reliable off-grid internet for monitoring - what are you using?

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
I've been using a t-mobile 4g hotspot with repeaters to provide my remote retreat with wifi. It usually gets 2-3 "bars" with no booster. The wifi is 90% used by devices that send data to blynk and another mqtt server. The devices are esp32's and other things that send power usage, battery stats, etc. The issue is that the t-mobile hotspot just stops working about once a week while I'm 90 miles away... it's really inconsiderate that way. The fix, 100% of the time, is the drive there and restart the stupid thing. Literally, that's all that's needed. I'm looking at other options including a particle boron LTE board... but those seem to be out of stock for months everywhere.

What are you all using for reliable always-on internet?

I don't live on-site, it's a retreat for guests.

-JB
 

robby

Photon Vampire
Joined
May 1, 2021
Messages
2,110
I don't have your exact problem but many years ago I was running a paging company as a side business. We had an issue like this with a repeater link system that would go down every three or four days by itself. No matter what we did we could not fix the issue, it seems like it had a design flaw and It was hell to drive all the way and up to that mountain just to reset the unit.

The simple solution was to put a timer on the thing that would cut the devices power everyday for 1 minute at a set time.
It was not a perfect fix as sometimes the system would go down 6 - 10 hours before the next reset, so we either waited or drove up there. The laws of averages did work out in our favor and it cut about 8 out 10 drives up to the site and no matter what we knew it would come on line after the reset period.

I just did a quick look on Amazon and saw this one. You can see if you find one that suits your needs the best.
TIMER
 

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
I don't have your exact problem but many years ago I was running a paging company as a side business. We had an issue like this with a repeater link system that would go down every three or four days by itself. No matter what we did we could not fix the issue, it seems like it had a design flaw and It was hell to drive all the way and up to that mountain just to reset the unit.

The simple solution was to put a timer on the thing that would cut the devices power everyday for 1 minute at a set time.
It was not a perfect fix as sometimes the system would go down 6 - 10 hours before the next reset, so we either waited or drove up there. The laws of averages did work out in our favor and it cut about 8 out 10 drives up to the site and no matter what we knew it would come on line after the reset period.

I just did a quick look on Amazon and saw this one. You can see if you find one that suits your needs the best.
TIMER
That's a good idea. I had considered it. The blocker is that the hotspot doesn't have a switch that I can do that with and it has an internal battery. It has a momentary push button to turn it on and it's a 5 second push to turn it off. it's one of these https://images.app.goo.gl/GdjQsfXsLtoUbpqp8

So, I could cut power to it but, it'd just run on it's battery.

I had considered replacing the button with something else that I can put on a timer... like an esp32. But, I mean... there has to be a solution already. It shouldn't come to that investment of time.
 

Bigtruckin85

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
113
Location
PNW
How long does the battery last in that thing? I can't remember how long my Tmobile modem was supposed to run on battery, but I thought it was an hour or so. The hotspot might be different. If you know how long it lasts, maybe you could have the timer shut off power until the thing shuts down.
 

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
How long does the battery last in that thing? I can't remember how long my Tmobile modem was supposed to run on battery, but I thought it was an hour or so. The hotspot might be different. If you know how long it lasts, maybe you could have the timer shut off power until the thing shuts down.
I didn't time it. But, last time I used it on battery, I think it was about 4 hours with active use. I'll keep that in mind

[EDIT] I think the issue would then become turning it back on. It needs a momentary button push
 
Last edited:

robby

Photon Vampire
Joined
May 1, 2021
Messages
2,110
I didn't time it. But, last time I used it on battery, I think it was about 4 hours with active use. I'll keep that in mind

[EDIT] I think the issue would then become turning it back on. It needs a momentary button push
You might need to do some surgery on the device and solder on two wires to the traces that run to the power button and then you can use a tiny 120V relay plugged into to a timer to toggle the on/off button once per day.
 

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
You might need to do some surgery on the device and solder on two wires to the traces that run to the power button and then you can use a tiny 120V relay plugged into to a timer to toggle the on/off button once per day.
uhg, too much work for this particular problem.
 

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
I'm looking at the MOFI 5500 and a Visible Wireless sim. Anyone here using that one? Seems to be a really solid mission critical sort of device.
 

ericfx1984

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 10, 2021
Messages
390
So I've been running something similar to a mofi... It's basically a '05 but it's not branded as such same hardware for the most part maybe some minor differences

But I went ahead and popped the heat sink on it mounted it inside of a weatherproof box put it on top of a pole on the back of my RV installed two directional antennas I'm currently connected to a tower that is almost 7 miles away and it is working quite wellIMG_20220207_174742.jpg
 

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
So I've been running something similar to a mofi... It's basically a '05 but it's not branded as such same hardware for the most part maybe some minor differences

But I went ahead and popped the heat sink on it mounted it inside of a weatherproof box put it on top of a pole on the back of my RV installed two directional antennas I'm currently connected to a tower that is almost 7 miles away and it is working quite wellView attachment 82859
I ordered the mofi 4500 instead of the 5500 which was way overkill ....where as the 4500 is minor overkill. Also set up a Visible wireless account with two months for $22 ($40 afterward). I'll update after I get it all set up
 

ericfx1984

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 10, 2021
Messages
390
I ordered the mofi 4500 instead of the 5500 which was way overkill ....where as the 4500 is minor overkill. Also set up a Visible wireless account with two months for $22 ($40 afterward). I'll update after I get it all set up
Actually use that for a while and I still use it for my cell phone service.. if you like I have a party pay that you can join and it will knock your price down to $25 a month after the first two months are up... That's $25 a month permanently
 

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
Actually use that for a while and I still use it for my cell phone service.. if you like I have a party pay that you can join and it will knock your price down to $25 a month after the first two months are up... That's $25 a month permanently
I read something about that. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks
 

ericfx1984

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 10, 2021
Messages
390
I read something about that. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks
It doesn't cost you anything and it doesn't affect your service all you have to do is type in the code and then your cough drops $15 a month is $15 a month you know what I mean?
 

Don B. Cilly

Energetic energy padawan
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
1,118
Location
Mallorca ES
I bought a cheap 4G SIM router. After a few weeks, it crashed, could not be reset. I returned it.
So I bought a sightly better one (D-Link). It didn't crash, but every couple of days or so it stopped receiving, had to be rebooted. Annoying.

In the end, I spent some €55, got me a Zyxel, had it for months, never needs a reboot, still working.
 

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
I bought a cheap 4G SIM router. After a few weeks, it crashed, could not be reset. I returned it.
So I bought a sightly better one (D-Link). It didn't crash, but every couple of days or so it stopped receiving, had to be rebooted. Annoying.

In the end, I spent some €55, got me a Zyxel, had it for months, never needs a reboot, still working.
It costs me $12-25 per trip out there... plus about 4hrs. So, I went big with the mofi. Tired of making the run. ...hoping it is solid and stays on
 

jbatx

I make stuff with things
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Austin, TX
I got the mofi 4500 and the visible sim working... kind of a pain. Had to dig up an old unlocked phone to activate the sim before getting any connection on the mofi. Had to do some hackery on the mofi to get it working on Visible. Most importantly, changing the APN to vsblinternet and also changing the ip stack to dual-stack. Apparently Visible wants to assign both an IPv6 and IPv4 address.

So after getting it working I'm getting a maximum of .25Mbs download... apparently Visible traffic gets deprioritized by Verizon during peak times. Wow, that blows. Hopefully, it will be better out at the retreat where the nearest town has 900 people.
 

KMac55

New Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2020
Messages
31
Peplink MAX BR-1 mobile works perfectly for me. I have it running off my battery directly (using small $10 buck converter) rather than through my inverter so it never shuts down. I use a Verizon sim card in it tied to my family account, so $20 per month is what it costs. The router allows me to use smart switches so I can start my window a/c in summer, lights if I'm coming in late, etc. My security cameras are run through it as well as my tv. I keep an ancient small netbook running that displays my solar and wind charge controllers so I just use Google remote to view that remotely and change settings, etc. I've had it 4-5 years now and I could not recommend it more highly. I don't miss those drives to reset stuff.
 

wjmcfarl

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
32
I've been using a t-mobile 4g hotspot with repeaters to provide my remote retreat with wifi. It usually gets 2-3 "bars" with no booster. The wifi is 90% used by devices that send data to blynk and another mqtt server. The devices are esp32's and other things that send power usage, battery stats, etc. The issue is that the t-mobile hotspot just stops working about once a week while I'm 90 miles away... it's really inconsiderate that way. The fix, 100% of the time, is the drive there and restart the stupid thing. Literally, that's all that's needed. I'm looking at other options including a particle boron LTE board... but those seem to be out of stock for months everywhere.

What are you all using for reliable always-on internet?

I don't live on-site, it's a retreat for guests.

-JB

I use essentially the same setup for internet access just through AT&T at our coastal cabin and I just have my hotspot plugged in to a smart plug wifi outlet that has a timer function which turns off every morning at 3:00am and turn back on at 3:05am. Been using this setup for about a year and a half with no issues and connection has stayed incredibly consistent since adding the wifi outlet. This might be a better option versus redoing everything.
 
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