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40v13: Internet

Page Contents


Lessons Learned

I’m putting this at the top to save the time of reading this entire page to extract this.  =)

  1. I probably should have ordered the Pepwave 42G with the 16 feet of cables, not the 6 foot version.  It would have given me more options on where to place the antenna.  (though 6 foot would probably be fine if I was doing a roof mount instead of a mast)
  2. I should have staged the entire thing (mast, junction box, router, wiring) first to be certain of location(s) that would work (I was counting on longer wires to bridge the distance from antenna mast to junction box — see point #1 above)
  3. I assembled the homemade antenna mast on the roof, and in hindsight I probably should have just marked it and done all the drilling elsewhere – it was too difficult to line up the holes properly, and it made it nearly impossible to get lap sealant underneath the mast.
  4. I should have wrapped the antenna wires in a protective sheath before running them down through the mast – to guard against screw damage and also wear at the bottom.



Peplink Router

I went in a slightly different direction this time with our internet.

I started with the Peplink Max Transit Pro Duo for the base router, which can pull in both cellular and wifi signals.   It can run off 12v DC, is small, and has a great deal of flexibility.

For cellular service, I bought a Verizon data plan from TechnoRV along with the router.

Peplink 42G Antenna

I also gave up on directional antennas and went with the Peplink 42G – an omnidirectional dome style that contains both the cellular and wifi antenna bits.   

My geekiness is still drawn to the old directional antenna I used in the last rig for its much stronger gain, but getting it aimed correctly was always challenging and time consuming. 


I also wanted to try Starlink, as many of the places we have camped had little to no cell service.  

The base Starlink package comes with the motorized satellite dish, 75 feet of cable, and the router.

I bought the Starlink ethernet adapter so I could turn off the Wi-Fi service on the Starlink router, and instead just feeding  (via an ethernet cable) into the WAN port on the Peplink. 
In this way, all three input services (campground Wi-Fi, cellular, and satellite) are channeled through the Peplink, and it then serves as a single Wi-Fi signal inside the trailer.

I did a lot of research (read: hours of Googling and YouTube-ing!) on varies mounts for the Starlink dish.  Eventually I ended up with the Starlink Pivot Mount.


At each campground I put the dish in a backpack and carry it up to the roof.  I put the dish into the mount, connect the cable to it, and then raise the Peplink 42G antenna mast.

Incidentally, I am not crazy about making all the repeated cable connections to the dish, but I at least velcro the cable (see picture of the 42G antenna mast further down the page) to the solar panel mount so it does not flap around in the wind during transit.  I also bought some cable covers on Etsy to protect the end of the Starlink cable from dirt and moisture when disconnected from the dish.

Peplink Access Point

I found that by putting the Peplink router in the garage that I hit two snags with the signal:  The living room TV and the connection from the truck were both too poor to be useable.

So I installed the Peplink AP One AX Lite in the ceiling 


My biggest struggle in designing a layout is where to put stuff.  I really wanted the router in the mid section of the coach for the strongest signal to the main TV and where our phones will be most of the time.  Placing it in the bedroom is the second choice, bringing it closer to the truck for Wi-Fi (to view the backup camera) when towing.  Last choice was the garage, which of course seemed like it might be the easiest location.  Sigh.

Besides running the 7 cables from router to antenna, I also needed to plan for running ethernet from the WAN port to the Starlink router, and ethernet from the LAN port to the NVR (security camera recording device).   The NVR should be near a TV for the HDMI connection, adding another twist in placement.

In the end, I mounted the Peplink in the cabinet above the control panel for its central location, access to the power distribution panel, and numerous cable paths accessible from there.
Update: I ended up moving it to the garage, please see the “mounting” section below for details.

When I had the router originally mounted in the control panel cabinet, I added a switch to the panel for the router.  (later after moving the router to the garage I re-purposed this switch to control power to the Access Point instead).

I added a switch into the control panel to cut power to the router.  I did this because the router does not have a power switch on it and I want to be able to shut off the router when parked between trips.

I’m guessing the factory switches are Sigma Series 2, but I have not found a place to order them from. 
So I bought these from Amazon instead.  I think it matches in size, but is obviously quite noticeably not factory.   I wish now that I had bought the same switch, but the pre-wired version for much easier connection.  Since I am running 12 gauge wire for the Peplink power it was challenging (at least with my limited skills) to solder it onto these small posts.  Or I could have bought the wire spades to slip onto the blades but I didn’t want to wait.  

As you can see, I mucked up the control panel with my sloppy cuts 🙁
I used a Dremel tool to do the rough cuts, then a box cutter to do the fine edge work.  But initially I had used the box cutter to start even the rough cuts, and that’s how my blade slipped and made a mess of scratches.

After moving the router to the garage instead, I re-purposed this switch to control power to the Access Point instead.

I moved the router.  The space directly above the control panel cabinet (on the roof) is taken up by a solar panel.   I may have been able to squeeze it in, but I also had to contend with tank vents.  And since I unwittingly ordered my Pepwave antenna with only 6 1/2 feet of cables I was seriously limited on where I could place the junction box (four feet of cable is already taken up by the mount).


I moved the router(s) to the off-door side cabinet in the garage, left of the TV.  The Peplink router came with two “ears” (mounting brackets), and I also added two strips of industrial Velcro for additional stability.   I mounted it to the ceiling to create a “drip loop” of the antenna wires, so that any moisture that leaks in won’t simply run down the wires into the router (ask me how I know about this :/ )

I bought this mount on Etsy for the Starlink router, which includes a space underneath it to hold the ethernet adapter as well.

The angled corner panel removed
Hole drilled for roof access

This is the new junction box.  The old one leaked!

When I replaced it I found two places around the top edge that had cracked, but I can’t swear that is where the water was coming in at.  It’s also possible that it was condensation, so I used caulking and eternabond tape to seal up inside the junction box.

Router mounted and wires run

The angled panel was just held on by the trim strip to the right of it (using wire brads).  I gently pried that trim strip out and then removed the panel to get to the 12-volt wires that power the puck light underneath the cabinet.

I used a hole saw and drilled upwards from below.  Once the center pilot bit had punctured the roof I then went up there to finish by drilling downward.   I was very worried about accidentally cutting wires but none seemed to be routed through that spot.  Looks to be about 2-1/2″ gap between roof and inside ceiling, and the roof itself about 3/8″ thick.

I used butyl tape to secure the junction box to the roof, and I cut a section of ribbed pool hose to insert into the hole.   The cable gland is a single massive one (3/4″, with a 10-18mm passage).  I did not want 7 separate glands (one per antenna wire), and I did monkey with smaller ones (2-3 wires per) but those did not work so well for me.  

I used the two included ears to mount the peplink, but I also added some self adhesive wide velcro on the back.  I tapped into the 12-volt puck light power, but I also added a simple toggle on/off switch and mounted it near the bottom of the angled cover panel.  Otherwise the router would be operating all the time, including the week{s} between camping trips.

WiFi Access Point

Running the wires was a serious pain in the butt!
I pulled a 50 foot cat7 ethernet cable through the ceiling from the garage (at the Peplink router) to the living room, just inside the entry door (where I mounted the Peplink Access Point).

The short[ish] of it:  I removed the wall plate above the TV in the garage – the wall plate where the coax (antenna/satellite) connections are for that TV.  
Then I used that opening to feed the ethernet cable up into the ceiling above the garage, through the (small!) hole drilled in a ceiling beam for the coax.
I ended up using one of those coax cables to pull the ethernet cable through into the loft.
That coax cable (at least in our Valor) takes a path that runs straight back from the loft to the love seat in the living room (the red dotted line in this picture). 

I reached up into each of the ceiling lights along that path and was able to locate the coax within a foot or so (door side), continuing to pull it through those access points.  

Once I got to the last light (just in front of the cabinets above the love seat), I turned and used old fashioned methods (vs cable pulling) to fish the ethernet cable towards the entry door.

I opted not to use the included T-bar attachment brackets (I guess they mount to the T-strips running across the ceiling where the ceiling panels meet?) for the access point.  Instead I screwed the bracket directly to the ceiling.  The location for it was semi-arbitrary — it was a place I deemed reasonably out of the line of sight, as open to bedroom and living room as possible, and that I was able to reach from the light (which I again pulled down to fish wires).  

The mount has a nice release tab so you can easily take the AP down if need be.  I also drilled a hole large enough to pull the ethernet cable through.

From this mount point I fished the power cable over to the nearby cabinet and dropped it down to the control panel, where I wired it to the switch and power distribution panel.
Note:  The peplink access point did not come with a power cable and I had not yet added a PoE switch into the mix, so I used one cut from a laptop power brick that no longer worked.

I mounted a toggle switch in the control panel (see the “Placement” section above) to control power to the AP.  The negative wire runs to a common strip found behind the distribution panel.

The positive wire runs from a new (3 amp) DC fuse in the distribution panel to the new toggle switch, then up the cable run seen to the right of the picture.  I outlined the path here in yellow for clarity.

In the distribution panel, I chose one of the empty 12vdc fuse holders in the middle (red arrow points to it in picture below).  For the power (positive) wire, you can simply lift the orange tab up, insert the (stripped) end of the wire, and release the tab to clamp down on the wire.  Give a light tug to be certain it is clamped.

The pink fuse is a 3-amp for the Wi-Fi access point. Below it is the orange tab (red wire coming from it) that you lift to insert the “positive” wire. Next to that is a tab lifted up for demonstration purposes.

Mast Construction

I looked at a LOT of options for mounting the antenna to the roof.  I think perhaps everyone has different requirements, but for me I wanted something that was pretty solid in the wind, could be easily raised and lowered, and remained on the roof in transit.  In the previous trailer I carried mast and antenna inside the garage and I was always concerned about damaging it, as well as how long the connectors would last when using them so much.

Motorized Mounts

I loved the idea of the motorized mounts to keep me off the roof but I didn’t want to shell out the money for them.  Also, if I keep using Starlink I will need to be on the roof anyway, as I don’t trust that to remain up there in transit.

Here is one on Amazon, Tarheel Antennas (all the way at the bottom of the page), and this one found on several sites.

In each case, cost was a barrier for me, but so was the uncertainty of weight capacity.  I wanted to be certain the mount could lift the 42G, as well as the pole supporting it (simple level mechanics: the further away the load is on a pole, the more force required to lift it).


There are also a number of mast options, such as the MGS MK-4-UHD, a Wilson 25′ aluminum, etc

While these are at a very reasonable price point, I didn’t want to have to store the mount and/or antenna inside while traveling.  I used a mast with good success on the last trailer but didn’t want to go that route again this time.

Ladder Mounts

Another option is ladder mounted solutions such as the Flag Pole Buddy, Comet CP-45, MTC Comet-NCG, etc.

Again I would be dealing with storage and stuff while traveling.

Also, I would have to come up with a solid way for the wires to enter the trailer.  In my last RV the wires were run to the outside and coiled in a dedicated box bolted to the chassis.  On this unit I didn’t want to have to keep making the connections over and over again.  Especially since the 42G has 7 wires!

My Mount

In the end, I decided to make my own mount.  The materials totaled about $150 and it gives me a four foot lift for the antenna.  

Mast folded down for travel

The mount is comprised of two L-shaped aluminum angles and a 2″ square aluminum tube four feet in length. The angles are bolted to the roof with 6 lag screws (5/16″ x 1-1/2″), and held together with 3-1/4″ stainless steel bolts.  The mast rests against one of these bolts when raised, and then a 4″ quick release pin holds it up from the other side.

The threaded mounting stud fits nicely in the aluminum tube, but I also used 1-1/2″ corner braces from the hardware store to really secure it (using the included holes and screws from Peplink) to the mast.  I wish I had used shorter screws in the aluminum mast, and/or wrapped the wires prior to inserting the antenna into the mast — I wouldn’t want those screws cutting into the antenna wires inside!

As mentioned above, I assembled the base and the mast on the roof.  I did this because it is uneven up there – I chose to bolt one of the base L-angles to a rafter for a more solid mount.  That meant the other L-angle sat slightly lower on the roof.  
Drilling holes in the aluminum while trying to hold it in place was very challenging!