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Thread: Off grid ham radio internet

  1. #1

    Default Off grid ham radio internet

    I have a very off grid property that I am setting up. I saw an article online that explained that I could get the internet through ham radio. Is this possible, and if so, can a ham radio signal be acquired everywhere? I mean, this property is off off grid. It is in a small valley surrounded by tall mountains. I was going to get satellite internet, but the installer said I couldn't even get a satellite signal! My only option will be ham radio, if this is indeed possible.

  2. #2

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    You can get ham radio through the internet, but not the other way around. I'd guess the article was about ham radio being linked via the net, so somebody here in the UK can speak and pop out of a radio in the US. It would be possible, technically to use radio links to get your nearest access point linked to your place, but you would need substantially deep pockets and it wouldn't be ham radio. In fact, it would be commercial - so that's commercial kit prices and licences. If you are in a valley with no clear view of the sky where the satellites are, you are pretty stuffed. Long distance radio is a very unreliable method of communications anyway. You could stick the dish on a mountain peak where it can see the sky and then radio link that back to you - but you are talking BIG price tickets here.

  3. #3
    GTGallop's Avatar
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    There are modems that can use ham radio to send messages over the internet, but they are slower than the old 56K dial up days and they are very expensive. The ones I've seen are $600 to $1,000 and that's on top of a $2,000 radio and a $600 antenna tuner and another $200 in antennas. And all they do is send text E-Mail mostly. You can include attachments but only very small like low res pictures. The other half of this equation is that no ISP provides this service. You'll have to be able to contact another Ham Operator that has a similar set up and is on the grid and connected to the internet.

    A better solution and cheaper, is to look into cell antenna extenders. A lot of the off grid people here (Arizona) use a Verizon cell phone booster and then get a phone that is a dedicated hot spot for wifi.
    https://www.wilsonpro.com/how-cell-p...-boosters-work
    https://www.wilsonpro.com/accessorie...tional-antenna
    https://www.wilsonpro.com/pro-70-50-ohm
    KG7NDC

  4. #4

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    There is an entire branch of amateur radio called "mesh networking" that operates up in the gigahertz frequencies. It is possible to configure a mesh networking station to access the internet but it has some difficulties. First, it's all straight line-of-sight so there has to be a station visible from the particular location. Second, all the gear is highly specialized and therefore expensive. Third, there has to be an internet connected station on the particular network before another station can access it.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTGallop View Post
    There are modems that can use ham radio to send messages over the internet, but they are slower than the old 56K dial up days and they are very expensive. The ones I've seen are $600 to $1,000 and that's on top of a $2,000 radio and a $600 antenna tuner and another $200 in antennas. And all they do is send text E-Mail mostly. You can include attachments but only very small like low res pictures. The other half of this equation is that no ISP provides this service. You'll have to be able to contact another Ham Operator that has a similar set up and is on the grid and connected to the internet.

    A better solution and cheaper, is to look into cell antenna extenders. A lot of the off grid people here (Arizona) use a Verizon cell phone booster and then get a phone that is a dedicated hot spot for wifi.
    https://www.wilsonpro.com/how-cell-p...-boosters-work
    https://www.wilsonpro.com/accessorie...tional-antenna
    https://www.wilsonpro.com/pro-70-50-ohm
    Any idea how much some of this stuff costs. I'm plagued by weak cell signals here at home in San Diego.

  6. #6
    GTGallop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K6CPO View Post
    Any idea how much some of this stuff costs. I'm plagued by weak cell signals here at home in San Diego.
    It makes Ham Radio look cheap. LOL!

    Couple grand for a full set up.

    Look into getting a MicroCell from your provider. I have one. Basically when I'm in the neighborhood, my tiny cell tower (in my den) picks up my phone and channels my calls through the internet to ATT's network. All home calls are therefore VOIP like Vonage and I don't get charged minutes. That solution only cost me about $150. Totally worth it.
    KG7NDC

  7. #7
    GTGallop's Avatar
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    Explained from a practical in the field perspective.
    KG7NDC

  8. #8

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    My god! 26 minutes to cover perhaps 3 minutes of useful comment. Total confusion on terms and the content. No technical content at all, and the antenna - has a bunch of things inside? The worst video I've seen for a long time, and so light on what to buy - who does it actually help?

  9. #9

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    Default Mesh gear

    Quote Originally Posted by K6CPO View Post
    There is an entire branch of amateur radio called "mesh networking" that operates up in the gigahertz frequencies. It is possible to configure a mesh networking station to access the internet but it has some difficulties. First, it's all straight line-of-sight so there has to be a station visible from the particular location. Second, all the gear is highly specialized and therefore expensive. Third, there has to be an internet connected station on the particular network before another station can access it.
    I'm a member of the local mesh, and I've got a live 18mi 2.4GHz link right now... but "mesh networking" is not the solution here.

    You're not allowed (under FCC regs) to transmit encrypted data that way. So any time you load a webpage that does an HTTPS redirect (or directly load an HTTPS page) you'd be in violation.

    That said, if there's line of sight to a friendly internet connection with greater speeds, a 10-15 mile 5.8GHz link isn't totally out of the question - and I do mean *line of sight* including an empty Fresnel zone. That'd be a purely consumer solution, no licensing. Done.

    A pair of the Ubiquiti PowerBridge M5s would do it quite nicely for under $250, including cabling up the mast.
    Last edited by WX4LTG; Mon 11th Sep 2017 at 20:20.

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