I have now been on a number of caravan trips and so can speak with a reasonable amount of authority about using Information Technology whilst traveling on a caravan trip
When we travel in the caravan we use the following IT equipment
2 Laptop computers, one for me and one for my wife. My Wifes one is getting a bit old and uses far more power than mine so rarely gets used. it is basically a backup in case mine fails 4, 1 TB portable hard drives 1, Canon Digital camera 3, Smart phones. A Samsung Gallexy SII and two Huawei which are backups to the Samsung 1, Kobo EReader that my wife uses 1, Non smart phone, My wifes 1, Garmin Geko 201 dedicated GPS 1, USB to Garmin cable that sends the GPS data to a laptop and also powers the Garmin GPS 1, in car SatNav system which is pretty useless and is just a backup to the GPS's built into the phones 1, ELM 327 Int that takes the Cars ODBII information and sends it via Bluetooth to a smart phone 1, 12V universal Laptop power supply. It powers either of the Laptops 2, 12V to USB power plugs. 3, USB to Micro USB cables, for charging the smart phones 1, 12V Power plug for the Non smart phone 2, double 12V adapters to we can run more than one 12V device from the one 12V Socket 1, 12V to 240V Inverter, that hardly ever gets used, but is a backup in case the USB power plugs or leads pack in 1, 4, AA battery holder that has a USB socket that I carry in my pocket should I the smart phone battery go flat 1, 12V combination AA, AAA and USB outlet battery charger 1, 12V Canon Camera battery charger
All our IT power indirectly comes from the car. Either when we are traveling in the car or when we are in the caravan. The caravan is completely 12V. It has a 110 AMP hour battery that get recharged from the car via an Anderson plug only when the car is running.
When we are driving we have one Laptop running powered from the 12V universal Laptop power supply. The Laptop in turn powers the Garmin GPS. The Samsung phone is powered by a USB 12V socket
When in the caravan we have 2 internal , 12V sockets. One at either end of the caravan and use the one that in most convenient for running the devises or charging batteries We also have a 12V lead coming from the external storage boot of the caravan that is long enough to reach wherever we may be sitting just outside the caravan.
The laptop computers have Win 7 and Win Vista. Both have internet browsers and client email. The main Laptop has the PC version of Oziexplorer showing the current position getting GPS data from the Garman GPS via a cable. Oziexplorer is also used to show places we wish to see via waypoints we have entered ourself.
When at home I have ADSL broadband with Telstra that I pay $50 per month for 50 GB and in most cases use the 50 GB each month. I also have a mobile deal with TPG, who use the Optus Mobile Network, where I pay only one dollar a month and get 50 MB of data. Beyond that I pay about $0.03 per MB so that works out at about $30 per GB.
The best coverage for mobile broadband is definatly Telstra. However for a data only prepaid plan they want $40 for 1 GB for a month. That is very expensive. They are able to charge that because they no they have the best coverage.
Aldi Mobile are use parts of the Telstra network and after purchasing a SIM card for $5 you can purchase a 3 GB data bold on deal (has to be used within a month with no carry over of unused when recharged) for $30, so that works out at $10 per GB.
The catch is in the term “use parts of the Telstra network”. If you compare the Australia wide coverage maps you will see ther are big differences between Telstra and Aldi. But what is not immediately apparent in the coverage maps, is that in many cases, even if ther is coverage with Aldi it uses the Telstra Edge network that is significantly slower that the Telsta Next G network.
Me experience is that, as a general rule ,ther is no coverage with Aldi or Optus when between towns. However often, with the Aldi SIM card in my phone, between towns, I see the reception bars showing, but when I try to connect I get a message saying that I the network (Telstra) is not supported by this SIM card.
Other than capital cities and some larger regional centers the Aldi internet is Edge Connection, so very slow, especially in uploading. If I upload a 3.5 MB photo to my Photo Web Server it can take between about 5 minutes to 1/2 hour.
I have discovered that where Optus also has coverage (via my TPG SIM) in such towns that its speed is significantly faster. But it is a bit grating to have to pay to use TPG when I have already paid up front for the Aldi service.
Most of the Mobile providers advertise that they cover some very high percentage of the Australian population. But as most of the Australia population live in capital cities or big regional towns that still leaves large areas that have no mobile coverage at all from any provider. I have found that means that most of the time when doing out around Australia trip we had no mobile broadband.
Even in places where their is coverage the mobile reception can be very flukey. At one point my phone can show full strength reception and one second later show no reception without the phone being moved at all. I do not know if this is my phones, it happens on all the phones I own, or it is to do with the phone network. The discussion groups on the internet have all sorts of attempts at explanations as to why this happens, many of which seems to be illogical, like the wind and the weather. My experience is that it happens when there is no wind and the weather is constant.
Reception based on the Phones Position in Caravan
I have found that I do not get as good reception inside the caravan as I do outside, and that where the phone is within the caravan appears to make a difference. As the van is a pop top, the walls of the pop top part are canvas so I assume the mobile signal goes easier through the canvas than it would through the aluminum walls. When I have a weaker signal I find that having the phone higher near the pop top appears to work better.
However I find that which end or side of the caravan the phone is in also appears to make a difference. I would not have though that the relative short distance, about 4 meters, could mean that I am closer or further away from a mobile tower should have any effect.
When real weak signal need to restart the phone
I have discovered that when have a very weak signal such that I get between no reception and the least reception that I often have to restart the phone to get reception. It would appear that once the phone gets no reception that there is something that makes it not retry again unless the phone gets a much stronger signal, and that this is not the case when the phone first starts.
Regardless of the signal strength the internet speed can vary significantly. I can have full signal strength and get very slow speed or I can have the lowest signal strength and still get reasonable fast speed. I know that this depends on the type of service im connected to. 2G, 3G, 4G and the like. However even with the fastest of these I still get significant speed variations regardless of signal strength. I also appreciate that the number of people using the same tower at the same time also effects internet speeds. Proof of this was when we where in Perth and camped right beside a mobile tower. Then I always had full bars of reception but found that the speed would vary signifantly depending on the time of the day.
<><>< Download data before hand use apps and programs that allow you to use saved internet data