Wireless Hotspot option

Discussion in 'Professional Discussions' started by MnLefty, Jul 26, 2018.

  1. MnLefty

    MnLefty LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 385

    Just wanted to share with the class how my test case has been going. Background is I've been wanting to try some type of hotspot to be able to provide wifi to HOA controllers, rather than have to piggyback on an individual homeowner or as an alternative to cell based options.

    I started with this one as my cheapest test case. $49 from Wally World, and Straight Talk 1 GB plan for $15. I put it in and connected a Hydrawise to it on our company test plot (owner's house) 3 weeks ago today, and it has worked flawlessly since. Knock on wood, not a single hint of a dropped signal, the controller was online and available every time I logged in, which has been multiple times daily while I test. Have not needed to reset the hotspot at all, 3 weeks in, it just flat works. 2 days ago I took the hotspot out and brought it to an HOA site where we had to temp a controller in (another Hydrawise) while waiting for a warranty replacement of an ET Water panel. Still going strong there.

    I know 3 weeks is pretty short in the grand scheme of things, but I'm getting really close to feeling confident enough to start quoting controllers based on using the hotspot.

    Things I really like about it thus far-
    - Sets up just like setting up your own wifi... I choose the network name/password so it can be consistent from site to site as we potentially roll them out. Same security settings as a home router, password protected, and can choose not to broadcast the network to double down on blocking any potential leeching.

    - The Hydrawise through 3 weeks has used 55.xx MB of the $15 1 GB, about 1/20th of the data available. Would seem that there's room to run multiple controllers from 1 plan/hotspot if they're within range, or through extenders. I haven't checked out the range at all yet, it's been sitting next to the controller on both sites.

    - No contract data plan, so for those of us in the north we can let it expire after blowouts, and just pick up as needed at startup time. Even after adding the $60 Hydrawise enthusiast plan and it's extra benefits, it would still net out cheaper than most cell based plans.

    I'm pretty optimistic about the Hydrawise w/hotspot option to really fill the gap on small to mid size HOA/commercial sites... Sites with multiple smaller controllers, or where $2000-3000+ controllers just aren't going to happen. Sites that would be really nice to have central control, but it just hasn't been in the cards up to this point. We'll see where it goes.
     
    hort101, benhargreaves and 1idejim like this.
  2. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 5,898

    When I was changing several sites over to WiFi I tried using the exact same device/plan you are using but it wouldn't work. I would initially connect but after no activity for awhile it would time out and turn itself off. I had a computer guy try and figure out how to keep it "on" but he never did figure it out. Finally ended up going to a different solution. Did you run into anything like this or just set it up and go with no problem?
     
  3. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 5,898

    I'm very interested in this thread since I may have sites I'd like to use this option with.

    Lefty, did you use any other device to keep the hotspot "on"? Or just hook it up and go

    The only thing different I can see is I was using the Rainbird Lnk and not Hunter.

    Ron and Rod care to weigh in?
     
  4. OP
    OP
    MnLefty

    MnLefty LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 385

    Powered up, configured the network and that’s all I’ve had to do. The unit has battery power too, so when I transferred sites it was still ‘alive’, no configuration needed, just found the network from the controller and connect. I don't know if the Hydrawise calls for weather data more often than the Rainbird, keeping the connection active?

    The hotspot obviously needs AC to stay charged, so on an install with a hard wired controller one would have to add an outlet to plug in the hotspot.
     
  5. Ron Wolfarth

    Ron Wolfarth Sponsor
    Messages: 1,387

    This is repeated from the "All Things Rain Bird" thread.

    We have done some work on this. The first scenarios we have tested have worked. However, we have not yet completed enough testing for us to officially recommend it. Keep in mind that there are many variables that exist and we have to test enough of them before we tell the world, yes, this works. Get ready for us to never say that even though it may work in many or most situations because once we say it works, we consider ourselves on the hook for your success. We may soon get to the point that I might say in this forum, "We have done testing and have found that it works in many scenarios". We may never say it in print. Our experts feel that, theoretically, it should work. We just can't yet say it does.
     
    hort101 likes this.
  6. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 5,898

    I had the Hotspot plugged in to keep it charged.Hmmm
     
  7. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 5,898

    I'm not gonna hold you to anything knowing there are so many variables. I was trying to use the exact same brand/device lefty used and it wouldn't work once it went to sleep. Just trying to figure out what was done differently. Any thoughts I'm open to anything.
     
    hort101 likes this.
  8. Ron Wolfarth

    Ron Wolfarth Sponsor
    Messages: 1,387

    I will have to check to see if our testing duplicated exactly the setup mentioned. I doubt it.
     
  9. Ron Wolfarth

    Ron Wolfarth Sponsor
    Messages: 1,387

    I clicked on the link to the product page in the first post of this thread. I read the first 20 reviews (or so). I am not saying the product is good or bad, but the reviews are overwhelmingly bad. https://www.walmart.com/reviews/product/54772941

    I won't have our folks do testing on this product. If the product is good when used correctly as some reviewers (shills) said, too many are not able to use it correctly. We do not want to take on the service burden of trouble-shooting a product like this. If we recommend it, customers expect Rain Bird, not 'Verizon Straight Talk' to service it. And, even if they go to Verizon Straight Talk first, it appears from reading the reviews, they are not getting the sort of help they need. So, they will ask Rain Bird for help because we recommended it.

    I am somewhat sympathetic to Verizon Straight Talk because we also have customers who have issues with root causes with equipment/settings/range on their end who swear to everything they love and is holy that the problem is not on their end. Then, we prove to them (by walking them through the process of how to fix their equipment, settings, range, etc.) that the issues were on their end. They are delighted that our product finally works the way it should. Maybe this is what is going on with Verizon Straight Talk. Don't know.

    This is the challenge with newer technology being sold to non-computer/network folks (like me). This is how the computer (PC) experience was in the 80's and early 90's. Getting a new printer meant you had to be somewhat expert in knowing what a driver was and where and how to download and install it properly. Maybe then your printer would work and print what you sent to it instead of a string of special characters and gibberish or nothing at all.

    Then, Plug N Play was introduced as a strategy and things quickly got much better. I think this is what the Smart Device industry is going through and learning how to do right now. 10-15 years from now, we will be saying, "Remember how we used to struggle with this stuff? Now we just plug it in and it works, just like my new printer."
     
  10. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 52,403

    Someone has clearly not seen me struggling with my old printer on a new operating system install. :realmad:
     
    Ron Wolfarth likes this.

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