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The Connected Camper!

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Comments: 60 comments

Back in the day we thought nothing of putting up a two man tent and slumming it for a few days watching the motor racing at Silverstone or the Superbikes at Cadwell Park.  As we have got older our camping needs have changed. The 2 man tent is being eaten by mice in the back of the garage and we now have all the creature comforts that come with having a Motorhome.  We still love rural camping and think nothing of heading out into deepest darkest Yorkshire to get away from the hubble bubble of real life.

Caravan and Motor-homing life is very different now though from when we first started out. Often you see BBQs that are powered by gas, most people have an electric point for the kettle, even those in tents!  And yes, I will admit it; I have taken my hair straighteners on one or two occasions!

We all take different gadgets with us to make life easier but one of the overwhelming things in recent years that people have wanted, when camping, is the Internet! We are all about the big outdoors, hiking, cycling going to the village pub for steak pie and a pint but when we hang up our walking boots at the end of the day and get tucked up in our ‘vans and tents we want to watch the tele, update our mates on Facebook, tell all our twitter followers how many sheep we saw or just check out the local tourist information website to see what to do tomorrow.  How can we do this though? There is no phone signal; we are in the back of beyond!

USB Patriot

USB Patriot

Fortunately many sites offer free WiFi or a WiFi service for a nominal fee.  Often though, this is from a mast on a central club house or just at the reception building.  If your unit is at the far end of the site you may struggle to pick up the WiFi signal, especially if you are inside a Caravan or a Motorhome.  What you need is a Patriot! No, not a missile, a Patriot from Solwise!

The Solwise Patriot is a WiFi antenna that you mount on the outside of your Caravan or Motorhome. It is not a permanent mount to your ‘Van so there are no screw holes, it comes with suction cups so you can leave it up there for the duration of your stay, making sure you take it down for travelling. Once we had the Patriot mounted outside we fed the lead through the window and plugged the antenna into the laptop’s USB port. Our laptop detected the Patriot and so installation was a breeze. The majority of Campsites that offer WiFi will give you access details and, as with any other WiFi hotspot, you will likely have to enter a username and password to get on.

The Patriot from Solwise is great for getting the laptop online, but what if you want to use your smartphone or a tablet? Many mobile type devices don’t have a USB port so the Rocket is no good directly for that.  When we are away there are three of us that might want to get on the Internet, doing this one at a time is just not practical on most occasions. This is where you need to create a mini-hotspot in your ‘Van!

USB Patriot & WiFi Repeater

USB Patriot & WiFi Repeater

We still have the Patriot on the outside of the ‘Van but instead of connecting it to the laptop inside we attach it to a USB WiFi Repeater also from Solwise. The WL-USBWIFIRPT-3000 takes the signal from the Rocket and re-broadcasts it inside the ‘Van for all the smartphones, tablets, eReaders etc. to connect too. Everyone is happy.

Since writing this article, when the antenna was the old Rocket, things have moved on quite a bit. We now use the Patriot as detailed above and Solwise has made it very easy by providing all that you need in a handy kit. This includes mounting brackets to suit all needs. We have been considering a barge break and we would certainly take this kit with us as there is even a bracket for boats! The Patriot is far superior to the Rocket, it is much more hardwearing and certainly feels better quality.

USB Patriot Kit

USB Patriot Kit


Disclaimer: I have worked for Solwise since 2001. I have reviewed this WiFi kit as part of my job however our use of it has continued due to it being so useful when we are away.  I might work for Solwise, but it is worth noting, I would be using this kit even if I didn’t!

This article was updated Sept 2016 to reflect the change in hardware from the old Rocket to the new Patriot.

60 comments on “The Connected Camper!

  • Dave says:

    I already own a 9db external antenna which plugs into my laptop via the usb port. I would like to create a hotspot to connect multiple devices and do away with cables everywhere. Are there any compatibility issues with your USBWIFIRPT-3000 and 3rd party external antennas? Is there a chance I buy your router and find it won’t accept my antenna?

    • Louise Barrett says:

      Solwise have tested the USB WiFi Router with a variety of USB antennas/adapters based on the Ralink RT3070 Chipset. We have been advised by customers that they have also had success with the RT3050 and 8187L chipsets and also some 3G USB dongles including the unlocked Huawei E367.

  • David Tottman says:

    Does this kit provide a secure encrypted connection over an open wifi network?
    Many thanks,
    David Tottman

    • Louise Barrett says:

      You can certainly put security on the RPT3000 router. Is that what you mean?

    • Andy Wilson says:

      That is true, but it only encrypts data between your wireless devices and your RPT3000.

      Once your data leaves the RPT3000 and connects to a public wifi service that is not secure, such as BT FON etc. your data is no longer secure, unless you have initiated an encrypted web browser session, for example by prefacing the web address with https:// if the website allows this. Some apps that are data sensitive, such as banking apps should automatically enable a secure encrypted link so you should be safe connecting to a public wifi service.

      I hope this helps you.

  • Mike Shaw says:

    We have a motorhome and I can see the value of this kit in that but I am more interested in using it in our static caravan. The site we are on has wifi provided by air angel and we are only allowed 1 device at a time. We log on using a ‘voucher code’. Would we be able to connect the Solwise kit to the site wifi using the voucher code?

    • Louise Barrett says:


      Yes, this kit would be ideal for that situation.


  • Lee says:

    Dear Louise,

    Having finished all my wine and chocolate on the boat after Easter, I am left reflecting on improving my internet connectivity to the marina office 100m away.

    Currently we log into the marina wifi with a username and password which is flakey and then kicks us out after some time of non usage.

    Ideally I would like to bring this wifi signal into the boat with an omnidirectional antenna, a Bullet/Rocket type booster fitted dir4ectly to the antenna to reduce losses, then connected via weatherproofed ethernet cable supplied with12v POE (power over internet) into a wifi hub in the boat.

    I’d then need to be able to log onto the marina internet from my laptop, tablet or phone to enable to marina connectivity, before then being able to share a local wifi hotspot across multiple devices on my own network.

    Does this sound consistent with your system?

    • Louise Barrett says:

      Hi Lee,

      Sorry for the delay in reply, I too am now done with all the wine and chocolate from my Easter break and now back to work 🙂
      It sounds like our system will do the job you require, by all means give us a ring to discuss further if you would like. We can be reached on 01482 672872.


  • Nigel Hackett says:

    I have just bought a Patriot Signal Booster. Do I need to reconfigure the router every time I change wifi networks when travelling in my caravan and connection no to different networks or will the unit retain the wifi name I have given it and the security password I have set?
    The instructions are very brief!

    • Louise Barrett says:

      The router will be fine for each use, it is the Patriot you will need to configure to each different campsite wifi offering. Any queries do give the lads on tech support a call – 01482 644938.


  • Nathan says:

    I’m considering buying one of these to add an outdoor interface to my existing hostapd setup on a linux router. The RT3070L chipset should be fine, but I’m wondering if a longer USB cable can be used? Also, can the device be grounded to protect my equipment from lightning strikes?

    • Louise Barrett says:

      A longer USB cable can be used, we offer a 5m active extension cable which might be worth a thought.

      We have a lighting protector which you could put between the antenna and the patriot or you could consider the Ethernet version of the patriot. I think it might be worth you giving us a ring to discuss your requirements in full.

  • John Anderson says:

    Purchased your repeater and patriot, I don’t need to use sub drivers for this set up or do I?

  • John Anderson says:

    Should read USB drivers!

    • Louise Barrett says:

      Windows 7 and above you don’t need anything, just plug it in.

      • John Anderson says:

        Thanks just watched you tube video, which explained everything.

  • Rob Foster says:

    Can I connect wi-fi repeater with a Linux ubuntu laptop and do you know the required settings.

    • Louise Barrett says:

      Please could you give us a call on 01482 672872 to discuss your requirements further? Anyone in tech sales should be able to help with this.


      • Rob Foster says:

        Had a senior moment and forgot to put my dongle on laptop. Once done, linux ubuntu laptop saw wi-fi repeater and connected successfully to net.

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