Monday, July 22, 2013

Boondocking Part 4: Technology & Communication

     Everybody wants to stay in touch while on the road just as much as at home and we are no different.  From email checking, to menu research and planning, as well as looking for that next campground, making business plans, and even social networking or maintaining this blog.  My wife and I both use IPhone 5s, but still wanted a laptop for our RV as a way to not only communicate, but to research, plan, and print.
     We purchased the DELL Inspiron 17R laptop with a 17" widescreen (NO notebook for us), the CANON OfficeJet 100 Bluetooth wireless printer, and utilize Verizon's Jetpack as our WiFi hotspot.  Additionally, we can tether our IPhones to the laptop as a WiFi hotspot if needed.  Powering such devices is not necessarily a difficult task, but it does need consideration.  All these have long life Lithium Ion batteries that will last for hours, but when charging is needed I try to coordinate it with running the generator for A/C, microwave, or topping off the main battery bank.   Of course hooking up to shore power at a campground solves this as well.  I keep them topped them off whenever possible.  Being online only a short time daily or when needed extends battery life.  We also utilize our SOLIO (see earlier post) solar powered mini-charger that will charge 3 phones, or any combination of (2) laptop, printer, or Jetpack.  A small power inverter can solve the DC/AC issue, but only a true sine wave inverter is the safest for electronics. 
     Of course the Jetpack is only as good as your cell phone signal strength as that is exactly what it is; another phone line.  Tethering our IPhones with the laptop costs $15/month and the Jetpack can supply WiFi to several systems for $20/month.  In the future I see myself investing in a directional WiFi antenna and possibly even a WiFi amplifier for those fringe areas.  Nothing, of course, beats logging on to report our travels, upload photos, or share menus at the nearest McDonalds or other free hot spot. 
     In the end though, being 'off the grid' means exactly that and as such we want to have the choice and power to communicate when and where we choose.  Joie de Vivre!

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