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12V DC Power Conditioning?


SpaceNorman

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I'm about to have my dealer install my cellular internet equipment in my coach. I've elected to go with a Cradlepoint COR IBR600 router provisioned on the Verizon cellular network, a Weboost Drive 4G-X signal booster and an Antenna Plus AP-CCW Antenna (Double Cell/LTE/WiFi).

 

In reading Cradlepoint's "Vehicle Installation Best Practices Guide" document - I see it recommends using a DC-DC Converter as part of the installation as a means to ensure that the router is connected to clean, regulated DC power. I've spent a few minutes searching the Internet for DC-DC Converters / DC Power Regulators and every variation that I can think of - but can't seem to find anything that appears to fit the bill. I've found lots of 24V to 12V converters ... but nothing that takes a raw 12V DC input and provides a regulated 12V DC output.

 

Anybody have any product suggestions / sources for such an animal?

 

Thanks!

 

 

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Apparently Cradlepoint doesn't trust the design of their own power supplies to properly filter the incoming DC power. Take them at their word but go with the voltage conditioner they recommend. You'll probably have to send them a private email to get that information.

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Apparently Cradlepoint doesn't trust the design of their own power supplies to properly filter the incoming DC power. Take them at their word but go with the voltage conditioner they recommend. You'll probably have to send them a private email to get that information.

 

Interesting perspective ... I gotta admit I didn't think of it from that perspective. In their defense - the router is essentially the size of a wallet - and is shipped with a 110V AC - 12V DC "wall wart" power supply. The router itself is designed to be tiny - and marketed as a "wireless" router that provisioned on a cellular carrier for use in applications such as kiosks, ATMs, etc. where land line internet connections are impractical. However, the tiny foot print and rugged chassis make it a great candidate for a vehicle installation as well. Their vehicle installation "Best Practices" document is really addressing what is obviously a common approach used by many users who are installing in a vehicle to eliminate the need to first invert from 12V DC to 110V AC to power the wall wart - then convert from 110V AC back to 12V DC to power the router that would be necessary if you used it "as is" with the wall wart supplied with the unit.

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The router itself is designed to be tiny...

 

Yes, there just isn't room in that device for a big honking capacitor so that the device rides out the power fluctuations. Also most end users don't need the power supply protection.

 

Their vehicle installation "Best Practices" document is really addressing what is obviously a common approach used by many users who are installing in a vehicle to eliminate the need to first invert from 12V DC to 110V AC to power the wall wart - then convert from 110V AC back to 12V DC to power the router that would be necessary if you used it "as is" with the wall wart supplied with the unit.

 

That would be inefficient and you would have more components in the chain prone to failure.

 

It would be prudent to add some protection. Some other 12 volt device starting could dip the voltage at the Clearpoint for an instant at a critical time. It might even put the router into a state where it would require a reboot. You might think that your computer was at fault and not think to restart the router.

 

Strangely, the Clearpoint IBR600 data sheet does not specify the current requirement. They simply state that the input voltage range is 9 to 18 volts DC. As they mention in the Best Practices document, do not use a DC to DC converter that does not have sufficient capacity. (It shouldn't be difficult to meet that specification. I doubt that it draws much power.)

 

I think you'll have to get some guidance from Clearpoint. As an alterrnate, find the radio shop in the next town you pass through that services ambulances, police cars and fire engines. Ask them what they use for power conditioning. Those vehicles have some nasty voltage dips and spikes and the onboard computers and radio transceivers must have protection.

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I fired up the new Cradlepoint router using the "wall wart" power supply and have been poking around in it for the past hour or so. Took care of the basic security stuff like changing the router access passwords, made sure the "guest" network is disabled, changed the wireless LAN IP addressing scheme, changed the WPA access codes, implemented a MAC Address "whitelist" on the wireless access point. I was pleasantly surprised with how stable the router was as I was making changes. While I obvious lost my browser connection when I made changes to the router - I never had to reboot either the laptop I was using to configure the router or the router itself as I was making changes.

 

I connected all our laptops, iPads and cell phones ... and confirmed that they can select the "mobile" network. I didn't run into any issues there. I confirmed that I can access my work tools via the company's VPN access - again, with no troubles whatsoever.

 

I ran a couple of speed tests - using WOW's test tool. I was getting download speeds ranging between 17.5 and 19.0 Mbps and upload speeds ranging between 5.5 and 7.0 Mpbs to the local WOW server which was reporting roughly 17 ms PING responses.

 

I gotta say - the Cradlepoint management software is pretty nice. The layout is relatively intuitive (every bit as functional as that running on the Linksys stuff that supports my home network). The basic monitoring tools are decent - monitoring things like who is connected to my mobile network, how much data has each client transmitted across the cellular link, etc. - will be easy.

 

My first impression of the Cradlepoint router provisioned on the Verizon LTE network is a good one! I'm headed up to my coach dealer in early November to have them install the router, signal amplifier and antenna in the coach. If the Weboost signal booster performs anywhere near how it claims it should - I think I'm going to be happy with my mobile internet connectivity setup.

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In my experience you do not need to condition power for these devices. I've never had a failure of any of them and I run (almost) all of mine on 12 volt power. I generally have 3-4 routers rotating through use (of various brands), plus a dedicated router for RV automation. I've also done extensive testing with all of the major brands, for almost all the models that an RVer would use. I've NEVER seen a power related issue.

 

That said, conditioned power is always a good thing if you want to do it.

 

There are some exceptions to my "no power problems" statement. Specifically, if you are using a POE injector you do have to be cognizant of the demands of the device vs the distance you are sending the power over the Ethernet line(s). If you are using a marginal injector (voltage wise) then you might encounter issues with the remote device. But that is not a power conditioning issue.

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Thanks for the feedback Jack! Sounds like you've got yourself a network lab on wheels.

 

My needs are pretty basic. My primary concern is having reliable internet connectivity. My day gig is as a network analyst for a large financial services company - examining application performance issues from the network perspective. I spend my days VPN'ed into my company's network with my nose buried in NetScout examing traffic issues on my company's 700 end point network ... and/or examining performance issues at the packet level using a tool called Gomez Transaction Trace (essentially a "sniffer" type product with some fancy decode and graphic presentation capabilities.) Within the next year - I'll be working 100% remote from our coach - and need internet connectivity that I can truly count on.

 

I have not need for POE so I won't have any issues related to that. While my primary concern is internet access for work - I will be using the wireless LAN for "RV Automation" (primarily to use an iPad as a centralized remote control for the entertainment gear (TV's, Receiver, etc.). Although I don't have an immediate need - I can envision adding WiFi connected security gear (a DVR and cameras) at some time in the future.

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If you intend to experiment with automation in your coach and also run a production environment then I would at least consider separate networks for those functions. Messing around with automation needs is not something you want to burden your production network with.

 

In my case the opposite is true. I have a solid automation network in place with a separate dedicated wireless router (in this case a Cradlepoint). I switch out my "other" network routers often for testing and experimentation. Having a separate network for automation means I do not have to deal with specific device interface issues and network changes on the automation side. While there is a "little" inconvenience for Danielle in knowing what network ssid to use, it is not a big deal. I tend to name them the same. Or she figures it out. Also, I do not have a dedicated wireless printer on my network...that would cause configuration issues. None of the printers that I can find can easily be reconfigured at will. I use a USB connection to a printer in isolation for the few printing needs we have. We rarely print - and frankly the only reason we have a printer is for the copy function. My NAS has to get reconfigured occasionally for it's scheduled backups, but that is device is hardwired and really just "works" unless I'm doing something more exotic. Most of my key backups are now to my Cloud accounts, although once a week these get replicated locally.

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Jack - sounds like you've got some experience with the Cradlepoint stuff. Any chance you might be able to point me in the right direction to find some documentation on the Cradlepoint Command Line Interface? I want to put together a couple of simple scripts that will log onto the router via the CLI to control the state of the WAN interface. Basically, I want to create an "ON" script and an "OFF" script that I can execute from unique icons on the desktop and bypass the need to log into the router interface to do it. (My wife would struggle mightily if she has to do that to get an external connection ... heck, I'm going to have enough of a challenge explaining why she's gonna have to hit the "ON" and "OFF" script buttons! :rolleyes: ). I found and read the "CLI Overview" document I found on the Cradlepoint web site - but was hoping there might be something a bit more detailed in terms of CLI documentation.

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9 to 18 volts. Will your 12 volt system ever fall outside this range?

 

"Strangely, the Clearpoint IBR600 data sheet does not specify the current requirement. They simply state that the input voltage range is 9 to 18 volts DC. As they mention in the Best Practices document, do not use a DC to DC converter that does not have sufficient capacity. (It shouldn't be difficult to meet that specification. I doubt that it draws much power.)"

 

(edit) quoted from cmb, 24 september.

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9 to 18 volts. Will your 12 volt system ever fall outside this range?

One hopes that excursions outside that wide voltage range never occur but I've seen instances in which the voltage available to sensitive equipment drops nearly to zero. That can happen (especially with installations that are poorly wired) when some piece of equipment draws excessive inrush currents upon startup.

 

High resistance connections and long wire runs and cabling that is of insufficient gauge can exacerbate the situation. Those voltage deviations are often too short to see on a voltmeter. (I used an oscilloscope.) Taking the supply voltage down below 9 volts for even a few milliseconds might be noticed by routers, modems and similar devices.

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You guys are overthinking this. This equipment works quite well in an RV on the DC power. As I said, I've never had a failure after years of use of MANY devices. Not that one could not happen, but it seems very unlikely to me. I would suggest that if you want to condition power you might want to do the entire coach. Just a thought.

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Thanks for all the feedback on this topic folks - there's been lots of food for thought. Ultimately, I've decided I'm going to spring to put the router on a power conditioner. Experience in my day gig tells me that I may avoid mysterious connectivity issues by ensuring that my network gear is running on "clean" power. Consider what I've got invested in what I'm hoping will be a "best of breed" solution - I don't want to let trying to avoid the extra $120 (approx.) that adding a 12V power conditioner is going to cost take away from the performance I'm hoping to get out of it.

 

That said - I've found what appears to be exactly what I'm looking for in something called a Switchmode Voltage Stabilizer made by InterVolt - and can be found on Amazon. Based on the spec sheet - it sounds like exactly what I'm looking for.

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