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My Broadband Internedt Connection Hardware Updated

We take plenty of things for granted in every day life — especially if we live in a fairly populous area. Water when you twist the faucet, electricity at the flip of a switch, heat or cold air pouring almost silently out of vents, a TV with a bazillion channels and an internet connection so fast you could download the Library of Congress if you were of such a mind. Try doing all that as easily in an RV,OK? Different world huh cowboy? And of course if you are boondocking without the basic amenities, it can be a bit of a struggle just to keep the lights on and water in the tank.

A good internet connection has been my biggest challenge over the last 4 years. Sometimes I think it would be easier to give up my Jim Beam or Marlboro Lights than my internet connection. Back in the day when I lived close to that Dallas, I just took my internet for granted. Pay the cable bill and then scream around the interwebz at near the speed of light. Oh well! I can’t remember the last time I was within 20 miles of a Super Wal-Mart or a Jack in the Box. Since the cows and wild hogs generally outnumber the human population where I have been hanging lately, this internet thing is not exactly an easy nut to crack.

Last Spring, I updated most of my equipment and talked about it until everybody ( even me ) was just wore out over the whole deal. If you wanna re-visit those pages, just click here.  Oh, it wasn’t like I didn’t have a decent external antenna and signal amplifier to start with;  I just wanted BIGGER and BETTER toys. Given  I was struggling at that time since I was over 20 miles from the closest cell tower;  I needed that new, high powered system. I really did.

Dual Antenna Setup

Humans can justify anything when they put their mind to it.  I ended up with a dual band yagi antenna and a Wilson Trucker.  I ran cable as big as my little finger down through the dusty guts of the Fish Bus and connected it all to a bad ass Wilson  SOHO 801245 wireless amp that they designed to power  a small office and then radiated that immensely amplified and god awful powerful  internet signal out through a flat panel internal antenna.  Pretty darned slick.  The Old Girl, bristling with antennas and such,  looks like some sort of SWAT team command vehicle.

I am not going to get into the Verizon/Sprint/AT&T deal of who has the best broadband network.   I have been an AT&T customer from the start.  Let me back up — I was a Cingular Wireless customer and then AT&T gobbled them up and life got good.   I have been a broadband subscriber for so long that I have one of the original broadband plans that include unlimited usage.  Yeah, I pay the same for as many gigabytes of data that I can gobble up as you do for a measly 5 gigs.   I ain’t giving that plan up for NOTHING.  I am grandfathered in from now till the end of time and I am going to work it like a rented mule.  I eat up 5 gigs before I finish that  first Diet Pepsi of a morning.  I gotta say that I like AT&T — I just do.  I have been in some remote locations and I have always been able to get a wireless signal.  It is always on the EDGE network but what the hell.  A slow connection is better than NO connection.   Maybe someday I will see that 3G light glow on my aircard.   I can always hope ya know!

So anyway, I was down in College Station the other day and I was thinking about my aircard.  After all it was five years old and I was reasoning that technology had certainly improved over the last five years and that I should be eligible for some new and snazzy aircard upgrade – FREE.  Free is always good.  So I waltzed into that AT&T store and I was the only one wearing a Stetson and I was the oldest guy in there and I was the only person in there not doing text messages with their thumbs.  How do people do that?  Seems unnatural to me.  I made sure my ancient Motorola RAZR was tucked away in a deep pocket.   It would look as out of place as a whore in church with the finish all wore off and the clear packing tape over the cracked screen.  So I signed in and waited and browsed.  IPhones and MIFI and Slider phones and all manner of  top shelf technology just made my brain hurt pretty bad.  What did people do before cell phones and text messages?  Directly, that young Jaime girl called me up and I put her to task right off.   She measured up quick enough even with me puttin’ about 1/2 of a stinkeye on her and we got down to brass tacks.  Sure enough,  I could upgrade to a USB Lightning Connect aircard for $99 and get a rebate for $100 with  a renewal of a 2 year contract.    I made double damned sure my plan stayed the same – Unlimited.  Jaime girl raised her eyebrow when she saw I had one of those old ass Unlimited Plans.  Kids are easily impressed.

It wasn’t that my old aircard wasn’t working; it had just gotten cranky.  Sometimes it laid down on me and I had to re-boot it and sometimes it just sorta got lazy and dozed off when it shoulda been hustling and I had to yank it out of the slot and reboot it.   The new Lightning card was mas bueno.  No sleeping on the job, a consistent connection and it seemed like it was faster.  I was digging it to a large degree.  A definite improvement, let me tell ya, but I could not be satisfied with just the one upgrade…  boredom does that to me.

I have been reading on the different RV forums for over a year about aircard routers.  Yep, plug your aircard into one of these

Cradlepoint CTR350  Broadband Router

Cradlepoint CTR350 Broadband Router

whiz bang routers and then you can long onto the internet with your WIFI card — and 15 of your friends can do the same. I was saying OH YEAH– you know what with an unlimited account and all. In all of the internet forums, the Cradlepoint Router was, by far, the equipment of choice. So I ordered a Cradlepoint CTR350 Wireless Broadband Router for about 80 bucks ( Buy one just like mine Cradlepoint CTR-350 Cellular Travel Router (Black)
) . How could I go wrong for that price?

I have installed plenty of new equipment in my day but I have to say adding the Cradlepoint CTR350 to my system was disgustingly easy.

Cradlepoint CTR350 Broadband Router in action on the Fish Bus-A quarter laying on top of the router to show you its' insanely minuscule size

Even a caveman could do it! I plugged the Lightning Connect aircard into the router and about 5 minutes later I had a wifi connection on my laptop. It really was that easy.  This is one of those deals that makes me scratch my head and muse “Why did I not do this sooner?”  It really completes my Ultimate Internet Setup.

End Note: Dynamite and Whiskey by Fred Eaglesmith from the Cha Cha Cha album.  Yeah, I know I said there would be no more End Notes until I got my Zune back from all those Liberals up in the Land of Microsoft but I can’t write an entry like this without some good music and a stiff Jim Beam.    Fred Eaglesmith is a real talent and I am an avowed Fredhead.  Out of all the live Texas music I have seen,  Fred at the Granada on Lower Greenville over in that Dallas ranks as the top show.  I just recently found out he is about as old as me ( even though I have seen him live, it just didn’t register) so I give him multi-kudos for being an old ass and still rocking hard.

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