Category Archives: Testing / Site Technical Posts

Lizard Internet / Mango Wireless


Posted by Britton

Our normal morning routine is to wake up, make some coffee and zone out on the internet for a bit until we start our daily do-ings.  Lately however our internet setup hasn’t been working!!  So my routine started to include walking over to the other side of the property and checking out our wireless bridge.

I can usually check segments of our network from the cabin, but lately the cabin has been completely cut off!
britton-ladder
Climbing the Pole
The higher the wireless router inside this little box on the utility pole, the better signal we get from our neighbor’s router that we share with.

chewed-wires
The Problem

Pretty much every day there is rat poop on top of the box, with some leftover parcha or starfruit.  So I know the rats have been hanging out on top of the box.  But these wires are inside of the cage I built!  They can’t be getting inside?!

iguana-on-the-internet
Another Possible Hacker

I saw this one on top of the goods one day too.  But again, it is waayyyy too large to get into the box and be able to chew the wires up!  So probably not the one I am looking for.

It wasn’t until the other day I finally saw the culprit!

lizard
Ah Ha!!! (click to enlarge)

There has been a small lizard living inside the box and eating the cables every night!  The power cables are pretty chewed up but power cables shock them once they eat all the insulation, so he stops.  With the Ethernet cables however, he just chews right thru them.

I’ve mended the Ethernet cable probably 5 or 6 times now.  I covered it in some really thick waterproofing tape and that seems to be working for the moment.  I also will be hunting this little pest.  He is fast and I found myself chasing him with a stick the other day!  It was really quite humorous.

The other idea I had was to electrify the wire cage so that it isn’t such a nice spot for critters to sit and hang out.  I don’t think it will take much to do, but something I’ll have to figure out!  Maybe in the next revision?!

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Swiss Family Jungle Internet


Posted by Britton

Internet is one of those modern conveniences that is just….. so nice to have. Checking in on Facebook, paying bills or looking how to do things on youtube. We haven’t “hooked” up internet service here yet, but we’ve always had some signal of some sort to utilize.  It is probably more of a personal challenge to find alternate ways of connecting than any actual reason.  In the process you can learn all kinds of new things about networking and radios.

When we first arrived the only way to get an open signal was to be on top of the cabana on the corner of the house. Usually this was in the sun or rain! This is what I will consider internet v1.0. It was much easier than packing up and going to a cafe, plus we didn’t have to buy coffee or sit outside some place and look like moochers. We could mooch from our own home!

Rainy Internet
Version 1.0

I then figured out how to setup a repeater bridge by installing a Linux variant DD-WRT on a Linksys router.  The bridge would take the internet signal from yonder and repeat it so that we had wireless access from within the cabana!  It needed to be waterproof so I bought a plastic trashcan from the dollar store, drilled holes for the antennas and hung it upside down.  I had to hang it upside down to keep the rain from draining into the antenna holes.

Painting the cabana
Version 2.0

Version 2.0 worked really well, it was nice to sit inside the cabana and have access.  Of course with both 1.0 and 2.0 the speeds were pretty much dialup.  The Access Point we were using was pretty far away.  Eventually the trees grew tall enough to block our access.  We had to find another source!

We had been talking to our neighbor about the idea of paying for a share of his internet and in return he would put his wireless router in his window nearest our property to get a good line of sight link to our wireless bridge.  Well this worked out really well!  This was version 3.0 and I even made a little wood box for it out of scrap T-111 because the plastic trashcan disintegrated in the sun!!  The speeds were MUCH faster and it worked really well.

Forward to the cabin being built and wanting to have internet over there.  It is easily 500 feet and there is a forest between the router box, so no signal is going to make it over there.  We had already put in an electricity line and I did some research.

Apparently companies have figured out how to make a device that will transmit from an electric outlet to an electric outlet.  This is perfect!  It is called Ethernet over power in case you may want to use it.  One end plugs into the wireless router (Ethernet up-link) and plugs into the power outlet the router is plugged into.   The other end plugs into an outlet at the cabin.  Since they are on the same circuit they can talk.  The device at the cabin also has a wireless router built into it!  So now we have wireless internet at and around the cabin!

cabin-routergoogle-at-cabin
Version 3.0

The only problem I had now was that apparently wires and cables are fun to chew on.  So rats and iguanas have been chewing up the power and Ethernet cables inside the box and it quits working.

So here comes version 4.0 pictured below.  It is waterproof, chew proof relays a wireless signal from our neighbor to our concrete cabana AND sends a signal thru the electric line to the new cabin.  It isn’t pretty, but hey, maybe nobody will want to steal it?

router-v4
4.0 is Ratproof!

It is fun to invent, design, build and test.  That is what we have been doing the entire time we have lived here in Rincón!  What can I say?  I’m a geek.

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Friends in Puerto Rico and Colorado plus Thoughts on Blogging


Posted by Cassie

During this trip to Puerto Rico in addition to looking at some properties, we had the great opportunity to meet up with some people we had been chatting with online but hadn’t yet the chance to meet in person. On our last trip to PR, we had met Nick and Miri and so it was wonderful seeing them again this trip. We also met the Kruses at their finca, and Jim and Cynthia of PCH to 413 at Rosa’s (one of our favorite blog commenters :-) )  great party. We were also planning on meeting up with Summer and Stefan of CA2PR, but our schedules conflicted a little.


At Rosa’s House in Rincon

Some people wonder why we would blog and put our lives out there for so many people to read. Well, I have to tell you after meeting all of these great people, it has been more than worth it. Sometimes you put yourself out there and see what will come of it. In this case, so far, the benefits have greatly outnumbered any problems. We have also had the opportunity here in Colorado to meet Claire and her family at her wonderful farm.

Blogging takes a lot of effort and sheer tenacity to stick to doing it, but the rewards are worth more than gold. Of course, the Internet should never be used as a replacement for your other relationships, but is a great way to expand your friendship circles especially in finding others with your similar interests and outlooks.

For all of you with blogs of your own, all of our commenters and even you lurkers (you know who you are ;-) ), out there reading this, this one’s for you!

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