Wifi/Internet on the road

Don't know if anyone can or is willing to help me. I went on my first chase last night and realized how disconnected I was. The only equip that I have is a Moble Laptop, a scanner (which didn't really help me), phone with friends willing to give me data over the phone (but they don't know about weather, etc), and my camera. What I'd really like is a list of places in the TX/OK area where people have been able to find wireless internet to connect on. I was in Gainesville, TX through Wichita Falls and couldn't find anything. Of course when I pull into my neighborhood and check- there were something like 5 available connections...
Anyone want to share some of this info or point me in the direction of where I could find something? :oops:
 
Its a horrible feeling to get to your target then feel totally out of touch when you can't get on the internet. Last year I added a $50 wifi detector so I could quickly check whether or not a wifi connection was available. It was invaluable as I didn't have to boot up my computer just to check for a connection. You can get cheaper wifi detectors, but mine has a screen read-out that tells you whether or not the connection is encrypted/locked or open.

You'll start to learn where you can consistently get on the internet for free. Motels are one of the best sources of "free" wifi. I've become familiar with several parking lots and lobbys of Plains motels.

E.G. I was in Wichita Falls last year sitting in a motel parking lot watching the day's events unfold. We jumped off the interstate at an exit with several motels and we were able to quickly find a connection.

Edit: I read your report. I don't think you did too bad at all for your first day out. Now is the best time to be tuning your skills while you're not missing tornadoes.
 
evan
you may want to gather data through your cell phone provider, its slower than wifi obviously but in a jam it can really help.....
also if you post for a now caster in ST(thru a pm) you at least will increase your odds by having maybe someone assist you that way over friends back home that probably dont have the knowledge, plus alot of these guys have advanced radar available to them.

good luck!

oh yea the hardware bill is talking about would really help you if you have the extra $50 - I gotta get one of those, its a pain to have to fire up your lap top everytime to check for an open wifi connection
 
B Ozanne , was curious what the brand name of your WiFi detector is and who sells them ? Thanks for any helpful info or web URL's.

Jon Miller
KT8NDO
 
Something else that will help is to get an external wireless card.
Even though my laptop has built in wireless, when I am chasing I only use the external Orinoco Gold Combo PCMCIA card with an external 7dBi antenna magnet mounted on the roof. I can pick up WIFI where you wouldn't think WIFI existed.
Here is the antenna I bought.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...item=5752684006
And here is the card I use.
http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.a...aspx?EDC=634350

Even a local police department and quite a few Sheriff officers use this card and antenna setup after seeing how well it works for me (yeah, they use free WIFI too! :shock: )
 
As most said, netstumbler and a good wifi card, and you can find it at just about any chain name motel these days.

I've been using the Sprint aircard for the 2nd year now, and before that data through my Sprint phone. After yesterday's chase I learned that the coverage area for Sprint in North Texas has GREATLY improved from last year. I also noted last week coverage in SE NM where we had none before. I am rather happy about it.
 
David, check out the link http://linksysco.com/box.php! If you want to flash your own, you apparently can for free. It's all software, not counting the WRT54G box itself.

I had read some time ago that the early version of the unit (the one Monica and I use for our wireless home net) had a PROM-based Linux OS that you could reconfigure from the shell to boost the power, etc., etc. In later versions Linksys locked the kernel so you couldn't mess with it that way.
 
We'll there ya go! Thanks for that! I am going to have to play with that during some down days now! 8)

With one of those and a couple of externally mounted antennas, you would be in business for wifi!
 
Originally posted by David Wolfson

I had read some time ago that the early version of the unit (the one Monica and I use for our wireless home net) had a PROM-based Linux OS that you could reconfigure from the shell to boost the power, etc., etc. In later versions Linksys locked the kernel so you couldn't mess with it that way.

I saw on that eBay guys listing that we was having to source the older versions because the new one's were off the shelf and had the newer locked version. I have one of these on my home network, I might just get the newer one for my home network and play with the older one.
 
Sounds like the Bluebox guy is using the "refurbished" WRT54GL v.1. They must have gotten a rail car full.

Heh. 255mw.... With the right antenna you could probably reach the next county! FCC -- doan come knockin at mah doah. :lol:

[ed. On further reading, the units he supplies must be v.2 - v.4 because v.1 uses a 5v supply that's not compatible with the auto power adapter, and v.5 doesn't use a Linux OS]
 
Originally posted by David Wolfson
Sounds like the Bluebox guy is using the "refurbished" WRT54GL v.1. They must have gotten a rail car full.

Heh. 255mw.... With the right antenna you could probably reach the next county! FCC -- doan come knockin at mah doah. :lol:

Yeah, I need to look into the max power allowed on that and see if I can keep it under that. I don't really want to loose my ham license for an overpowered wifi setup. The thing I really like about it is the automation plus the easy ability to add a GOOD external antenna, as most of the antennas you can add to the few pc cards that support it are crap anyway.
 
From Wikipedia:
In the US, the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radio spectrum is also allocated to amateur radio users. FCC Part 15 rules govern non-licenced operators (i.e. most Wi-Fi equipment users). Amateur operators retain what the FCC terms "primary status" on the band under a distinct set of rules (Part 97). Under Part 97, licensed amateur operators may construct their own equipment, use very high-gain antennas, and boost output power to 100 watts on frequencies covered by Wi-Fi channels 2-6. However, Part 97 rules mandate using only the minimum power necessary for communications, forbid obscuring the data, and require station identification every 10 minutes. Therefore, expensive automatic power-limiting circuitry is required to meet regulations, and the transmission of any encrypted data (for example https) is questionable.

In practice, microwave power amplifiers are expensive and decrease receive-sensitivity of link radios. On the other hand, the short wavelength at 2.4 GHz allows for simple construction of very high gain directional antennas. Although Part 15 rules forbid any modification of commercially constructed systems, amateur radio operators may modify commercial systems for optimized construction of long links, for example. Using only 200 mW link radios and two 24 dB gain antennas, an effective radiated power of many hundreds of watts in a very narrow beam may be used to construct reliable links of over 100 km with little radio frequency interference to other users.

...and more
Use of the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band does not require a license in most of the world provided that one stays below the local broadcast power limit (100 mW in many places) and one accepts interference from other sources; including interference which causes your devices to no longer function. Some believe that Amateur Radio operators are an exception to the otherwise limited power output ceilings. The claim is that they may boost power output from their WiFi routers up to the legal maximum for their Amateur Radio license class, often 100 watts for spread spectrum operation (roughly 1,000 times that of a normal router). For operation in the US, FCC regulations parts 97.311 and 97.313 seem to support this claim, with the provision that they use automatic power control for transmitter power levels exceeding 1 watt while using spread spectrum modes (e.g., 802.11b). However, Amateur Radio operators are always required to "use the minimum transmitter power necessary to carry out the desired communications."

Heh. :D Hear me now?!!! KD7SMQ clear!
 
Originally posted by David Wolfson
From Wikipedia:
In the US, the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radio spectrum is also allocated to amateur radio users. FCC Part 15 rules govern non-licenced operators (i.e. most Wi-Fi equipment users). Amateur operators retain what the FCC terms "primary status" on the band under a distinct set of rules (Part 97). Under Part 97, licensed amateur operators may construct their own equipment, use very high-gain antennas, and boost output power to 100 watts on frequencies covered by Wi-Fi channels 2-6. However, Part 97 rules mandate using only the minimum power necessary for communications, forbid obscuring the data, and require station identification every 10 minutes. Therefore, expensive automatic power-limiting circuitry is required to meet regulations, and the transmission of any encrypted data (for example https) is questionable.

In practice, microwave power amplifiers are expensive and decrease receive-sensitivity of link radios. On the other hand, the short wavelength at 2.4 GHz allows for simple construction of very high gain directional antennas. Although Part 15 rules forbid any modification of commercially constructed systems, amateur radio operators may modify commercial systems for optimized construction of long links, for example. Using only 200 mW link radios and two 24 dB gain antennas, an effective radiated power of many hundreds of watts in a very narrow beam may be used to construct reliable links of over 100 km with little radio frequency interference to other users.

Heh. :D Hear me now?!!! KD7SMQ clear!

HA I love it! Now what did I do with that linear amp? hehe That could be fun to play with, but the extra power wouldn't help much if the AP wasn't putting out the power to reach you though. Nice to see I could do that 255mw without trouble though! I wonder what would be the best way to implement the call sign ID? Put it in the device name?
 
The Linksysco forum (which this thread has just turned me onto today) has three tips that make sense: use about the same power as the transmitting IAP; don't try too hard with bothering to replace the stock antennas -- they're plenty good enough; if you boost the power, make sure you give the unit adequate cooling so you don't fry its insides.

I'd think using the call sign as the SSID should handle that requirement!
 
Originally posted by David Wolfson
The Linksysco forum (which this thread has just turned me onto today) has three tips that make sense: use about the same power as the transmitting IAP; don't try too hard with bothering to replace the stock antennas -- they're plenty good enough; if you boost the power, make sure you give the unit adequate cooling so you don't fry its insides.

Does make sense on the antennas, I just want to get them out of that big signal attenuator we call a vehicle!
 
I envision the unit sitting on the dash along with the radar detector, the Sirius radio, and the Earthmate -- with the black fabric cover hiding all except for the two antennas peeping out.
 
Yeah, I need to look into the max power allowed on that and see if I can keep it under that. I don't really want to loose my ham license for an overpowered wifi setup. The thing I really like about it is the automation plus the easy ability to add a GOOD external antenna, as most of the antennas you can add to the few pc cards that support it are crap anyway.
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I picked up this Wifi card and antenna set up off E-bay last week...All I can say it does make a big difference on picking up a Wifi signal.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...item=5726911469
 
Something else that will help is to get an external wireless card.
Even though my laptop has built in wireless, when I am chasing I only use the external Orinoco Gold Combo PCMCIA card with an external 7dBi antenna magnet mounted on the roof. I can pick up WIFI where you wouldn't think WIFI existed.
Here is the antenna I bought.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...item=5752684006
And here is the card I use.
http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.a...aspx?EDC=634350
Even a local police department and quite a few Sheriff officers use this card and antenna setup after seeing how well it works for me (yeah, they use free WIFI too! :shock: )
[/b]

Thanks for the info Bill, I just ordered me an antenna and a card.
 
Bill- got my card today and just waiting on the antenna. Quick question- did you mount the antenna to your car? If not- where did you decide to run the wire out of your car at. I've been debating the best way to do this as I'm afraid that I'll ruin the wires if I just slam it in the door, etc.
 
Bill- got my card today and just waiting on the antenna. Quick question- did you mount the antenna to your car? If not- where did you decide to run the wire out of your car at. I've been debating the best way to do this as I'm afraid that I'll ruin the wires if I just slam it in the door, etc.
[/b]

I have never had any problems cutting wires. Best to put them through the rear door and run it to the cpu. I do check it from time to time just to be sure, and move it around if need be. :)
 
I just ran mine out one of the rear doors. I am more careful when I close the door it comes out of.
I also bought the 10' extension cable which makes it easier to route the wire where it will not get pinched. This will be the second season I have used it with no problems.

**Note** When using an external wireless card, you need to disable the onboard wireless card temporarily while the external card is in use. They will both work at the same time but it works better if you use the external as the primary wireless card.
 
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