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32v: Mobile Internet

What a project this was!

My goal was to use campground WiFi where possible, and 3G/4G LTE where it’s not.  I liked some of the products by WiFiRanger, as they combined the two, but (as of this writing) they didn’t yet support Verizon and they are using omni-directional antennas.

I’m not sure if I can recommend this setup or not.  I work in IT so much of this is easy for me, it may not be easy for someone else, I dunno.  Not just the original setup, but the ongoing care and feeding of it, troubleshooting and what-not.  

This is what I ended up going with for LTE:

And for inbound WiFi:

  • Yagi 17dBi directional WiFi antenna

  • Alfa AP121 — very hard to find! Most are 121U models (USB connection, not ethernet)

  • 25ft of LMR240 cable

  • Connectors – these and these

The “heart” of the system is an Alfa AP121 WiFi Router and a MOFI 4500-4GXeLTE-SIM4 cellular router, both located on a shelf below the TV.  

To keep things simple and stable, I mounted the MoFi to the wall with velcro (a small piece of foam underneath for cushioning during travel).  The Alfa is laying flat next to the MoFi.

I cut the power cords to each device and mounted two 12v switches inline (those round do-dads in front of the foam) to control power to the devices.  Both units are hard wired into the 12 volt trailer power system (the power distribution panel is directly below this shelf).

I mounted a hinged telcom box to the frame and coil my antenna wires in that for travel. Once at a campsite, we open the box, roll out the wires, connect them to the antennas and we’re good to go.

The antenna wires are routed to the box from a pre-existing hole in the flooring where many of the (power) wires are already routed through.  I drilled a new hole in the frame just big enough to pass the antenna cables through and into the back of the plastic box.

RV antenna box
RV wireless antenna cables
RV wifi and 3g antennas
RV antenna mast

The antenna mast is an MGS MK-4-HD push up fiberglass model.  I use two heavy duty suction cups to secure the mast to the RV when it is erected.  On the mast is the 15dBi WiFi antenna and a 17dBi cellular antenna.

Depending on how well this setup serves us, I may invest in a (45 degree offset) secondary LTE antenna.

Note:  I now need to travel with a ladder to get on the roof and adjust antennas at each stop.  I wonder if I could invest in a trained monkey to go up there for me….  =)