Getting Decent FREE WiFi…Bwahaha!
We’ve lived in our Airstream full-time for just over 3 years, and for 3 years now, getting decent internet has been a hassle. I completely understand that getting 4G in the middle of Death Valley or off the coast of Oregon might be a little much to ask, but when you’re in $35 per night RV park in Dallas, TX offering “Free WiFi,” I expect at least a decent signal. To date, getting decent “free WiFi” has been the exception, not the rule. Here are a few things we’ve tried to do to remedy this problem over the years.
A 4G affair
Our next Antenna Option? – photo from http://www.qrz.com/db/N9FN
My first attempt was to bite the cost bullet and simply go 4G. After all, how expensive could it be? Turns out it can be brutally expensive, especially for those of us into things like watching Netflix and playing Xbox! And until recently, there weren’t many reliable ways to watch your data use until it was too late and the bill shot north of $300.
Then there’s the reception. We used a MiFi unit from Verizon. It worked ok for reception most days, but it really didn’t like being inside our aluminum cage. So, I did what any internet starved Airstreamer would have done – I bought an antenna…and a booster..and cables. I ended up spending over $300 just to try to improve my signal inside the Airstream! Finally, after rigging up a series of connected PVC pipes to get the antenna up as far as I could, I was getting 2-3 bars of reception – assuming it wasn’t overcast or rainy. But, when is it ever really overcast or rainy in the Pacific Northwest?
Drinking From a Fire Hose – DSL!
After months of poor reception, overage fees and insane cell phone bills, we found a new park where more options became available. In fact, we had a DSL line installed directly to our spot! Now, for those of you coax / fiber nerds, I know. DSL? When was this post written, 1982? After getting just under 2Mbps and paying a fortune, drinking in 4Mbps at $39.99 per month was pure glory! This is an option for select few RVers, and not one we plan to have again anytime soon – but it was great while it lasted!
Back to the Free Wifi Desert
We’ve recently moved again and find ourselves at the whim of the airwaves to bring internet into the Airstream. We’re staying on a friend’s property who have graciously offered to share their WiFi. It’s much more reliable than most park provided free WiFi and there’s no one else connecting to it. The only problem now – we’re too far away to get a signal!
I pull out my precarious rig of cabling, antenna, and booster, and realized a core missing feature – the ability to boost or otherwise carry a WiFi signal back into my RV with my current setup. My booster only works for cellular – I would need to buy yet another device to handle WiFi! Argh!!!
A Light at the End of the Tunnel?
The WiFiRanger Mobile Ti and Go2
Instead of blindly leaping into another technological whirlpool, we turned to the vast know how of our Airstreaming pack for advice. Laura and Kevin of Riveted have an awesome 3G / 4G / Wifi setup that we’ll eventually want to grow into. Chris and Leslie of tincantardis.com have a Wifiranger solution, but troubles with installation and drilling holes seem scary. But after researching more on the sometimes stoic Airforums, we found more raves about this new-comer, claiming Wifiranger to be the “solution to all the worlds problems!” After reading the awesome installation account by the much respected Vintage Airstreaming Podcast, I knew we had to give this thing a try.
Will it work for us? Can it really live up to the high praise from our most respected tech-saavy and internet dependent Airstreaming friends?
Check back soon for our followup post – WiFi in an Airstream: The Solution!
Typically I don’t like resolutions. It’s really tough to do something life altering until you’re 100% convinced and ready to begin. Setting an arbitrary date such as “first of the year” or “next monday” just gives you another reason to procrastinate. So, instead of resolutions, this year we’re posting guidelines, and we think you should too.
Guidelines steer and evolve. They grow or shrink depending things you learn, and they cover more ground than a specific “quit x” or “stop y.” Resolutions are specific, resolute and final – you achieve them once and you’re done. 2011 will likely be a transitional year for many of us, so it only makes sense that we leave a little wiggle room to grow, and setting guidelines instead of resolutions does just that.
So, here are the guidelines we’ll follow in 2011 and beyond. There are no dates because some we’ve started and most we can’t really “complete.” There are no set goals because we’ll be adding to them as we go.
Maximize Hours of the Day:
Be More Green:
Write Better and More Often:
That’s all for now. Since they’re guidelines and NOT resolutions, we’ll be expanding and altering as we go, especially once we move into the Airstream fulltime.
How about you? What are your 2011 Guidelines?
Where to Begin?
When we first started researching how to buy an RV, our questions were so basic that it was kind of hard to find the right answers. Of course we could search used Airstreams on ebay, or try our luck finding RVs for sale on craigslist, but the info given was often biased and limited. We just needed to know the basics of what to look for!
It turns out that there are lots of resources online to help guide anyone through the process, you just have to know where to look. To save you the hassle, we’ve matched a few of our most basic questions with sites that help answer them.
Where can I find a new Airstream?
It may sound strange, but simply finding a place to see Airstream was a challenge, especially when we lived in downtown Chicago. We found two sources for finding model Airstreams we could inspect in person – Airstream Dealers and Trade Shows.
- Airstream’s Official Dealer Locator
Airstream’s list of authorized dealers – there are fewer than you might think. Plan on a drive, and check their hours. We found many were closed on Sunday.
What do Airstreams REALLY look like on the inside?
Staged Shot of an International Serenity from Airstream.com
The glossy, staged images from Airstream.com (like the one above) are beautiful, but they don’t quiet match what you see on the lot. We find RV dealerships often have better – or at least more authentic – pictures of the Airstream interiors. If you’re looking at used Airstreams, remember that you can always ask for more images from a potential seller.
- Colonial Airstream
Huge Airstream dealer out of New Jersey. Their standard template Airstream Specs and images make researching new models a breeze.
- George M. Sutton RV
Oregon-based George M. Sutton RV has lots of new models with some really nice pictures.
How much should I pay for an Airstream?
Pricing an Airstream, new or old, can be tricky business. Neither NADA nor Kelly Blue Book provide accurate estimates for used Airstreams and dealers often quote extremely high MSRP for new models. Here are the sites and steps we used as pricing barometers.
- Airstream Classifieds
The marketplace section of Airforums.com. We searched for the closest matching model, year, and size to the one we wanted, and then compared to any we found on ebay.com.
Colonial Airstream – New Jersey
What size Airstream should I get?
This one depends on so many factors – but above all else, you want to make sure you can pull it. A 25′ Airstream won’t do much for you if you can’t get it out of your driveway. So first thing’s first, you need to check the towing capacity of your towing vehicle.
- Towing Capacity for Dummies…sort of
It’s difficult to find a one stop shop for towing capacity info. This site seems to dodge the opinions and present facts cleanly – look for more on this topic soon from Weaselmouth.com.
That’s about it for our big ticket “for dummies” questions – how about you? What kinds of things are you looking for? Are there topics you’re having trouble finding? If so, let us know by email or comments below!
Although Deke and I have been doing everything possible lately to rid ourselves of paper mail, we happily received the Winter 2010 issue of Airstream Life Magazine. As a self proclaimed magazine junkie, I quickly started flipping through just to glance at what they decided to write about this season.
As I flipped through, something caught my eye… my own name! I turned back and realized that the article titled Technomads was the very one we’d been interviewed for months ago and had almost forgotten about. RG Coleman, fellow Airstreamer and owner of the excellent Airstreaming.net, found us through Twitter and after looking at our website, she decided that we fit the article profile (along with a few other folks we’ve talked with over the last few years).
Read about us in this issue of Airstream Life Magazine!
The topic was (loosely) how to make the most of technology while living in your Airstream. For those of you who know us, this is right up our alley. We have tirelessly studied RV solar panels, HDMI cable installation, RV converters and inverters to figure out what would work for us, say, if we wanted to run the Xbox 360 and sewing machine at the same time while boondocking in the desert.
We were definitely excited to be interviewed for the Airstream Life Magazine
article — I mean we love our Airstream and we love the life we have in it. And just as others have helped us fall in love with RVing (WBCCI Northern Illinois Chapter!), we hope that what we’ve learned will help others as well, especially in an area that we’re passionate about — technology. Plus we like the magazine! Airstreamers are unique people, and Airstream Life Magazine is designed to target the interests of all of those who have put so much of their lives into their Airstreams.
We’re moving in to our new Airstream, the Big Weaz, full-time in February, (the article refers to our 22′ Airstream International CCD, but we now have a 27′ Airstream International CCD) and we did a few upgrades to make it more like home. We’re working on several articles about those upgrades that will be posted soon.
After reading the article, come on back to weaselmouth.com and leave a comment – we reply to them all! Also, be sure to follow us on twitter and facebook!
1 year ago today we made our first post on Weaselmouth.com. Since then, Tiffani and I have managed to change nearly every aspect of our life, and we aren’t letting up any time soon.
Let’s take a look at a few things that have changed for us: