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Pepwave Cellular Router Installation


Wildbrew

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I recently installed a Pepwave MAX BR1 Pro 5G cellular router on our Oliver.  It was part of the ‘Speed Demon 5G Mobile Internet Bundle’ that we purchased from Mobile Must Have.  We’re just completing our first trip with it from Washington State to Minnesota and back.  So far, we’re very happy with its performance.  

 

This is a fairly expensive setup and definitely not for everyone (or the faint of heart with required hole drilling in the Oliver roof!)  However for us, with my wife’s need for a high speed and consistent connection to the internet for her work, it makes the difference between being able to travel or staying at home.   On this trip we spent 2 nights in a campground in North Dakota where my regular cellphone kept alternating between 1 bar and no service.  Using the Pepwave, my wife was able to work and have conference calls on both Zoom and Teams without any problem.  The Wi-Fi also works while driving. 

 

Until my recent retirement, I was captain on a ship that had both Cradlepoint and Pepwave equipment onboard.  Both companies make very good, professional grade equipment.  There were two reasons I went with the Pepwave over the Cradlepoint option that Oliver offers: 1) Cradlepoint no longer seems interested in supporting individual users.  Their focus seems to be almost exclusively geared toward enterprise solutions.  2) I wanted a router that was capable of utilizing 5G as it’s now being rolled out around the country.  The Cradlepoint option offered by Oliver does not have 5G capabilities. 

 

The MAX BR1 Pro 5G accepts two SIM cards so we have a Verizon as our main data plan and a T-Mobile card as a backup. 

 

The sloped area behind the air conditioner seemed like the only place I could go through the roof with the antenna wires and mount and have a clean installation in the upper back cabinet.  Because the antenna works best if it is above any metal obstructions, I fabricated the mount so it was just proud of the air conditioner and adding as little additional overall height as possible.

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Wow!  That’s a very nice installation and your antenna mount is exceptional.  I do love your creativity.  Does the PEPWAVE antenna require a ground plane or is it built in?  Thanks for posting your successful modification.

Mossey

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Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL  
2017 LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

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1 hour ago, Wildbrew said:

The MAX BR1 Pro 5G accepts two SIM cards so we have a Verizon as our main data plan and a T-Mobile card as a backup. 

I'd say good choices. 

Great info. We'll look forward to your updates as you continue your travels. North Dakota has so many dead zones! I'm really happy this worked for you. It's a gamechanger.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. DC compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.


        
 

 

 

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Call me a cellular dummy, what is inside the gray box and why could it not mount inside the hull?

Your antenna mount is elegant but I think it needs some side bracing in case it gets whacked by a bird on the highway, or a tree limb. What is the material and thickness?  Did you consider a flexible or retractable mast mount (aka flagpole)?

Why the wingnuts?

Thanks.

John Davies

Spokane WA

SOLD 07/23 "Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 32” LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel, Maggiolina Grand Tour 360 Carbon RTT.

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The antenna dome actually has 7 separate antennas in it with 7 corresponding cables that have to enter the Oliver somewhere.  The gray box is just a junction box that I fed the 7 wires into through the pictured cable gland fitting.  Inside the junction box I have a marine thru hull fitting that goes through the Oliver's roof and into the cabinet that all 7 wires run through.  My reason for doing it this way is that I expect the Oliver to outlast the technology attached to it and I wanted to future proof as much as possible by allowing for upgrades without further modifications to the Oliver hull.  The cable gland fitting is similar to ones we successfully used on the ship in harsher conditions than I expect to encounter with the Oliver.  

As for the mount, it's fabricated out of 1/8" aluminum plate.  When bolted down, it's actually very rigid and sturdy.   When designing the mount, I considered putting some bracing on it but decided not to.  It would take a lot more than a bird strike to bend the mount.  That said, if hit hard enough, something will give.  I would rather the antenna mount gave than the fiberglass it's bolted to....  I didn't want a flagpole or any kind of retractable mast that had to be put up each time its used as we also use the router while driving. 

The SIM cards are on the back of the router and would be impossible to access with the router in place.  The wing nuts make it easy to take the router down for access as needed and also leave the option of removing the router and using it in the home if we want.  (We live in a rural area and home internet options are not always the best or most reliable) 

The antenna dome does have a built in ground plane so an external one is not required but I figured the flat aluminum mount can't hurt! 🙂

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Thank you for the additional details.  The more details you share, the more impressive your modification becomes!

Mossey

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Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL  
2017 LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

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A very impressive custom detailed install. I too look forward to your future posts on how this works out in your travels. 
Thanks for posting.

-Patriot 

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2020 OLEII - Hull #634 aka-  “XPLOR”

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  • 1 year later...

Why haven't I seen this before! I bought the same Speed Demon 5G setup from MobileMustHave last November during a sale, and four months before we even had the trailer.

I currently have the router with its seven stub antenna in the attic, and it works okay. I can't really compare to my phone, because the phone is AT&T, and the Pepwave uses a Verizon card. I tried putting the big Parsec Husky antenna in the attic to see how the signal changed, and it went down. I'm guessing because it had 49 feet of cable looped under it. (seven seven foot cables.) I haven't yet had the nerve to drill through the attic to mount the antenna externally.

My plan is to use the Parsec antenna mount [link] on the rearmost curbside awning mount and bring the cables in through the attic as shown by 
@Wildbrew

He hasn't been on since May, but I sent a PM asking for details on the gland box.

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 2023 Oliver Elite II Twin Hull #1360 “Curiosity”
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Camped in Curiosity = Green —— Visited with Curiosity = Gray

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Speed Demon, seven hub, Parsec, and gland box!

Sure do wish I knew what you guys are talking about, but, it sure does sound interesting anyway!😁

Bill

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2023 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing, Max Payload, 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

Near Asheville, NC

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Hi Steve,

Yes, I've been busy with other things and haven't been on the forum for a while but I did get your PM.   The box itself is just a PVC junction box from Home Depot.  For the penetration through the box and into the attic,  I used a marine bulkhead fitting from Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002DKAKA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 .  For the antenna wire entrances, I used a cable entry system from Automation Direct (a great company that I use quite a lot) https://www.automationdirect.com/adc/shopping/catalog/wiring_solutions/cable_entry_systems/frames/bpa-s-10-2-0 You buy the frame and then the individual inserts separately in the size that you need for your wires.   I see that the particular one I used is currently back ordered but they have other similar ones in stock.  

I used a lot of sealant / calk around the penetration and box and haven't had any issues with leaks. 

As a side note, I'm still really happy with the Pepwave system.  It's faster than the DSL service I am able to get at my house.   In fact it works so well, I have an ethernet cable run from the Oliver into the house to supplement the DSL when when we're home. (although I do have to watch to make sure we don't exceed the data limits of the cellular plans)

I hope this helps and good luck with you installation!

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19 hours ago, Wildbrew said:

I hope this helps and good luck with you installation!

@Wildbrew

It does, and thank you very much! I'm surprised to see that you only needed a one inch bulkhead fitting to feed the seven antenna cables through. I figured I'd need 1'1/2 or 2".

I've seen people use a 1-1/2" PVC pipe through the roof and sealed well inside and out, and sticking up enough into a junction box that a little water in the box wouldn't spill into the open pipe. But that never looked like a solid enough connection to the hull to me. 

Here's an interesting option for mounting the antenna, too. I got the magnetic base option on the antenna, as I didn't know how I was going to mount it. MMH says you can go from the magnetic base to the standard, but not the other way 'round, so I went with the magnetic just in case. I could use it on top of a junction box to get a little more height.

Screenshot2023-10-04at11_16_33AM.png.b7038b7f3a3d66a8281a16988bc4d066.png

I planned to use this mount on the inside of the rear awning mount to get additional height and move it as far away from the air conditioner as possible. But it sounds as if yours is working fine right beside the AC, so maybe I'm overly concerned with the separation.

ParsecHuskyPolemount.thumb.jpg.410ccaf63e469c59e3fd3948bb270e6d.jpg

Bill, it is just an alternative to the Oliver optional internet package, but with more modern (and upgradable) components. 

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Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 2023 Oliver Elite II Twin Hull #1360 “Curiosity”
Facebook - Instagram

Camped in Curiosity = Green —— Visited with Curiosity = Gray

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Yes, the 1" bulkhead fitting works fine for all 7 wires.  You may need to stagger the connectors as you're pulling them through since they are wider than the cables but once they are through, they fit fine.  (you can always practice with the fitting before you drill the hole! 🙂)  The bulkhead fitting also has an advantage over just a pvc pipe as the flanges and nut, along with the included rubber gaskets, are easier to seal and actually helps anchor the junction box to the roof.   

I think getting the antenna base plane above the air conditioner is more important than horizontal separation.  I fabricated my mount so the base of the antenna is just proud of the air conditioner and only adding a little bit to the overall height of the Oliver.  Keeping the antenna wire lengths as short as possible also make a big difference on performance.    Anyway, it sounds like you're on the right path with your installation.   I hope all goes well!

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4 hours ago, Wildbrew said:

Anyway, it sounds like you're on the right path with your installation.   I hope all goes well!

Thank you!!

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-----
Steve - Northern Ohio, USA
Wandering around on occasion, always lost.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser - 2023 Oliver Elite II Twin Hull #1360 “Curiosity”
Facebook - Instagram

Camped in Curiosity = Green —— Visited with Curiosity = Gray

map.jpg

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