Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My Internet

Camped at a Road Side Park near El Paso TX
Living in an RV on the road, we early on decided that we had to have a reliable internet connection regardless of where we were. One option was the cell phone, but that only works when we're in Sprint digital coverage area, like on an interstate highway or in a large city. Places like Yellowstone or Death Valley, or in the Rockies have to have another option. We added a satellite dish.Steerable Satellite dish by Motosat

The technology is no different from the Direcway dishes installed on houses, with one difference. The dish on houses can be pointed by a technician once, and since the satellite doesn't move, you're done. On an RV, it has to be pointed every time you move.DW7000 modem

A Direcway setup has the dish and the modem. In my case we have a DW7000 modem, no different from a residential house installation. It handles the transmission and reception of the satellite signals and outputs a standard ethernet connection. All setup and configuration is handled by an embedded website, so all you have to have is a web browser.

The Motosat system also has a D3 controller. This box includes a GPS system that locates where you're parked and then calculates where the satellite ought to be. It sends the signals to the motors on the roof and steers the dish to the proper location. You can see three control buttons on the front of the D3. On the far left is a power button. On the right are two buttons. Search and Stow. One press tells the controller to go find the sateliite, the other tells the dish to stow itself in preparation for moving. Each operation takes about five minutes -- just one of the regular things you have to do when setting up or getting ready to move.

Finally, we have a Linksys wireless router added to the mix so our laptops are free to move about the cabin, or out to the picnic table outside. Personally, I prefer the Apple airport hubs. They seem to have better range and are much easier to configure, but this one came free from the installer, so I'm using it for now.

Motosat, the company that invented the steerable dish I'm using, also is my ISP, at about $80 per month. Of course, this is a low-end setup. It will provide about DSL bandwidth on a dynamic IP over most of the continental US, as long as I don't park under a tree. There are other options, for extra cash, for greater bandwidth, more coverage area, static IP's etc. Of course that might take a bigger dish as well.

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