Share Internet Access At Highway Speeds: Evdo + Wifi

We've got half a day of wiring to build the Wireless Access Truck out of an EVDO modem, a Wilson Electronics Cell Phone Booster, a 12V Mini ITX PC and a WiFi adapter... Hit it.

Hey Everybody, we caught David Randolph and dragged his sniffling hacking self (he's got a touch of the flu) in front of the camera for this episode!

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it."

OK, so the Illinois State Police aren't after us. Yet. But we love that flick.. and it always reminds of us taking road trips.

Which reminds us of a recent road trip where we had three notebooks four people, and one EVDO modem... what we needed was Wireless Access in the truck. Or, as we're calling it, the Wireless Access Truck. (Props, by the way, to the StompBox, an achingly similar project we found about three hours before we started taping this show.... the onboard live tracking in that machine is way cool, tho we're going for something simpler than Tar's Pebble Linux implementation!)

We'll be removing the spaghetti wiring from Patrick's beloved truck in the next episode, dropping in the components to the Wireless Access Truck, and seeing what sharing WiFi feels like at highway speeds.

Before that we wanted to walk thru the components we're bundling together... and marvel at the simple fact than an iPhone, Blackberry, or any of laundry list of phones out on the market can do what folks wanted to do with CarPCs back in the day, like play MP3s and run mapping software, but they do it in a smaller package, and with wireless access, to boot.

We're also amazed at how cheap EVDO routers have gotten. From a few hundred dollars a few years ago, you can now pick up a home router for an EVDO modem for well under $200, such as Kyocera's KR1 Mobile Router or D-Link 3G Mobile Router DIR-450. We even found one that promises to work with an USB EVDO modem, the CradlePoint PHS300 Personal Hotspot.

Of course, Systm is about getting your DIY on, so we rustled thru the parts bin in Patrick's garage and found an 800MHz Mini-ITX machine that runs on 12V. (That means no annoying 12V from the car to 120V via an inverter... the $25 we paid for it is just a sweet bonus.)

We'll plug our EVDO modem into that box and run Internet Connection Sharing on it via Ubuntu or Windows XP.

The EVDO modem is going to get a serious boost when we're out in the emptier regions of I-5 thanks to a 3 Watt amplifier, the Mobile Wireless Cellular/PCS Dual-Band 824-894MHz / 1850-1990MHz Amplifier (801201) from Wilson Electronics. We went with a more expensive wireless booster, but we'll use the http://wilsonelectronics.com/ViewProductB.php?ID=31 instead of a chocolate bar antenna to share the boost with cell phones and the modem.

Next week we'll be wiring up Patrick's truck which is in desperate need of some high amperage power into the cab (he regularly runs 2 50W race radios and has a 900W of power amplifiers on the way) with proper wire gauges and fusing... we'll go over that week, along with seeing how well the our DIY WAP works out on the highway!