The concept: Use four 3G USB pens from different mobile internet providers, plug them into a Belkin wireless hub, power it all with a Solar charged PowerMonkey and bridge all connections to get the best speed from all four networks while in a mobile location …. I made this image to demonstrate the concept …
This sort of setup could be great for live video streaming from multiple users at remote events with no WiFi or high bandwith for one streamer.
The best I’ve seen on the market so far is:
- WiFi routers with a 3G socket – but they don’t bridge multiple 3G connections.
- ADSL routers that bridge/bond multiple lines.
- LiveCD Linux router boot disks that run on old laptops and bridge multiple connections.
- The Belkin Wireless USB hub (above) could be used, but would then need to be bridged on the laptop – so no good for mobile phone access.
Let me know if you have seen anything like this by leaving a comment below.
Update: This may need to be powered with something a bit more sustantial! … See my post about a Solar Power Trickle Charger for £30
Update AUG09: I found a small Linux distribution called ZEROSHELL that can be loaded onto a flash disk and can manage multiple Internet connections by balancing traffic. You can run it on a number of known system boards to build your own low power box or just chuck it on an old lappy (Hardware needed to run ZeroShell) AND you can plug in multiple 3G dongles and broadcast one big fat mobile WiFi access point.
Here is a screengrab from their site showing Load balancing between 1 ADSL and 3 UMTS/HSDPA connections (YES 3 mobile connections! YAY!)
Read more about Load balancing and Failover on several Internet connections with Zeroshell
More thoughts September 2013:
I have been playing with a Sapido MB-1132 – Portable Travel Wireless N router in the campervan which runs for 6 hours from a two small inbuilt 2200mA batteries which can be charged from a 12V DC input. It uses Green AP WiFI Technology to reduce power. It will bridge a WiFi connection, so for example I can configure it to connect to my Three Mobile MiFi use that as an internet gateway. All of my devices just connect to the Sapido SSID and use the routing functions without having to connect directly to the (limiting) Three MiFi. It also means that a local battery operated network can be setup pretty easily.
I’ve continued to investigate the solar required to run a router 24/7 and use this calculator to check panel size: http://midsummerenergy.co.uk/solar_panel_information/solar_panel_calculator.html
I now have a charge controller to go with my 50W panel http://amzn.to/15TRXew
I have been thinking about a few tricks you could put in place to reduce the energy requirements when running a router off-grid:
- Find a panel that performs under cloud cover (my 50W works in normal UK daylight)
- Try the antenna and panel at the top of a mast to improve light and signal
- Have a range extender at the house end to pick up and re-broadcast the signal
- Use a 12v timer to switch the router on at time you require and not waste energy when you are not there
- Have a 12v radio control switch to turn if on when you need it (these are cheap, I have one)
- Look for routers with Green AP WiFI Technology
- Use larger 12v deep cycle battery’s and re-charge one at the house ready to hot swap once a week
- Possibly don’t use a solar panel and just swap batteries once a week
- Re-site the solar panel to get more sun and run a wire to the router
- Use wind?
- Is it near a stream?
- Use multiple energy production methods and combine them
- Use small fuel generator to top up the battery once a week
Obviously things have moved on – as they do …
So, the options now for bridging multiple internet connections (ADSL and Mobile) are:
- Run ZEROSHELL on an old laptop with multiple USB ports and plug in two 3G USB modems
- Use OpenWrt to turn a Raspberry Pi into a configurable router and plug in two 3G modems
- Buy a £33 TP-LINK TL-R470T+ Load Balance Broadband Cable Router and …
- Use two £28 TP-LINK TL-MR3020 Portable 3G/4G Wireless N Router to connect the the load balancer above
It’s £8 and can:
- Use an Ethernet cable to connect to a broadband router or hotel wired internet connection. The unit will then allow wifi enabled devices to connect to the internet.
- Plug in a USB stick or memory card reader and access the data on it wireless.
- Plug in a USB power cord to charge your phone or tablet.
- Use as a wifi repeater/extender by plugging into Powerline adapter.
- Connect to a USB 3G dongle and wirelessly transmit an internet connection to a phone and tablet
Gallery of images found solving the problem: