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Old 04-07-2012, 15:22   #1171
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

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Originally Posted by NautiCloud View Post
Hi GrouchyTurtle,

Thanks for sticking your neck out & responding!

I agree that you can make the alfa waterproof with a pelican box, but don't make it seem simpler than it is since you would then also need to accomodate the USB cable somehow.
I agree with you on the other points, but it really is that easy! That's simply accomplished with just a few minutes with a small round file.

Truthfully I don't have any Wi-Fi booster right now. Ebayed the Afla, because there aren't many available networks in Miami. Right now I'm sitting at the dock, and can get Wi-Fi at the marina and in the lobby of the hotel here. I figure by the time I'm cruising somewhere where I can get a good signal from shore the technology will very likely have changed.
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Old 24-09-2012, 15:47   #1172
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

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Originally Posted by NautiCloud View Post
Hi GrouchyTurtle,

Thanks for sticking your neck out & responding!

I agree that you can make the alfa waterproof with a pelican box, but don't make it seem simpler than it is since you would then also need to accomodate the USB cable somehow.

The idea with the NautiCloud is that the limitations have been designed out from the get-go. USB was great back in the day for some applications, but for connectivity WiFi is defintely the future. The active extension cables might allow you to extend the height to which you can raise the alfa, but then you are still limited to just one device having internet connectivity unless you also install a complementary wired/wireless network onboard.

The NautiCloud already has it all! Plus the cable can be up to 300' (or longer as long as you are delivering 12-24VDC at the NautiCloud itself). With the exception of USB, cabling today is pretty inexpensive, particularly network cable.

By having an integrated onboard wireless network, it also means that anyone onboard can connect their device(s) and take advantage of the offboard link. So, the kids can have their tablets and watch a movie up forward while the adults check email/facebook/twitter, all from the comfort of belowdecks - out of the elements - without sacrificing WiFi performance.

Best Regards,


NautiCloud
Thanks 4 sticking the posts out nauticloud, presently i am using an old bi-linear CB amplifier a bud converted for me and it picks up free wi-fi about 5miles away and alot of locked ports in between. How he converted it is a mystery to me but thanks for info as i am considering purchasing another.Interestingly this same bi-linear amplifier was used to convert a truckers CB radio from 4 watts to 5000 watts output and how much input i am not sure. IT was a "wall to wall and treetop tall" radio amplifier back in the 80s. cheers
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Old 26-09-2012, 18:31   #1173
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

Is that just a USB cable coming out the bottom of the electrical box?
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Old 26-09-2012, 18:43   #1174
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

I've read a lot of this thread over it life-time (not all) and thought I would throw this out for what it is worth.

We have used the Bullet 2 HP radio on our MacGregor for a couple years and now on our Endeavour also. We also have tried an Alpha on the boat along side of the Bullet. After doing that we find the Bullet to be significantly better.

Saying that I like the Alpha for on the road with our laptops when we stay in Motel rooms and use it with the ship's 12 volt computer...

Compurer-Chart Plotter-Navigation Index

... at home (I use that computer on whichever boat we are on and at home so that I don't have to move files around).

I have more details at the link here...

Long Distance WiFi Index

...if anyone is interested. Follow the first link that describes the radio, antenna and router,

Sum

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Old 26-09-2012, 19:54   #1175
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

Sumner: Congrats on putting a system together that meets your needs. And you echo the experiences that many of our customers have regarding a USB based solution. And that was a good DIY description.

Just to let other readers know, there are additional companies that offer ethernet based solutions, some with just the basic Bullet and third party router kits and some with much more user friendly firmware, mounting choices and optional extras such as regulated power injectors with Bullet remote reset buttons to really pull it all together without the need to be computer savvy or a communications technician/engineer. Google will be your friend.
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Old 26-09-2012, 22:20   #1176
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With this thread, I put together a bullet, antenna and router about a year ago for our cruise. We left Michigan in July and are now in the Chesapeake (Annapolis). Over this distance, I have only had an open wifi connection at four spots total. I pull down typically about 10 connections, but surprisingly few have been unsecured. Of those that were unlocked, they always seemed to be at the 90db range and higher (useless). So far, a 3G modem would have been a much better solution.

Please tell me there are more unlocked ones further south!
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Old 26-09-2012, 22:44   #1177
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

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Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
With this thread, I put together a bullet, antenna and router about a year ago for our cruise. We left Michigan in July and are now in the Chesapeake (Annapolis). Over this distance, I have only had an open wifi connection at four spots total. I pull down typically about 10 connections, but surprisingly few have been unsecured. Of those that were unlocked, they always seemed to be at the 90db range and higher (useless). So far, a 3G modem would have been a much better solution.

Please tell me there are more unlocked ones further south!
We do now a Virgin Mobile plan (uses sprint towers) for $45 a month with unlimited data (kind of -- if you use over I think 3 gig in a month they slow you way down, but so far that hasn't happened to us, but I wouldn't watch movies or NASCAR on it.). We can tether it to the computer if needed and I do that for say checking weather, the primary reason we got it.

Our 3 month total cruise in FL was a little over a year ago now, but we had WiFi most places when we were near anything....Pelican Bay (connected to a marina in Boca Grande 4+ miles away), Punta Gorda, Captiva (couple connections), Ft. Myers Beach, Marco Island, Everglades City, Marathon Gulf Side and Boot Key Harbor, Long Key, Key Largo and one other place up the gulf side.

We also used the WiFi this year at the boatyard for 3 months to connect to the one at the club house a couple hundred yards away since they don't have a very good system. People with laptops had to go to the club house. We could connect there with either the Bullet or the Alpha good enough for Netflix.

I've found that there are more connections out there period. More secured and more public ones. When we go out on the boat next I might of found that has changed. We don't have anything on the boat computer that would compromise us money wise. If I need to get to bank info I'll use the phone.

Sum

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Old 27-09-2012, 04:26   #1178
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

Regarding number of open hotspots available in an area:
Just because a hotspot is open doesn't necessarily mean that it is free - they might use a landing page that askes for your credit card to buy internet time. And just because a network is secured does not mean that you cannot get free access. Many cafes, bars, coffee shops, etc have a secure hotspot but if you patronize their establishment (buy a coffee), they'll give you their password.
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Old 27-09-2012, 07:07   #1179
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

Quote:
Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
With this thread, I put together a bullet, antenna and router about a year ago for our cruise. We left Michigan in July and are now in the Chesapeake (Annapolis). Over this distance, I have only had an open wifi connection at four spots total. I pull down typically about 10 connections, but surprisingly few have been unsecured. Of those that were unlocked, they always seemed to be at the 90db range and higher (useless). So far, a 3G modem would have been a much better solution.

Please tell me there are more unlocked ones further south!
It won't get much better, and those you do find are a dying breed. It used to be that home routers were sold unprotected out of the box and relied on the user to set up encryption. Almost none of the typical homeowners saw the need or understood how to do it. And even if they did, it was only WEP, which can be cut down in a minute or two.

Now, routers are sold with WPA/WAP2 enabled out of the box. Where just 2-3 years ago it was rare to see a home router locked down and one had almost constant connections down the ICW, now more and more of the homes you pass by will be locked down.

Outside the US, unlocked routers are rare as hen's teeth and 3G rules there.

Mark
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Old 27-09-2012, 10:04   #1180
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

I'll share this regarding unsecured hotspots:
We had a call from a customer who had installed our system somewhere while on the Hudson and was headed down the ICW. He had gotten to South Carolina when he called asking for assistance because he wasn't getting a connection. After some questions, we quickly discovered that he had been using automatic mode (default shipped setup which connects to the strongest unsecured Wi-Fi signal it finds automatically) and had never actually had to select a hotspot manually up until then.

Regarding booster products in general: Their purpose is to facilitate the use of Wi-Fi at a greater distance than what a laptop can. They are not intended to be used for 'war driving' (essentially connecting to private networks without having obtained permission).

Consider as well that secured networks can be available and are provided by businesses for their customer's use. So, just be a customer, buy the coffee and get the password.
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Old 27-09-2012, 15:41   #1181
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

I've followed this topic for a pretty long time. Several years ago I purchased an Alfa and some extension USB cables and would run the Alfa up the flag halyard at times when I was close to shore. It worked pretty well for the price. But after a bunch of years the Alfa has died. I think that the high humidity and temperature in Puerto Rico contributed to its death. So now I'm looking for replacement.

Thanks to Sumner for the link to the details of his system. I've also tried to follow the commercial systems. I have to say that in Puerto Rico, most of the access points are protected. But there are still a significant number of communities and shops that have free wireless access.

I'm tempted to follow the Ubiquiti Bullet type of installation but it seems that there are a number of folks who are big fans of the nano as well. If I understand correctly, the nano has a directional antenna. I'm a bit uneasy about directional antennas when bouncing around. Any comments about all of the different Ubiquiti models and the best way to install them would be appreciated. I'm getting ready to buy the components for installation in a few weeks.
Thanks
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Old 27-09-2012, 15:59   #1182
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

Nano's work great and the price is hard to beat. You get an AC/DC POE, the antenna and the radio, everything you need to get started but the cables. I think they are especially good in urban areas like marinas where lots of rf noise and reflected signals are present and your boat is stationary.

You do have to consider the fact that it has a directional antenna and be prepared to run out and adjust the antenna direction when you occasionally lose your signal.

I would bring it in when you go to sea. I don't think it is as weather-tight as a Bullet although a good tape job on the sliding door at the base would help a lot.
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Old 27-09-2012, 18:00   #1183
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

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You do have to consider the fact that it has a directional antenna and be prepared to run out and adjust the antenna direction when you occasionally lose your signal. ..
That would not work for us since we are almost always on anchor swinging around. Also usually always on the move and needing to find reception in a new location where we have no idea where the connect point is located (direction to it) and it would be pain trying to point it different directions and then re-running the setup software each time.

I could see it working for some one slipped in the same marina all of the time.

We had our bullet ...



...on our Mac for 7 months in Florida (Nov. 2010 to May 2011) with no problems and then when we bought the Endeavour I moved it to that boat...



...and it was on that boat from May 2011 until we returned in April 2012. I connected the POE to the cat 4 cable down in the boat and also the ...



...router and computer and it fired right off and worked until we left in August. So for almost 2 years it had been out in the elements with no service and no problems.

While in the yard I hoisted the Alpha a couple times. It is not in a waterproof box. Compared to the Bullet that is always up it was a pain to go out and hoist it up and run the USB cable.

We carry a second new Bullet as a back up and haven't needed to use it. Even if the one died when we went back to the boat I'd feel that we got our money's worth. Cost way less to use than the $50 a month at home that we pay for connection there .

Computer and WiFi here....

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Sum

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Old 28-09-2012, 08:16   #1184
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

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You do have to consider the fact that it has a directional antenna and be prepared to run out and adjust the antenna direction when you occasionally lose your signal.
Never mind that you may need to adjust it now and then to stay connected, you have to find a signal first and that means lots of pointing and testing for reception. You will need lots of patience!
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Old 28-09-2012, 10:04   #1185
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Re: Long-Distance WiFi Device

The Nano's have a 60 degree vertical beam width and they can usually see stations well outside of that. Once you see a station, you select it and use the AirOS "Align Antenna" feature to rotate the Nano for maximum signal strength. The hard part is keeping the boat still after you get the Nano pointed for maximum signal.
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