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In the morning I will be leaving Bardstown Kentucky on a seven week (give or take) trip. True to form I won't have a destination - I will be heading North (Michigan and Ontario) until it's time to head to Asheville NC for Overland Expo East which starts on October 3rd, then it's back to Bardstown in late October.

This trip I will be testing out my grand plan for use on future trips. Which is to say, no specific destination, no Interstates (backroads only) and the new "200 or 4" rule. This "bendable rule" sets a maximum of 200 miles OR 4 hours of driving a day - then it's time to stop. That "200 or 4" might be too much, given my last trip (3 weeks) I only averaged 60 miles a day, hey - that's why it's a test. The object here (if you haven't already guessed) is a slow journey with time to stop and enjoy the sights.

I will be posting highlights of the trip in this thread with an emphases on how the PM performs and how my conversion works out in the real world. If you have some additional time to waste and want to see more photos and trip details feel free to stop by my blog - http://www.takethelongway.us
 

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Thanks Steve -- looking forward hearing about the trip.

Just wondering how you are handling internet access on the trip?
Did you add anything to the PM for better internet access?

Doing the wiring for my conversion now and just wondering if I should include anything in the way of antennas for internet.

Gary
 

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Been using Verizon Jetpack for mobile 4G internet access. It doesn't require "anything in the way of antennas for internet" other than what's inside its small case. Works like a cell phone. There is an older Verizon unit, that has a small external antenna & is said to have better fringe reception. It is cheap & EZ to find on ebay.

My 2 year contract is up next month. Would be interested to know if there's anything better. When I researched it & signed up Verizon definitely had the best coverage up & down the East coast.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Steve -- looking forward hearing about the trip.

Just wondering how you are handling internet access on the trip?
Did you add anything to the PM for better internet access?

Doing the wiring for my conversion now and just wondering if I should include anything in the way of antennas for internet.

Gary
I also use the Verizon Jetpack but I added a Wilson Sleek cradle amplifier plus an external antenna (magnetic mount) up on the roof. I'm pretty impressed with the Jetpack (remember it's data only) - adding the amplifier improves a weak signal, which typically for me has turned a one or two bar signal into a solid four (sometimes five) bars. If you travel where good signals are the norm the booster (and antenna) are probably not needed - I tend to get off the beaten path so it's been a major plus having the amplifier. In areas with a good signal I can just put the Jetpack in my shirt pocket find someplace in the shade and my iPad is good to go.

Picture of Jetpack in the cradle amplifier:


Got my cradle and antenna from - http://3gstore.com/?gclid=CjwKEAjw1ZWgBRD-n6ew0oan1xwSJABAbf8poAEG3fK5W34lo7IR5Teq8O8DwVgg98627RwZjKYeVRoCkq3w_wcB
They helped get the right combo after I explained what I wanted to accomplish.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My 2 year contract is up next month. Would be interested to know if there's anything better. When I researched it & signed up Verizon definitely had the best coverage up & down the East coast.
If you need data only and 20GB a month (only level they offer) without a contract you might want to take a look at Millenicom. They are a Verizon reseller, you won't see any mention of Verizon on their site (they can't advertise the network) but it's the same network you are using now - the Jetpack even shows the Verizon startup screen when you turn it on. For me it was cheaper than Verizon and no contract.

http://millenicom.com/
 

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You have the older Verizon unit that I'd mentioned, didn't know it was also called Jetpack. Verizon rep gave me a model number & said Verizon hasn't sold them for years. They are on ebay.

I also use the Verizon Jetpack but I added a Wilson Sleek cradle amplifier plus an external antenna (magnetic mount) up on the roof.
Verizon's current Jetpack is smaller & has no provision for external antenna. Most of my travels are up & down East coast, where most rural & valley locations get at least 3G service. Note that my Jetpack has never shown more than 3 bars, not even in 4G saturated cities. Had thought 4 bars needed to indicate 4G reception, but told no. Presume 5 bars means faster speed?

Had not heard of Millenicom, it looks interesting, thanks. However I've been consistently under $90/mo w/Jetpack, including overages on 5 GB plan. Unfortunately even 20 GB would not provide for downloading a lot of TV, which was part of the orignal sales pitch. Have been told 2 action movies will eat 5 GB.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
You have the older Verizon unit
Don't have any idea how "old" the unit is but I consistently get 4 bars of 4G-LTE (even in the mountains of NC, TN, VA) using the cradle booster, with a marginal 2 bars without the booster and antenna. The model I have is the Pantech MHS291, it does not have an external antenna - the antenna is connected to the Wilson Sleek cradle not the Jetpack.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sorry everyone - the trip got delayed by a couple of days. Should have some pics and trip related posts by Friday.


This is from my previous trip.
 

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RE Internet:
I travel in the mid-west and up and down the East Coast (Maine to Florida) with a dumb clamshell phone and an "air card" USB modem that plugs into the side of my MacBook computer. I have Verizon service and only have had an access problem in very hilly areas such as the Great Smoky Mountains. Interestingly going to the top of the mountain pass gets a good signal even though the nearest tower is a very long ways away. Problems are in the "shadow" of a hill.

I have used this arrangement for several years with no problems as everyplace Verizon has a signal 4G is available. Using the computer/USB modem very seldom when I go on it will be 3G because 4G is overloaded. In that event I go off, wait a couple of minutes, and go back on. 99 times out of 100 the second try gets 4G.

I think the number of bars indicates only signal strength not data speed. Data is transmitted in packets with parity bits (check bits). If the signal is very weak or interrupted parity will not check and the receiver at either end will request retransmission. Significant amounts of retransmissions make data speeds appear slower in weak signal areas.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hit the road on Thursday. My backroads only, go slow approach has taken me through a bunch of small towns in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. In three days I've only gone 277 miles, with zero on the Interstates.

Here are a couple of pics. You can stop by Take The Long Way to read and see more.







So far, nothing of any significance to report on the van or how the camper conversion is performing. I'm a little surprised by the amount of interest it attracts, especially in the campgrounds. Most people seem to be totally unaware that you can build something like this and how much space is inside.

Stay tuned. Take care.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The old and the new along US127 in northern Ohio.


The view from my window at a NFS Campground near East Tawas, Michigan. Starting to get a little cool, this might be a Webasto night.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Still in Michigan, heading north along the eastern shore (Lake Huron). It's been a little cool (mid 50s) so the Webasto heater has been getting a workout at night. The heater seems to sip fuel (using kerosene, instead of diesel) but will need to buy some just so I can check to make sure the tank gauge is reading correctly. Only PM issue I've had so far is the squeaky brakes (intermittent) seems to be worse with these cool temps.

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron
 

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The squeaky ProMaster brake issue seems to be widespread, not just yours
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just posted a video to my blog. It shows my ProMaster on some Forest Service roads in Michigan. You can see it here. - http://www.takethelongway.us

Would like to post it on the forum, but can't seem to find a way to post videos.
 
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