Beyond Technology.

A guide to how we utilise technology in the van.

I’ve been asked on many occasions one question which deserves a blog post all to itself:

“What technology do you have in that van?”

Firstly, let me explain my background. I have had my own technology repair business for 20 years. I am an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician. I do have a comprehensive understanding when it comes to electronics, computers, networking, wireless, mobile devices, etc.

I was Mr. Technology…

Richard Kimberley

I had my own company for 20 years. But for health reasons, I decided to swap that for a much simpler life!

CSMICROS LTD

I sold my business and decided to be free! Goodbye rat race!

The Tech Stuff!

Satellite Broadband

Bidirectional satellite provides the broadband. This is now the absolute centre of my technological universe. The service is provided by Europasat and it’s proved to be remarkably reliable.

Speeds of around 22Mbps down and 6Mbps are to be expected, and often are seen.

Tooway Satellite

The dish itself is actually designed for a fixed installation, as in not for a house on wheels. It’s 80cm wide and heavy – 15Kg. Research has shown me that a smaller dish or dish made of mesh (like a sky tv dish) will not work. The satellite operates at between 20GHz and 30GHz. If you consider, misaligning the dish by 1cm on Earth, you’ll miss the satellite in orbit by miles, literally. That’s how directional the signal is.

The dish is adjusted manually (with a 13mm spanner) each time we park up and is mounted on a steel pole, welded to the side of the van. The mounting pole must be 100% vertical for the dish to work – observing the spirit level mounted on the van’s dash, I can ensure we park level.

The dish points approximately South to South East, therefore I always park with the front of the van facing North – ish.

The satellite is connected by a cable to the modem which is in the cab, behind the passenger seat. Note: the battery bank, networking hardware, solar controllers, voltage adjusters, etc. are all also in the cab. This keeps them out of our living area.

DSC_0044

I was PC/Windows based for 18+ years and moved to Apple Mac around a year ago. Mac suits me better because in my opinion it’s more reliable. I much prefer Mac for video editing too.

Ethernet

The van has an Ethernet connection at each side of the sofa. Wired is far more reliable than wireless.

Cheap / Free Phone Calls…

VOIP phone

We have a corded landline telephone in the van.

This works via the satellite broadband using a VOIP (Voice Over IP) service. It’s simply a telephone that connects to a network socket (and ultimately to the network switch & broadband modem) and I have an account with a VOIP provider. This means we have a UK geographic phone number which reaches us anywhere in Europe. We use Voipfone as our provider, along with a SNOM 710 telephone which I also bought from Voipfone, pre-configured to our account.

Huge bonus of this system is call costs are the same from anywhere in the world, as they would be if we were in the UK. Calls to home are free – wherever we are!

We have no issues with lag/delays on the phone when it’s used via satellite.

Galaxy S4

Of course, we have smartphones too.

iPod

Kirsty also has an iPod.

We do have to cater for times when satellite just isn’t possible and for emergencies at night.

Nokia 6090

My solution is this old school Nokia 6090 car phone. Probably made in 1980 something.

The antenna is on the roof, so if signal is around, it picks it up! Frequently when a smartphone reckons there is none!

This fixed car phone means we can be contacted at any time in an emergency situation. Our geographical VOIP number simply diverts to this Pay-as-you go phone when the satellite isn’t active.

BeyondTheVan

As you can see, for a mobile setup, the technology is pretty impressive!

I was that guy who never looked up. I was that guy who always had his phone in his hand. I was that guy who existed in a digital world. If I could be that guy again, would I? No, definitely not. I live in a beautiful real world now, not a digital world. I see things I never saw before. I meet people I’d never have noticed before.

  • A video I came across on YouTube says it all in my opinion. You’ve probably seen it, it’s been online for a while now. It’s simply called “Look up” and you can see it right here.

 

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5 comments on “Beyond Technology.
  1. ads says:

    Brilliant post. Will share.

  2. Terry says:

    An interesting report Rich, quite a lot of things to ponder on. The problem seems like living with a large energy/health sucking elephant in the room! How can we eat the elephant?
    ONE BITE AT A TIME MY FRIEND. Keep chipping away at it and you will get there.
    Keep safe and all the best to both of you.
    T.

  3. Eda Kimling says:

    The title is misleading. Life beyond technology – hardly, if you go to the lengths of setting up a smartphone elsewhere and remote to it to use whatsapp. To me, that is technology addiction you have not shed – just the way I see it.

    I have been through similar ordeal as you; a software developer for close to 20 years, now looking to move onto a homestead and build natural buildings an a tinyhome too (sort of like what you did except on a trailer) – because I am now EHS as well.

    I have read research that the microwaves coming from the satellite will spill beyond the dish; it is false to believe that the dish will capture them all. Plus, I have friends who are EHS and when the satellite was mounted on their house, they were sick and could feel the microwaves. We mount our satellites about 100 metres from the house. I understand you are mobile, but perhaps a pole you can setup away from the van and run a cable would be desirable.

    The android tablet – I have run them wired too. Android runs on linux, and android is to a degree open source from google. You can grab an alternate version of android (a mod) and compile the drivers into them. I also believe there was a trick to redirect any request for a wireless connection to the wired one, so that any app wanting wireless access would get the wired connection. But again, if you’re EHS, ditching the tablet would really be the best thing and like you said, look up more.

    Finally I don’t use macs but use linux for past 10 years, because I love data democracy, which apple absolutely hates. If I produce something with a software, that data is mine and I should not be locked into one particular software. We don’t accept it in other realms, why in software. I truly enjoy the freedom linux gives me and my data is not locked into no software.

    • BeyondTheVan says:

      Hi there. To clarify, I personally do not have a mobile phone hidden away somewhere, I do not text and I do not use WhatsApp, etc. I have simply put these options in for those who would want it all as a way round their situations. I use my tablet as a Sat Nav, for music in the van, and for work purposes at times. I do use technology for working, blogging and writing EHS articles; hardly an addiction as if I didn’t need to work or didn’t want to help others, I simply wouldn’t be using the technology.

      Regarding the satellite, of course there is spill over when receiving, however this is no different to the masses of satellite signals coming down from all the satellites all of the time. Also, the van is shielded. The upstream is completely directional. I write from my own experience and for me personally, the satellite does not affect me at all – if it did, I would have to seek alternative mounting methods.

      Other tablets can indeed be used, however for the majority of people, a straight forward process is far more appealing to one where software hacks or more advanced IT knowledge is needed. I’ve kept the process simple for people and linked to where these items can be bought, plugged in, and used. I write from my own personal experiences and findings.

      There are aspects of technology which I have to use to earn a living. I’m not in a position financially to be able to walk away from my IT business, I still have to run the business and by using the technology fitted to the van that I do have, it enables me to do so from anywhere, and therefore enables me to fund my travels without financial assistance from family, friends or governments.

      As stated, personally for me, Mac works best for my current needs, even after being a Windows user for two decades.

      Best wishes, Richard.

  4. Nick says:

    Fascinating article. Am not electro-sensitive but I know someone who is.

    The previous commentator mentioned “the magnetic fields radiating from nearly all electronics”. From what you know personally, how would these general magnetic fields compare to the fields produced by in-ear headphones with their relatively strong rare earth magnetic drivers? Is magnetism bad for electro-sensitivity sufferers per se?
    Wishing you well and a calm shielded environment.
    Nick

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