Computerizing the Westy!


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John - You have now intrigued me. I gues if I am going to think about it I will now have to visit the security posts.


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hot laptops

Greetings from Portland,
Checking out the “gadget” thread. We always travel with the laptop and accessing the web on a strange network has had some unfortunate results. I have noticed that setting a laptop on the small table between the seats causes a lot of heat buildup. Has anyone found a way to beat the heat other than adding another device (cooling fan platform) ? Cheers


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Fast forward a few years from the original post, and technology has moved ahead in leaps and bounds. I'll bet few of us even think of having a smartphone and/or laptop would be an issue of judgement. My new stereo in the west uses a bluetooth connection, and my main 12v plug on the dash has been replaced by USB ports. Lights are more efficient LEDs, I have a solar panel on the Westy's roof, etc.

More relevant, I think, is whether those of us who need Internet connectivity in order to maintain our incomes can free ourselves from being at the office or at home if we could figure out how to connect while travelling, working from our Westy! I could likely spend much of the summer in many lovely locations by simply spending 2-3 hours a day maintaining my obligations to clients via cell phone and an online connection.

I know that many places still have spotty or no cell coverage, and that's cool. But most places we drive and camp now are probably in or very close to good cell coverage. Prices have dropped a lot for cell data, and so maybe the time has come.

I'd like to know whether others have done this with success. I'm finding more and more surprising places with decent (and usually free) wi-fi coverage. Even some provincial park campgrounds provide free wifi during your stay. And then you could also have a data package with your smartphone that permits tethering to provide an internet connection via wifi for your laptop.

Is there typically enough bandwidth with such phone-tether set-ups to support Skype screen-sharing? That is what I rely on for my clients.

I've often thought that I could rig up a monitor to the crossbrace of the poptop, swinging it down to work at the back table, then swinging up and out of the way to drive, etc.

The pandemic has many more people working independently, like I have for the past 20 years, so I suspect many of us are thinking of ways to extend that independence and create more time to explore by taking some work on the road, if it means at least a good part of some 'work' days can be our of a Westy van!

Thoughts? Success stories?


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You'll want "unlimited" data if you pursue this, but as long as you have an LTE ("4G") connection most streaming and interactive undertakings are perfectly feasible on a wireless network. Depending on the campground, your LTE connection would likely be faster than the WiFi that is shared with a dozen other campers. With the arrival of 5G in a while, then wireless work will be even more indistinguishable from wireline connections.

"Unlimited" data connections are never really unlimited, so check the fine print. While it would be expensive (>$100/mo), you could justify it if it (for example) allowed you to work 2 extra hours per month, and you bill out at $50/hr. And, of course, the extra time spent in the forest is priceless.

There are numerous YouTube channels run by outdoor-oriented people who film, edit, upload, and (presumably) view lots of streaming content, and they do it all using a wireless connection. Usually these people invest in a "hotspot" device with its own dedicated connection and then share that connection within their family/vehicle.

Americans will have loads more options and WAY cheaper prices, but this is do-able in Canada, as long as you are prepared to pay the price. It's the price of freedom!