Mindylynns Kitchen

June 11, 2019

Full-Time RV Long Range WiFi & Internet Setup

Filed under: RV — Kevin M. @ 8:57 pm

When we wanted to get all of our connected devices on a personal network and use the WiFi provided at campsites as our internet service it took some serious research and decisions followed by several hours of tinkering.

We settled on Ubiquiti equipment as it offers great range at a very modest price. For an access point to get a connected to the camp host we went with the Ubiquiti Nanostation M2 (NSM2), it offers incredibly long range with a very stable connection. For our personal network to connect TV’s, laptops, tablets, phones, and game consoles we went with the Ubiquiti AirGateway LR (now discontinued and we recommend the Ubiquiti AirCube AC).

The AirGateway and AirCube are very simple to get setup for an inside personal network, the Nanostation however required a bit of modification to get working at all the places we have stopped. Wireless ISP’s are notorious for making it difficult to connect streaming devices and the worst offender we have run into is the Navy MWR goWifi by Viasat. These guys use MikroTik equipment and modify the return Time to Live (TTL) to 1 so that packets get dropped at the first device they hit.

Ubiquiti equipment runs on a very slim Linux platform that was modified from OpenWRT. When they first started out it was relatively easy to modify the software, these days as a more serious company they have been forced to harden the hardware and software to make it more difficult for hackers to cause mayhem. While the standard AirOS will work at the very large majority of places we stay, it was the goWifi that got us to work through getting OpenWRT installed on our Nanostation so we could fix the TTL problem they were causing. The following walk-through is more for our reference later on down the road, but may come in handy for you if found in a situation wanting a recent version of OpenWRT on your XW Nanostation.

Step 1
Downgrade your Nanostation firmware to XW.v5.6.15.30572.170328.1052 (unsigned)
Step 2
Install the XW port of OpenWRT, even though it references the M5 this is what you need to load on an XW M2 as well.
Step 3
In order to match and change IP packet options you’ll need some additional packages which are easily installed from System->Software:
Install the iptables-mod-ipopt package and required dependencies
Step 4
Modify the firewall custom rules:
iptables -t mangle -A PREROUTING -j TTL –ttl-inc 3
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -j TTL –ttl-inc 3
Step 5
To get away from WebTitan Cloud restrictions on websites you are allowed to visit we can modify the DNS provider, again Viasat is getting in the way catching all DNS queries on port 53 and sending them to their designated DNS provider, instead we can use OpenDNS on an alternate port.
Under Network->DHCP and DNS->DNS forwardings enter:

What’s your setup look like? Let us know in the comments below!

1 Comment »

  1. I am so glad you guys posted this… I was having the exact same problem and I couldn’t figure out what was causing the issue. I suspected something like this but it was very difficult to troubleshoot from the client side. Your explanation of the TTL modification made the light come on for me instantly after spending an entire evening trying to fix a nonexistent problem on my end.

    What really irritates me is that Viasat doesn’t mention any of this on their webpage under links you would normally follow to do typical troubleshooting research. I’m sure it’s buried in the legalese of the EULA somewhere but they need to publish this stuff up front given that many RVs now have their own internal WiFi network which this behavior would completely break…

    Also your custom fix for this is spot on! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    Comment by Porkchop — February 2, 2020 @ 6:31 am

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