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Wireless internet connection for repeater linking?



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So, I didn't exactly use a mobile hotspot however both repeaters I had set up used wifi for connection.


The pros:

1: We didn't have to run wiring for internet connection. Just connected to the already running wifi modem.


2: Assuming you used a mobile hotspot and a portable repeater, and had reliable service, you could take a linked node almost anywhere.



The cons:


1: Running via wifi takes a little longer to set up. This is because you not only have to configure your router for port forwarding and such, you'll also have to configure the pi for wifi, which can be a pain sometimes when it doesn't want to locate the wifi signal you wish to use. I think it took Rich and I about an hour and a half trying to connect to the wifi here.


2: The wifi chip tends to fail after a while. This may have been a fluke, but I had one pi give me issues with remaining connected to the Wifi, and now it seems the other may have the same issues. Long term wifi data connection for repeater linking doesn't seem to be a strong point for the pi's wifi chip. Due to the failure of the chipset I ran a cat6E cable to the repeater and haven't had nearly as much trouble as I had before. Again, this is my own experience and could be result from many factors including my own errors.


3: Wifi data is a bit slower than wire-line which doesn't seem to affect the pi much when there are 2 or 3 connections, however during the weekly nets you can tell there's a slight delay as it bogs down. At times this can cause some odd issues much like when a youtube video gets lagged and makes an irritating repeating noise for a second or two. Upgrading the router seemed to help with this.


4: Wire-line is instant, wifi is not, when it comes to booting the pi and downloading the active node list. Your pi will download a list of active nodes during boot-up and then hourly (If memory serves me right) after that to keep the list up-to-date. If using wifi, it will miss this first download attempt as during boot-up the pi will still be trying to establish a connection. Rich was able to write a bit of code which allowed the pi's on my system to download a few minutes after booting up, then hourly after that which took care of the problem for me. I cannot say if he has since included that code into the program yet.


Your best bet, my recommendation, and for ease of use, would be to run a wire-line for internet connection for the time being. If there's no other option Wifi will work, but is a bit more of a pain to set up and there is a concern about reliability at least in my perspective. I don't believe it would use too much data however I never metered the connection to be able to say for sure.

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I use a Cradlepoint mobile hotspot on Verizon for 2 of my sites. Generally speaking, they're pretty bulletproof. The issue with using mobile Internet is that the cell companies block port forwarding, so you won't be able to accept incoming connections from other nodes or open up SSH access if you want remote access for yourself. However, you can use a VPN server with some fancy routing to get around the limitation, or you can add the Static IP privileges to your Verizon account (costs a one-time $500 and allows unlimited static IPs, I believe). One of my repeaters is using the static IP method, but I don't hold the account so I don't know every detail. It may only apply to business accounts, not sure. I do hear it's one-time and NOT per-IP).


The only thing I recommend is that you have a way to reboot the Raspberry Pi remotely (i.e. via DTMF or if a ping to a server fails and a power outlet can be set to reset everything). It's rare, but once in a while I lose the VPN connection to my server and it won't reconnect automatically. Not all of my repeaters are nearby (one is in Florida), so I need backup methods to make sure I can reset everything if the normal connection fails. If you can easily get to your repeater site to fix something, then that's fine.

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