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Old 23-02-2009, 17:18   #46
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Four runs of lamp cord would work to some degree too but CAT5 is built to strict standards. Just splicing it together will probably be a bit less than desirable. Spring for the crimper or pay a network nerd a couple bucks to crimp it for you.

I have an EOC-3220 EXT on the bench right now. Cleaning the corrosion off the board, repairing some traces and replacing the RJ-45 socket and a couple of SMD resistors. It had been mounted at the masthead of a friends catamaran in the BVI and wired with regular CAT5. The jacket wore through as it entered the mast about 6" below the box and water wicked up the wires and into the case. It worked fine until the 48V lines started arcing between contacts. Heading for Tortola this weekend to reinstall it. OTOH, if he had used gel filled I wouldn't have had an excuse to go sailing.

Cantennas are directional. They would be fine if you are tied to a slip and know exactly where the access point antenna is but if you are that close you probably don't need it. At anchor or on a mooring and going for distance you will loose the signal every time the wind or tide shifted. A 9db non directional antenna would be the optimum. Any higher and you would loose signal as the boat heels more than about 10-12 degrees.

The antenna that comes with these units have 6db gain. The 9db doubles the effective radiated output but may not quite double the usable range.
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Old 23-02-2009, 18:25   #47
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Color me underwhelmed by mine. Hawking's 15 db gain corner antenna gives the same gain and a wider acceptance angle.
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Old 26-02-2009, 06:00   #48
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Ok, I'm sold.

At first glance I couldn't find a crimper for less than $30+. Not really worth it for 1 time use. Tried again and was able to find one on Amazon for $12 shipped.

I'm on a cat, though. Didn't someone say in an earlier post, that on a cat you could safely go up to 12db with no problems, because of less heeling.
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Old 26-02-2009, 08:15   #49
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Um, if you're under way, I suppose it would matter, but on the hook or tied up, if heeling's an issue, it's time to ask what the weather's doing or why the boat is that badly out of trim.

But why stop at 12 db when the Hawking antenna does even better (and, yes, 3 db does make a difference)?

On the issue of directionality and gain, TINSTAAFL applies to antennas, too. Gain comes from reducing the volume of coverage, no way around it. The trick is to find the compromise that fits your needs.

DISCLAIMER: I have no connection with Hawking Technology, save as a customer.
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Old 26-02-2009, 09:13   #50
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There is discussion of 5 Mile in the March issue of PassageMaker Magazine, both good and bad, on page 25 in the letters to the editor section.
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Old 19-03-2009, 19:39   #51
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I need to get a booster now, Is THE HAWKING unit good or not what else exactly would I need I have vista and a g card
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Old 19-03-2009, 20:44   #52
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The Hawking HAI15SC antenna will hook up to any net adapter that uses a TNC (small threaded) connector. Unfortunately, I think they've pretty much gone the way of the buggy whip socket, with the advent of the new generation of laptop cards. Hawking's HWUG-1 USB adapter, however, has the right connector and works with the HAI15SC antenna. Better, you can hang a USB extension cord (it must be a USB extension cable - there's a difference in the connectors) off the HWUG-1, allowing you to move the antenna up higher (extending the coax cable from the antenna will basically swallow much of the antenna's gain - I'm simplifying here but the end effect is the same thing) for a better connection.

So what do you need? The Hawking HAI15SC antenna, the Hawking HWUG1 adapter, a USB extension cable, and your plastic. Easy-peasy!


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Old 20-03-2009, 05:05   #53
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That Hawking corner antenna would work for a marina queen but is pretty well useless if the boat actually goes somewhere. There are two ways to increase gain with an antenna. Make it directional or flatten the doughnut. Making it directional is not the way to do it in a mobile installation. (Also there is no mention of "outdoor" or "weather resistant" much less "marine" in the Hawking literature. )

Beam width is the angle between the points either side of the axis of maximum signal where the signal drops by half (3db). The typical 8.5db omnidirectional marine antenna has a vertical beam width of about 15 degrees so when the boat heels by 7.5 degrees the signal drops by half. That is acceptable for a mono at anchor. A 12db omni has a beam width of about 7 degrees so a cat being more stable can use the higher gain.

That said a drop of 3 or 4 db will hardly be noticeable unless you are really trying to push out to the maximum range.

Given those limits there are 3 ways to increase range:
#1 get the antenna higher.
#2 increase the power of the access point/router
#3 use the shortest possible length of low loss coaxial cable.

There have been improvements in equipment over the last few years but I have found the most cost effective and simplest permanent installation that gives extended range wifi to any laptop on the boat (and any other boat within about 200' for that matter) is still the Engenius EOC-3220 EXT mounted at the masthead and configured as a repeater with a short length of LMR-200 coax to an 8.5db (mono hull) or 12db (cat) omnidirectional antenna mounted on the crane at least 6" away from the VHF antenna.

That will give theoretically you a range of about 3 miles at 12mbps to a properly installed commercial marine access point and about 1500 yards to a typical residential access point. (It will, however add about 3 pounds at the masthead reducing righting moment by a couple hunderd pounds.)

Control is provided by a gel filled direct burial CAT5 cable run down the mast to a computer at the nav station. Once a shore side connection is made the CAT5 can be unplugged and the wifi adapter turned on.

The other way to set it up would be as a bridge to a wired or wireless local network. This will give slightly more apparent speed and much more flexibility but at the expense of considerably more complexity.
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Old 20-03-2009, 06:43   #54
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I strongly recommend re-examining the antenna's pattern - it is a directional antenna, albeit with about a 90 degree look angle. As to "away from a marina" - I opted for that antenna specifically because it works well in just such as setting.

Yes, it's not waterproof (although Hawking, and others, make suitable weather-resistant antennas), but for casual use, it's amazing what a plastic freezer bag can do when it rains.

I should have clarified that I was addressing "how to get something working without a lot of investment in money or time" and not "how to create a commercial-grade WLAN network system".
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Old 20-03-2009, 07:21   #55
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Are you constantly re-aiming the antenna every time the wind shifts?

The basic system I described might set you back $200-$225 and a trip up the mast. That is a bit more than twice the price of the Hawking setup but hardly a "commercial" setup. However it will give you 6 times the power and 3 or 4 times the range. After all the subject of the thread is "long range Wifi".

If you want a simple high power single user portable system for under $100 the EUB-362 EXT sitting on the stack pac and an 8.5db omni hanging on the lazy jacks and fed with a 15' USB cable will give you about a mile in good conditions. That is what I use on charters. But if you are cruising it is a lot nicer to just set the anchor, break out the rum and start checking your email than futzing with a lot of wire.

With both the 362 and the 3220 the first time in an anchorage you have to poll for access points and pick the one you want. After that they remember which one you hooked to and connect automatically next time they see it.

BTW, the new EOC 8610 EXT now has WDS so it can act as a repeater just like the 3220 but has 600mw output as opposed to 400 for the 3220 and 200 for the 362. It cost about $145 as opposed to $120 for the 3220 and $50 for the 362.
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Old 20-03-2009, 10:04   #56
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A directional antenna is much better than omni directional even if it has just the same gain. The reason is that you improve the SNR (signal to noise ratio). The omni directional will receive everything around you, 360 degrees. If you limit your angle to say 60 degrees, you eliminate lots of noise which has the same effect as increasing gain. Look at your driver software: many drivers/utils show SNR or link-quality in addition to signal strength and see the improvement (other than gain) of a directional yourself.

We use a $50 Hyperlink Technologies yagi for outdoors use which has a 60 degree angle and 8 or 9 dB gain. We also have an 8 dB omni directional, also from Hyperlink Technologies. The yagi will improve the received signal strength 10-20% but it also improves our SNR 40-50% !! If you are at anchor and your swing is more than 60 degrees, you're in trouble (we switch to omni directional antenna). But in many places, like Caribbean, the wind is from the same direction 90% of the time and the yagi works just great. In many cases, I can take our wifi amplifier off with the yagi while I need it in the same location with the omni.

We even saw boats using those follow-me rotators like used for sat-dishes.

Cheers,
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Old 20-03-2009, 13:58   #57
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IIRC some of the "barbeque grill" parabolic antennas are now down in the $50 price range with 24db of gain. That's an awesome weapon to have available if you are looking to grab a distant wifi connection. So, you can only use it while you are not moving, and you'll have to swing it a bit every time the boat swings around. But if you're looking to grab distant points and weak signals...nothing else is going to compete with it.
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Old 20-03-2009, 14:41   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
A directional antenna is much better than omni directional even if it has just the same gain. [...]
Er, barring adding an amp (which is, in a sense, cheating) to the omni-directional antenna, there ain't no such animal. Gain, or enhanced "signal snagging" in some direction, is obtained at the cost of reduced "signal snagging" in the remaining space around the antenna - in the end, it's a zero sum game.

The ideal antenna (a so-called "isotropic antenna") has a spherical pattern; gain, as in a 3db gain boat VHF antenna, swaps out acceptance over part of the sphere (top and bottom) for gain over a limited volume around the antenna.
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Old 20-03-2009, 15:43   #59
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Maybe it is just my opinion but getting highly directional is self defeating. A 24db antenna has about an 8 degree beam spread with a fast roll off outside that. If the boat drifts 4 degrees the signal drops by half. A few more and it dies all together. If you are pushing for maximum range it will die even sooner.

True there are a number of anchorages in the Caribbean with fairly constant easterlies but there are many more sheltered where it is common for boats to be drifting about their anchors in all directions.

You also have to remember that wifi is a two way street. While a higher ERP and receiver sensitivity can increase range you are ultimately limited by the capabilities of the weaker station.
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Old 20-03-2009, 18:16   #60
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you guys are talking 8 degree opening angles and you're absolutely right. However, I was talking 60 degree opening angle which is very usable at anchor.

RBEmerson: I don't understand a thing from your post, even though I'm an RF engineer ;-) Are you saying omni directionals have no gain higher than 3 dB except when you connect an amplifier? I hope not...

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