internet).

I hope that helps. Like I say in my seminars, there are no guarantees with WiFi, but with this combination of booster and repeater you have one the most powerful and flexible systems available on the market today. If you still have questions, feel free to email me at support@technorv.com.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Replacement Laptop?

"My Toshiba laptop's display is failing and we are ready for a new one. Do you have any suggestions for a new replacement?" - Tim & Dar
Hi Tim, a lot depends on what you want to use it for. First off, have you thought about an iPad. It's great for email, browsing etc and makes for a more enjoyable experience as you can sit outside having a cocktail while using it! Plus there are countless apps you can download that are ideal for RV'ers (see my article on Top 10 Apps for RV'ers). Otherwise, I would recommend a Mac. I know they are more money, but they last longer (this one I'm using now is more than 5 years old), are easier to use and maintain, great for managing photos and are just worth the extra money. 
If you need Windows apps such as MSFT Word, Excel, or are just a glutton for punishment, then a notebook PC such as the Acer are small, compact and ideal for RV'ers, but they have a small screen which can be annoying and don't have a CD drive built-in. 
For a traditional laptop, I'd stay away from DELL and probably go with either an HP or a Sony. Both are very well made and have good support. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Swift Hitch as a Side-View Camera

"We have a 39 foot class A motor home with the typical camera mounted in the back of the motor home near the roof line (2004 39’ Fleetwood Providence.)  We have been concerned for a long time with the blind spot on the passenger side of our motor home.  We have been thinking of numerous means to be able to see better in the lane or roadway on the passenger side and tried using a wireless web camera.  The wireless web camera (D Link brand) worked very well except it knocked off our Verizon wireless mifi signal.  We spoke with Verizon and they indicated the wireless web camera indeed would interfere with their signal.  Since we live in our motor home and our Verizon MiFi is our only means to attain internet service we cannot use a wireless camera that interferes with our Verizon signal.  I notice your camera appears to use a 2.5Ghz frequency.  Have you had any experience with using it at the same time as a cell phone or MiFi device is being used.  Our plan is to perhaps mount this camera on our passenger side rear view mirror somehow with it directed straight back in order to see traffic in adjacent lane.  Do you have any thoughts on how such a mount and view visibility would work?" - Paul

Paul, we have had a number of customers use the Swift hitch as a blind spot camera and been very pleased with it. Since you would be using it while driving I would advice against using the magnetic base or suction cup to secure it in place. Instead, the Swift Hitch features two holes in its base which can be used to secure it in place with bolts. Although the unit is weather-proof, you may want to make the installation detachable and bring it inside when you are not using it - that way no "prying fingers" can get hold of it. Another idea is to mount the unit inside the coach using the suction cup with the camera tilted towards the window / outside. The camera has a 4-6 hour battery life so depending upon how long you drive for, you may need to think about running 12v to it (we sell additional 12v cables).

Regarding the frequency range, that's interesting about the WiFi webcam. I have used the Swift Hitch many times without any interference with my Verizon MiFi card.