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Travel Tips - Fuel Prices Everyone has travel tips. Share and discuss yours here with the rest of the group.

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  #1  
Old 08-24-2008
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iamflagman iamflagman is offline
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Default What type of telephone service do you use when you travel in your 'Bird?

I used that title for a reason instead of asking just what cellular phone service do you use, because I purchased a MagicJack phone http://www.magicjack.com/ adapter for my home computer that uses a broadband connection for the Internet access, so that I could save myself some money on the long distance calls that I make from my home base without relying on my cellular phone for that. I figured for the $40.00 for the adapter and the first years unlimited local and long distance phone calls it would be worth a try and after the first year it is only $20.00 each year thereafter, but then I would go back to using the cellular phone whenever I traveled, that is until I read somewhere that someone had used their MagicJack whenever they had a Wi-Fi connection at a campground.

I decided that I would try it this weekend while I had a Wi-Fi connection here at the racetrack where I am camped out at while I work as a tech inspector during the races and it didn't work so great at first. I first hooked the MagicJack adapter up to my laptop and got it programed in, that took about five minutes and then I used an old Princess wall phone that I had laying around and had brought along for this test, it got through to my cellular phone when I dialed its number, but I got a lot of line static that would not work well when it came to carrying on a conversation, so that was no good, I'm guessing that is because when you use a hardwired phone like the wall phone, it operates on a small voltage that is supplied through the telephone companies cable, this is why a hard wired phone will still work in a power outage, so not being hooked up to a land line cable means there is no voltage being supplied by the telephone company to the telephone cable in my 'Bird.

I also have a cordless phone with a powered base wired into my 'Bird for a land line while I'm hooked up at my homebase pad and then I have that same phone line wired up near the laptop to plug in to it so I can use a dial-up connection in the 'Bird while I'm at home if I need to, so I just took that same phone line for the laptop and plugged it into the MagicJack adapter and since that line is also hooked up to the cordless phone I can use the cordless phone to make the calls through the MagicJack adapter and it works just great, as long as I have the generator running that will supply 120 volts to the cordless phones base, it worked as well as having the cordless phones base unit plugged into my inverter as a power source and this would work the same if you were plugged into shore power at a campground.

Using the MagicJack adapter plugged into a USB outlet on my laptop and making the call using my cordless phone that had the base telephone cable using the same phone cable, I called Randy and talked to him for quite some time and the connection on my end was great and very clear, although Randy said that he could occasionally hear his own voice as a delayed echo, but we could still understand each other with no problems.

The point that I'm trying to make is the MagicJack worked great this way and now I don't have to wait until after 9pm to make low cost phone calls anymore whenever I have a Wi-Fi connection to use and a 120 volt source, in my opinion it is worth the money that I spent and cheaper in the long run than paying for extra minutes on my cellular phone and also having to be concerned about having enough BARS showing on the cellular phone to make a good clear call. I might also add that neither myself or Randy have any interest in MagicJack, I just wanted to pass this money savings tip along.

Now lets hear some phone money savings tips form you if you have any.
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2008
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I have one of the magic jacks also, works good as long as the Wi-Fi has a good strong, FAST, signal. I bought it for a different reason, we use cell phones, and removed our home line, about 5 years ago. Magic jack is suppost to work with a fax, and carry data. I bought it to connect to my home lines so my dishnetwork recievers could call in, Dish is charging me an extra 5.00 per month, per reciever just because I dont have them connected to a land line. The recievers will detect the dial tone and call out, but they fail every time, I guess it wont carry the data??
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  #3  
Old 08-24-2008
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I have used many flavors of Voice over IP, and currently use Skype. I use it over satellite (commercial grade) and also over a Sprint Broadband connection whenever I'm in an EVDO area. There are many generic phone/USB adapters that are not proprietary like the MagicJack is; I use one from D-Link that was about $5 after rebates. I use a 5.8GHz cordless so that all my various other wireless devices don't interfere. Skype Pro runs about $25-$30 per year (it is priced in Euros) for unlimited US calling.

Most VoIP is problematical with modems, FAX or otherwise. Some devices work, but most don't.
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  #4  
Old 08-24-2008
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I use VOIP service at home, and love it. I will agree it is very touchy with fax machines and modems, but aside from that, I have no complaints about voice quality or usage.

In the coach, I have AT&T 3G service. I installed a wireless router as well, which turns the coach into a password protected wifi hotspot.

I also installed a VOIP system in the coach as well, and connected it to a 5.8 GHz cordless phone system, which also functions as an intercom.

All in all, I would say that technology makes it easy to stay 'connected' while on the road. Much better than in the past.
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  #5  
Old 08-24-2008
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Since I don't use a phone much, I bought a TracFone several years ago. This is a prepaid service where you buy time and minutes as you need them. The 1-year plan gives about 1000 minutes of time for 12 months -- and various 'special offers' are usually available that increase the minutes, time, or both if you need to add to the service.

When I first started with my RV, I tried to use WiFi -- and discovered that it was not widely prevalent and it was frustrating. (I'd get a WiFi signal when I didn't have time and when I had time I couldn't get a WiFi signal.) So, I got a Verizon "air card" along with a Verizon cell phone. (Total of the two is about $100 per month.) The Verizon "broadband Internet" is about the same speed as a slower DSL line although in some areas, we only get a much slower "national access" speed. There are a few holes in the Verizon Internet coverage (as there is with their cell service).

I'm relatively happy with the 'air card'. I note that often when my Verizon phone doesn't get a signal, the TracFone does get a signal -- so it's now carried by my spouse as back up.

I've thought about getting a cell phone signal amplifier with external antenna to improve reception in areas with no or weak coverage -- but I haven't encountered enough difficult reception areas to cause me to implement that addition.
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2008
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When I am talking to Randy I use 2 tin cans and a string. When john is needed a third can and a second string Rob is called a fourth can a third string now it is important to keep the strings tight or else the call is dropped
Calling distance is definitely limited and number of parties is only governed by the number of cans
have a great Sunday
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  #7  
Old 08-24-2008
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I forgot to mention:

I also installed a cellular signal booster in the coach. It has a small booster with antenna mounted in an overhead bin, and an external antenna mounted on the roof.

I kid you not, the difference is like night and day. When on the road, my cell signal is easily doubled. Every now and then, I'll turn it off, just to see how much of a difference it is making.

Well worth the money, in my opinion.
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  #8  
Old 08-24-2008
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I likewise have a 3-watt booster and external antenna. I'm typing this at a roadside rest at milemarker 228 on I-80 in Wyoming.

It is a roaming connection with dialup speeds, but I have 4 bars.

The Sprint aircard is in a Cradlepoint MBR1000 router, which just got a firmware upgrade that finally allows me to see things like the 4-bar signal. It is also capable of load-balance multiple aircards simultaneously, which I'm unlikely to use. I just wish they would let me loadbalance the ethernet port also - I could put the slower of my two satellite connections on there.
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  #9  
Old 08-24-2008
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What brand and model are the cell phone signal boosters?
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2008
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The signal booster I use is made by "Wi-Ex". It works for all major US carriers except Nextel.

Here is a link...

http://www.wi-exstore.com/MyCart/Pro...-PCS-CEL_.aspx

My model was designed for use in a home or building. They also make a 12v version for cars, but it is not as powerful.

Highly rated, in my humble opinion. I also have one in my home. I bought that one first, cause we live in the country. When I bought our coach, I thought it would be a good idea to install one there as well.
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