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Free wifi... info, and then questions...

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  • Free wifi... info, and then questions...

    First off, I just found out that Comcast is putting up free wifi access points all over the place. They are apparently built right into leased routers that they put in peoples homes and they are now turning them on.

    I checked it with my smart phone on the way home from work last night... most of my hick town all of a sudden is one big free wifi access point...


    With an external antenna I am pretty sure I would have really good coverage in much of my daily journey...

    So that is the end of the "info part"...

    Now, the question part...

    First some background -

    I am putting together a carputer system that will have a carputer in my truck, as well as wifi cameras in the horse/llama trailer that I will tow. I want that connection to be done wirelessly via wifi (Foscam cameras).

    I also want to be able to connect to my home network when I pull into the driveway so I can download mp3's and such. I have a decent wifi access node at home (about 50 watts ERP - range about a mile).

    So, I want to be able to to connect to my LAN, as well as any free wifi access points (Comcast infinity, McDonalds, Starbucks, JiffyLube, etc

    I am not a wireless or network expert by any means. From what my thought process tells me right now, I think I might need two, or maybe three wifi xcievers in my truck to do what I need to do... One on the truck LAN side as an access point so that the trailer cameras can connect to it, and one one the truck WAN side (in client mode) to connect to free wifi access points.

    I also want to connect to my home network... not sure if I would do that via the WAN client mode wifi xcvr or would I want another xcvr set up in bridge mode?

    This is all starting to sound insane.

    Any thoughts, suggestions?

    I really don't want three antennas on the truck. The WAN antenna will of course be an external antenna for max range. The LAN antenna only has to go 25 feet or so max (to the horse trailer), so I can probably avoid an external antenna for that. My house is about a hundred feet from my driveway and my outside wifi access point antenna is about 10 dbd gain with transmit amplifier and receive preamp, so that should not be a big deal to connect to.

    Also, can a wifi xcver in the "client mode" be configured to connect to a variety of access points automatically (home, xfinity, mcdonalds, starbucks), or do they want to be hard configured to connect to a single SSID?

    Any thoughts, suggestions from those wiser than me would be appreciated.


    Last edited by Rickk; 12-06-2013, 07:41 PM.

  • #2
    Personally I would install a wifi router in your truck, hardwire your truck to the lan port on router, have ip camera's in trailer connect to router, also maybe make your ssid name the asame as your home network's ssid and merge both routers to your home network. You might also think about a 3g router just in case no wifi or you travel out of your coverage area, thats what I use in my truck but I also take advantage of free wifi whenever available since I pay per gig on my 3g plan. Just my 2 cents Good luck SNO


    • #3
      That would work to connect to my home network (as a subnet), but I am not sure how well it would work out if I was trying to connect to some other Wifi access point (like xfinity).

      Will that work? My gut feeling is that it wont, but I have never tried that.


      • #4
        I think you will need a wifi adapter on your carpc that would take advantage of the free wifi. I know it's not ideal but I would think you want security on your internal network (your car pc and the wifi it serves up and ip cameras)from the router and also be able to connect to an un-secured network like free wifi. With 1 of my clients I have them just on wifi in the trucks for when they arrive at yard or when on the road at various truck stops but both are secured with logins and passwords, they all have 3g as well but priority is to wifi when in range. SNO


        • #5
          You need two WiFi devices to accomplish what you want.

          A router generally can broadcast or receive a LAN connection. Some with more than one radio may be able to do both at the same time. I have NOT tried using a Router both as a wifi provider and a wifi client but I may be able to do this. (My router has a 5ghz and 2.5ghz radio in it. Each can be accessed separately.)

          I wouldn't suggest trying to split the radios because then you limit yourself dramatically.

          Access points that I have seen provide one Lan port and the Wifi radio with everything internal. They can be setup to grab a wifi connection or to broadcast a wifi connection.

          So I would think the best option is to use the WiFi Router in normal mode to allow everything in your truck to talk to each other. Use the wired LAN connection where possible and if you have something that has both and you are using the Wired connection turn off that devices WiFi to prevent frequency collisions.

          You would use the Access point in this configuration to access any remote wifi points. You shouldn't need any other WiFi connections. I would use the external antennae for the Access point to connect to the external wifi provider.

          Another option to look at is get a top of the line router ($150-200) that has 1 or more USB ports and is totally compatible with DD-WRT. DD-WRT is a replacement Linux bases system that can be installed on many routers giving you a full Linux machine in the router. If you use one with 2 or more USB ports you can use one USB port as a Flashdrive to be used as a hard drive if you need more software on your box. You can also then make use of a USB based WiFi device and do everything within the router. You will have to get one that DD-WRT recognizes. As far as DD-WRT is concerned it doesn't care what comes in on the USB port so you could actually swap in a WiFi, 3G/4G, or USB Wired Lan if you wanted to. With DD-WRT you could actually make use of a USB hub to expand out the ports, provide a full web server in the router with database etc. You could then have it prioritize the connections if you had Cell, Wifi and Wired available.

          Wired would of course be primary, WiFi secondary and Cellular third.

          One thing to be aware of is that the free wifi hotspots will be open which means any hacker worth their salt can gain access to your computer and install malicious software or eves drop on your connection. An SSL based connection should not be considered safe on an open connection since a hacker could actually control the connection without your knowledge and act as a "man in the middle" Man in the middle means you connect to the hackers machine thinking you are on the right connection. Since your SSL connection is between your computer and the hackers computer it is not secure. The hacker then has an SSL connection to the intended connection and passes everything through in a manner you can not easily tell there is anything weird going on. Not an issue when you are streaming music and such but a serious issue when you do things that need passwords and such. SO be careful...

          With DD-WRT you have much flexibility in how you want to connect to things since it is an embedded linux. It may require you to learn Linux some but it will let you do just about anything if you are so inclined. Some people use it to perform backups of their computers and provide a web server. Be aware that it is a slow computer and would take forever to do backups but it is possible...



          • #6
            I was thinking I needed two wireless points as you suggested as well.

            It isn't high on the list right now... now that weather has warmed up I am trying to do basic things like get the puter into the truck, but I expect to be messing with this come mid summer.