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Old 30-12-2018, 10:54   #1
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Boat internet system recommendations

Hello!

Was hoping for some insight. Have read tons, overwhelmed by all the info. Prefer to build my own system.

I primarily use a cellular hotspot but there are some areas that it does not work and some areas where it does work during high tide but not during low tide when the boat is sitting 6-9 feet lower than it sits at high tide. In some of the areas where there is cellular limitations, there are outdoor hotspots available which I can get access to.

I am looking for a solution that automatically works between cellular and Wifi as Wan, can fail over to one another, or I can manually select which to use. I plan to mount an external omnidirectional antenna each for cellular and wifi outside. Another limitation is running cable from the antenna into the cabin would require 40-50 feet of cable which my understanding would degrade signal. I can possibly install the equipment outside at the base of the mast or under a seat that would lower that length down to 10-15 feet and any power/POE/ethernet runs could make up the remaining 35-40 feet.

My understanding is a lot of folks get one device to handle the cellular, router, local LAN/wireless, and the WiFi as Wan would be done on a separate device plugged into the cellular router. If there is an all-in-one solution that would be great but seems that using WiFi as Wan would limit the radio power/bandwidth if it has to do both Wan and Lan? I would also consider two separate "radio" type devices one for Cellular and one for WiFi that I could just run ethernet to the cabin and have a router/LAN WiFi there but it would need to be able to handle the two internet sources/failovers, etc.

Other considerations are while I do have AC power inside the cabin, I would need to run DC power to anything outside, and I prefer to use DC power for direct wire into my boat's DC system. POE to the devices outside/at the mast would be ideal because then I can just run 1-2 ethernet cables there but can also consider running DC power straight up there or tapping into something existing. If wiring directly into DC is there any sort of converter/regulator/protector that would be needed or can I wire straight into the battery perhaps with a simple fuse? On a boat battery power can vary from ~12 volts all the way to 14.5 volts or so...

Another concern I have is using just one antenna for cellular and one for WiFi. I see some routers consider the second cellular Aux/Diversity and many routers have multiple connections for the WiFi. Would I experience any major issues wither with signal or frying the radios if using only 1 of the 2 jacks for the external antennas and leaving the others open? I am looking at LTE/LTE-A Cat 6 modems. There does not seem to be any Band 14 support on anything that I have seen. I do see some mini routers/wifi radios that have a single antenna jack that I can consider for the wifi.

Any ways, hoping for some thoughts on a system. Hoping its not too complicated... thank you!
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:09   #2
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

Did you look at Red Box? Also a couple of other options here.. https://www.yachtingworld.com/uncate...ailasail-65195
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:18   #3
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

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Did you look at Red Box? Also a couple of other options here.. https://www.yachtingworld.com/uncate...ailasail-65195
Any idea what the underlying hardware is? Most of these guys take $30-40 units and make them into $3-400+ by slapping their name on. Would much prefer to assemble my own system, not only because of price, but because I would have better control over the hardware, software, etc.
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:24   #4
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

No idea on the internals and I haven't seen any freely/cheaply available firmware either that you could use on off the self hardware. You'd be getting into some software dev also which complicates things.



Quote:
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Any idea what the underlying hardware is? Most of these guys take $30-40 units and make them into $3-400+ by slapping their name on. Would much prefer to assemble my own system, not only because of price, but because I would have better control over the hardware, software, etc.
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:32   #5
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

We cruise and live aboard full time.
Use nothing more than a $40 handset as a mobile hotspot.
That has as many as 6 devices connected to it via WiFi.
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:33   #6
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

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No idea on the internals and I haven't seen any freely/cheaply available firmware either that you could use on off the self hardware. You'd be getting into some software dev also which complicates things.
OpenWRT runs on pretty much everything

Peplink and Cradlepoint have their own home-built firmwares

No software dev needed

Most of these companies are just taking OpenWRT and slapping their branding on
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:34   #7
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

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We cruise and live aboard full time.
Use nothing more than a $40 handset as a mobile hotspot.
That has as many as 6 devices connected to it via WiFi.
That will not work.... I get zero signal in my cabin during low tide at one of the places I frequent. I have to mount an external antenna up high. I got by for a very long time with a hotspot in the cabin
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:47   #8
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

Been a long time since I played with OpenWRT. Does is support wifi <--> 3G/4g switching? If it doe's then you may be able to set something up.



For me, my time tinkering is over. Just want to plug something in and forget about it.



Quote:
Originally Posted by mystery View Post
OpenWRT runs on pretty much everything

Peplink and Cradlepoint have their own home-built firmwares

No software dev needed

Most of these companies are just taking OpenWRT and slapping their branding on
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:47   #9
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by mystery View Post
Any idea what the underlying hardware is? Most of these guys take $30-40 units and make them into $3-400+ by slapping their name on. Would much prefer to assemble my own system, not only because of price, but because I would have better control over the hardware, software, etc.

In my experience, the best "yacht" wifi systems use hardware that's closer to approx 50% to 70% of the whole system price. In my last encounter with one, it was ubiquiti (bullet, nano, pico, etc)... good stuff


I've also used ubiquiti hardware in custom commercial projects. From these experiences, it's my opinion that the convenience provided by the software added to the better "yacht" systems is good value, if you don't want to spend the hours (and frustration, and googling) necessary to set up a system from scratch.



Anyway, it seems that your requirement is mainly to boost cellphone reception so that you can use it as a hotspot?
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Old 30-12-2018, 11:54   #10
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

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Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
In my experience, the best "yacht" wifi systems use hardware that's closer to approx 50% to 70% of the whole system price. In my last encounter with one, it was ubiquiti (bullet, nano, pico, etc)... good stuff


I've also used ubiquiti hardware in custom commercial projects. From these experiences, it's my opinion that the convenience provided by the software added to the better "yacht" systems is good value, if you don't want to spend the hours (and frustration, and googling) necessary to set up a system from scratch.



Anyway, it seems that your requirement is mainly to boost cellphone reception so that you can use it as a hotspot?
I would like both cellular and wifi abilities, with automatic failover if possible. We spend a lot of time on the boat so need internet for work, streaming TV, etc. Also use for security cameras and was hoping to find a WiFi boat monitoring system I could connect (future project).

The security cameras burn 2-300GB of data and we burn 1-200 streaming/surfing. I think our largest month was 500GB but usually average 300s.
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Old 30-12-2018, 12:09   #11
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

Check out sailbits.com, Steve Mitchell is an IT geek and formally a sailboat owner. But recently gone to the dark side.

https://sailbits.com/modular-cheaper...-and-mikrotik/
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Old 30-12-2018, 13:05   #12
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

Check this discussion here it may answer all your questions or at least give you a lot to research. I am looking wifi offshore as far out as possible..understanding LOS.


KVH LTE 1 performance or opinion
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Old 30-12-2018, 13:34   #13
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

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Check this discussion here it may answer all your questions or at least give you a lot to research. I am looking wifi offshore as far out as possible..understanding LOS.


KVH LTE 1 performance or opinion
Did you mean to include a link?
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Old 30-12-2018, 13:59   #14
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

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That will not work.... I get zero signal in my cabin during low tide at one of the places I frequent. I have to mount an external antenna up high. I got by for a very long time with a hotspot in the cabin

You could try a phone as wifi AP in a water proof plastic box up the mast, good enough for us. Even a cheap phone can last 8 hours on battery.


Work in St Malo Bas Sablon with 45ft tide, without hoisting it no signal.
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Old 30-12-2018, 15:23   #15
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Re: Boat internet system recommendations

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You could try a phone as wifi AP in a water proof plastic box up the mast, good enough for us. Even a cheap phone can last 8 hours on battery.


Work in St Malo Bas Sablon with 45ft tide, without hoisting it no signal.
Need something that does not run off of battery... have security system that needs constant connectivity and we we use internet >8 hours per day just surfing, watching TV, working, etc.

I know I need to mount an external antenna(s). Its really about what hardware folks have found to be the best. I am currently leaning towards a generic Mofi, Peplink, Cradlepoint, Ubiquiti, Microtik, or combination of multiple.
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