Follow by Email


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Field Tests -Hotspot Device

I'm testing a few different items on this extended camping trip. Nothing like an actual field trial to see if something works or not.

Since I decided it was important to keep connected, I purchased a hotspot device to connect to the Internet.

One option is for people to configure their cell phone as a hotspot device. In fact, I did that with my cell phone. However, I've a very limited data plan so it wasn't going to be a good day to day solution.

A couple years ago I had an ATT&T hotspot device. It worked well enough. My data usage ran about $10/gig. Monthly costs ran around $100 - $120. We used a fair amount of data, even streaming some movies and music. We had a pay as you go plan. Unfortunately, that device was lost in the shipwreck.

Almost on a whim, I purchased a Straight Talk hotspot at a Walmart on the way out of town. At about $50, it was roughly half the price of the AT&T device purchased a few years earlier. I do not know the price of a comparable current AT&T device. Data costs look about the same. Time will tell how that works out in the real world.

Setup, while tedious, worked well enough. Be prepared to enter a lot of codes and information. One key thing to know, you can't activate the device without already having phone or Internet service. My solution was to use my phone's limited data capacity just long enough to do the set up.

So how does it work? So far, so good. There's surprisingly good cell phone reception in parts of the Ocala National Forest. In the coming weeks and months, I should have plenty of opportunity to test the device under various conditions and different locations.

My lovely wife and I also plan to test some of our storage foods. We have dehydrated foods from both the Wise and Mountain House companies. The idea is to eat enough of the meals to see how they pan out over time.

If my hotspot keeps working, you'll hear more about how the food measures up.



  1. Be safe.
    Looking forward to your comments on the freeze dried foods.

    1. Thanks. I'm going to make sure we eat enough of it long enough for a true test. Most testers try one or two meals and call it good.

  2. Glad you can keep in touch. Am interested to know how the food works out. Hope the weather is kind.

    1. I'm working on a picnic table in my shorts and t-shirt right now. Might be a just a tad cool for that, but I'm dealing. The sun's warming me up. It's all good.

  3. Interesting blog on the "Hotspot". I have gone a full circle with every device. So far the best one for me is my WiFi antenna, outside with an ALFA router/repeater inside. I can now go on line with all my devices as long as I have a clear line of site and a password for the WIFI I'm logging into. Once am logged into, all my devices log on to "Lu's Travel Net". I can reach about three miles with the antenna. It is amazing how many hot spots are in the neighborhood when I do a site survey.
    Glad to hear your now in better warmer weather!

    1. I looked into an ALFA for use on a boat. Seems like a pretty good solution. Right now I'm so far out in the woods that I'm surprised to get a cell signal. Of course, there aren't a lot of hills in FL to block the signal.

      Data costs can add up using cell signals, so I've had to scale back my usage. That's where a good WiFi antenna really pays for itself. I had a cheap one once, but lent it to a relative, never to be seen again. oh well.