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> Wireless Options For The Backcountry, Wireless options for the Backcountry
gabrielm
post Dec 3 2004, 04:10 PM
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Starting in April I am going to begin a 4-6month thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail which runs 2650 miles from Mexico to Canada. I plan to log the entire trip on my Zaurus C860 and also add pictures to my daily journals from my digital camera. What I really to do is get a wireless option for the Z so that I can upload the journals every week or so to the site I have created just for this, trailb (no content yet). However, I am having trouble finding a wireless option….

At first I thought that I would get the Audiovox RTM8000 card and sign up for T- mobile’s affordable unlimited data plan, but then I noticed that the coverage for digital (required for the card) rarely crosses the trail. Below is a map of the coverage vs the trail for Oregon, and as you can see that just won’t work.



We are going to carry a cell-phone ( LG or Kyocera ) that has analog coverage anyway and I heard about the AerLink, but they do not seem to be for sale anymore. I also see that Socket has cell cards, but I do not know if they will work for the Z.

I would really appreciate any feedback, or other options that you may have. At this point speed is not nearly as important as coverage, reliability and price.

Thanx,
gabrielm
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bgsfh
post Dec 3 2004, 05:13 PM
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I haven't been back there in several years, but I would have to guess that the analog celluar coverage area in the Pacific Northwest is not much better than the digital coverage area. That there is _back country_. Forest Service and logging crews used to use dedicated radio systems similar to the older marine band radios for communication, and even thoes were hit and miss at times. There is no power available, there is no hard line phone system infrastructure, and there is no significant population base to subscribe to a cellular system out there. The best way to describe the population distribution in Oregon is the old statitistic that over 90% of the state's population lives within 10 miles of Interstate 5. I wish you luck with your hike. That is a good chunk of rugged, but very beautiful country.
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ltrm
post Dec 4 2004, 05:09 AM
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Well if all else fails then you could hire a satellite phone. IMHO this is really pricey though.

Is there any way you could send just the diary text via CB radio or something? Then you might be able to persuade someone in the area to receive and forward it.
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dougeeebear
post Dec 4 2004, 05:47 AM
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I have a socket digital phone card for my kyocera 2235 cell phone.
I use the aerlink driver/dialer.
A link to it is on socket.com.
I have verizon wireless for cell phone provider.
I am not subscribed to internet service, so I get about 14.4 speed.
If I subscribed, I would get much faster, but it is expensive.
Also internet is a digital service.
It won't work in analog.

Doug
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kopsis
post Dec 4 2004, 09:36 AM
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QUOTE(ltrm @ Dec 4 2004, 05:09 AM)
Well if all else fails then you could hire a satellite phone. IMHO this is really pricey though.

Pricey, but maybe not a bad idea. Airtime for an Iridium phone can be had for as little as $1/min and most of the handsets have IR ports and data cables that could be connected to the Zaurus' serial port. I don't know how much the handset rental will set you back, but if I was going to spend significant time in the middle of nowhere, I'd want to have one in may pack in case of emergencies.
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gabrielm
post Dec 4 2004, 12:32 PM
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QUOTE(dougeeebear @ Dec 4 2004, 01:47 PM)
I have a socket digital phone card for my kyocera 2235 cell phone.
I use the aerlink driver/dialer.
A link to it is on socket.com.
I have verizon wireless for cell phone provider.
I am not subscribed to internet service, so I get about 14.4 speed.
If I subscribed, I would get much faster, but it is expensive.
Also internet is a digital service.
It won't work in analog.

Doug

Actually everyone, I have already done quite extensive hiking on the PCT (albeit in smaller trips) and have found that I can usually pick up a decent (analog) signal from the trail at least once every few days. So its not getting the signal – but sending the data that I am confused about.

Dougeeebear... I have the Kyocera 2325 and noticed sockets links to the Aerlink driver, but it is for the 5500 series. Do you think/ how would I get it to work with my C860? At 30 bucks for the card it might just be worth it to try! 14.4 would be acceptable for what I am doing, but how does it work, do I have to dial an ISP like I would for a land-line? I have verison as well.

-gabrielm

PS A satellite phone would rock but is really not an option. Seems way too expensive…
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landloper
post Jul 9 2005, 01:56 PM
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Hi Gabriele,

A bit late (just half a year) I would like to revive this topic. Just like you I am a linux adict and a thru-hiker all in one also. My both drives (hiking and hacking) come together in the Zaurus. So I defenitely want to get myself one, so I can keep on hacking on track. I was wondering if you get any more information on using the Zaurus for communication on the PCT ? I have done some research on the Appalachian Trail. It looks like Verizon Wireless covers great parts of AT ? But I really get crazy of all those different wireless products they sell at http://www.verizonwireless.com. The only payable solution for me is the 'pay as you go' solution. It cost 10 cents a minute. But how do I know how many minutes an email with 1 megabyte attach takes from the Appalachian ?

What I also ask myself is how to keep juice on your zaurus ? The seven hour battery is gone in a few days and it is most likely you have long stretches on the PCT without being able to upload juice. Did you consider Solar Power ? There are quite a few products with low weight Solar Panels at the moment, like the ones of www.brunton.com. I am very curious if anyone has been using these with his/her zaurus.

It stroke me your website www.trailb.com is still not online. To busy exploring your Zaurus to get On Track ? Shame on you ! I am really interested in your experience on the PCT, especially in combination with the Zaurus.

I put my investigation on wireless communication On Track on my weblog. I just find this crazy idea from somebody who starts his own Walking Wifi Hotspot on http://wireless.weblogsinc.com/entry/12340...49397/#comments

Happy hacking/hiking to you all

Rick
http://landloper.aoratos.org
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gabrielm
post Jul 20 2005, 07:29 PM
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Rick,

Thanks for the reply. I am currently on the trail, and have stopped for a short layover in Sacramento where my partner has family(our first break in weeks). Over 1200 miles down, only 1450 to go. I am sorry that TrailB was not completed in time for this trip. I did a lot of work on the site, but everything went crazy those last weeks before leaving. You too will know the joy as you get closer to your thur hike.

In all the chaos, I decided to simply email out our weekly journals to family and friends. However, I plan to complete the site and put everything up after the trip which should be sometime around mid-october.

As for the Zaurus, it is working perfectly. In fact it is one of the only pieces of equipment that has not given me any trouble. Your should see how many shoes we have gone through. My setup is as follows: I translated the Z to English and use a "Socket Digital Phone Card" to convect to the internet over the Verizon network via my older kyocera cell phone. The connection is slow (<14.4)and only works in digital coverage areas, but does not cost any extra. It is at least way fast enough to send email (with photos!) and even surf the net without pictures. Sending out about a dozen photos, each at 640x480 takes only 5-10 minutes, which I think is fine when your in the middle of nowhere. Thanks to the Z, I even had the unique experience of surfing the web from the top of Mt Whitney 14,500ft! Together with my partner, we carry a good bit of electronics, so to keep it all charged we got a Brunton 4.5W SolarRoll. THe thing works great, and even fits perfectly on the back of our Mountiansmith packs so that we can charge on the go. The real problem was that you are supposed to get a car adapter for each item you need charged. To solve this, I just got a single USB car adaptor and usb cords for everthing.

Hope this helps a bit, I cant wait to chat about it more when I get back hope. Lets talk more after mid october,
gabrielm
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Cresho
post Jul 20 2005, 10:22 PM
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how does bluetooth from the z to the cellphone and out sound to you? i been in vegas and back and never lost a connection and digital access through the old at at&t is unlimited.
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landloper
post Jul 24 2005, 04:26 AM
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Hi Gabriel,

Great to hear you really are making your trhu-hike. Hope you enjoy it. It's good to hear you took the Zaurus with you and using it in combi with the Brunton Solarroll.

Here in Holland I found another lightweight foldable solar panel, the Extender Flex 5 of ICP Solar. It has been tested by two quys and a lady from Backpackgeartest.org. The three testers don't sound very enthiousiastic about it under fieldconditions, but I still want to buy it because I need to start testing. So it would be nice if we can compare the two with each other.

I consider myself not to charge the Zaurus directly via the solar panel. I read this thread on OE on Chargers/Battery extenders. and it looks like getting the Semsons or the Digipower DPS 9000. I think the Semsons is better because I can use the AA's and AAA's to change batterys in tools I don't like to stay wired like headlamp,radio,camera.

I have two questions which maybe people with a Semsons or Digipower can help me on:
1. Can the Semsons and Digipower be powered on 12V via an autoplug ? What do I need for extensions ?
2. How much do the Semson and Digipower (plus cables and other accesoires) weight ?
The last question is crucial for my choice !

Thanks, Rick
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