Technology in the van…
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.
Perfect for reliable travel blogging and general communication!
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. When aligning the dish, it does have to be pin point accurate – but that’s actually quite easy!
The dish is adjusted manually (with a 13mm spanner) each time I 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 a level parking.
The dish points approximately South to South East, therefore I always park with the front of the van facing North to West – 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 regulators, etc. are all also in the cab. This keeps them out of our living area to save space.
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 and I prefer it for video editing, etc.
The van has an Ethernet connection at each side of the sofa, as well as one outside (waterproof!).
I have a 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 I have a UK geographic phone number which reaches me anywhere in Europe. I use Voipfone as my provider, along with a SNOM 710 telephone which I also bought from Voipfone, pre-configured to my 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. Some are even free – such as calls to my parents.
I have no issues with lag/delays on the phone when it’s used via satellite.
I do have to cater for times when satellite just isn’t possible and for emergencies at night. Smartphones are great, but aren’t as good at picking up signal as a traditional car phone with the antenna mounted up on the roof.
My solution is this old school Nokia 6090 car phone. Probably made in 1980 something. But it works a treat!
I’ve never liked iPhones, always been an Android person! I bought a Samsung Galaxy S7 – mainly for the 12 Mega Pixel camera! I opted for the dual sim version so when abroad, I can keep my normal SIM in the phone as well as a local SIM too if needed.