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Old 08-01-2013, 17:56   #1
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Best marine WiFi antenna?

Hi all, this is my first post so go easy on me

I've been researching marine Wifi antennas and need some advice or feedback. I live aboard and own my own business, so good internet connection is essential. As I've learned wifi connectivity in marinas seems to be quite spotty, slow and sometimes non existent. I have a data plan I use for my mifi at times when the marina is down, however, I'd like to get a wifi booster to help with the marinas signal as well as pick up any others in the area.

I've read several threads on this forum and others but must seem to be dated (2008-2010). I'm hoping to get more current feedback about any new systems out there or what's the best on the market at this time. Since my business relies on internet connectivity, I'm probably willing to spend a little more than the average person if the system warrants it. A few of the systems I'm looking at are below.

My parents are live a boards and they have the IslandTime system and have been happy with it and the support. Marine WiFi Systems

I've also read alot of good things about the WaveWiFi Rogue system - WaveWiFi Rogue- Land and Sea WiFi Provides Long Range Wifi Boosters for Boats, RVs, and Marinas

I also stumbled upon 5 Mile WiFi in a thread somewhere and it looks promising. 5MileWIFI.com

Many of these sites are hard to understand with the technical info they show and everyone seems to claim to be the best one. I really want to improve the speed of the connection, availability of other hotspots out there and want something that will weather the marine environment well.

Any advice/feedback is much appreciated!

Kim and Randy
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Old 08-01-2013, 20:41   #2
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

We have an islandtime unit, and it's been flawless. Support is awesome.
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Old 08-01-2013, 20:45   #3
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

Long-Distance WiFi Device
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Old 08-01-2013, 21:14   #4
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

Alfa R36

+

Alfa AWUS036H

<$100

These 2 boxes connected together create a hot spot in the boat that appear to shore side WiFi as a single user. Included antenna gives about 1/2 mile range when placed outside. Let's you use your laptop, iPad, etc. all at the same time. Get a high gain antenna for even more range.

Dan
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:44   #5
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

Look at this from lunatronic
LunaWLANnet &mdash; lunatronic

Ulf
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:32   #6
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

I've had great luck with the WaveRV units from RadioLabs.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:13   #7
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

Marine WIFI onboard Ever After

I thought I would share my research and testing so that others may have a slightly less stressful time researching and deciding on which route to go to get online onboard.

Let me start by saying that my family moved onto our 44í Ketch to start cruising full time. I am not wealthy or retired, as a matter of fact quite the opposite. I have to work but I donít have to go to an office. I only need a reliable phone and internet connection and Iím looking for something that is simple, affordable, and reliable.

Hereís what I didÖ
I started by searching all the forums trying to see what others had done and what I found was very interesting.

I first decided on the IslandTime system from Bob in Florida. $ 250.00 plus shipping
Marine WiFi Systems
I purchased it and got it installed on a ďtestĒ install. I STRONGHLY recommend you do the same with whatever you decide on buying. I simply mounted the antenna and ran cables and cords on the floor and hooked it up. Iím pretty computer literate and got it up and running but the user interface was more than many would be comfortable with Iím sure. The really nice thing about this system is it worked with my router that I brought from home so it was WIFI on the boat and all the little electronics including my phone worked. It worked well for a few days and then I couldnít access the interface. I called Bob who was VERY patient and after about 45 minutes of tech support I got it working again. The following day I installed the system permanently meaning that I drilled holes, waterproof fittings, crawling into places I had no business being. I was stuck upside down and fishing the cable up to the navigation station and Iím sure you get the visual on that one. The next day it was down again and Bob sent me another bullet to see if the first one was defective. Three days later I get it, install it and it worked for a day and then no go again and Bob went on vacation. No tech support available for 3 weeks and I couldnít work. I decided that the Island Time system wasnít for me but the support was great until Bob went on vacation and I know that allot of people really like his product.

Next I looked at the WaveWIFI Rogue and it was the same components as IslandTime. $ 350.00
WaveWiFi Rogue- Land and Sea WiFi Provides Long Range Wifi Boosters for Boats, RVs, and Marinas
I already knew how the bullet worked and for some reason they wanted $ 100.00 more for the EXACT SAME THING so no. I also found other vendors selling it for 495.00 and on sale for 392.12
Wave Wifi Rogue Pro Ultra Small Wifi Access System


Next I looked at LunaWLANnet and once again it was the exact same thing as the two above.
LunaWLANnet &mdash; lunatronic

Next I looked at the Rogue Wave same bullet2 as the others above
http://www.wavewifireseller.com/pdf/RogueWave_web.pdf

If you want to use the Bullet2, you can find the bullet 2, the POE-15, and the Engenius antenna for 72.01 plus shipping on Amazon.
Amazon.com: Ubiquiti BULLET2 AP or CPE Outdoor 802.11b/g: Computers & Accessories

I then looked at the Radio labs CaptiFi but at a 1 mile advertised rage I decided against considering it. The reviews I read didnít sell me on this product even though it was only $ 139.95

Next was 5MileWIFI and it was super straight forward. $ 400.00
5MileWIFI.com
No user interface just allot more points to pick from, SUPER SIMPLE to use but the one downfall is that it is plugged into my computer and I havenít been able to figure out how to use a router with it. I just bought a 20.00 USB hub and a couple long cables and everyone can use it at the same time, you just need to have the 1 USB cable plugged in. When they make a router version this will be clearly the #1 product on the market in under $ 500.00 price range.

CONCLUSION:

The bullet2 system is affordable and many people like it. Bob at IslandTime has great customer support and it works with a router. Personally it didnít work well for me and maybe it was because Iím using Windows 8 and that was the problem?

For me, the 5MileWIFI is a plug and play, no interface and works amazingly well and flawless. Didnít need customer support, it just works. The cost of $ 400.00 didnít break the bank and the ONLY downside is it doesnít work with a router to be completely wireless on the boat. Iím still working on that one though!

I hope this helps because if you are looking like I was, I spent a very long time looking for good information.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:47   #8
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

We moved to Palm Beach in January and I work full-time remotely from our boat in a mooring field. I work for a software company so good connection is important. We use the WirieAP:
The WirieAP: Long Range Boat WiFi and RV WiFi

Set up and running it is simple enough. It seems to me the key is finding a good wifi connection. We connect to wifi provided by the sail club we belong to which is pretty good. The signal, even boosted, can sometimes fade when we swing. But it has been successful most of the time.

As a backup, I use my cell as a personal hot spot. LTE service is actually faster than the wifi from the club and it works very well. Of course, this is a data hog. I mostly remote desktop into the office and for 8-10 hours it probably uses 500-700mb for the day. For intermittent use, this is a very good solution for me.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:38   #9
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShaktiGurl View Post
As a DIY project you can make something similar, with much the same components for less $.
I put a battery in mine so its completely wireless, but bulkier.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:05   #10
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

Like others have said the ubiquity Bullet the 2HP model is good. A bit of a pain to set up but it works well and is cheaper than most. I got mine on ebay. Had one die on me and replaced it with another form ebay. This can also be hooked up to a router for on board wireless router, nice for laptops.
I use the 5 mile unit as well but I am on my 5th or sixth unit in about 3 years. They work great when working but have yet to get one to last more than a year. They do replace them free of charge but it is a PIA. Problem with the 5 mile is the longer the antenna cable the greater the signal loss. With the bullet as it is self contained and uses a cat 5 network cable so you can hoist it high without loss.
I am a bit surprised that with technology being what it is that it is so hard to get a wifi signal even across a marina. Seems like it should be easier to me. Also I have yet to find anything that offers a decent permanent installation. The makers all seem to assume you are just going to set it up to use for a couple of hours and take down. As a live aboard i want something permanent like any of the other radios I have installed. None of the systems I know of are really designed for the marine environment. Most marine systems are just non marine units with a water proof case or the like and not really a true marine unit. For what they charge for these things it seems they could do better. Ok rant over and hope to read about something new that really works!
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:24   #11
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

Ours is mounted on the arch with the wiring running through the arch, hull and into to the electrical panel so we can turn it on and off. It has been installed for about 5 months and doing well. Hoping it lasts!Click image for larger version

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Old 02-06-2013, 12:33   #12
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

If anyone wants to buy my severely overpriced "the wirie". It's in its unopened box, returned to me because Mr. Businessman refused to give a refund.
Or, just buy the wifi adapter (alfa) on amazon, newegg, etc... for around $25-$30 bucks and make your own and save yourself a couple hundred.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:38   #13
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

The first question would be do you want a router and a hotspot on your boat or will you be happy with a USB connection?
If you can be happy with a USB cable to your computer, you have many inexpensive options. Check ebay or amazon for wifi boosters, anything that's more than $20.00 will probably make you happy in the marina.
If you want to use a router and you want a clear signal at 2-3 miles (that's me) Well, I love our island Time PC and it's almost $100.00 less than the competition or at least it was when I bought it. You can built the same thing from pieces sourced from several sources and save about $50.00. That wasn't worth it at all to me. This was a nice and clean install.
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:42   #14
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailvayu View Post
Like others have said the ubiquity Bullet the 2HP model is good. A bit of a pain to set up but it works well and is cheaper than most. I got mine on ebay. Had one die on me and replaced it with another form ebay. This can also be hooked up to a router for on board wireless router, nice for laptops.
I use the 5 mile unit as well but I am on my 5th or sixth unit in about 3 years. They work great when working but have yet to get one to last more than a year. They do replace them free of charge but it is a PIA. Problem with the 5 mile is the longer the antenna cable the greater the signal loss. With the bullet as it is self contained and uses a cat 5 network cable so you can hoist it high without loss.
I am a bit surprised that with technology being what it is that it is so hard to get a wifi signal even across a marina. Seems like it should be easier to me. Also I have yet to find anything that offers a decent permanent installation. The makers all seem to assume you are just going to set it up to use for a couple of hours and take down. As a live aboard i want something permanent like any of the other radios I have installed. None of the systems I know of are really designed for the marine environment. Most marine systems are just non marine units with a water proof case or the like and not really a true marine unit. For what they charge for these things it seems they could do better. Ok rant over and hope to read about something new that really works!
I think that the problem with wifi hotspots is often that the installers don't get outside much. I mean that literally, they sit inside at the computer and don't understand radio waves or anything like that. When we had an RV it was the same s#!t.
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Old 02-06-2013, 17:35   #15
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Re: Best marine WiFi antenna?

I think this is true of the designers for sure. I bought a InReach and had endless trouble and when talking to the tech people it was clear they never had to use the equipment in the real world like the cockpit of a boat or while climbing a mountain. Their idea of testing was to put the unit on the dash of their car and drive around a bit. Not much salt spray there!
And to make matters worse most marinas leave the install and maintenance of the wifi to the dockmaster who despite their best efforts do not really know much about these things either.
I suppose the problem is not a huge demand for a really rugged easy to use and set up wifi booster. I just get frustrated because I swear it seems like this should be easier! Because like the OP I live and work on my boat Internet is important I now have 4 different adapters ranging from cheap to expensive to the cell phone as a hot spot backup. Between all these systems I can stay connected most of the time. So my suggestion to the OP is to have more than one system and cell phone backup.
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