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HughesNET Gen 5 – 1st Evaluation

Today I set up our HughesNet Gen 5 portable dish again, aimed it, and acquired the satellite (Echostar 19). My signal level was 121 which, according to Mobile Internet Satellite, is a good level.

Then I conducted a number of Internet speed tests using several speed test programs. I settled on three HTML5 programs. I discovered some glaring differences between speed testers. For example, a few always ended up with very high download values and one was just plain wrong. It came up with Ping values that indicated the program had somehow exceeded the speed of light.

As a comparison, I also ran speed tests on our campground WiFi system and our Suddenlink cable modem.

SPEED TEST RESULTS

REAL WORLD TESTS

Speed tests are one thing, but actual day-to-day use is where the rubber meets the road.

I tried three tests: YouTube, Netflix, and AppleTV.

YouTube Test

Blackpink in Your Area

I streamed a Blackpink music video using HughesNET, campground WiFI, and our Suddenlink cable modem.

  • Suddenlink – flawless 1080p HD. No buffering or sudden stops.
  • Campground WiFi – very good 720 HD. Again, no buffering or sudden stops.
  • HughesNET – ok to poor looking 360 SD. Buffering at first, then fine.

 

Netflix & AppleTV

I streamed a TV show on each service. Both Netflix and AppleTV have superb adaptive video engines.

  • Suddenlink, Campground WiFi, and HughesNET – each one served up good looking to great video. I was pretty sure HughesNET had to be SD, but I had a hard time telling the difference.

 

CONCLUSION

Would I get a HughesNET Gen 5 again? Definitely.

Though I expected higher download speeds, the “slower” (14 – 20 Mbps) speeds I’ve seen so far did not seem to impact day-to-day performance. Note that any satellite Internet system will have high Ping values. While it’s not an issue with streaming video, long Ping delays can make applications like VoIP (voice over Internet) problematic.

The Gen 5 dish was easier to set up and to aim than I expected. However, a HughesNET Gen 5 system does take up room and requires a 2-year commitment.

I’ll try to do another evaluation later this year or early in 2019.

My 1st HughesNET Gen 5 Setup & Connection

Difficult to Ignore

I pulled the trigger on our “Plan B” Internet provider source — HughesNET Gen 5. (Plan A is a Verizon data plan.)

Received all the equipment for my portable setup from www.mobileinternetsatellite.com yesterday. Can’t say enough about this company and Barb Nolley. Very good to work with.

I really didn’t expect to get HughesNET up and running the first day as it’s pretty complicated compared to what I’m used to — setting up a DISH TV portable antenna. Similar principles, but a HughesNET Gen 5 dish is more hairy and a lot bigger. The round fiberglass HughesNET Gen 5 dish is .98 meter (3′ 3″) . . . and it’s heavy.

There were some minor gotchas, like this:

Two Washers Needed, Only 1 Provided

 

And the download speed was much slower than I was expecting . . .

1st HughesNET Gen 5 Speed Test

 

Nevertheless, so far so good. I’ll post more info shortly.

90 Minutes

Our new Magnum inverter arrived Wednesday afternoon, but it was way too hot (high 90s) to install it.

Footprint and functionally (both are 2000W inverters) the Magnum MS2000 and the Freedom inverter/charger are nearly identical:

MS2000 vs Freedom Inverter/Charger

 

However, the MS2000 is pure sine wave while the Freedom is modified sine wave.

So . . . we scheduled the inverter swap for early Thursday morning when the heat is not so intense.

The morning replace and install went like clockwork . . . 90 minutes total . . .

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By the way, this is the 5th time I’ve done this on our Newmar:

  1. Removed original Freedom. Installed first Magnum MS2000. (2011)
  2. Removed MS2000 because it failed. Re-installed Freedom. (2012)
  3. Re-installed refurbished MS2000 after warranty repair. (2012)
  4. Removed refurbished MS2000 after it failed again. Re-installed Freedom again. (2018)
  5. Installed the new, second MS2000. (2018)

Fifth time is the charm, eh?

 

Old is the New New

Our old inverter is now our new inverter

So it’s early afternoon. We’re chillin’ in the RV . . . I’m computing, Jan’s reading one of The Expanse books.

Then we hear a very loud noise that sounds as if one of our air conditioners fell off the roof. (BTW, that’s not what happened.)

It was the sound of our generator starting up. This happens when the voltage in our batteries drops precipitously. And that’s just what happened.

Our inverter/charger failed — well, the battery charger half crapped out.

So for maybe an hour or so we were running off our batteries and drawing them down, down, down until our AGS (Automatic Generator Starter) kicked in and fired up the generator. Voila!

Thank god I kept our old inverter . . . a venerable and dependable Heart Freedom circa 2001.

Two hours later I had pulled out the Magnum MS2000 and installed the Freedom. For the nerds, I also had the swap out Magnum’s high-tech ME-ARC control panel with the Freedom’s basic remote control. Easy peasy as both remotes are the same size and connect to the inverter via a phone line.

A new Magnum is on order because it’s a Pure Sine Wave (PSW) inverter while the Freedom is a Modified Sine Wave (MSW). Basically, the difference between a PSW and MSW inverters is that a PSW is gentler on electronics.

New Magnum will be here in a few days. Oh joy.

This is the 3rd time I’ve done this inverter swap

 

Hot Springs, Hot RV

But first, the Photo of the Week . . .

Dog Shoes. Wear ’em when it’s hot!

 

HOT SPRINGS

We took a road trip the last week of May to a geothermal site near Mammoth Lakes . . . just up Highway 395 from Bishop.

Hot Springs Trip (click on photo to enlarge)

We learned about the hot springs from a recent edition of the Escapees magazine. Just Jan and I went because we didn’t want our Golden Retriever around really really hot water.

Anyway, some photos from our day trip . . .

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And a short movie . . .

 

 

HOT RV

Why do air conditioners always break in Summer and not in Winter? Riddle me that.

A few days ago while the Bishop temperatures hovered in the mid-90s, our front 6-year-old Dometic Penguin II AC started behaving badly. Its compressor would stay on for 6 minutes, then go off for 4 minutes . . . over and over like clockwork. Although the AC fan stayed on, for 6 minutes we’d have cold air, but then warm air for 4 minutes. That made for not-so-good cooling, and the temperature inside our RV started climbing.

I looked for help on a couple of online RV forums, and received a promising solution from someone I was familiar with. He said to disable the “freeze thermistor” — essentially, cutting the “blue wire”.

So I schlepped onto our RV roof, removed the front RV shroud and cut the blue wire . . .

Naked AC

 

Which Wire Did He Say?

 

After putting everything back together again, I climbed off the roof and went inside to fire up the AC again. However, this message appeared on our thermostat:

Quick! Run!

From the Dometic Penguin II manual:

Open circuit or out of range Freeze Sensor. Air conditioner and dehumidification operation will be locked out. Heat pump, furnace, heat strip and fan operation can continue to operate but displays the last temperature set-point.

In Ordinary Speak, it’s broke. While the rear (bedroom) AC works fine, the front AC is now completely dead.

Super. It’s late afternoon now and the heat of the day is peaking. Inside, our RV is hot as hell now because I’ve had both ACs off for some time. We need coolness . . . fast!

Solution: a “swamp cooler” . . .

Our Swamp Cooler

 

We picked up the only one left at a nearby hardware store. For those of you not familiar with evaporative (or “swamp”) coolers, they’re basically a desert thing. These coolers only work in hot, dry environments because they operate by evaporating water from a porous material by blowing air over that material. Simple and relatively cheap. Swamp coolers are not as “cooling” as ACs, but in a pinch, they’ll do.

So . . . we now had AC in our bedroom and a swamp cooler up front.

We spent the rest of the day calling RV repair places to find out AC replacement and installation costs . . . between $1500 and $2100. Ouch!

Finally, as a last ditch effort, I went back up on the roof and reconnected the “blue wire” I had cut previously.

Eureka! Front AC is back on again . . . no error messages . . . and it’s been running continuously (no 6 on, 4 off nonsense) since I “fixed” it.

Fingers crossed.