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Old 31-12-2009, 22:32   #376
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"A dirty secret in IT is they regularly power cycle their routers." Only in the consumer-grade junk. Routers don't accumulate "garbage" in their memory, they just connect and pass packets as they are told. A lot of the consumer-grade WiFi boxes, wrongly called routers because they also do the routing, just have lousy programming and they are another story. But business/commercial grade routers? Hell no, you don't touch that power switch because you'd disconnect the CONSTANT traffic on them. They're more reliable than any other link on the chain.

Repowering is like putting air in a flat tire: You haven't found or fixed the real problem, so it is just going to fail again.
Actually, the good routers DO accumulate "garbage" in their memory. To be specific, DNS caching for instance. And at times even the good ones will 'hang' and need to be cycled to purge their memory.
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Old 31-12-2009, 23:33   #377
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Understanding WiFi

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Originally Posted by thatboatguy View Post
That's the *one* thing I do know for sure! heh heh But I'll bet that if you had a little help (as I had) you could get to where you could use this stuff. And some of the USB ones like the Alpha are as plug and play as you get. Also, if you can fix your own diesel you are miles out front of most of the people I've met "out there". I know that Bob has taken folks who until recently had trouble programing their VCR right through the step by step of operating the Bullet. You don't need to understand all that jargon when you have someone showing you the way.

George
George,

I agree, a little help makes an enormous difference, most WiFi documentation is aimed at the professionals and if written clearly is full of jargon. Jargon is the same with most things, try communicating with a non sailor who wants to help out when on board. Learning the jargon and getting help or reading a first step.

With respect to "plug and play". It works for common situations, but when your situation is not common, you have a problem. (You mentioned the Alfa, there are 34 pages in the documentation for the Alfa. Any idea why? Its certainly not easy reading). Can't blame the technology, its the same with many people, if they are trained they perform as trained or programmed. (Try using a travelers check with a passport (even a US passport) as your ID in a store. If it works its a long process. Its an uncommon occurrence)

Power or functionality is often the other side of the coin from ease of use. If the "common situation" always works for you then you are lucky. In my experience with sailing, situations are often changing and sailors need to be able to figure things out themselves. So figuring things out is easier when you have access to rare folks like Bob who have a reputation for great support and patience.

The extra you pay for an off the shelf commercial product packaged with a marine additions, easy to read documentation and great support is worth every penny and is often really unappreciated.

Working in IT in my non sailing life, I see $150+/hr as the going rate for networking support, so a product with live support to get it working is rare and worth the money.

That being said, its worth learning to be self reliant especially with WiFi. When your diesel breaks down in a foreign port, your WiFi can be really useful in getting help, but if you have a problem with the WiFi, how do you get convenient access to the Internet to get help? So back to the jargon and reading, you never know, you may be the only one in an anchorage connected to the Internet because you know how to tweak WiFi equipment and get connected.

Reading is a lot easier if the material is well written. On the topic of diesels and easy reading, Nigel Calder's book titled "Marine Diesel Engines" is a fine example. (I have no connection personally or commercially with Nigel)

Jack C(hadowitz)
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Old 31-12-2009, 23:55   #378
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Repowering or Power Cycling

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"A dirty secret in IT is they regularly power cycle their routers." Only in the consumer-grade junk. Routers don't accumulate "garbage" in their memory, they just connect and pass packets as they are told. A lot of the consumer-grade WiFi boxes, wrongly called routers because they also do the routing, just have lousy programming and they are another story. But business/commercial grade routers? Hell no, you don't touch that power switch because you'd disconnect the CONSTANT traffic on them. They're more reliable than any other link on the chain.

Repowering is like putting air in a flat tire: You haven't found or fixed the real problem, so it is just going to fail again.
I agree, "Repowering is like putting air in a flat tire: You haven't found or fixed the real problem, so it is just going to fail again."

Unfortunately good software is hard to come by and fixing the problem requires firmware updates. There is no software without bugs, there just has to be the right situation to find them. (How often is your Windows operating system get "fixed"?).

As for CONSTANT traffic, ever looked at Internet performance over nights at Sundays when "regular" maintenance is going on? Anyone running a true 24x7 operation has built in redundancy with multiple paths or hot backup.
Ever had problems accessing your bank account or Paypal account over the Internet or your gmail. These folks use business/commercial equipment.

The reason that routers are more reliable than other software is because they are doing a much simpler task, but like all software, they are susceptible conditions changing and then they get confused. After all they were programmed by humans.

Jack C
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Old 01-01-2010, 00:37   #379
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Swahili WiFi Expert

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Originally Posted by CAELESTIS View Post
Thanks.

Ote hapa manwifi uataalam?

That is swahili for anyone here a wifi expert? Which is how I view most of this voodoo wifi stuff.

Please just tell me what to buy and where to get the best deal.

Thanks, and Happy New Year!
A rare fellow African on this forum.

"Salibonana" from further south.

The answer to your question is not simple, it depends on your needs such as:

What computers/devices /operating systems do you plan to use?

Permanent or temporary installation?

How waterproof?

Single or multiple computers?

Do you want to be tethered by a cable from your computer to the WiFi device or do you want to be fully wireless around your boat?

How much current do you want use? 4 to 8 watts or 15 to 25 watts?

Do you anchor or moor or are you mainly in a slip?

What mounting options do you have on your boat?

Your technical ability and ease of use?

The answers to these questions should direct you to a USB, Bridge ,or Bridge/Repeater WiFi solution with an omni directional, directional or both types of antennas.

The cheapest way is to buy a commercial unit from an online electronics discounter, but based on your question (and knowing Swahili) I doubt you could match the connectors, devices and antennas and get it all working.

So go with a vendor that gives good support.

I have written a tutorial on selecting WiFi, the link is in the thread on this forum, as well as a link to an article on realistic expectations of WiFi. They are hopefully readable if you are inclined to read.

If not, answer some of the questions above and I and I am sure others will be pleased to help. If you accept recommendations without understanding your needs, hopefully your needs are the same as the person recommending.

So "Matzsata Mumche b'WiFi"

Jack C
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Old 01-01-2010, 09:56   #380
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Jack-
" (How often is your Windows operating system get "fixed"?)." Well, I don't think the current system has ever been FIXED since I still haven't gotten a clean six months of uninterrupted run time on it, much less a year. Of course that's my fault, I dared to install software that wasn't written by MicroSoft on it. :-)

$150/hour for IT support would be a bit high in most of the US in this market, although some guys with lots of certifications aim for it, techs with a solid grasp but fresh out of high school or college may still be hoping to get $60k per year for 60 hours weeks. But you're right about the problem, it is still the bottom line. As in, why provide techs even at $20/hour when you can use script-readers at $8/hour and they'll be happy to get it? Same thing with documentation, why hire a good tech writer and assign an engineer to work with him for a week when no one reads the docs anyway? And then waste money on good translators...Nah, the mass market has driven the profit line so thin for so many vendors, that there's no way to produce a "professional grade" mass market product any more.

How many times have you been told (or told someone) "Reset the power on the..." during troubleshooting, versus how many times has that fixed the problem? In my experience, it usually doesn't fix the problem. Sometimes, yes, but it usually is the first shot from the script readers shooting blind.
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Old 01-01-2010, 10:24   #381
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BitStorm

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Originally Posted by CAELESTIS View Post
Anyone using this? Bitstorm - Products

Comments?
Yep, its the repackaged bullet. Note the lack of current unavailability, my bullet is still on back order. Available "sometime in the early new year."

Don't quite understand why they have a terminal box. Doesn't seem to be a great idea for a cat 5 connection especially as its plastic and the terminals look really big for fine cat 5 wire.

Looks like no value add in terms of easy to read documentation or their own software. Also no specs on waterproof/weatherproof although providing grease to protect connections is interesting. If everything is weatherproof why the grease? One of my concerns about the bullet and for example the EnGenius EOC 2610 outdoor unit is the protection of the ethernet RJ 45 connection.

Also, like most marketing techniques, they get attention with a seemingly low price with the final price having to include the cable and PoE injector for it to work.
The low price gets you interested and when you see the final figure at checkout, its, well I've got this far, let me just go ahead.

Personal support is unknown. Have not seen good or bad comments.

So, if the bullet is right for you, either buy a kit from a vendor who has packaged it well for the marine environment and makes it easy to use via simple software or gives great support.

OR

Bite (buy) the bullet, cat 5 cable, an omni directional antenna with a stainless bracket and a PoE injector, read the bullet manual and save a bunch of money if you succeed in making it work.

In either case, as mentioned in earlier posts in this thread, the length of cable depends on the voltage supplied. 300 feet may be a stretch for a 12V power feed dependent on the cat 5 cable used. But unless you have a 80 foot plus mast, in which case price would not be a factor, you should not have a problem.

Jack C

Technology advances every day, but unfortunately ease of use lags behind.
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:34   #382
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Jack-
" (How often is your Windows operating system get "fixed"?)." Well, I don't think the current system has ever been FIXED since I still haven't gotten a clean six months of uninterrupted run time on it, much less a year. Of course that's my fault, I dared to install software that wasn't written by MicroSoft on it. :-)

$150/hour for IT support would be a bit high in most of the US in this market, although some guys with lots of certifications aim for it, techs with a solid grasp but fresh out of high school or college may still be hoping to get $60k per year for 60 hours weeks. But you're right about the problem, it is still the bottom line. As in, why provide techs even at $20/hour when you can use script-readers at $8/hour and they'll be happy to get it? Same thing with documentation, why hire a good tech writer and assign an engineer to work with him for a week when no one reads the docs anyway? And then waste money on good translators...Nah, the mass market has driven the profit line so thin for so many vendors, that there's no way to produce a "professional grade" mass market product any more.

How many times have you been told (or told someone) "Reset the power on the..." during troubleshooting, versus how many times has that fixed the problem? In my experience, it usually doesn't fix the problem. Sometimes, yes, but it usually is the first shot from the script readers shooting blind.
I run both windows and linux based server apps for customers. The linux boxes run for years without rebooting. The MS ones a few months, and this is with apps that do not change and without anyone touching the keys and mouse. Yet MS products are the most popular. Marketing rules over technology.

Rates per hour, the product of hours and rates is important. I really prefer one hour at $150 for a problem that gets fixed in an hour and does not come back, as compared to 8 hours at $20 per hour for a band aid. Unfortunately you can also pay $1200 for a band aid.

The short sited attitude where consumers look at low price and ignore real information about products and available support means that technology is available at low cost, but is often thrown away because it can't be used or is obsolete in months. Why debug software for anything but common use when it will be obsolete in months.

You are right, margins are thin and vendors survive because of market size and consumer attitudes. Short term rules. The cost of a cheap device failing when you really need them and can't get a replacement is not considered.

As the volumes are low in the marine industry, prices are high. In some cases they are justified, in many cases its just repackaged mass products that may or may not be suitable for the marine industry. Unfortunately, clever marketing, lack of detail and muddled conflicting "standards" means that the consumer has a tough time telling the difference. This is really important with items which can cause large losses, injury and loss of life and relatively minor when it comes to WiFi. (Looked at the shackle on your mooring line recently?) I don't want to get started on life rafts, but I did buy a Portland Pudgy and am saving up for the enclosure.

So to avoid being ripped off on price yet get a working good solution, there is no choice but to ask questions. If you don't get answers or they dont make sense walk away, even if the price looks great.


Resetting the power does help with software crashes and memory leaks. Unfortunately, unless you have access to all the source code and the time to fix it there is nothing you can do. You change your oil and fuel filters regularly, so do preventative maintenance on your software, give it a reboot occasionally, no real choice is there?

Jack C
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Old 01-01-2010, 13:18   #383
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Ive been reading this thread with great interest and respect for the technical knowledge displayed. At this stage, I've decided to go with the Ubiquiti Bullet 2HP, but I'm unclear on a couple of issues-
Can I connect the ethernet cable straight into a 'home' type router to obtain wireless on board? Can the router then provide the 12v required for the bullet, eliminating the need for the POE injector? If so, is there any recommendation for the router model? (I'm UK based, but sail the med)
Also -ease of use- What's involved in finding and using a wifi signal as compared to using the standard windows method? I don't to have to follow a complex routine each time I use a new source.
Thanks again for your help
Bryan
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Old 01-01-2010, 13:43   #384
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Hi Bryan,

As I type this and send it, I'm wireless to our WRT-54G which in turn is plugged into our Bullet 2HP so the answer to your first question is a resounding "yes". I *think* I could hack the WRT-54G to produce the 12 volts... but why? It will be plugged into our ship's 12 volt system and I'll simply provide 12 volts to the POE as well.

George
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Old 01-01-2010, 13:51   #385
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Thanks George,
Is it also easy to log onto new wifi sorces?
Bryan
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Old 01-01-2010, 15:38   #386
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Yes Bryan, It is easy once you know the steps. That PDF that's been linked to here will guide you through.

George
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Old 01-01-2010, 16:42   #387
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WiFi in the Med

Quote:
Originally Posted by bryan and wendy View Post
Ive been reading this thread with great interest and respect for the technical knowledge displayed. At this stage, I've decided to go with the Ubiquiti Bullet 2HP, but I'm unclear on a couple of issues-
Can I connect the ethernet cable straight into a 'home' type router to obtain wireless on board? Can the router then provide the 12v required for the bullet, eliminating the need for the POE injector? If so, is there any recommendation for the router model? (I'm UK based, but sail the med)
Also -ease of use- What's involved in finding and using a wifi signal as compared to using the standard windows method? I don't to have to follow a complex routine each time I use a new source.
Thanks again for your help
Bryan
Bryan and Wendy,

Yes, you can connect bridge type devices like the bullet to a wireless router and get wireless on board.

An alternative is to go with a repeater WiFi unit which once it is setup will repeat the hot spot or access point locally. We use a repeater on our boat. The advantage of the repeater is that it has the same high power for repeating which is more than the typical wireless router, you have only one device, your power consumption is less than half and you only have to setup one device. The only downside which will not really apply is that the radio is shared between communication to the hot spot and the client which halves the available bandwidth. As the bandwidth is 54 Megs, half is way more than you would ever get from a hot spot.

Regarding "ease of use". If you go for the bullet and a wireless router, check that you are able to setup and scan for hot spots on the bullet via a computer connected via wireless or directly to the router. I have ordered a bullet for experimenting with but it appears that they will only be available sometime this month so I can't answer, maybe Bob can.

The repeater I use has a simple scan web page where I scan and select a hot spot and then the unit remembers the hot spot and connects automatically whenever it is turned on. The interface is designed for the typical user rather than a networking professional. You do have to be physically connected to the unit for doing the scan, but once setup you are fully wireless. The power uses the same cat 5 cable with PoE.

Regarding power consumption and wiring. PoE is great. With either the bullet or a repeater I suggest a PoE injector rather than a hack. Injectors are are low cost. Look for a wireless router or repeater that can take 12V DC and is not a power hog. Some Engenius units will take 12V DC. The repeater I use is designed "Green". It takes anything from 9.5 to 48V DC and uses 4 to 8 watts. Commercial wireless routers can run pretty hot depending on their power. For land applications 4 watts or 25 watts makes no difference. For me on a mooring the difference matters. Also the heat has to go somewhere and confined heat will limit electronics life.

Choose your equipment carefully. For the same reason you may have a marine grade stereo system rather than a car system on your boat, understand that land grade electronics can have a limited life in a salt environment. So for indoor parts, look for or add a conformal coating or depending on your use, be prepared to replace periodically. For outdoor components mounted permanently, look for truly waterproof with some sort of standard. NEMA6 or IPX7 is great especially if you have stuff permanently installed outside. Being European you may be more familiar with IEC 60529 IPX7 which is similar but a little less stringent than NEMA6.

An IPX7 designation means the case can withstand accidental immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. NEMA6 is similar but up to 6 feet.

Really useful when you get pooped with the unit on the rail or with wind driven rain.

And regarding your question about power from a router. I know of no router that provides power on the ethernet cable. You must use an Injector. Many wireless routers will take power from PoE, but make sure that they will accept 12V. Many require 48V which means an inverter and power supply and subsequent losses.

Finally being in the UK and sailing in the Med. Having lived in the UK and the med and visiting often, I have experience with US products that often do not port well to other places. If you stick with 12V DC you are OK with the power. Do be aware that the WiFi channels outside the US are somewhat different, so make sure that all routers, bridges and repeaters have a country setting that is easily accessible so you can setup for where you are. It can make the difference between connecting or not as well as fines or confiscation by the local telecom police.


Finally, as I have said in other posts, be prepared to read and learn if you use devices designed and documented for pro's with network experience. Such devices have limited support and even in the rare case that telephone support is available, it will be expensive from Turkey.

Hope that this helps.

Jack
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Old 01-01-2010, 16:46   #388
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Yes Bryan, It is easy once you know the steps. That PDF that's been linked to here will guide you through.

George
George,

Can't see the link to the pdf. Am I missing something or is it my "ground figure" problem where I miss the obvious?

Jack
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Old 01-01-2010, 16:53   #389
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Actually I have complete control of the bullet through my WRT-54G. I can access each of the unit's GUI from right here in my easy chair, no wires. The only two things I can't do is unplug it or re-aim the yagi! I have another WRT-54G with DD-WRT installed so when we don't need the extra power of the bullet we can use that one alone in repeater mode.

So... best of both worlds might be running DD-WRT on the Bullet but last time I checked you had to pay for that privelidge. Might be worthe the $20 but on the other hand we have a great setup as is.

George
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Old 01-01-2010, 16:55   #390
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George,

Can't see the link to the pdf. Am I missing something or is it my "ground figure" problem where I miss the obvious?

Jack
Oh you have to scroll up some. I posted it and then I think Bob also posted it. I'll see if I can put my finger on it again.

Here you go...

http://www.ubnt.com/downloads/Nano_Quick_Set-up.pdf

George
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