Communications Do-Dads

Discussion in 'Blogs' started by BTPost, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Communications Do-Dads that can save you time, but cost you money.

    In this Blog, I will talk about so interesting communications EXTRAS, that can be added to any comms system to save you time, but as in anything else, they do cost some money. (FRNs)

    The first one I will discuss is the XLink Gateway Box. This little goodie turns ANY BlueTooth equipped Cellphone, into a regular POTs Phone Line. (POTs = Plain Old Telephone, as in uses copper wire and plugs into the wall) Why is this of interest, you ask? Well if you live far out in the bush, and there is no copper service, but you would like to have send a FAX, or use a Modem, on your computer, then you would need a copper type line. Also, if you needed an External Antenna, and or Bidirectional Amplifier to just get a Cellular connection, at your place, it is a bit of a bother, to haul all that around, in your back pocket, with you. What the XLink box does is make the connection between your CellPhone and a Copper type telephone instrument. It can ring multiple POTs Phones when the cellphone rings, and provides a dial-tone for you, when you pickup the POTs Phone, and you dial just like in town, on a copper Line. This means Modems can be plugged in, Fax machines can be plugged in, and even cordless Phones can be plugged in to get you perimeter phone coverage, around the place, without having to worry about if you standing in a Cellular Hotspot, or connecting to your External Antenna, and or Amp setup. An added bonus of the XLink box is, that you can "Pair" (Pair is to setup the connection between your Cellphone and the XLInk, so that they remember to connect automatically when they are within 30 Ft of each other) up to three cellphones to the XLink at the same time, and it will send up to three different Ring Patterns to the POTs Phones, depending on which cellphone is ringing. You also can select which one, of the up to three cellphones, you want to use to dial out when you are making a call. So Momma, and you, can both have your cellphones, and you can share the the copper connected POTs system, while you are sitting around the place.

    Next, we talked about the need for External Antennas, and possibly Bidirectional Amps, just to get a Cellular connection, at your place, in the Alaska Wilderness Communications Blog, and this required that your Cellphone had an External Antenna Jack, as part of the Cellphone. Well the next Do-Dad is a called MicroCell Device, and it replaces the BiDirectional Amplifier, and has the External Antenna Input connection for your External Antenna to connect to. It also has an Internal Antenna, that then talks to your Cellular Device, just as if IT were connected directly to your local Cellsite. This means that ANY Cellular/PCS Device, can now work inside your place, without wires, and give you Full Bars signal. The Internal range of the MicroCell is about 100 Ft, but when Paired with an XLink Box, and a cordless phone, means all you do when you arrive back to your place is plug your Cellular Device in to recharge and it automatically Pairs up to the XLink on BlueTooth, and the Cell Network thru the MicroCell system, and you just leave you device to recharge but you are still connected, and ready to receive, and or place calls, thru these nifty little Do-Dads. The MicroCell can deal with multiple devices simultaneously, so again both you and Momma can be connected.

    I talk about Cellular/PCS Devices, and this means iPads, iPhones, Blackberrys, and all the other basic things that connect thru the cellular Network. There is ONE "gotcha" with these things, in that there are two basic Cellular/PCS systems, and they are radically different in the technology they use to make the connections. In the US they are the Verizon type system and the AT&T type system, and the MicroCell that I use only can deal with one or the other NOT Both. If you want both, then you need to buy one of each kind, as they are Mutually Exclusive technology.

    Since we all know that if your reading this, you have Internet Access, there are some interesting Do-Dads that can extend your connection, around your site, that could be useful. There are a couple of Communications Do-Dads that can be used to extend your local Network outside your home, both in the Copper and Wireless connection types. Lets look at the copper side first. Lets say that you have a Living Space, and also a hidden BugIn Place, that is removed from your Primary location. You might still want your Internet Access, at your BugIn place, but you do NOT want to use wireless as it gives up CommSec, (communications security) by transmitting a constant signal, although small, these could be detected by aircraft, or road sniffers out to a mile or so. Well, standard old Ethernet wire is good for 300 meters, at 10Mbs. (which is way faster than your average Internet connection) Lets say that your BugIn place is 3000 Ft way from the Primary location. Ok, there is an Do-Dad for that. It is a small little box that houses DSL Modem and has two Comm Ports, and a 12 Vdc Power Port. One is a standard ethernet port and one is a standard RJ11 Telco Port. It is called a Tut System XL-4000, and it can move 10 Mbs, Full Duplex, (in both directions) up to 4000 wirefeet, over any Cat 2, or better, copper wire Pair. Tut makes a whole series of these little boxes, and eBay is a good place to find used ones at fairly cheap prices. The Tut LR2000T LongRun Boxes can do 1 Mbs for 2000 wirefeet. The Tut XL12000B is rated at up to 2Mbs for 12K wirefeet. I have seen these go un-purchased on eBay for as little as $5US/end. (You do have to have two, one for each end) I use two sets of XL4000s to move some of my ISP Traffic from my Winter-shop SAT IP connection, to my summertime SAT IP connection, and they also bring the South-tower WebCam back to the Main Servers. I have a couple of LR2000T links that are strung thru the woods that feed ISP service, to close neighbors, where the links between neighbors is less than 2000 wirefeet. I have tested some of the XL12000Bs on links close to 10K wirefeet, on some extended links across the bush, and they work just fine, even after the wire has been in the weather for years. If you can't make an Internet Connection at your Primary, but say you have BugIn, that is good for a SAT based IP Connection, you could do that using one of these Do-Dads, or if you have a close Neighbor, that has an IP Connection but you do not, maybe you could talk them into sharing their connection, via these nice little Do-Dads, for a fair compensation, of course...
    Well there are also some things one can do in the Wireless connection types as well. First, is getting a High Power Wireless Router box. The Buffalo WHR-HP-G54 (802.11g type) is the one that comes to mind, right off. It has a Tx Power level up to 700mw, where as regular wireless units (802.11b type) are limited to usually 100-200mw levels. If you get one loaded with the FREE <dd-wrt> Firmware, there are all kinds of ways to fineness these units, for better range. Second, is to connect an External Antenna, to the wireless box, and here the Buffalo WHR-HP-G54, really shines. The antenna port on them, has a Reverse Gender SMA connector, (FCC Required, to keep you from doing just this) but cables are available on eBay, to make these connections, for a small cost. As are many High Gain WiFi Antennas, made by various OEMs, with many various Antenna Gain specifications. I have a couple of WiFi Links on my Network that are over 3 miles long, using WiFi boxes with External Antennas. Note Here: WiFi runs at 2.4 Ghz, (think Microwaves) and that does NOT go thru Trees, especially WET Trees, very well, so one must plan their links for Open terrain, or across Water, paths, for best performance. Some newer WiFi Units have dual band capability and use both the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands, for better bandwidths and speeds. These are the Newer Dual Band 802.11n type boxes. To expensive for 'Me" at this point, but I am always looking for better technology, and may try out a 5 Ghz link this summer.

    I feel the need to talk about how the internet itself works, and how it gets to your place. The internet is basically just a BIG connection of Networks, that stretches around the World, and even into local space, above the Earth. Back in the Alaska Wilderness Comms Blog we talked a bit about how we get internet into your Alaska site. In there, we covered Cellular and Sat Based connections, which are the most common for the Alaskan Bush. Here, we will cover connection types that are more common for folks that live near, or in population centers. (More than 50 to 100 people) Copper is still the most used connection method. Dialup, ISDN, DSL, Cable, are all viable connection schemes, and each has advantages, and drawbacks, as well as some, being near ancient technology.
    Dialup uses your phone line (copper) to connect to a Modem Bank somewhere in your area, that then connects to your ISPs (Internet Service Provider) Network. It is the slowest and has the least Bandwidth of the copper connection methods. Like on the order of 56Kbs, Maximum. This is due to reaching the Maximum technological Limit of a Telephone Lines bandwidth capabilities, for a voice Grade circuit.
    ISDN is also a phone line based technology, that is one set up from dialup, but only goes as far as your local Telco Exchange Building. there it is separated from the Telco System and transferred to a Broadband connection to your ISPs Network. ISDN has a Maximum Bandwidth of 256Kbs, and has a limited Phone Wire LENGTH. This means that if you live very far from your local Telco Exchange, it can't be used. (about 5 miles) This is one of those ancient technologies that is still around, but mostly being replace with DSL technology.
    DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a newer technology than ISDN, and has replaced ISDN in most modern markets, as it can provide much better speeds, and bandwidths. On the order of 1.5 Mbs for long distances, (10-20 miles) and less than that farther out. It also only goes as far as the local Telco Exchange, where it is stripped off the Telco copper by an instrument called a D-Slam, which allows the Phone (Voice) connection to go to the Telco Switch, and the Digital connection to go to the ISPs Network, via a different connection path. DSL has practical applications around your site, which we will discuss later.
    Cable uses the Cable Tv Coax to bring your digital connection into you place, as it rides along the same coax with all the Tv Channels, uses the same Amplifiers, Splitters, and other components as the Cable Tv System. It is just another signal on the cable, but has a BiDirectional pathway. In other words not only do you get the Incoming Digital Information, but you also send out Digital Information, back down the Cable, to the Cable Company Headend. (Source equipment) From the Headend your connection goes to your ISPs (Cable Company is the ISP) Network. Bandwidths for cable can be as high as 20-30 Mbs and that friends is quite snappy, in the Internet World.
    Now we come to Fiber. This is technologically similar to Cable, but instead of copper, the signals travel as pulses of light, on very fine Glass Fibers. This is the Technology that basically, "IS the Internet" It is how 90% of the worlds Internet Connections, between countries, cities, and towns, are made. Fiber is EVERYWHERE. Just about EVERY Railroad Right-of-Way has fiber under it, as well as MOST Freeways, and ALL underSea Cables, laid in the last Decade, are using Fiber Technology. 80% or more of ALL Telco (voice) information is running on fiber, between Telco Offices and Telco Centers. Bandwidths on fiber can be anywhere from 50Mbs on up to 1-2Tbs, (TerraBits/sec) depending on the fiber and the hardware on each end of the link, and repeaters along the way, on each link. In each link, there are multiple fibers, communicating information, in each direction. This is the BIG PuBahh of all the Information Technology Transport Systems, in todays World.
    There are a couple of Wireless type connections that are pushing the Internet out in some rural locations, here in the USA, that we need to talk about. WiFi is one, and its Big Brother WiMax, is the second. These are based on the same wireless technology that the consumer WiFi things, that many of you use to connect your laptops and notebooks to the internet in your house, use. They are designed to communicate with a central antenna location, similar to a Cellsite, that we talked about in the Comms Blog, only they are designed for Fixed Location Subscribers, rather than mobile subscribers, like Cellular Services are design to be. They use Microwaves, instead of copper, or fiber to make your connection. Typical Bandwidths are in the 10Mbs range for WiFi, with 10 Mile ranges, and up to 30 Mbs for WiMax with typically 5 mile ranges. WiFi has significant uses to provide Internet to portable, and mobile devices, around your place, and we will be discussing these in detail.
    Ok, so now that your connection is made, to your place, and you have some sort of Box, or Connection Point, that outputs, more than likely, either, or both, Ethernet (copper) and WiFi, (wireless) let us discuss the basics of how the IP (Internet Protocol) works, so you have a basic understanding of the technology you are using. These basic concepts, apply to ALL IP Networks, copper, fiber, wireless, ALL of them. So you fire up you computer, and you bring up your browser, (Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, Safari, etc, and the first thing that happens, is your browser loads up your HomePage, which you told it to load, every time you start the browser. Now this can be local (inside) your computer, or it could be from a local (when I say local here, this means it is before the first Router) Server on your local network, or it could be from an Internet source, like the Google Homepage. It doesn't really matter, in that the information gets to you using the same methods and paths. Your computer sees the Home Page Address as something like <> and it says to itself, "I have NO IDEA, what that is , or means, but I do know where to find out." So it sends a request to the DNS Server (Domain Name Server) that it knows how to contact. (you had to tell it what DNS Server you want to use, when you setup the IP drivers in your computer) and it asks for the IP Address for the Home Page, at that Domain name. ALL computers, or Entities, need to have and INDIVIDUAL IP Address, that is Mutually Exclusive, and only assigned to THAT SPECIFIC computer or Entity, (Network Device), PERIOD. It is the job of the DNS Server to lookup the Domain Name, and send the IP Address that is associated with that Domain Name, back to your computer. If this DNS Server doesn't know what the IP Address is, it then asks the next higher DNS Server, and so on until it gets to the DNS Server that DOES know the Specific IP Address for the Domain Name,, which is, <> It then the answer goes back down the chain, until it gets to your computer. Your computer then sends out a Connect Message to that Specific IP Address, and then that Specific Computer answers, by sending the Google HomePage, to your computers screen. He He... Cool Beans... The whole Internet works this same way. Take the Domain Name, send it to the DNS Server, get back the IP Address, then connect to that IP Address, and get back the information you asked for. "Ask, and yea shall receive, Seek, and Yea shall find, Knock, and it shall be opened up unto you" I think I read that somewhere.... Ok, so now you know the basics, of how the Internet functions. The World Wide Web, eMail, Usenet (NewsGroups) Network Time, and many, many, more, systems all function inside the IP based System. Each of these, use a different "Protocol", or language, but they ALL use IP, to find, and connect to Specific Computers on the Internet. Each Protocol, uses its Assigned Port, to connect to, and each Server listens for, incoming queries, and connections, for each protocol that it serves, on their Assigned Port. This way, one Computer Server can serve many protocols, all at the same time, because it can listen on many Ports, at the same time, and pass information to the specific Server programs that understand, each of the specific protocols, used. Email uses, usually, 4 different Ports. The Web uses, usually, a single Port. Usenet uses two Ports, and Network Time uses one Port. Each Port has a number between 0 and 64K, and that number is called the Port Address. Some of these are ASSIGNED by Convention, and some are assigned by the programers who wrote the Drivers, for the protocol, and can be used by many different programs for many different purposes. The ASSIGNED by Convention Ports are used to make the initial connections between the two computers, and then the computers may assign other specific Ports to communicate, program specific information, for that specific connection, and then after they finish, they may no longer be a valid port assignment, until called for again, by some other program. We have discussed how the basic IP stuff works, now lets talk about, how al these things get connected together, so that when your computer says it wants to get data from another computer how do all those bits of information (Packets) know how to travel along the Information Super Highway, and where to get OFF. All this routing information is encoded in each Packet, at the front, so that as this packet moves from one Link, to the next, thru a Hub, Switch, or Router, those devices, can read the header information, and make the correct decision on where that packet should go next. Hubs are just very dumb Boxes, that repeat ANYTHING coming in on one Physical Port, to ALL the other Physical Ports, on that box. Switches have some limited "smarts" built in. They inspect each packet, and read the header information, which tells them who sent Originated the Packet, by IP Address, and MAC Address, who the packet is going to at it's Final Destination, also by IP Address, but NOT MAC Address, if the destination is not on the local subnet of the Switch, and thru which Router by IP Address, and MAC Address, if the Final Destination is NOT on the local subnet of the Switch. Each Switch keeps a Routing Table, in memory that has ALL IP Addresses, their Associated MAC Addresses, and what Physical Port those devices are connected to, so your computer will have an entry on the routing Table, and all the other computers will also have an entry, as well. Any Routers will have a special entry that sets them apart from just regular network devices. You must tell your computer the Router Address, that it will be using to access in the next higher level of networks, or Internet, when you setup the IP configuration of the computer, just like you had to tell it the DNS Server Address. So if your computer (Originating Computer, or OC) needs something from a local computer, like a file or picture, it would send a Request to connect to that computer, (Destination computer or DC) by IP Address, and that request would go thru the HUB, if there was one, and then to the Switch, connected to that hub. The Switch then reads the header, and sees that this packet needs to go to a local DC that is on a different Physical Port, by looking the IP Address up in it's Routing Table and finds what Physical Port is connected to the DC, and directs the packet to that specific Physical Port and on to the DC. It receives the Request and sends back an Acknowledgement packet, (ACK) that says "YES I AM HERE, and SEND your Request for Data" as I am waiting for it on IP Port Number (X), back up the chain to the OC. When received, the OC the starts a dialog with the DC, on the right IP Port Number, that will then start the transfer of the requested data. When they are done, that ends the transaction. Routers are just very FANCY Switches. The also keep Routing Tables, that give IP Addresses, of other Routers that are connected to them, by Links, to their various Physical Ports. Routers also have a slightly Higher Level function, in that they are designed to pass traffic between two or more different networks, and,or subnets, and they keep tract of which of the other Routers that they know about, is the fastest way to any given destination, once the original connection Request and Acknowledgement packets have gone thru them. Routers use a special IP Protocol to communicate between themselves, to keep their Routing Tables up to date, and if they lose a Direct Link to another Router, they will find an alternate route to the Destination, and then update their Routing Table to show that new route. These are the Boxes that MAKE the INTERNET work. They connect all the different routes, in and out, of each Internet Center, to each other, and keep track of where each route goes, how much traffic is on each link, and where an alternate route to the same Destination could possibly be found. Internet Centers are just "Stuffed to the Gills" with Routers, that connect to other Internet Centers, and they ALL talk to each other to find the best and fastest route for your packets from your OC to any DC you choose. The whole Idea for this IP System was, so that if any single, or multiples, of routes, between an OC and DC were to go DARK, as long as one single route was still working, traffic would get thru. It may go around the world, to get there, even if "there" was only 50 miles away, but it would get there, eventually. Contrary to some Popular Belief, ALGORE had nothing to do with the design and implementation of the Internet, and the fellows that did design this stuff were some really smart guys.The Internet doesn't care what the data is, inside the IP Packets, it only looks at the headers to find out where to send them. Pictures, Files, Websites, Voice, Video, it is ALL DATA, and ALL the same, as far as the network is concerned. You send the Packet out, it rattles around the Internet, and arrives at the destination. The the DC sends back an ACK, that gives your OC the route, and away you go, Zooming down the Information Super Highway. Now isn't that all just MAGIC, and it only took 30 years from nothing to this. Just three Decades.

    Back in the Alaska Wilderness Communications blog, I talked about a fairly new technology called iDEN/ISM. This was in the CN AoO section. (Close Neighborhood Area of Operation) I have been doing some research, and testing, of these cute little Comm Devices, and plan on writing a Section here in the Communications Do-Dads blog, about them, and their very interesting operations and uses, for any of my SurvivalMonkey Brothers and Sisters. I spent some time discussing this hardware, these ideas, and uses, with a few of the interested Monkeys, on the FastChat Page, and they are planning to get, some of the hardware, and help me flesh out an Operational Plan for the use of these things. So, as this unfolds, check back and look for the NEW Section, that will be presented.... for the OPSEC crowd, I think it will be a Good Read...

    It is published now and can be found at: I will be updating it, as more testing data comes in from our Monkey Friends.

    Check back again, and I will think of something else, technical to write about.....
    Dunerunner and Ganado like this.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

  3. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    @BTPost thank you for posting this and featuring it again. This is an excellent post and fills in some gaps I have needed to fill inmy communications. Thanks for taking the time to write this up and post it.
    Dunerunner likes this.
  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I learned more about how the internet works in the short time it took to read that post than I did in my communications classes. This is a piece of prime resource!!
  5. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    You will notice I wrote those Blogs 7 years ago... They are mostly still valid, and I still use the Hardware described here, but newer things are around these days....
    Dunerunner likes this.
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