As I continue working on outfitting our new RV with the gizmos and gadgets I need, my next major task is getting the right WiFi and Cellular Booster installed for reliable Internet connections.
And the most challenging part of that is trying to figure out how to install a good antenna system.
There are tiny, four inch plastic antennas with a magnetic mount that come with most boosters but they really are not that effective. Since we travel far off the beaten path, I need a more robust antenna. I'll explain further down in this why that is a particular challenge on our Sprinter van based 2018 Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL.
Cellular and WiFi boosters have become a major segment of the RV accessory market these days as more and more people shuck corporate jobs and work location independent, from the road, traveling and exploring North America. We've been doing that for almost seven years, and now that we have a new RV, installing the right booster and antenna system is at the top of my To-Do list before we hit the road for months of non-stop travel after the first of the year.
Right now, I have several boosters from three different companies that I am considering. The issue with all of them is in mounting an outside antenna system, as you'll see in the video. Much more about that, and links to the systems I am considering later in this post.
But first, here's the video:
As noted in the video, finding a way to install the antennas is my biggest challenge. There are two antennas I'd like to install.
My main choice would be the ConnectT 2.0 from Winegard. It is both a Wi-Fi and a cell booster antenna and it does not require a second, inside-the-RV antenna to rebroadcast the amplified signal. Here's a photo:
There is really only one area where it could go on my rig. In the middle of the roof next to the fantastic fan. The rest of my roof is taken up with solar panels. But how to secure it up there is what has me baffled. Here's a photo of the roof:
Ideally, it would mount where the fan is. But right next to it should still work quite well. What I like about this Winegard system is it boosts both WiFi and cellular. As I note in the video, when WiFi runs out, you can use the cell booster. When you are in wifi range, you can save your cellular data and use WiFi. Something else Winegard is doing: It is selling monthly data plans, providing its own cellular Internet access, depending on how much data you would use. The most available is 20 gigs a month and that costs $150. If you don’t want Winegard’s plan, you can also swap SIM cards from your own device to use the existing data plans you have from other carriers. I'd probably do that with the Sim card in my the Verizon Jet pack data card I have been using.
So the Winegard system is my first choice… if I can figure out the antenna installation dilemma.
The other boosters I am considering are from weBoost and SolidRF. I've used weBoost before, as described in the video, and have been generally happy with them. But a newer Canadian company called SolidRF is competing hard against weBoost and has a Mobile Force cell booster that I'd like to try with a higher gain outside antenna the company recently sent me.
Here's a photo of the bottom of that antenna:
It's meant for truckers and as you can see, the U-bolts fasten along a mount that could be clamped to the top of the mirrors. One option for me with this antenna would be to somehow fabricate a mount that could attach to the upper door hinge at the rear of our Roadtrek.
Alternately, it could go at the top of the cab to the right or left of my ham radio antenna… which can be seen at the bottom of the roof photo posted above.
But making and installing custom mounts for either one of these antennas requires skills way above my pay grade. I plan to check and see if there may be a small fabricating shop willing to do this near my sticks and bricks home in the northern Detroit suburbs, but am not very optimistic as I'm sure most are tied up with much bigger jobs.
I'll do a video on whatever solution and whatever system I eventually settle on.
Meanwhile, here are links to the boosters mentioned in this video:
The weBoost line of boosters – https://mbsy.co/lWc2L
SolidRV Mobile Force 4G – https://amzn.to/2Envsnw
SolidRV RVForce – https://amzn.to/2PFW19S
ConnecT 2.0 from Winegard – https://amzn.to/2EihjIp