Weather Station Hardware > Remote Weather Monitoring

3G Mobile Broadband Plans: Some Questions

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NorthNJwx:
I have a Vantage Vue installed at a remote location, complete with a laptop running Cumulus 24/7. The story of how and why I have a laptop running Cumulus 24/7 is long and detailed, so I'll link anyone who is interested in the background information to the following thread: http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=13725.0.

Anyway, I'm interested in using 3G Mobile Broadband at my remote site because:

-The house has no WiFi access
-There's no landline phone (not sure a dialup modem would be better than 3G, anyway) at the house
-The house does indeed have good cell service
-The laptop is there, running Cumulus constantly, but I have to drive down there with a USB flash drive in order to see/retrieve/use my archived data
-If the cost is right, it would be cool to have live data from the remote station online

With all of that said, I've found a data provider that seems to offer an excellent option, seen at this link: http://www.datajack.com/datajackusb

I'm looking into the 200 MB data plan option, for the sweet price of $10/month. I only plan on uploading my data to WU, CWOP, and PWS through Cumulus - I don't plan on having a separate web site for it (already have one for my non-remote home station), so my needs would be quite simple.

If I'm only using the 3G mobile broadband access to upload my weather data to WU/CWOP/PWS, will I be using any "data" according to the service provider's specs? I will not be viewing any web pages, opening any emails, etc. using the connection (I won't even be on-site, anyway). This is why I'm assuming the bare minimum data plan of 200 MB would be sufficient, since all I'd be using the 3G for would be uploading to those sites - probably once every 10 minutes. The site notes that the 200 MB data plan allows one to view roughly 800 web pages/month - am I correct in assuming that the act of Cumulus uploading weather data to a website every 10 minutes would not "count" as viewing a website? If it does, I guess I'd have to either reduce upload frequency, just upload to WU, get a more expensive data plan, or some combination of the three.

Extending from the the topic of whether or not that data plan would be sufficient for 24/7 uploads every 10 minutes, I'm curious as to whether I'd be able to upload to WU RapidFire with that plan. I don't use RapidFire with my home station, and chances are I wouldn't want to use it on the remote station, either. But in the case that I did, would it be feasible under the 200 MB/month data plan?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

SlowModem:
I have a Verizon Pantech UB150 usb modem that I use on my laptop to surf the internet.  There are days when it is very difficult to keep it connected.  And there is no way to make the modem redial.  It has to be done manually (unless I am missing something).  That would be my biggest concern about your plan.

My weather computer is on a dialup modem at 26.6 kbs and does wonderfully sending data for three stations.  That's the connection I rely on for stability.

Just a thought for you this morning.

Good luck  :)

mackbig:
Average cwop upload is only 14976 bytes per day, so that would be .428 MB per month. So after CWOP you would still have 199.5715 MB to play with.

No idea how much is in the WU or PWS datastream.  You could probably find out though.


--- Quote from: NorthNJwx on January 17, 2012, 11:21:20 PM ---I'm looking into the 200 MB data plan option, for the sweet price of $10/month. I only plan on uploading my data to WU, CWOP, and PWS through Cumulus - I don't plan on having a separate web site for it (already have one for my non-remote home station), so my needs would be quite simple.

If I'm only using the 3G mobile broadband access to upload my weather data to WU/CWOP/PWS, will I be using any "data" according to the service provider's specs? I will not be viewing any web pages, opening any emails, etc. using the connection (I won't even be on-site, anyway). This is why I'm assuming the bare minimum data plan of 200 MB would be sufficient, since all I'd be using the 3G for would be uploading to those sites - probably once every 10 minutes.


--- End quote ---

It would count as using data, but ignore the 800 they quote.  that is assuming each page is averaging a quarter MB.

--- Quote from: NorthNJwx on January 17, 2012, 11:21:20 PM ---The site notes that the 200 MB data plan allows one to view roughly 800 web pages/month - am I correct in assuming that the act of Cumulus uploading weather data to a website every 10 minutes would not "count" as viewing a website? If it does, I guess I'd have to either reduce upload frequency, just upload to WU, get a more expensive data plan, or some combination of the three.

--- End quote ---

Using rapid fire all depends on how much is in that datastream.

--- Quote from: NorthNJwx on January 17, 2012, 11:21:20 PM ---Extending from the the topic of whether or not that data plan would be sufficient for 24/7 uploads every 10 minutes, I'm curious as to whether I'd be able to upload to WU RapidFire with that plan. I don't use RapidFire with my home station, and chances are I wouldn't want to use it on the remote station, either. But in the case that I did, would it be feasible under the 200 MB/month data plan?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

--- End quote ---

Does the provider make you sign a contract?   Can you test drive it?  I know some cell providers offer their clients a test drive of their usb sticks.  Do they offer online bandwidth monitoring?  If you set it up on day 1, could you check on day 2 how much you used the previous day on their website?   

If you could borrow a stick.  You could do a quick test with something like BitMeter.  Turn on the 3G connection, run cwop, WU, and PWS for ten minutes, or an hour.  Then check the bandwidth on Bitmeter.  then multiply to get a daily number, then a monthly number.

I think you would probably be fine.  If the tests worked out, you could even try turning on Rapidfire to see what it did, or you could just use math to extrapolate a higher upload frequency.  Just make sure before you leave the remote location, you turn off windows updates or any other apps that automatically download updates.  One service pack could easily wipe out your monthly data quota.

Andrew

NorthNJwx:

--- Quote from: Slow Modem on January 18, 2012, 04:11:48 AM ---I have a Verizon Pantech UB150 usb modem that I use on my laptop to surf the internet.  There are days when it is very difficult to keep it connected.  And there is no way to make the modem redial.  It has to be done manually (unless I am missing something).  That would be my biggest concern about your plan.

My weather computer is on a dialup modem at 26.6 kbs and does wonderfully sending data for three stations.  That's the connection I rely on for stability.

Just a thought for you this morning.

Good luck  :)

--- End quote ---

Does that mean you have to manually redial it in order to ever restart the connection, or will it restart itself eventually after some period of time? For my setup, I wouldn't have a problem with occasional hiccups. So, for example, if out of the 144 scheduled WU uploads per day (using a 10-min upload frequency), the connection was down for 15 of them and thus those uploads weren't sent, it wouldn't be a big deal. But if the connection goes down and then I have to manually restart it - that, of course, eliminates any chance of me using 3G mobile broadband at all. I can only get to the site once per month or so during the winter. Perhaps different 3G devices behave differently in this way, and some restart their connections? I'll try to look into that. Thanks for the important info.



--- Quote from: mackbig on January 18, 2012, 07:26:59 AM ---Average cwop upload is only 14976 bytes per day, so that would be .428 MB per month. So after CWOP you would still have 199.5715 MB to play with.

No idea how much is in the WU or PWS datastream.  You could probably find out though.


--- Quote from: NorthNJwx on January 17, 2012, 11:21:20 PM ---I'm looking into the 200 MB data plan option, for the sweet price of $10/month. I only plan on uploading my data to WU, CWOP, and PWS through Cumulus - I don't plan on having a separate web site for it (already have one for my non-remote home station), so my needs would be quite simple.

If I'm only using the 3G mobile broadband access to upload my weather data to WU/CWOP/PWS, will I be using any "data" according to the service provider's specs? I will not be viewing any web pages, opening any emails, etc. using the connection (I won't even be on-site, anyway). This is why I'm assuming the bare minimum data plan of 200 MB would be sufficient, since all I'd be using the 3G for would be uploading to those sites - probably once every 10 minutes.


--- End quote ---

It would count as using data, but ignore the 800 they quote.  that is assuming each page is averaging a quarter MB.

--- Quote from: NorthNJwx on January 17, 2012, 11:21:20 PM ---The site notes that the 200 MB data plan allows one to view roughly 800 web pages/month - am I correct in assuming that the act of Cumulus uploading weather data to a website every 10 minutes would not "count" as viewing a website? If it does, I guess I'd have to either reduce upload frequency, just upload to WU, get a more expensive data plan, or some combination of the three.

--- End quote ---

Using rapid fire all depends on how much is in that datastream.

--- Quote from: NorthNJwx on January 17, 2012, 11:21:20 PM ---Extending from the the topic of whether or not that data plan would be sufficient for 24/7 uploads every 10 minutes, I'm curious as to whether I'd be able to upload to WU RapidFire with that plan. I don't use RapidFire with my home station, and chances are I wouldn't want to use it on the remote station, either. But in the case that I did, would it be feasible under the 200 MB/month data plan?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

--- End quote ---

Does the provider make you sign a contract?   Can you test drive it?  I know some cell providers offer their clients a test drive of their usb sticks.  Do they offer online bandwidth monitoring?  If you set it up on day 1, could you check on day 2 how much you used the previous day on their website?   

If you could borrow a stick.  You could do a quick test with something like BitMeter.  Turn on the 3G connection, run cwop, WU, and PWS for ten minutes, or an hour.  Then check the bandwidth on Bitmeter.  then multiply to get a daily number, then a monthly number.

I think you would probably be fine.  If the tests worked out, you could even try turning on Rapidfire to see what it did, or you could just use math to extrapolate a higher upload frequency.  Just make sure before you leave the remote location, you turn off windows updates or any other apps that automatically download updates.  One service pack could easily wipe out your monthly data quota.

Andrew


--- End quote ---

If uploading to CWOP uses that tiny amount of data, I can't see WU uploads using much more - certainly not enough to add up to 200 MB/month even when uploading to both places. I have to admit that I have no idea how to find out how much data an average upload to WU takes (or how much data uploading to anything requires, as this is uncharted territory for me!), but it seems I'd be safe even with that minimal data plan. Thanks for posting that enlightening statistic.

As for contracts, from the DataJack website:


--- Quote ---DataJack has four service plan options available. With DataJack you can enjoy the plan of your choosing with no termination fees and no contract.

You select a device and get connected with no commitments, no credit checks and no hidden fees. 3G nationwide service is the Internet on your terms.

--- End quote ---

So that sounds great to me! I can't find anything about testing the thing, but thankfully the USB device will only cost me $45 outright ($25 off the usually $70 item until 2/1, according to the site).

I think my main issue, as SlowModem alluded to, could be with losing the connection and having to manually restart it. If that's the case, I'd be better off just paying more and getting WiFi. I'm hoping there's a way to answer this question online; if not, I'll probably buy the device and hope for the best. The upside is great (getting my data online instead of collecting it ~once a month) for such a reasonable cost.

SlowModem:

--- Quote from: NorthNJwx on January 18, 2012, 09:53:09 AM ---Does that mean you have to manually redial it in order to ever restart the connection, or will it restart itself eventually after some period of time?
--- End quote ---

Below is a likeness of my verizon access program.  It must be manually dialed (or redialed) (unless there's a secret to it that I haven't discovered yet)  I have to move the cursor over to the "connect" button and click on it to get the modem to redial.  That is why I've kept the dialup connection.

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