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Old 25-01-2013, 20:18   #1
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HELP! DIY wifi for My Boat

I'm looking to install a top-notch marine wifi system, without spending an arm and a leg. I've looked at Rogue Wave and Wirie, and where they both look terrific, I don't really want to shell out close to $400 (or more) for my system. I'm hoping some of you techies out there would be willing to share some insights into what high end system I could put together myself without spending a fortune. It seems a lot of quality setups start with a Ubiquiti M2-HP, and after that it's anybodys guess. Best omnidirectional antenna and wireless router info would be most helpful. Anything else would be icing on the cake. Thanks.
Will
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Old 25-01-2013, 20:40   #2
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

I was going to build my own setup but I ended up buying an Island Time PC unit because for the $50.00 that I would have saved I would have had to make a mount still and figure out all the software weirdness by myself.
Any router will work, I wanted one with a USB port so that we could plug in a hard drive and stream music or movies or wifi to everywhere on the boat. I went through cnet.com's reviews and found something good at Fry's Electronics but because it was a brand new high speed dual band model I had to pay a bit too much. The dual band isn't worth a penny more IMO but it was the cool new thing that I didn't really want but it was attached whether I liked it or not.
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Old 25-01-2013, 20:48   #3
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

Your exact costs will be determined by what you actually want on your boat.

I've worked with some Ubiquiti products - mainly the PicoStation - I think they're great units. Most of the better omni antennas work about equally well; you could look for a 6 dB omni or even a directional panel if you're bot bobbing or spinning around at anchor.

I have a $20 1-watt USB wifi adaptor from ebay that works surprisingly well, but it's not weatherproof.

So, what exactly do you want in your wifi system - to feed just one laptop, or a whole boat network?
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:49   #4
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

been using this alfa adapter a few years now. at $32.99 it's worth giving it a try. i have an antenna extension cord so i can put the antenna on the cabin top for a little extra range. if you check around amazon you'll find a number of variations on this adapter with different antenna setups. find one that suits you; can hardly go wrong at the price...


Amazon.com: Alfa 1000mW 1W 802.11b/g USB Wireless WiFi Network Adapter With Original Alfa Screw-On Swivel 9dBi Rubber Antenna: Video Games
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:50   #5
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Smile Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

Thanks for the replies. I have a laptop, an ipad, and a galaxy with 3G. Would love to get some first hand info on specific antennas and routers, as well as best cables,POE's, etc. What I'm really trying to do is build something comparable to, or even better than the Rogue Wave or Wirie, at an affordable price.

Will
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:07   #6
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

bullet hp, 9db omni outdoor antenna, appropriate length of cat5 routed to where bullet/antenna are mounted to the POE, then to any 12v router. follow directions. stock ui isnt bad. its not hard.
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:13   #7
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sww914 View Post
I was going to build my own setup but I ended up buying an Island Time PC unit because for the $50.00 that I would have saved I would have had to make a mount still and figure out all the software weirdness by myself....
That is good advice if you aren't a computer person. If so and you want to save the $50 or so I have most of what you want here and also a comparison with the USB route as we have that and the Bullet 2HP....

Compurer-Chart Plotter-Navigation Index

....that being said for most people I think Island Time PC is the way to go. I also have the build of a 12 volt low amp computer there and will soon make a new one with a more powerful processor.

Good luck,

Sum
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:19   #8
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

Whats different with the island time ui?
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:37   #9
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

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Whats different with the island time ui?
Very similar to the others, but they are also cruisers and good people. They have been around a long time with these products and support them and even support people who haven't bought their products.

I have no affiliation with them though but if I was buying would buy from them,

Sum
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Old 26-01-2013, 08:31   #10
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westsailwill View Post
Thanks for the replies. I have a laptop, an ipad, and a galaxy with 3G. Would love to get some first hand info on specific antennas and routers, as well as best cables,POE's, etc. What I'm really trying to do is build something comparable to, or even better than the Rogue Wave or Wirie, at an affordable price.

Will

Depending on your contract/data plan, you also have the option to tether your laptop or iPad to the smartphone, via hardwire or Bluetooth. Depending (etc) you can also maybe make your phone be a WiFi hotspot. Data rates may or may not be sufficient for your purposes.

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Old 26-01-2013, 09:03   #11
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

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Originally Posted by familycruisers View Post
bullet hp, 9db omni outdoor antenna, appropriate length of cat5 routed to where bullet/antenna are mounted to the POE, then to any 12v router. follow directions. stock ui isnt bad. its not hard.

Familycruisers has it right IMHO if cost is an issue. I have a Bullet M2 (about $70) along with a 15 db omnidirectional antenna that cost another $50. If you REALLY want to "do it yourself", there are numerous instructions around giving instructions on how to build your own antenna.

So for less than $150 you can have decent WIFI....that includes a power inserter for about $15 plus a length of ethernet cable. If you want to improve your site, a router can be added.
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Old 26-01-2013, 14:31   #12
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

Ditto. I also have a Bullet M2-HP on a 15dB omni (though if I was doing it over I might settle for an 8dB omni - smaller/lighter and nearly the same performance. The 15dB does lose signals off the side while heeling (I know, why use it enroute - but at times useful for a mailcheck "enroute").

The Ubiquiti replaced my older Engenius EOC3220 which was getting quirky. The only thing I miss is that the 3220 could act as a client-bridge and repeater simultaneously, so I didn't need a separate AP on board for iPhone/iPad etc. Will have to do something about that next season as the M2 is ethernet-only, but does have excellent performance and reliability, not to mention being very reasonably priced.
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Old 26-01-2013, 21:03   #13
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

I have little desire to use my galaxy or ipad for my internet access. I also understand it's not rocket science to put together a basis wifi system. What I was hoping for was advice on specific, state of the art components (name brands, spec's, etc.) to assist me, as well as others reading this thread, in building a first class, efficent, and affordable system. All help in this search is greatly appreciated. Thanks

Will
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Old 26-01-2013, 21:25   #14
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westsailwill View Post
What I was hoping for was advice on specific, state of the art components (name brands, spec's, etc.) to assist me, as well as others reading this thread, in building a first class, efficent, and affordable system.
Frankly, it's all here... especially in Sumner's (always great) link.

Readers' Digest version: one of the Ubiquiti outdoor units (Pico, Nano, etc) with basic or 6 dB omni antenna somewhere high, weatherproof CAT-5, 12v PoE adaptor, optionally a small $40 router with multiple ethernet outs + wifi AP... you're done.
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Old 26-01-2013, 22:10   #15
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Re: HELP! DIY wifi for my boat.

Here's your parts list (all available from http://www.data-alliance.net):
  1. Marine Waterproof 8dBi Omni-Directional Stainless Steel $25.99
  2. CAT-5E STP Outdoor Rated cable (25ft) $19.99
  3. Ubiquiti Bullet M2HP $79.95
  4. APOE03 Passive PoE Adapter $6.99
  5. Ubiquiti PicoStation2 100mW $55.95 (or another wifi access point--many use 12V power supplies). This provides local wifi access on your boat.
The configuration is pretty straightforward. There are good step-by-step instructions here: http://dl.ubnt.com/docs/M_Series_Beginner_Guide.pdf
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