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Old 03-04-2009, 21:15   #121
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Could I have a link to that please?
I got mine from Data Alliance.net - really fast delivery and about the lowest price I found.

Alfa 500mW USB Wireless B/G Adapter with RP-SMA (threaded) Antenna Jack. Antenna included
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Old 03-04-2009, 22:08   #122
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Mark,

I will get one instead of the Engenius based in your experience. What is the recommended outside antenna for a sailing boat? cable?
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Old 04-04-2009, 05:35   #123
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If you are within about 500-700 yards of the AP the stock antenna should work sitting on the cabin top. For a reasonably durable setup from Data Alliance I would recommend their A9N 8.5 dB antenna with a P43 3 meter cable. It is not a true "marine antenna but it is rugged enough to be hoisted into the rigging. The cable is a bit longer than I would prefer but it has the right connectors and made of low loss LMR200A. Besides, it will get you some more altitude which for long distance is as useful as power. The 10" pigtail in LMR100 would have less loss but it is just to delicate for regular use.

BTW, on that same site I found another interesting candidate for a high power permanent installation. The Ubiquiti Bullet2HP is 800mw Tx with -95 dBm RX, has an N-male connector which is a lot stronger than RP-SMA on top that can screw directly to the 8.5dB antenna base so no coax and it can be powered by 12V POE so you don't have to use an inverter or expensive DC/DC converter like the Engenius EOC-3220/3610/2610. The software also seems a bit more user friendly. It is Linux SDK based so it can be flashed with another 3rd party OS too.
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Old 04-04-2009, 05:39   #124
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Thanks Gashmore and one more question about ext. antenna. If you were to get a permanent good external antenna for the boat that match the Alfa500 what would you get?

Thank you
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Old 04-04-2009, 06:24   #125
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I am still researching this A9N. It looks pretty good. I am a little concerned about the $16 price though and it is currently out of stock at Data Alliance. Most high quality "marine" antennas range from $45 to over $100 but that includes a marine deck or rail mount and an RP-SMA pigtail. They are also constructed entirely of PVC. This one has a fiberglass pole and aluminum base which may or may not be a bad thing. The marine mount is handy but the downside is they usually have a short LMR100 pigtail which I consider to delicate. A nice big N connector will hold up much better and a lot easier to make up than the tiny SMA connector.

OTOH, you do need to consider mounting. Without getting into less reliable extended USB schemes you have 15' max from your laptop to the Alpha and 10' from the Alpha to the antenna. That probably means mounting the antenna on a stanchion or Bimini bow. It might take some imagination to get it vertical on a Bimini with the standard pipe mount.

I found basically the same thing at www.netgate.com for $46. Netgate stated the gain at 8dB with a 60 degree vertical beam width as opposed to 8.5dB for the Data Alliance antenna but the polar pattern on the spec sheet shows 8.5dB with a 50 degree width. The minor difference is because of the way antennas are measured. When you down rate the maximum gain the beam width gets wider.

Either antenna connected to no more than 10' of LMR200A with an N-Male connector on one end and an RP-SMA connector on the other would be ideal for the Alpha. 10' of LMR200A at 2.4Ghz will drop the 500mw to about 350mw but at that power to it's base the 8dB antenna will have an ERP (Effective Radiated Power) of about 1.35 watts which will definitely give you some voice.
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Old 04-04-2009, 06:46   #126
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Thanks let me know your final conclusions and a link to what you consider the ultimate choice for the Alpha antenna and cable to be mounted permanently in the boat.
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:07   #127
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I haven't read this thread but have had no luck with internal antennas for wifi with my viao laptop in Newport for example. In fact I have been unable to find and non password access from any of the anchorage in southern NE I've been in.

I was thinking of biting the bullet and getting an air card instead.

Comments?
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Old 04-04-2009, 16:25   #128
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I got mine from Data Alliance.net - really fast delivery and about the lowest price I found.

Alfa 500mW USB Wireless B/G Adapter with RP-SMA (threaded) Antenna Jack. Antenna included
Thanks.
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Old 04-04-2009, 19:44   #129
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does the alpha unit come with a usb cord ? What plug does it use?
Thanks
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:26   #130
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OK, let's see if I've got this.....

I want max reception for minimum dollars and power consumption for my catamaran sailboat. I'd like my own secure wireless network within the boat for multiple users, printer, etc.

If I buy:

One UBIQUITI Bullet2HP
One 12dB Antenna (exterior/marine/omni-directional)
Special Gel-filled, direct burial Cat 5 cable (enough to run up my mast)

I attach antenna to Bullet directly, connect the RJ45 plug directly into the bottom of the Bullet, mount it atop my mast, run the cable down the mast and into my interior work area.

All I need now is a wireless network router to plug the Cat5 cable into? The router provides all the power I need to the Bullet via the Cat5 cable?

If all that is correct, here are my questions:

1. Can I use a "mobile" wireless router that runs off the cigarette lighter (12v) power?
2. If so, will that be sufficient to power the bullet/antenna through the cat5 cable?
3. Does this limit me in any way?
4. Am I missing any components?
5. Any recommendations for the 12dB antenna?

Thanks for the outstanding training you have provided for all of us in this thread, especially Gasher and Jedi. I apologize in advance if I've butchered the learning in my approach.

Cheers,

Greg
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:41   #131
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Hi,

Well I've finally made it through all the posts in this thread and feel like I can add a few things based on my own research and trial and error (lots of error!).

The Alpha 500 performs very well and in terms of plug and play as well as value it simply can't be beat. I have used it hoisted at the end of a chain of one passive and one active usb extension cable or with just one passive cable with no detected loss of performance. The one problem we had was when it accidentally got left out in the rain in Buquron PR recently. At first it was no problem but later, the solder connection where the usb connector attaches to the board broke off. I'll re-solder that *and* order a new one as well. Even with a great ship-side system you might like one for shore excursion or as pointed out... charters and delivery work.

I've tried the engenious products and don't like the user interface. Even with plenty of geeky help I found it to be on the clunky side. So far as I know at this time they are using a processor that does not play well with the open source crowd so there is no support for running third party software such as DD-WRT. It's a shame because the radio gear in those units really kicks butt. We have discussed here the importance of receiver sensitivity. I believe the engenious is superior to anything else I've played with in this department. The Bullet 2HP is on my watch list and it can run DD-WRT although you will have to pay a $20 fee to brainslayer which is still the biggest bargain of the world. If you are not at least a little geeky you want to someone who is to do your firmware swap. Screw this up and you end up with a “brick” or an unusable, unrecoverable unit.

Currently I'm sending this through what I believe is the ultimate system for us. I am wirelessly hooked to our WRT54GL router which in turn is associated with a distant open network. No second router necessary. No ethernet cable or POE. Currently I'm using a Yagi but that's because I'm at home. The highly directional Yagi we have proved nearly useless on our recent journey from BVI to Nassau although we did, out of shear desperation, once hook up to a distant station to do quick email with one person hand aiming the antenna while another person checked email. A PITA but hey... when you are desperate... So the Yagi stays in our arsenal. I'm building an Omni now and I'll post my findings on that later. One thing I think worth mentioning is that with the Omni antenna the "beam" is often angled upward. So unless you are really reaching for that horizon you might consider *not* going for the sky with it and keep it closer to deck. Someone mentioned spreaders (we don't have any) but that's not a bad compromise in my view.

In terms of simplicity I like our setup because we use our router in client-bridge mode and run a virtual wifi network to redistribute the signal in our boat. I first tried this in Culebra. At first it worked perfectly. We were unable to get a solid hookup to the town's free wifi with just our lap tops but after I set up the router, hooked to an omni that was installed on the davits (came with the boat we were on) I was able to get a solid hookup. We ran three lap tops off of our virtual network aboard and all was well for the first hour until things really started slowing down. When I checked I found that another half dozen boats in the anchorage had logged onto *our* network! So I went back into the security settings and set us up with WEP security to solve that. Selfish? Perhaps but the network was becoming un-usable. I really like the fact that I use no ethernet at all. I access the router wirelessly through our virtual network so the only two connections to the router are a 12 volt power lead and the (very short) antenna coax. Another advantage of the WRT54G/DD-WRT setup is that the antenna leads (2 each) are software switchable. This means I can attach two different antennas to the unit and switch back and forth depending on conditions, without actually unhooking or hooking anything.


So... about power. Wow. All I can say is that with the DD-WRT I can unlock the power of our router and take advantage of it's full power – a mediocre 251mw. But in practice I find that it's not necessary (or wise) to pump it all the way up. If your antenna can't use all that power you will end up with a distorted signal and defeat your purpose. Think of turning your stereo up too loud for your speakers. This is also unkind to people trying to use adjacent channels. Also heat is an issue... I normally run around 89mw and get great results. This might seem counter intuitive in a culture steeped in SUV-Highrise-Supersise mentality but I'm speaking of my own practical results here and I'll take that over theory any day. Remember... it's a two way street with receiver sensitivity being just as important as transmit power. Be aware that marketing departments might not be giving you the transmitters true power rating of any given device anyway, but projecting the “power” as a derivative of the actual transmitters power coupled with a high gain antenna. YMMV!


About interference or signal to noise ratio. There are a ton of devices using the same or close enough frequency to wifi to cause problems with your signal. The microwave oven in our house was the culprit for a while and cordless phones are also a problem. Just something to be aware of.


About line of sight. It really is not strictly line of site because the radio waves tend to wrap around objects. Just sayin'.


The general principal of keeping the coax run short is absolutely sound practice.


About wireless security. It isn't.


To get to the next level I've tried studying books on wifi and even on my specific router but frankly I realize that I'll have to go to the junior college and take beginning network classes and work my way through. Luckily I have the time if I decide to do it.


Thanks for all the great posts on the topic. Now let's all pray for fast up/down satellite Internet with a small omni antenna and a cheap monthly unlimited rate.


George
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:44   #132
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg099 View Post
I want max reception for minimum dollars and power consumption for my catamaran sailboat. I'd like my own secure wireless network within the boat for multiple users, printer, etc.

If I buy:

One UBIQUITI Bullet2HP
One 12dB Antenna (exterior/marine/omni-directional)
Special Gel-filled, direct burial Cat 5 cable (enough to run up my mast)

I attach antenna to Bullet directly, connect the RJ45 plug directly into the bottom of the Bullet, mount it atop my mast, run the cable down the mast and into my interior work area.

All I need now is a wireless network router to plug the Cat5 cable into? The router provides all the power I need to the Bullet via the Cat5 cable?

If all that is correct, here are my questions:

1. Can I use a "mobile" wireless router that runs off the cigarette lighter (12v) power?
2. If so, will that be sufficient to power the bullet/antenna through the cat5 cable?
3. Does this limit me in any way?
4. Am I missing any components?
5. Any recommendations for the 12dB antenna?

Thanks for the outstanding training you have provided for all of us in this thread, especially Gasher and Jedi. I apologize in advance if I've butchered the learning in my approach.

Cheers,

Greg
Hey Greg,

So far every source I've found for the 2HP is out of stock and also require a separate purchase of a POE.

And I also forgot to thank all the others who contributed here too. I always learn something new.

George
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:12   #133
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Greg,

I have not gotten my hands on a Bullet 2HP so I am not sure how friendly it is going to be with the onboard network. Like George says they seem to be out of stock everywhere, but from everything I have read so far it looks like you have covered everything. Just be prepared to do a little arguing with the local router until you figure out how to keep it happy.

I don't think buying the separate POE is a big problem. At least it runs on 12V and seems priced right even with the separate POE. I would stow the 120V wall wart and get a cigar lighter cord or, for a really permanent setup, cut the cord off the wall wart and hard wire it to the stereo system breaker.

A SWAG would be that the Bullet will draw less than half an amp. Probably much less. Most of the wireless routers I have worked with use 12VDC but a few need 5VDC (mostly hard wired routers and switches) so you would need a regulated DC/DC converter of some kind to get the boat voltage down for them. A 12VDC/12VDC converter might even be a good idea for 12V just to keep the charging voltage and noise out of the system.
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:13   #134
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg099 View Post
If I buy:

One UBIQUITI Bullet2HP
One 12dB Antenna (exterior/marine/omni-directional)
Special Gel-filled, direct burial Cat 5 cable (enough to run up my mast)

I attach antenna to Bullet directly, connect the RJ45 plug directly into the bottom of the Bullet, mount it atop my mast, run the cable down the mast and into my interior work area.

All I need now is a wireless network router to plug the Cat5 cable into? The router provides all the power I need to the Bullet via the Cat5 cable?
I'm vendor and I sell systems based on the Bullet 2HP.

Everything is correct except that:

1. I would not put a Bullet at the masthead without some sort of support bracket that can take the shock that can occur when a jib collapses while running down wind in a seaway and then refills with a snap. I believe that the N-Male connector that is the attachment point for the Bullet can be broken by an event like that. You'll be better mounting the Bullet on some stern structure.

2. Most inexpensive wireless routers will not provide Power to the Bullet. You'll need a passive POE between the wireless router and the Bullet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg099 View Post
If all that is correct, here are my questions:

1. Can I use a "mobile" wireless router that runs off the cigarette lighter (12v) power?
2. If so, will that be sufficient to power the bullet/antenna through the cat5 cable?
3. Does this limit me in any way?
4. Am I missing any components?
5. Any recommendations for the 12dB antenna?
1. Just about any office grade wireless router will work out of the box with the Bullet. If you get a 12 volt model such as ones made by Linksys, Netgear, Engenius and others you can avoid the cigarette lighter arrangement and connect directly to ships power.
2. The Bullet 2HP uses about 3 watts and most wireless routers run between 3 & 6 watts. Generally 12 volts input to the POE will let you use up to 150 feet of CAT5e cable. The longest run any of my customers have made is 100 feet.
3. You won't have any limitations that I am aware of.
4. You'll need a passive POE and a power pigtail with a 5.5 x 2.1 mm barrel plug.
5. I prefer an 8db antenna because of the larger beam width but whatever antenna you get, make sure it has a mounting bracket the stands off the surface enough to mount the Bullet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by thatboatguy View Post
The Bullet 2HP is on my watch list and it can run DD-WRT although you will have to pay a $20 fee to brainslayer which is still the biggest bargain of the world. If you are not at least a little geeky you want to someone who is to do your firmware swap. Screw this up and you end up with a “brick” or an unusable, unrecoverable unit.
DD-WRT is very capable firmware but most of what it does is not needed by a boater and it is harder to use than the Bullet firmware. IMO the Bullet firmware is the best on the market for a boater.
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Old 09-04-2009, 13:09   #135
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does the alpha unit come with a usb cord ? What plug does it use?
Thanks
Sorry for the delayed response but I've actually been out sailing!

The Alpha comes with a USB cord, the device end uses the small USB plug.

I have an Engenious 8db omni-directional antenna waiting for me at home base. I ordered the same one that Hud described at the start of this thread.

So far the Alpha on the cabin top is working OK here in Naples harbor. Unfortunately more and more access points are going secure... maybe the word's out eh?
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