Why is the Internet so bad? A question that I am asked many, many times in our travels. Yes, there are many parks where the underlying WiFi is indeed awful. But a number of parks have invested significantly in improving their WiFi service and yet it doesn’t seem to make much difference for many users.
Getting the best possible Internet does begin with the basics: a good external antenna, a good router and a wee bit of technical knowledge.
I had been running two systems in our coach: a Winegard ConnecT 2.0 and a Ubiquiti AirCube and NanoStation Loco M5. The Winegard provided cellular and 2.4 GHz data. The Ubiquiti provided 5 GHz data. Between the two systems, we were able to keep well connected to the Internet wherever we travelled.
We have over 30 devices in our coach that connect to the Internet and we routinely use several hundred Gigabytes of data a month. The Internet is very important to our lifestyle.
I can live with speeds as low as 7-10 Mbps but prefer to get as much speed and reliability as possible.
I had been planning the redesign of our network in the coach for a few months. Last week, I received all of the new equipment. The equipment will replace the Winegard and Ubiquiti platforms.
One network platform to rule them all.
The router is a Pepwave Max BR1 Mk II. The Pepwave is an advanced mobile router that provides cellular data and WiFi connectivity. The antenna is a Poynting 5-in-1 rooftop antenna. It will receive cellular, 2.4 and 5 GHz signals. I purchased these items from MobileMustHave Mobile Lifestyle Solutions.
In our coach, we have two cabinets for AV equipment. This is our front cabinet:
The cabinet from top to bottom:
Winegard satellite dish interface, Sony Blu-Ray player, Logitech Harmony Remote Hub (for our universal remote), Wally satellite dish receiver (we use Dish TV), video splitters for the two front LEDs, Pioneer AV receiver and an Apple TV.
I will have to rearrange the front cabinet to install the Pepwave router, a Sonos booster for our Sonos speaker systems and a network switch.
I have the Pepwave out in the coach right now along with one of the switches. I have to wait for the installer to come in and mount the rooftop antenna before I redo the front cabinet. Here is that equipment:
When we built the coach, I had Newmar run an Ethernet cable from the front AV cabinet to the rear AV cabinet located in our bedroom.
I have completed all of the new wiring in that rear cabinet. It looks like this:
There are three components in the rear cabinet: an Apple TV, a Playstation PS4 and a Synergy DS916 with 16 Terabytes of storage. There is also an IR extender to control the components in the cabinet with a Logitech Harmony universal remote. You can make out the eye of the IR extender at the top left side of the photo — it is the small black box with a green light.
All of the components are hardwired to a network switch. That switch will be connected to another switch in the forward AV cabinet and that switch which will be connected to the Pepwave.
The forward cabinet network switch will be hardwired to another Apple TV, a Sonos booster, our Wally satellite receiver, and our Pioneer receiver.
The rest of the devices in the coach will connect to the Pepwave over WiFi.
And the Pepwave will get data from at least three sources: WiFi as Wan over 2.4 GHz, WiFi as Wan over 5 GHz and cellular data.
I haven’t settled on a cellular provider as yet largely because we are currently achieving high-speed Internet on the existing WiFi source and I am not in a rush to implement the cellular portion of the new network.
I have done an initial systems test. I wired everything together to test all of the components. And everything worked as expected. Once the antenna has been installed, I will go to work on rewiring and reinstalling the components in the front AV cabinet.
I have the new router programmed to my liking and I am very impressed with the Pepwave router. I have decommissioned the Ubiquiti network and I will decommission the Winegard within another two weeks or so.
Even though I am waiting on the antenna to be installed, I have been using the new router with the paddle antennas.
Seems to be doing well so far.