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RREngr

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Hay Ron or anyone else that knows what is the best Satellite system for the internet. I am looking to get one I have only 19 months to retire and then will be RVing more and want my internet.

Rich & Kay Arnold
 

Tom

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Hi Rich,

It's not clear if you're asking which provider is the best or which equipment is the best. I'll dodge the first by saying it's a little like the 'VHS or Beta' question of many moons ago. Currently only HughesNet officially supports use for RVs, but that official position is limited to the relatively expensive automatic roof mounted systems. However, there are a number of folks here, myself included, who use less expensive manually aligned roof mounted systems or tripod mounted systems.
 

Ned

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The choice depends on how much convenience you want, how much money you want to spend, and to a lesser degree, how technologically inclined you are.  There are systems which are manually pointed each time you set them up for around $1500 to fully automatic antennas that point with the push of a button for around $6000.

However, in 19 months a lot can change in the area of internet access.  There are new wireless technologies in the works that MAY be available in that time frame, but none will give the universal coverage of satellite access and we don't know the costs for that technology yet.
 

RREngr

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Tom, I am looking for the best equipment. Also Ned I put my own computer/network/wifi systems together so I could use an manual system if I had to. Auto would be nice but I don't want to spend a arm and a leg to get a system.

What also I would like to know is there any difference with the down and up speeds between the manual or auto on the roof and is there any speed difference between the roof and the ones on the ground.

Thanks, Rich
 

Tom

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Rich,

For the manual and auto systems we're talking about, the maximum up/down speed is a function of the service plan, not the equipment or where it's mounted. However, there was an improvement in speed when HN introduced a new generation of modem a year or so ago. The Pro plan with HughesNet provides some respectable speeds. I believe Ron has some comparative speeds that he can share.

Be advised that download speeds will be significantly higher than upload speeds.
 

John From Detroit

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This has nothing to do with the service plan or the service provider except that as someone says Hughes is the only company that officially supports RV use.

Consider the mount.

Some folks use an automatic roof mount.
Advantages: Easiest to use, (Ideally push button, log on), Disadvantages: COST!!!!! and what happens if you park under the signal blocking tree that seems to follow me everywhere I go? (Actually it's different trees in different places)

Manual Roof Mount: Advantages  NO STORAGE SPACE consumed, no hooking and unhooking of cables, other than Disadvantages of:having to climb up onto the roof with the laptop to aim the thing and, of course that stupid tree mentioned above, this is a great selection

Tripod mount: Should be the lowest cost, ZERO instalation possible (I did drill two holes in the SIDE of my rig for cable feed throughs) NO LADDER needed either to install or to aim.  and (this is the big one) YOU CAN USUALLY GET AROUND THAT STUPID TREE!!!!!!

Disadvantages: Takes up storage space, lots of work (15-30 minutes) to set up and take down, you have to hook up cables and unhook them every time you park and use/move.  Not offically supported by Hughes,  BUT I CAN AVOID THAT TREE!!!!!!!

As you can guess. I have a tripod
 

John Canfield

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The mobile Internet matrix is a little complicated among equipment, plans and providers.  If you are not going to spend the $6K plus for an automatic dish, then you will be a tripod candidate.  Tripods are NOT officially condoned/blessed by Hughes because ONLY a certified Hughes installer can setup and point a manual dish according to Hughes' policy.  Having said that, Hughes has not made an issue of tripod users and may not in the future, but who knows which way the wind will blow.

With a .74 meter dish, your choice of providers is pretty much limited to Hughesnet although there are reports of people modifying their transmitters to work with other providers.  The .74 meter dish/transmitter/DW7000(S) equipment suite is proprietary Hughes.  With the .74 meter dish you are limited to the home or business 100 plan (or whatever they call it now) where you generally enjoy download speeds of 600-950K and upload speeds of usually 100-160K.

If you deal directly with Hughes for the purchase and account setup, then you will unfortunately have brain-dead offshore tech support delivered by non-native English speakers.  Since I have a Datastorm (automatic dish), my account is setup through a Value Added Reseller (VAR), in my case it is through Motosat who happens to be the dish positioner hardware manufacturer.  When I have a problem, I deal with pretty good tech support people in Utah.

Others have already provided a good overview of the other aspects of satellite Internet.
 

Tom

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John Canfield said:
If you are not going to spend the $6K plus for an automatic dish, then you will be a tripod candidate.

Hi John. Candidate, yes, not not limited to a tripod. A number of us here took the regular dish and mounted it on the roof of our respective coach (in my case, because I don't do heights, a couple of helpful forum members did the job for me). Setup is much faster than using a tripod.
 

Ned

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In my opinion, the manual roof mount, while solving the storage problem, eliminates the biggest advantage of a tripod, flexibility in siting the antenna.  And you have to perform the dangerous act of climbing on the roof to set it up.
 

Tom

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Ned said:
...the manual roof mount .... eliminates the biggest advantage of a tripod, flexibility in siting the antenna.

So does a DataStorm unit  ;D

And you have to perform the dangerous act of climbing on the roof to set it up.

True, which is why I plan to train Chris to point the dish  ;)

BTW I believe I've mentioned previously that, if I were fulltiming, a DataStorm system would make a lot of sense. I still use an air card on most overnight stops and while we're driving down the road. It works pretty good while we're afloat also.
 

Bob Buchanan

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John In Detroit said:
Manual Roof Mount: Advantages? NO STORAGE SPACE consumed, no hooking and unhooking of cables, other than Disadvantages of:having to climb up onto the roof with the laptop to aim the thing and, of course that stupid tree mentioned above, this is a great selection

Hi John:

There is no need to carry a laptop to the roof when using a manual roof mount. The signal meters provided by both major Satellite dealer packages is all one needs to set up such a dish mount -- plus a wrench. I used a manual roof mount for several years and can only think of one occasion that a tree blocked my view of the bird I needed. I have also used every kind of ground mount prior to that, including a tripod -- so can say with a lot of experience that for me, the manual roof mount was a far superior way to go.

There was one problem that I encountered. When setting up a dish, or tweaking for xPol -- there is a bit of tugging in all four quadrant directions. This stress on the mount screws loosened a few -- and I developed a leak under the mount. The automatic dish is on a firmer mount, and less prone to this happening. However, if care is taken when mounting -- it should not be a problem w/a manual roof mount.

Having said that, when having to move temporarily from a site (such as Quartzsite boondocking) to dump or whatever, it's nice just unhooking from the tripod system and re-hooking upon return. The manual roof mount in that situation must be tweaked and xPol checked again. So a tripod mount is more convenient in that situation.
 

Bob Buchanan

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John Canfield said:
With a .74 meter dish, your choice of providers is pretty much limited to Hughesnet although there are reports of people modifying their transmitters to work with other providers.

If you deal directly with Hughes for the purchase and account setup, then you will unfortunately have brain-dead offshore tech support delivered by non-native English speakers.? Since I have a Datastorm (automatic dish), my account is setup through a Value Added Reseller (VAR), in my case it is through Motosat who happens to be the dish positioner hardware manufacturer.? When I have a problem, I deal with pretty good tech support people in Utah.

Hello John:

Starband is an alternative to HughesNet not mentioned here for RV use. Currently, I use Starband on a tripod mount. Also, there are other providers of auto roof mounts than Motosat. The newer designs find the bird faster than the older Motosat design. Right now, pricing is about the same.
 

Tom

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Starband's official stated policy, re-enforced during their current dealer training and testing, is that their systems must not be used on RVs. Starband used to be the only company that approved their systems for RV use on tripods, but they officially withdrew their support for the program and have removed all trace of it from their web site. I've not seen an explanation of the reason for the change in policy. Too bad, because I'd previously hoped that maybe their "tripod presence" (aka their Mobile Flyer program, or was that Manual Flyer) might have put some pressure on HughesNet to officially follow suit.

To repeat the statement in my earlier message, currently only HughesNet officially supports use for RVs, but that official position is limited to the relatively expensive automatic roof mounted systems.
 

Ned

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Tom said:
So does a DataStorm unit

I was comparing the tripod to the non-motorized roof mount only.  I just don't see the advantage of the roof mount other than the storage.  The Datastorm has several advantages over either the roof or tripod mounts, but at a higher cost.

Good luck getting Chris to point it for you.  I can't even get Lorna to push the button on the D2 :)
 

Tom

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Ned,

The DS wins hands down in my mind, but I can't justify the price for our part time use. In addition to the storage issue, the manual roof mount also eliminates deploying cables and such, since they're hard wired. That's one reason that Ron is able to achieve his short dish setup times. (I realize that not all roof mount manual dish users have the cables permanently installed).

I can't even get Lorna to push the button on the D2

LOL, I thought she wasn't allowed to touch it.

Chris would readily point the dish if I asked her to, but I've been actively weening her off doing any roof stuff, either on the coach or the boat. When we recently brought the coach out of storage, I fought to overcome my issue with heights (it's actually a medical issue, not simply "fear of heights") and washed the roof before Chris had a chance to get up the ladder. Meanwhile, I'm still gun shy about applying any wax or other protective coating to the roof. I'm occasionally tempted to add a coating that includes grit like the non-skid on the gunnels, stairs and other waqlkways on the boat, but then I remember how tough it is to clean that stuff.

[edit]Fixed typo[/edit]
 

John Canfield

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I've heard that Starband customer care was  even worse than Hughes if that's possible  ::)  A Starband customer cornered me somewhere and was asking about my Datastorm - his Starband experience had almost permanently turned him away from a mobile solution.
 

Tom

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John, I've read similar horror stories, but I suspect that these folks would get much better support if they contacted their installer rather than SB directly. The same is true for manual/tripod users of HughesNet systems. I've read numerous reports saying that HN will hang up on a customer if they mention "mobile" or "RV".
 

Bob Buchanan

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Ned said:
I just don't see the advantage of the roof mount other than the storage.

There's much more to it than storage. Storage "is" a big issue, Ned. My pod mount took up all of my Jeep storage. However, having to set up the tripod and do all the pointing chores compared to those same chores on the roof mount makes the roof mount the hands down winner. One of the most important aspects of set up is a perfectly vertical mast. There are all kinds of techniques devised to make that chore easier w/a pod, but any way one goes at it, it "is" a chore. On a good roof mount, leveling handles plum the mast in seconds. On a rig such as yours or Ron's, you "never" have to worry about that because once set, it is always perfectly level each time it is raised.

Once that is done, the dish has to be mounted on the tripod, whereas on the roof mount it is always mounted. So the whole process on the roof is to just raise the dish and point it. The cables from a tripod have to be stowed and connected -- whereas with the roof mount, they are always right there. Of course, on the other end, stowing the tripod becomes a chore as well -- whereas, getting underway with the roof mount is done literally in seconds.

I guess one has to have done it both ways to appreciate the convenience of the manual roof mount vs. the tripod. OTOH, for the full timer that uses the dish in all of their work, the auto system is the best way to go. As you know, I am seriously considering moving in that direction. Starband is not quite there as yet so I am holding off for now. I think the hold up has something to do with the color vs. a blue dish light. :) Will probably make a move this Winter. Am back on a tripod for now with Starband.

Ned said:
The Datastorm has several advantages over either the roof or tripod mounts, but at a higher cost.

"Several Advantages"??? At least, several . . . :)
 

John From Detroit

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To Ned and Bob

To Ned... We got to stop agreeing like this (The biggest advantage is flexibility, or in my words avoiding that tree)

to Bob  You need to take the laptop to the roof -or- you need a trained partner (which I do not have) who can click on the NEXT button for you (I do not kid here) or you need to climb down from the roof to click on it.  Taking the laptop topside with you is hte easiest option.
 

Ned

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Bob, I understand all of that.  I just find it interesting that those with tripods tout the advantage of ease of locating the antenna while parking in trees, while those with a roof mount tout the storage advantage while playing down the risks involved in all that climbing.
 

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