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Old 07-11-2016, 11:04   #1
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Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

I have read through a ton of wifi threads, but things are changing quickly, and wanted to get some opinions on this again.

Where my boat is moored is pretty far from the marina's wifi, I can't connect to it, so I would like to put up an antenna with more gain, and more sensitive transceiver.

Everyone seems to be saying to use the Ubiquiti bullet and 8/12db antenna. Since I would like to provide wifi to anyone on the boat, having this run back to their airgateway AP.

This post

mv.VikingStar: WiFi Repeater for the boat - An Update

Has some good info on this, but this blog post almost 3 years old. In electronics terms, it means it was written about caveman times;-)

But the concept is spot on for accomplishing what I want to do, the only question is : Would you use these components again, or are there newer ones?

My idea is just to run this up on the flag halyard when at the mooring or dock etc. I would just open a cabin window, have some cat 6 cable going from a POE to the Bullet (or newer device). If it works well, maybe attach to the top of the mast and lead down the cat 6 through the mast into the cabin, but that is a pain to do for what we need it for right now.
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:11   #2
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

Recommend contacting Island time pc for info on the latest options. We use the groove and are quite pleased with results
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:15   #3
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

Have you considered a somewhat directional antenna? Look for information on the cantenna. They can be built for almost nothing. We used one to get from one building to the next with really good results. The buildings were about 800 feet apart with lots of metal construction.

Before the cantenna we got no detectable signal and after a full scale signal on one end and a still useable signal on the other.

Although technology in wifi has gotten a lot better, the antennas have not changed and likely never will unless the frequency changes. There's a lot of snake oil antennas out there, I've had a couple of them. I can vouch that the cantenna isn't one of them. It worked good for me. This was on a stationary installation though and I'm not sure how directional they really are or how well they would work on a moving platform without adjusting them. If the boat was on a mooring and swung away from the targeted wifi you would most certainly lose signal.

I am pretty sure there is a commercially available version of the cantenna as well.

Another option is to ask the marina to do some upgrading to their wifi to cover the marina better. These are usually pretty low end installs with an indoor router that is sitting on someone's desk. Simply mounting it up higher can make a big difference.
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Old 08-11-2016, 15:00   #4
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbinbi View Post

mv.VikingStar: WiFi Repeater for the boat - An Update

Has some good info on this, but this blog post almost 3 years old. In electronics terms, it means it was written about caveman times;-)
Just quickly looking at the blog, I don't think it is out of date. Ubiquiti may have come out with an updated kit, but I bet it looks and behaves just like the previous version, at least enough that you can follow the instructions on the blog.

I also second the Island Time. It is really just about the same price as a DYI, but a heck of a lot easier as you get a professional to answer your questions. They use either the Ubiquiti or a equally quality product. You clearly (including myself and many others) don't know wifi networking to easily do this from scratch. That world isn't easy and I have enough stuff already to learn already...
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Old 08-11-2016, 15:42   #5
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

You can simply bridge two old routers back to back over the ethernet wire. Configure one as a client (towards your provider) the other as an AP (for your onboard needs).

Such a router kit becomes your wifi repeater. Now plug a directional antenna on some coax wire into the client one. Job done.

Our directional antenna lives on the mast, maybe 4 meters up.

I can't see much better range but I can see much stronger signal/noise ratio.

Reaches the nearest internet cafe without hiccups (some 200 yards).

Cost USD 0, plus whatever antenna you use and some coax wire.

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Old 08-11-2016, 18:27   #6
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

Just like with a directional TV antenna, a directional WiFi antenna would be a poor choice for a boat that is anchored or on a mooring and swings with the wind or current.
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Old 09-11-2016, 07:28   #7
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
Just like with a directional TV antenna, a directional WiFi antenna would be a poor choice for a boat that is anchored or on a mooring and swings with the wind or current.
Off course. If sitting on a single mooring buoys, you want an omni directional high gain stick.

When in doubt, or in varied conditions, one plug can use directional the other omni directional antenna. (You want a two antenna router for this).

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Old 09-11-2016, 10:08   #8
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

jbinbi,
1) First off, this isn't a major rocket science project, and yes you can DIY it....but...if you can afford the computer / tablet / smart phone, then you can afford the couple hundred dollars for a excellent Wi-Fi system....


2) So, for a seamless / plug 'n play system, and one with clear instructions, and one where everything is tested before it's shipped, AND one where you can get the guy on the phone (tech support, if needed)....do yourself the favor and spend the $200 to $250, and call Island Time PC....
Marine WiFi Systems
Bob is a great guy....and occasional poster here on Cruiser's Forum...

While I have one of his older "Bullet"-based systems, and he is now doing mostly "Groove"-based systems, he will not steer you wrong!!
A nice guy to do business with, and a guy who can explain the tech stuff to laypersons as well!! (and a part-time cruiser, too!)


3) Bottom line is, whether you choose a Bullet or Groove, and have the antenna (8db-9db is fine) mounted right onto the unit....and have it 10' off the water, etc. you will find access points a mile or two away to be completely usable (assuming you have their password)....

Some will say that a masthead install will increase your range, and yes that is true!!
But, I'd have to pull the mast to rewire it....and I've got plenty up there now...
When going from 10' off the water (where line-of-sight is about 4.5 miles)to a higher antenna, the main advantage to the increased height is getting above obstructions / buildings / trees / etc., when trying to cover the 1 to 5 mile average range that you'll be using....
So, if there are few obstructions between your boat and the access points you envision using, in the areas you cruise, then going up higher will not gain you too much....spreader height is fine!!


4) From my dock, I can get a usable signal (but slow connection speeds) from a marina 2.5 miles away and around the corner of the river!!
My Bullet is attached directly to the 8db antenna, mounted about 9' - 10' off the water...
And, I have a small Wi-Fi router at the Nav Station connected to the Bullet....allows me to have Wi-Fi everywhere on-board and the AirOS is easy to sue and works seamlessly...and none of this is "proprietary", nor needs some special cabling/programming, so if I wish to change something / add something, it's plug 'n play....no worries...



Hope this helps..

Fair winds...

John
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Old 09-11-2016, 12:45   #9
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

@ka4/John, thanks. Yes, I do quite a bit of networking, so no problem to do myself. Was just trying to find out if there was any newer/better product than what I had found on these searches. Appreciate the comments from everyone who is trying to help.
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Old 09-11-2016, 13:43   #10
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

We purchased ours from Island Time 3 years ago and everything is still going strong. Bob has great customer service and extremely helpful. I was contemplating putting it up the mast as well thinking the higher up the better line of sight. This was incorrect and Bob informed me that the best height is between 8-10 ft above the water lane.
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Old 09-11-2016, 14:29   #11
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

jbinbi,
Okay....I understand...
You're an IT guy, and needed some up-to-date info on current hardware...
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbinbi View Post
@ka4/John, thanks. Yes, I do quite a bit of networking, so no problem to do myself. Was just trying to find out if there was any newer/better product than what I had found on these searches. Appreciate the comments from everyone who is trying to help.
All is good....
Use a Bullet or Groove....

And, FYI....I've yet to find any small mom and pop stores, marinas, etc. that are using wireless AC (802.11ac), but I suppose you may want to think of future-proofing your set-up??


Fair winds...

John
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Old 09-11-2016, 16:04   #12
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
Just like with a directional TV antenna, a directional WiFi antenna would be a poor choice for a boat that is anchored or on a mooring and swings with the wind or current.
It depends.. if you don't have any wifi at all without a directional antenna or if you are in a very noisy environment (like Marathon) a directional antenna with a medium beam width might just fit the ticket - until the wind direction changes.

We have a Nanobeam and two bullets. One bullet is mounted affixed at the stern and the other can be lifted up the flag halyards. The nanobeam we use in a marina most of the time. Its also useful to work as a bridge along with the portable bullet.
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Old 09-11-2016, 17:26   #13
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
jbinbi,
Okay....I understand...
You're an IT guy, and needed some up-to-date info on current hardware...
All is good....
Use a Bullet or Groove....

And, FYI....I've yet to find any small mom and pop stores, marinas, etc. that are using wireless AC (802.11ac), but I suppose you may want to think of future-proofing your set-up??


Fair winds...

John
TownCreek Marina in Beaufort, NC uses 5Ghz!
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Old 09-11-2016, 17:39   #14
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

z,
That's good!

But, is that 5Ghz 802.11n or 5Ghz 802.11ac ?? (or 802.11a??, as some are going backward to get away from the interference of b/g on 2.4ghz))

Just curious...

John
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Old 09-11-2016, 17:51   #15
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Re: Better Wifi at the mooring/marina/anchorage?

Quote:
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z,
That's good!

But, is that 5Ghz 802.11n or 5Ghz 802.11ac ?? (or 802.11a??, as some are going backward to get away from the interference of b/g on 2.4ghz))

Just curious...

John
I saw AC show up on my wifi spectrum analyzer. Towncreek has an 802.11b/g as well. Anyhow, I think we will start seeing more of these popup here and there.
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