Gerhard Sammet is the kind of RVer you hope is parked in the spot next to yours when your RV’s satellite TV or computer Internet isn’t working. The veteran computer software developer and technology guru has taken do-it-yourself RV wiring to a new level in creating an onboard computer network that stands at the vanguard of RV innovation. On his way to becoming a full timer, Gerhard left the corner office in his rear view monitor and discovered a working environment with a much better view.
Our RVing adventure started as an accident. When my son graduated from high school, he and a bunch of his buddies wanted to take a trip out to the southwestern United States. My wife, Clara, and I wanted to surprise him in Colorado so we bought a 31 foot travel trailer. We didn’t make it. The trailer was too big for our Jeep and broke down in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. We left the trailer at a shop in Albuquerque and bought a Class C motorhome. By the time we got home to Florida we realized we didn’t really like the Class C experience. We kept it for about five days, then we went to Lazydays to buy a true Class A. In about two weeks, we went from owning a travel trailer, to owning a Class C and finally owning a Class A. We never dreamed it would happen this way, but here we are. We’re full-timers now and home free.
I’m a computer software consultant. I’ve been consulting since 1976 and have clients all over the country. I work exclusively out of my coach using VPN, virtual private networking, to dial into my clients’ computer systems. For my work, I need reliable and secure Internet service. I simply can’t be limited to a Wi-Fi signal at a campground, which can be spotty at times. After researching and investigating how other RVers were getting Internet in their RVs, we found something that would work for us. And we can use any TV as a computer monitor.
We set up a LAN, local area network, in our coach. It starts with a Sprint air phone card that is plugged into a router mounted in the cabinet above the passenger seat. That router is hard wired into my 24-port gigabit switch which is in the cabinet above where the couch would be. I removed the driver side couch and had a custom desk built, but we’ll get to that in a second. The switch allows all of my computer equipment to be networked together. I have a tower computer, four laptops and an iPad. The network allows all of my computers, my printer, Xbox, Blu-ray player, surround sound system and all our TVs in the coach to share the Internet signal from one air phone card.
As far as network architecture in an RV goes, I may be a pioneer. I haven’t seen anyone create something like this. We ran 200 feet of Cat-5 cable through our coach. We went from the router above the passenger seat, behind the TV and cabinets, above the cockpit, down the A-pillar, out of the firewall, over to the generator area and then all along the frame member. We came out underneath the frame member and ran through the pipe that moves in and out with the slideout and houses the refrigerator power. We had to pull the refrigerator out and run behind the wall, behind all these cabinets and finally back to the switch.
It seems like a long way to go, but since we can’t have Cat-5 cable sticking out underneath the slideout, we had to follow the path of the manufacturer’s wiring.
We then ran more wire from the router to the AV cabinet (right above the passenger seat) so that my Xbox, Blu-ray player and surround sound system can also be connected to the network. We ran an additional 400 feet of speaker wire for the surround sound system following the path of the manufacturer’s wiring harness to give everything a clean install look.
I use several computers simultaneously when I work, so I like to have a large work surface. In working with the cabinet shop at Lazydays, we came up with a diagonal design that would give us the extra space beyond what you could get from the manufacturer. There is access for power, a monitor stand, storage for a printer with hinges that let the door open all the way. The cabinet shop did a fantastic job matching the finishes, countertop, and hardware. The attention to detail makes it look like the workstation was made at the factory. I work 10 to 12 hours each day. I’m at my desk the whole time, so I needed something that was comfortable and large. This is great for me. It’s like a full size corner office where the view is always changing.”
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