Saturday, July 19, 2014

Boondocking Geeks and WiFiRanger

Geeks need electricity, so we’re not all that fond of boondocking. In case you don’t know “boondocking” means to camp in your RV without any hookups – no electricity, no water, no sewer. Some RVers, like Bob Difley, strive to boondock as often as possible. They seek out remote, beautiful places. We only do it as a last resort and end up in parking lots - but it's good to know we can! So, why then did we Boondock 5 out of 8 nights?!
Well, the first 2 you already read about – they were Walmart parking lots when we couldn’t find an RV park with any available spots. We even broadcast our weekly Internet show from one of those Walmart parking lots! Then we had the 3 nights in a beautiful State Park, then it was on to a Harvest Host winery location. Aha! You may be seeing a method to our madness – we do have some priorities that come before computers. Cold Creek winery was a Harvest Host location where we’ve stayed before and we know we like their wine!

Next stop was to visit Kelly Hogan who owns WiFiRanger. This is a device that we’ve used for several years now, and we really appreciate the customer service we get from them. We’ve met Kelley before and knew that his office is near Boise, so before we headed into Idaho we called him up to see if he’d be around. Yep! And there is a gravel lot right next door where we could park if we wanted to Boondock.

Well, OK. With 100 degree weather and fires raging all over Idaho, we had to run our air conditioner. We cranked up the generator and left it running all day. It did cool down at night so we could turn off all that noisy stuff while we slept. We ended up staying a second night because we had such good Internet there! Kelly set up a WiFi access point just for us and we got a lot of work done.
We also got to spend some time learning about his business. The WiFiRanger began primarily as a way for RVers to get better results from campground WiFi. There’s an inside component, and an outside component. The outside component (the ‘Mobile’) is primarily an antenna that pulls in the signal from the campground. The inside component (the ‘Go’) is primarily a router that takes that signal and creates a private WiFi network inside your RV for all your devices to connect to.
We’ve had some discussions about WiFiRanger on our member forums. Here’s a video we did last year talking about the WiFiRanger:

Link to Youtube video.

A “SmartRV?”

In conversation with Kelly we learned more about how the WiFiRanger is being used and it was fascinating. It is becoming the hub of what I would call the “Smart-RV!”
In today’s world, Internet has become a utility just like water and electricity, and many more devices are using it than just computers. Our printers, phones, SmartTVs, Wii and Playstation devices, tablets, picture frames, even some household refrigerators, coffee makers and alarm systems.  This is becoming known as the “Internet of Things.” In a house, where you have one Internet connection and one router, all of these things can be programmed to get to the Internet thru that connection. In an RV, we are changing our Internet connection all the time. The WiFiRanger allows us to approximate the same situation as in a house. Our Internet connection is always the WiFiRanger. It changes what it is connected to all the time, but our devices can just connect to the WiFiRanger.
This is a good thing. We recently bought a Samsung Smart TV. The “Smart” means that it can access the Internet. It can play movies from Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. IF it has an Internet connection. We program it to get an Internet connection from the WiFiRanger. Then, we don’t have to re-program it when we move.
What Kelly told us though, goes even further. There are engine monitoring devices for RVs which can benefit by a consistent method of Internet connection. Also inverters and other electronic equipment, if they had a consistent method of Internet connection – like a hardwired line of communication – can then be accessed by the manufacturer for troubleshooting. Wow! What a concept. Having trouble with your Smart CoffeeMaker? Just put the pot on the phone with the manufacturer’s tech support and let them fix it! Having trouble with your engine? Call the manufacturer and put them on the direct Internet line to your diagnostics!

1 comment:

Don and Kim said...

Hi Chris & Jim, So glad you stopped by Cold Creek Winery again! I also seem to recall a very similar picture of Jim hauling away a case of wine last year too! See you soon in Redmond!