Internet in your RV


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Internet in your RV, do all RV parks have internet access? What if they don't?

Do you own an RV? Do you also want to have the www your motorhome while you are camping? Anywhere?

You can network your RV and have the protection you would have at home.

You can have a router with the firewall protection that comes with it in your RV. The space that a router takes up is minimal.

Once you pick your type of router either wired (best) or wireless (cheaper) then you will need a connection to an ISP.

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Internet in your RV

There are three types of connection while you are on the road, wireless (most common), wired (most secure), and if you can afford it Satellite.

With the wireless connection from your router to the internet may or may not be free, that is some WiFi hotspots are free and some charge by the minute/hour/day.

Say you pull in to a RV park and they advertise free internet. Some RV Parks have a 'shared hot spot' where the internet connection is free but there is a time limit because the park only has a limited number of connections and the 'hot spot' is very limited in range and speed. When you use one of these hot spots you are encouraged to download your email and then disconnect. Do your email reading and answering off line. This may be ok for the occasional internet user but if you have a lot of email or need to up load medium to large documents you should find an alternative to this use of local hot spots.

How would you connect to the internet in your RV? More than likely wireless, as in most hotels/motels now. There may be a hard wired connection in areas where wireless is interfered with by natural obstacles or atmospheric conditions.

Internet in your RV

What if you are in an area where there isn't any internet access at all? Like out in the wilderness where you want to leave the maddening crowd behind (boondocking)? Or on a lake where you want to fish but have the access also. The answer Satellite!

Yup, you can now get a Satellite uplink, no phone required. As a matter of fact you can use a phone over this up link!

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(There was a service called SpeedLink, it was line of sight - if you could see where the transmitter was located you could connect. The draw back was you had to have a telephone line to transmit from your downlink modem. Another problem was if a tree grew up in the path (happened to me) or an aircraft passed through the signal you lost the data you were downloading or uploading. If you had a clear line of sight, no trees, no aircraft in a landing pattern then it was not a bad way to get your internet. however it was not mobile!) 

On my RV web site  I have an article about networking my RV (Internet in your RV) and using a Satellite uplink for my Internet access while on the road.

For the cost of the receiver/transmitter set, antenna, and a monthly charge you can be anywhere in the North America and have an internet connection.

The only company I know of that has this service at this time is Hugesnet for internet in your RV.

My RV will have the Satellite and the wired router with wired connection to my computers. I have to consider getting the Magic jack for the phone connection because it will only be useful when the satellite dish is up, that means the RV has to be parked before the dish can be deployed.

I plan on mounting the Satellite dish on the roof of the RV on a 'turntable' platform that will allow me to rotate the dish to the correct direction for alignment to the ISP Satellite for the connection.

Internet in your RV

I have spoken with a Tech from a Satellite company and he advised me to not physically mount the dish on the roof of the RV but to use a tri-pod and locate it at least twenty feet from the RV when using it.

The reason for not mounting it on the roof is if there is in high wind conditions the dish could cause damage to the roof of the RV.

You need to have the dish at least twenty feet from the RV to keep from picking up spurious radiation from electrical devices in the RV.

Then inside the RV I have the router, the firewall server, and my AD server. Then when I want to connect to the internet my computer will go through the firewall server, then the router, to the satellite, back down to the ground control of the ISP and out to the internet. I think this will make the access a little slower but with the technology we enjoy today the lag time (the time the signal takes to go from my laptop to the ISP and back) should be fairly low see my RV Satellite connect speed.

Another option is to have a wireless access point (not a wireless router!) that I can turn on when I want to use my laptop outside the RV or maybe not wire the inside of the RV and use wireless only, I would not do this with out testing this theory first: The RV body is mostly fiberglass and therefor should block a lot of the wireless signal. If this is true then for use outside or away from the RV I would have to incorporate a wireless signal booster antenna on the outside of the RV. Testing will tell.

Internet in your RV

If you decide to do wire inside of the RV you will have to consider how to route the wiring from where the connect node (where you would connect the network Cat5e or Cat6 cable from outside to the router inside the RV) will be located. Then from the router to the computers. Laying out the path you should consider the placement of the cable, keep it from being pinched by doors or something placed on top of the cable. I think that access inside the walls between the interior and exterior may be hard to do. You would also take in to consideration the placement of the router and where the best place to have your computer. And the look of the wire winding along the ceiling, Do you want the wire visible? Can you cover it with some quarter round base board? Then stain it the same color as the ceiling?

You may want to have the wiring done professionally if you feel that it would be beyond your expertise to do the job properly, a professional may be able to run the cable inside the walls of the RV, they have the appropriate tools.

See this page on more about installing, setup, and use of Satellite Internet on your RV!

Internet in your RV Considerations:

When you are using wireless the signal from the transmitter (your computer or router) to the receiver (WiFi hot spot, hotel wireless, etc.) is not secure! This means that if you type in your user ID and password if you are NOT connected to a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that uses encryption then your ID and password are being transmitted in plain text (such as the text on this page) and that makes it easy for the unscrupulous to collect the data and hack your account that you are connecting to. Even the built in firewall of the router can't help when you transmit outside of your local network.

Wired networks are a little harder to hack but are not immune.

The thing to remember to not use plain text password when possible, if there is a option to encrypt your ID and Password when signing up for an account and you plan on using open wireless then use it.

I have to test the Satellite security but I think that because the signal is a 'line of sight' signal not a broadcast signal (as in a radio signal) that the security will be a lot tighter.

Ok The 'Internet in your RV plan' is in progress -

Setup a small network with:

  1. A server as a Domain Controller with Active Directory for security and a small amount of storage.

    • I used a spare laptop (IBM T-23 with 384 Meg of memory, P3 900 MHz processor and a 32 Gig SSD).

  2. A server to be the firewall and proxy server.

    • I used a spare laptop (IBM T-23 with 384 Meg of memory, P3 900 MHz processor and a 32 Gig SSD).

  3. My computer

    • I am using a IBM T-30 with 2 gig of ram, a 2.5 GHz processor and a 64 Gig SSD

If you note I have removed the mechanical hard drives and replaced them with the SSD (Solid State Drive) because:

  • Low power usage - not just on AC but on Battery

  • Low heat production

  • No moving parts

By using the SSD I can leave the computers running (if I forget) while the RV is in motion and not worry about the vibrations/bumps causing the hard drive to crash.

I have almost completed the mini-network rack that I am making to put in a storage area to hold the laptops (all three) and then I need to figure out where I am going put the KVM. I plan on getting a 15 to17 inch monitor for the RV to use while I work and store it while the RV is in motion. I have the KVM (Keyboard/Mouse/Video) switch and cables.

So with this list my mini-network will be ready to install in the RV when I complete the mini-network rack in a couple of days:

Stop by and see how it turned out.

The Internet in your RV materials -

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The materials - 16 ft of Baseboard 1" L cut, 36" of 1"x1/2", 2 ea 8"x12" 3/4" Plywood. Can of Poly, bottle of Gorilla Wood Glue, box of 1 1/4" finishing nails

The pattern for the three shelves

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The pattern for the rack tray - 12" square.

The first shelf before gluing together.

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One shelf ready to glue, test then make the next two...

The mini-network rack almost complete, needs some minor touch up and then a couple of  coats of Poly to seal the wood.

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Three IBM T series Laptops, my network on the road.

The three laptops, computer power supplies, KVM switch on the top right hand shelf, the router and behind it on the lower shelf is the network switch. All tied down and ready to install under a seat in the RV.

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The laptops fit sunggly in the trays.

All connected up for testing the layout and the network. The Styrofoam under the KVM is for heat protection and take up some shock while the RV is in motion. The cable management is a little sloppy because the KVM USB cables are 6 feet and shorter 3 feet cable cost as much as the complete KVM Switch and cables, the rest of the cables you see are the computer power adapter cables. I used 1 foot Cat5e cables for the network, a good fit.

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The network rack is almost done, the network is operational.

Every thing secured with cable ties, if I need to remove a component I just cut the ties put in or fix the component and replace the ties. I put cable ties around the router and switch power supplies because I don't want them to vibrate loose when the RV is in motion.

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Neatness counts, tie up those cables, looks like a large glob of cables but better than all of them loose...

Now I am ready to put it in the RV and get the Satellite hooked up and truly be Mobil!

I started my internet in your RV project a little over three years ago and it is now on hold. Does it work? Yes it does, I have a wireless access point in my house, I added a wireless router to the rack in place of the wired router and used it while I worked on the interior.

Once the headliner and AC units are replaced (when the headliner is out I will run the network cables) then we can use this internet in your RV setup on the road.

This is a viable solution if you want to have internet in your RV (a Domain will increase your security of your data by 1000%!) unfortunately for me my Misses says the 1975 GMC Palm Beach has to go... See this page for more info: 1975 GMC Palm Beach

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