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Hill_Country

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  1. Do you have a chance? Absolutely. I had no idea that I had any hearing loss, but I was at the DAV filing a request for compensation for other disability and the VSO kind of winked and asked if I also had hearing loss. I figured why not so it was included. I was kind of surprised when the examiner said I did have a hearing loss. As it turned out, all my disabilities totaled more than 400% - or 100% using VA math - but it is important to get in to the VA healthcare system as soon as possible so I would encourage all vets to apply even if the problem isn't yet a huge problem. One other thing - the VA always seems to get a bad rap, but other than dealing with the bureaucracy, I can't complain about the VA. My application for compensation was approved in six months and I've gotten excellent care.
  2. Sorry if I wasn't clear, that's exactly what I did. Both the F250 and F350 have leaf springs and only the spacer block between the spring and the axle needs to be changed. Lowering the rear end that 1.5 inches made all the difference for my setup. The RV is level and I have plenty of bed rail clearance. Why the truck manufacturers decided to make their bed rails taller, I'll never understand.
  3. I changed the rear axle blocks on my '17 F350 to those from an F250. That lowered the rear end to roughly level (unloaded). That 1.5 inch change allowed me to raise my AUH to the highest setting - giving me 7+ inches of bed rail clearance - without increasing the overall height of the fiver. I don't know if other brands can be lowered as simply.
  4. When the VA examined me, I connected my hearing loss/tinnitus to a CH47 flight I hitchhiked on. No earplugs or headset and I couldn't hear and was off balance for three days. I'm sure subsequent exposure to firearms, explosions and aircraft engines probably contributed, but the VA doc seemed to like tying the onset to a particular event. This was forty years after I left the service and I hadn't noticed the subtle progression of the symptoms, but they don't get better with time. I also learned that my hearing loss wasn't a conventional "can't hear" kind of thing, it was a difficulty in understanding certain words. Here's a tip for when you take the hearing test and they want you to repeat words. Don't guess at the word if you're not sure, as a guess - right or wrong - counts as a right answer.
  5. Not to far off the most direct route is Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi or Magnolia Beach near Port Lavaca. Either one will give you about as much, or as little, desolation as you wish. Your need for cell booster/antenna will be directly proportional to your level of desolation.
  6. I've been using the Tmobile Home Internet for a couple of weeks, now, and I'm impressed. For home use, its not going to replace my 300 meg cable internet, but for someone with more limited internet needs I think it is a keeper. The unit - I don't want to call it a hotspot, because it is more than the typical hotspot - doesn't have the range of my router and access points, but it would be easy enough to add those features using the two ethernet ports. I don't think I've had to reset the unit a single time as my Verizon mifi requires. For RV use, it has some unique advantages and disadvantages. The big advantage is that it has a significantly greater range using the 600 MHz band. This is also a disadvantage because Tmo is still rolling out this band. I'm sitting in the NAS Corpus Christi fam camp. Because this is an airfield located on a peninsula of land, it is difficult to install cell sites and there is only one nearby tower that appears to service both Verizon and Tmo (and probably others). We were here a couple of weeks ago and I had to use a directional antenna and booster to get a decent signal for my Verizon mifi. It wasn't good enough for streaming but would support browsing. It was only slightly better than my Tmo phone (which doesn't use the 600 MHz band). This week I'm parked two sites from where we were and the Tmo Home Internet unit picks up the Tmo signal very well - no antenna or booster. I can count the number of times the TV has buffered on my fingers. Of course, in the RV I don't need much range so that isn't a problem. FWIW, according to their tech support, WeBoost doesn't (yet) make a booster that includes the 600 MHz band. The bottom line is that as long as I'm in an area with 600 MHz coverage, this thing is great and the price - $50/mo - beats my Verizon prepaid plan. Like Verizon, the speed varies considerably day to day and hour to hour so this is very unscientific, but the Tmo unit beats the Verizon 8800 hands down on speed as well. My initial fears that the thing was somehow geo locked to only my home location appear to be unfounded. I *think* the (rather vague) restriction to use in only one location is so that users won't complain that the thing doesn't work if they travel to somewhere there is no 600 MHz coverage. I don't yet have a sense of how widely available the 600 MHz signal coverage is, but Tmo seems to be very aggressively rolling it out. For my current location, the Tmo Home Internet wins hands down over my Verison MiFi. Only time will tell how widely available the coverage is so I won't be ditching the 8800 any time soon.
  7. Well, I can add a couple of data points. This morning Fang and I had to run an errand so I tossed the home internet device (it seems like more than a hotspot) on the seat of the truck and set my phone to use only wifi for data and to stream Pandora (Fang prefers hits of the 50's and 60's, of course) while running speedtest.net. I only got about ten miles from home, but the route was mostly dense city so I'm sure I hit a lot of different towers. It worked like a champ and showed me speeds from a low of 38 meg to 114 meg with an average of probably 75 meg. I think we can safely say that the device is not locked to a particular tower. It may be locked to a broader geographic region, though, but - other than Tmo's web page - there's no indication of that. My return route was through a known dead spot and I lost the signal right were I expected to lose it. Oddly, the lights on the device continued to show that I had an LTE signal. One thing I noticed last night when I was playing with the thing was that I couldn't get back in to the configuration pages with all the router stuff until I did a factory reset. Their FAQ addresses this and attributes it to proxy settings so it is a known problem. I don't envision doing a lot of configuration so this isn't a huge problem and if I had a complex configuration, I'd save it to a file and reload after doing a reset. I'm going to try an ethernet connection to see if I can get in to the config pages that way. *IF* it turns out that there is some sort of geographic lock, perhaps a factory reset will overcome this problem. Alternatively, if we find a geographic restriction, I intend to try swapping the SIM in to a phone that uses the 600 meg band to see if I can access the unlimited data plan that way. So far, I'm quite impressed with the device. Speeds are better than I usually see on my prepaid Verizon 8800 MiFi and the price is $20/mo less expensive. There are no antenna ports on this device, but I can't tell that the antenna ports on the 8800 make any difference. I'll have to see if my Wilson booster uses the 600 meg band, but I doubt that it does. The ethernet ports are a nice touch. I plan to stream the TV through the device, tonight, just to see how it does. Because of my business data needs, I'm not planning to cut my 300 meg pipe any time soon, but for general home use, this little box may turn out to be a viable alternative.
  8. Thanks for the heads up on what to look for, Cherie. Something I noticed when I ordered is that Tmo is obviously targeting the home internet (cable) market. They wanted to know who my current provider is, speed, cost, etc. OTOH, in going through their setup and administration web pages, I noticed several references to *mobile* internet service and - other than the fine print you found - I haven't found any cautions about changing location. A couple of things that I've noticed after playing with the device a bit this evening, it is just like a conventional hotspot in that it has a backup battery that facilitates mobile operation. It differs from most hotspots in that it has ethernet ports and the same configuration pages as one would find for a router and accessed by IP 192.168.1.1. I've scanned through all these pages and haven't noticed anything that implies that the location is restricted, but it might be done on their end so who knows. So, with all that said, I see a road trip in my future. I'll keep you updated. Best, John
  9. Last week I received an email invitation for T-mobile Home Internet. I hadn't heard of this, but I figured $50/mo was an even better deal than my Verizon prepaid account IF it was really unlimited data. There is a separate webpage not connected to the regular Tmo site and from what I was able to learn it is something that Tmo is slowly rolling out by invitation only. From the website, it appears that this service is targeted on rural areas that may not have good broadband connections. I'm actually, just outside of San Antonio and have excellent cable and cell internet, but I'm always looking for a better deal for when traveling. When I called to order, I was told that it is really unlimited data - no caps, no network management in times of high use (although I find that difficult to believe). I asked if I could use it in my RV and, after a slight pause, the nice lady told me that it was designed for home use, but if my home was an RV she didn't see why it wouldn't work. I also asked her if it used the 600 meg band that Tmo is promoting because of its extended range and was told that it did use the 600 meg band and one other that she didn't remember. Two days later - today - UPS delivered the device. It is a little larger than most hotspots - about 4 x 6 x 1.5 - and it has a couple of ethernet ports if you want to hardwire a connection. It has a wallwart and an internal battery that I have yet to see how long it will run on. I connected my phone to the wifi - it has both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands - and got a 68/38 meg speedtest. My chromebook turned in a 93/33 meg speedtest. This is far superior to anything I've seen on a hotspot around here. My experience has been that, at least in South Texas, Tmo's coverage is at least as good as Verizon's. I have phones and hotspots with both Tmo and Verizon and, depending on the signal strength at a particular location, they both provide excellent service. I don't think this plan is going to go away the way that Verizon's prepaid unlimited plan disappeared, but - so far - this is looking like a keeper.
  10. I think driving on the sand is more of a problem than the salt air, but rust is certainly something to think about. To put it in context, though, rustwise, I'd rather spend a winter on the beach than a winter up North. We've been going there for years and only suffered a little bit of a problem on a few things that would probably rust anywhere they are left out in the weather. Keep in mind that there are large towns and cities near the sea and people survive. We're just back from a couple of weeks at NAS Corpus Christi where we were parked within 100' of the bay - closer to salt water than the PINS campground and I haven't noticed any rust on anything. For us, the wind can be more of a problem than salt. If it is blowing >20 mph it just beats you to death and takes all the fun out of a stay. Near the beach and you get sandblasted.
  11. There are two "campsites" at PINS, but you seem to be talking about the beach. Follow the road to the end and you'll be on the beach - 60 miles of it. The first five miles are generally good driving, (beyond that you'll need 4wd) but small soft spots can be created by the wind. I've never seen anyone stuck in the sand in the first five miles. Watch where others are driving and don't get to slow and you'll be just fine. We've been camping at PINS for 30 plus years and the only problems we've seen have been people who didn't pay attention to the tide or just parked to close. It is tempting to get close to the water because the sand is hard packed, but that's where you'll get in trouble. Be sure to review the beach driving page on their website. We've kind of given up on beach camping because of the volume of traffic and to many idiots. Generally, the tide doesn't come up very far and leaves plenty of room to drive, but be aware that a couple of times a year an exceptionally high tide will come all the way up to the dunes. As for campsites, there are 48 no hookup sites with flush toilets and cold water showers available. Using these sites, you never have to get off the pavement. Some people were abusing the stay limits and this year they reduced it to (I think) 14 days camping, then 14 days out with 28 days/year total. I think it is $14/night full price plus the ($10? entrance fee). These sites sit back in the dunes on the gulf side of the island. Cell service is pretty spotty unless you have a TALL antenna and booster. On the other side of the island is Bird Island. Hard surface road then gravel for parking along the shoreline. No designated campsites, but you just back up to the water. No surf on this side of the island and it is great for paddleboarding and kite surfing.
  12. Texas is pretty simple for small businesses. Go to the courthouse and register an assumed name in the clerks' office. Just fill out their form. Most courthouses have a notary available. Take the assumed name certificate to the state comptroller's office and get a sales tax license. There's a gazillion federal, state and local entities that have their hand out, but the basics are pretty simple in Texas. Welcome to the Great State.
  13. I'm not trying to steer you to any product, that's why I didn't mention what I purchased in my first post. Just now, I googled BB and all the retailers are listing $949 for the BB 100 ah batteries. The AIMS are going for $849. Several of the retailers have indicated to me that they will sometimes cut prices. Prices may be different tomorrow. Again, I don't know anything bad about any of these brands. Do your homework, like I did, and compare price, warranty, specs, etc. and make your decision on what you see. I hope you enjoy the lithium battery system as much as I have.
  14. No, I don't know that they all use the same cells and BMS, but the specs are virtually identical and the word is that they all use the same cells from China. From memory, there is Lion, Renogy and AIMS in addition to BB. Google and you'll find more. I went with AIMS and the price was $100 less than BB. I also liked their warranty better as it was much simpler and has fewer weasel words. The specs were about the same except that AIMS implies that the BMS takes care of the low voltage and low temp limits. I don't know this to be a fact, though, and don't plan to test it. AIMS specs a max voltage of 14.6 so I set the converter to 14.58 and find that it varies about +- 0.02 volts with temp.
  15. I recently bought two 100 ah lithium batteries from another company and I couldn't be happier. My research found that there are at least three other companies besides BB that offer (apparently) identical batteries. I believe they all use the same (made in China) lithium cells, same BMS and all have pretty much the same specs and warranty. The only real difference I could find was the price. BB seems to aggressively solicit customer reviews and they are uniformly good, but so are everyone else's reviews. I saved $100 per battery over BB's price, but we all have different priorities - price, reputation, etc - so do your homework. FWIW, I considered using my almost new PD charger, but it didn't have a lithium setting and several "experts" I consulted all said the same thing - the non-lithium battery charger would work, but I would give up a significant amount of capacity and speed of recharging. I went with a "constant current, constant voltage" converter that is set to 14.58 volts (all the time) per the battery manufacturer's recommendation. I added a second 100 ah battery just because it was so easy, but I found that a single 100 ah lithium battery gave me more actual capacity than my dual two year old T105 batteries. The single lithium would easily run lights and TV overnight then recharge to full SOC from my 1800 watt gennie in less than 1.5 hours. Other than the initial cost, the lithiums win hands down in about every respect and if you really sharpen your pencil they are not really much more expensive.
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