How I got work done from a campground during a Pandemic

When the covid 19 pandemic hit, just like many others I had no idea what to expect and what impact that could have on my family. I knew at a minimum I needed to make the transition to working from home rather than from my office. About a year prior to this I had assembled a mobile office truck from a retired news satellite truck pretty much just because I could. I may make a future post about that project but not today. In Mid March, I brought the office truck home and set it up in the backyard so I had a quiet place to work.

This was all fine and good but with the weather warming up and knowing we had a seasonal spot at a campground by the beach why not just move, work, and all on down to the beach? So, we did. Literally.

Office truck towing a camper
With a class IV hitch on the back of the office truck, I could take work and my family pretty much anywhere.

Getting set up at New Point RV Resort was not a big deal. We got a 2nd campsite so the office truck had its own spot. I made an adapter to allow me to hook the type SC connections the truck uses to work with the 50amp RV pedestal and we were ready to get to work.

satellite truck with various antennas
Note: the satellite dish was only deployed because it could be. It served no purpose other then personal amusement.
computer workstation built into office truck
I had everything I needed to work efficiently. Multiple monitors, check, fast machine, check, printer, check, great internet… well not really.
laptop workstation in office truck
My Daughter had just recently joined the team and needed space to work as well. The office truck delivered with more than enough space for both of us to work. Music however was never agreed on.

As mentioned previously everything was perfect except for the internet service. While I did have a directional antenna that allowed me to use the campground wifi successfully it only worked with just about nobody else was in the park. Once all the people that come here to vacation by using the internet arrived all hope of productivity was lost. My wife was also trying to homeschool our Son and my Daughter was finishing off her Senior year of high school, ONLINE. We needed internet that worked, and worked well.

I researched a lot of options and saw a lot of “tricks and hacks” people did to utilize mobile hotspots but in the end, I found a reliable option that worked well and was priced reasonably for what we got. I contacted Bix Wireless where I purchased a cradlepoint IBR 900 cellular modem/router combo as well as an ATT Sim card. I combined that with my own yagi antenna array configured in dual MIMO for best reliability and speed. I pointed my antenna at an ATT tower 15 miles away but with a great line of sight directly across the Chesapeake Bay. I backed this setup up with TP-link access points controlled by a raspberry pi based Omada controller to provide mesh wifi in the area where our camper and office truck were located in the campground.

Cradlepoint IBR 900 Dual Sim cellular modem
had to try out the cradlepoint with the antennas it came with just to compare. It worked, but nothing like it did with the directional antennas on a good tower.
I ended up mounting the dual antennas approximately 15 feet from the ground, pointed at a tower 15 miles away, and have been able to get about a 40 megabit connection consistently. (ATT Firstnet via BIX Wireless)

This setup allowed me to get my work done, My daughter to do her online classes, and my Wife to successfully home school our son all while enjoying beautiful Mathews County Virginia. Despite the pandemic, it was a great year to be in digital marketing as this was the right time for many companies to make the move from radio and tv to the internet where they could still reach their customers. For our family, it was a great chance to really grow closer in only a way 4 people living in 400 square feet can. Honestly, it was a beautiful thing. By the end of the season, we did upgrade to a larger camper and we went home to a new (to us) home that we plan to start renovating over the winter.

office truck parked in front of 5th wheel
Time to load up a few items and head home. The office truck won’t be able to do the towing this time.
camper and office truck parked behind house
The view changed dramatically it’s still beautiful. We do however miss the water.

I hope you found this entertaining if not useful and I look forward to sharing more of my unconventional work adventures with you in the future. 🙂

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