Staying Connected in the RV World

tvrv-may-saleFace it folks, like it or not, we’re living in a connected world.  Smart Phones, laptops, tablets, iPods, Smart TVs, e-readers, Kindles, GPS units, cameras, even appliances and thermostats, and the list goes on, are just some of the devices we may find connected to our private networks at home. Now, when we are on the road in our RVs, we still want to take a lot of that technology and connectivity with us. Getting and staying connected while traveling about the country in our RVs presents new challenges for us.

Let’s look at a typical scenario.  We have – his and hers smart phones, a laptop (or two), a Kindle, an iPad, and oh yeah, one of those GPS units on the dash that has WiFi to check for weather, traffic and fuel prices while on the go. So in this example we have at least six devices that we want to have connected to the internet, maybe not all the time, but more often than not.

Most of us will get internet one of three ways when we’re out and about.  Either by 1.Cellular (via smart phone hotspots, MiFi devices, or air cards),  2. WiFi (Public hotspots or private sites (campgrounds, truckstops, McDonalad’s etc.),  or 3. Satellite Internet.

Since the cellular connections these days almost all have data limits, the WiFi provided by campgrounds and other outlets is often a first choice to get that internet connection we all want.  There are however some drawbacks to using these WiFi hotspots. We can’t always park our RVs next to the WiFI antenna. Signals are often weak, and or spotty, and the service quality greatly depends on which campsite you get.  There can also be some security concerns when using a shared  WiFi connection with all your devices, but maybe the biggest pain is that each time you find a new WiFi connection, you have to enter the Password or Key into every device you want to connect to the internet. In our hypothetical situation, there are six or more devices that all have to have something done to in order to connect. Now we have all our devices connected to the internet, but what if you want to move a document or pictures from one device to the other? Your devices are not connected to each other at the local level on your network like they would be at home, so you have to “e-mail” the file to yourself via the World Wide Web.

Now, what can we do to make some of these problems and inconveniences go away? 

The WiFI Ranger “Sky”, and the WiFI Ranger “RVPack2” are two, high end, but still affordable solutions, to help make our RV networking much better and easier.  I’ll start by explaining the basics and then I’ll explain the extra advantages of the RVPack2.

 

WIFI Ranger Go Indoor Mobile RouterThe WiFi Ranger Sky is a WiFI booster, external antenna, and router, all in one package, specifically designed for use in the mobile RV environment.  Since the Sky is permanently mounted on the roof of your RV, it’s internal antenna is ideally positioned to capture, and boost, WiFI signals from Hotspots as far away as 2500 ft.  The router portion of the Sky, creates a local private network around your RV for all your devices, and connects your private network to the Hotspot, with a protective firewall in between the two networks.  The Sky continuously scans and evaluates the available WiFI signals and automatically connects to the fastest connection, even if it isn’t the strongest signal. (You still must have any security keys as required.) Since your six devices are logged in and connected to your private network, instead of the campground network, the Sky can switch between different Access Points and you won’t even know it.  Example, you’re connected to “Campground1” access point, and this campground has multiple access points available for improved service. Then, Unhappy Camper down at the end of the row, backs into and knocks over the pole which has the “Campground1” antenna on which terminates the “Campground1” signal. Assuming you entered the keys provided by the campground office, the Sky will automatically switch over to the next best signal which we’ll call “Campground2” and ALL your devices continue to access the internet with no interruption, and with no further action on your part.  This convenience continues each time you move to a new location. You enter the access point key or password one time in the WiFi Ranger Sky, and all your devices are again connected.  Pretty cool, right?   If you need to use a MiFi device, or a hotspot provided by your smart phone, you only have to login to it one time with the Sky, and the Sky will automatically connect as needed and share that connection with the rest of your devices.  Next you say this thing must be really complicated and hard to use. Well, no it isn’t. The engineers at WiFi Ranger have designed ease of use right into the product. Most users will have little need to use more than the basics on the Sky user control panel, however, if you are a power user, you do have access to plenty of advanced settings for things like port forwarding, VPNs, MAC filtering and other advanced options. Again, if you don’t know what it is, you don’t need it…. All in all, the WiFi Ranger Sky is a great tool for making our WiFi life easier in our RVs.

Now you ask, what is this RVPack2 that was mentioned earlier do for me? The RVPack2 takes the Sky and adds an internal router and tightly integrates the two devices into one high performance networking package. WiFi devices in simple terms are nothing but radios, and these radios transmit and receive radio signals carrying data.  When the WiFi Ranger Sky is operating alone, it has to share it’s radio between two separate networks. One network is the campground WiFi, and the second network is your local private network, in and around your RV.  The indoor router of the RVPack2 (called the “Go2”) takes over the radio duties to support the local private network and the Sky is now dedicated to servicing the Campground network. This separation of duties for the two radios, will in many cases provide an effectively faster data connection, allowing each radio to be optimized for the situation. The “Go2” also provides 4 wired Ethernet ports for a high speed wired LAN to facilitate file sharing and faster file transfers in your RV. The Go2 also has a USB 2.0 port for attaching Plug-N-Play compatible Air Cards or MiFi devices for seamless connection to your mobile cellular data plans. The Go2 and the Sky are both controlled from one easy to use control panel, and again if you don’t know what it is, just leave it alone. You also don’t have to deal with the complications of configuring the two routers to work with each other, that task is handled automatically, simply by connecting the Sky to the Go. (Yellow cable to yellow port) The WiFi Ranger engineers have done all the complicated stuff for you.

The WiFi Ranger mobile products are high quality and very easy to use.  If you want to make your RV connectivity the best and easiest it can be, the WiFi Ranger Products are TVforMyRV’s recommendation.

 

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