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Old 16-02-2018, 08:18   #1
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Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Good Day All,

I am trying to upgrade some of my current equipment and have been reading various threads which have been helpful and confusing at the same time. I figured I would lay out my situation and see if I could get some helpful feedback.

Quick background. Iím mainly a coastal cruiser out of Stuart, Florida heading to the Abacos for the first time this summer. I also plan on cruising the Keys occasionally and hope to go to NY in the summer of 2019 and do an ICW rally on the way back. I sail a Tartan 37.

I have a basic SH VHF, not connected to my GPS, so non-functional DSC (I believe). I would like to replace it with the new SH GX6500 for the GPS and the AIS send/receive. I realize that this unit is not yet available but Iím hoping it will be available by June. I was planning on using a splitter to use my VHF antenna.

I have an iPad Pro without cellular and, based on another thread, w/o GPS capability presumably. I have the iNavionics app downloaded and was happy to see there are a lot of iNavioncs supporters out there so perhaps Iíll keep that instead of evaluating Garmin Bluecharts and Open CPN and I just heard about iSailor. I am considering a wifii booster (wifi ranger, wave, or Shakespeare) but donít feel I need a cell phone booster since phone calls are less important to me than internet access. However, now Iím seeing the Wirie Pro which Iíd never heard of and is supposed to be both a wifi and cell booster so thatís something I didnít see coming. I have a Garmin 541S at the helm which is 6 years old with a small screen. I was hoping to keep it despite itís small space (Iím concerned it will be too crowded with AIS vessels) but depending on the spend for the other equipment I could consider upgrading to a 7Ē or 9Ē model.

So trying to put this all together. Do I still need a Vesper device so everything talks to one another? I want to be able to use my ipad crossing the Gulf Stream as many have mentioned. Can I connect my iPad Pro (smaller screen model, 9Ē I think) to my VHF to access the GPS there? If so, I am assuming I can see the AIS vessels on my ipad as well. Is the wirie pro a no brainer or should I stick with a wifi booster only?

I can really use some guidance so thank you all in advance for any feedback you can offer. Iím heading to the boat show">Miami Boat Show to talk so some of the vendors down there but would prefer to be forearmed before spending my money. Thanks in advance.

Jesse
S/V Sailsman
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Old 16-02-2018, 13:40   #2
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

I wouldn't buy a Vesper JUST for the router capability. You can pick up a router anywhere. (I do love my Vesper XB-8000 though.)

Presumably you'd get the AIS information from your new radio to your chartplotter via NMEA. NMEA 2000 would be best, if your existing chartplotter can handle it. Otherwise, NMEA 0183 would work, although you'd be hard pressed to share the data with other devices. Not sure what the new GX6500 will cost, but it might make sense to get a traditional radio for $100-$150 and put the extra toward an XB-8000.

A new Garmin 741 (or whatever they've replaced it with this year) would come with WiFi capabilities built in. Very handy for your tablet, where you'd be able to see exactly what your chartplotter displays. Without built-in GPS on the tablet, you don't have any redundancy there though. There are some pretty cheap tablets out there, which do have GPS.

A separate issue is how you expect to get internet connectivity. A WiFi booster is only going to gain you a few hundred yards extra from the hot spot. A cell phone booster would get you a few extra miles from the cell tower.
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Old 16-02-2018, 14:02   #3
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

The Abacos are a great place to get comfortable with cruising. The water is shallow enough to drop the hook almost anywhere, if something breaks, or a storm pops up. Get the Steve Dodge book for the Abacos. The waypoints are spot on.

I have Raymarine electronics, and I use CMAP electronic charts and they have been excellent in the Abacos. I installed a small MFD at the helm and use the WiFi to mirror the display on my iPad.

AIS is great in the ICW and when crossing the Gulf Stream. Once youíre on the Little Bahama Bank and the Sea of Abaco, itís not a big deal.

We use a WiFi extender from IslandtimePC.com to connect to Bahamas WiMAX in the Abacos.

Do you have the shoal-draft Tartan 37? If so, and you decide to clear in at West End, you can take the Indian Cay Cut onto the bank. We draw 5.5 feet and always hit the cut at half-tide or better.

Enjoy!
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Old 16-02-2018, 18:40   #4
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Presumably you'd get the AIS information from your new radio to your chartplotter via NMEA. NMEA 2000 would be best, if your existing chartplotter can handle it. Otherwise, NMEA 0183 would work, although you'd be hard pressed to share the data with other devices. Not sure what the new GX6500 will cost, but it might make sense to get a traditional radio for $100-$150 and put the extra toward an XB-8000.

A new Garmin 741 (or whatever they've replaced it with this year) would come with WiFi capabilities built in. Very handy for your tablet, where you'd be able to see exactly what your chartplotter displays. Without built-in GPS on the tablet, you don't have any redundancy there though. There are some pretty cheap tablets out there, which do have GPS.

A separate issue is how you expect to get internet connectivity. A WiFi booster is only going to gain you a few hundred yards extra from the hot spot. A cell phone booster would get you a few extra miles from the cell tower.



Thanks for the feedback CaptTom. I'm still connecting the synapses. I never realized how electronically naive I am. Fortunately I still have time to learn more before I head out this summer.

Jesse
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Old 16-02-2018, 18:46   #5
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Thank you for your response JibStay. It's been a long time since I've done a little cruising in the Abacos and I'm really excited to do it with my own boat this time. I've got Steve Dodge and Explorer Charts but I'm trying to work out a system with my iPad.

Yes, I draw 4' 2" and have been considering getting to Sale Cay via Memory Rock which someone suggested. Do you have any opinion re: preference? Mileage is the same. Thanks.

Jesse



The Abacos are a great place to get comfortable with cruising. The water is shallow enough to drop the hook almost anywhere, if something breaks, or a storm pops up. Get the Steve Dodge book for the Abacos. The waypoints are spot on.

I have Raymarine electronics, and I use CMAP electronic charts and they have been excellent in the Abacos. I installed a small MFD at the helm and use the WiFi to mirror the display on my iPad.

AIS is great in the ICW and when crossing the Gulf Stream. Once youíre on the Little Bahama Bank and the Sea of Abaco, itís not a big deal.

We use a WiFi extender from IslandtimePC.com to connect to Bahamas WiMAX in the Abacos.

Do you have the shoal-draft Tartan 37? If so, and you decide to clear in at West End, you can take the Indian Cay Cut onto the bank. We draw 5.5 feet and always hit the cut at half-tide or better.
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Old 16-02-2018, 19:25   #6
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Hey Jesse,

We usually depart from the Lake Worth inlet, and my wife likes to spend a couple of days at Old Bahama Bay, so we go to West End.

If we were departing from further north, Memory Rock would probably make more sense.

I like getting the Customs clearance out of the way at West End. Also, we typically spend the next couple of weeks anchoring out around uninhabited Cays, so spending a couple of days at a resort, with rum drinks and restaurants, makes my wife happy.
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Old 16-02-2018, 20:33   #7
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Stuart
It you get a vesper XB8000, it will have GPS and you can connect it to your existing VHF using the Vesper 0183 output to your radio 0183 input. This will provide GPS to your radio for your DSC. You can also load InavX on your Ipad and connect to the Vesper via WiFi and you will have a great chartplotter, GPS and AIS targets will show up on your screen. The Vesper also has a great anchor alarm that you can get on your Ipad or phone.
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Old 17-02-2018, 07:20   #8
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

I think Jerry is onto the best solution. Keep your existing radio and chartplotter. Connect them via NMEA0183 to your new Vesper. That also gives you a WiFi router. Now you can see GPS and AIS data on any tablet or phone with WiFi, using a variety of different apps.

Anything new you buy (wind instruments, chartplotter, radio, engine data digitizer, depth sounder, etc.) can be connected via NMEA 2000. The Vesper will transmit some of that data (except engine data, sadly) over the WiFi, as well as repeat it to any legacy NMEA 0183 devices.
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Old 17-02-2018, 09:08   #9
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
I think Jerry is onto the best solution. Keep your existing radio and chartplotter. Connect them via NMEA0183 to your new Vesper. That also gives you a WiFi router. Now you can see GPS and AIS data on any tablet or phone with WiFi, using a variety of different apps.

Anything new you buy (wind instruments, chartplotter, radio, engine data digitizer, depth sounder, etc.) can be connected via NMEA 2000. The Vesper will transmit some of that data (except engine data, sadly) over the WiFi, as well as repeat it to any legacy NMEA 0183 devices.
+1 . . . . this is basically what I've done on my boat and now have only the NEMA2K network distributing data around but also have the wifi characteristics of the Vesper 8000 unit also . . . win-win for me!
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Old 17-02-2018, 09:10   #10
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
I think Jerry is onto the best solution. Keep your existing radio and chartplotter. Connect them via NMEA0183 to your new Vesper. That also gives you a WiFi router. Now you can see GPS and AIS data on any tablet or phone with WiFi, using a variety of different apps.

Anything new you buy (wind instruments, chartplotter, radio, engine data digitizer, depth sounder, etc.) can be connected via NMEA 2000. The Vesper will transmit some of that data (except engine data, sadly) over the WiFi, as well as repeat it to any legacy NMEA 0183 devices.
This is exactly how I'm doing it. The Vesper allows wireless and wired connections to otherwise discrete devices, plus generating its own GPS and AIS strings as needed. Waiting for spring to install it.
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Old 17-02-2018, 09:13   #11
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

For WiFi and cellular data, I set up my own system. It consists of a Bullet WiFi radio and antenna mounted about 10' up on the wind generator pole. I also have a 4G LTE omni directional MIMO antenna mounted on the stern rail. The Bullet is connected to a POE injector (included with the Bullet) via an outdoor rated CAT 5 cable at the Nav station and then to a standard $50.00 router from Best Buy. The 4G antenna is connected via two small outdoor rated coax cables to a Netgear 4G LTE modem containing a data sim card, also at the Nav station. The two cables are required for optimum 4G data so tx and rx can occur simultaneously (MIMO=multi input, multi output). The 4G LTE Modem is then connected to the Router via a switch, so I can either have the WiFi Data or the 4G data going into the router with the push of a button. The router is the hotspot for the boat, so any device connected to the router will get data from either the WiFi or the 4G LTE modem, whichever is connected. When you want to connect to a different WiFi hotspot, you log into the Bullet and select the hotspot you want. The devices on the boat only have to log into the router always with the same password. When I'm in the Marina, I log into the Marina WiFi via the Bullet. When I'm out cruising (West Coast of FL so far), I switch to the 4G Modem. So far it has worked perfectly.

4G LTE modem:
https://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-LB112.../dp/B01N5ASNTE

4G LTE antenna:
https://www.semiconductorstore.com/c...dproduct=50314

Ubiquiti Bullet
https://www.amazon.com/Ubiquiti-Bull...TTHS9S7Z1RZE78

Omni WiFi antenna
https://www.amazon.com/Engenius-Outd.../dp/B000VIA4CA

Network switch splitter
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

You will also need enough CAT 5 cable and coax to route to your Bullet and 4G LTE antenna.

I have a detailed write up on configuring the Bullet and router. If anyone wants it, send me a PM.
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Old 17-02-2018, 09:25   #12
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Here is my 4G LTE MIMO antenna and the Vesper GPS antenna on the stern rail. The Bullet is up the pole above the 4G antenna. The egret on the sugar scoop approves.
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Old 17-02-2018, 11:51   #13
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

Somewhere on this or some other forum, there was a discussion about Google Fi cell service.

It was claimed that, if you ask, you can get a 2nd SIM card to use in a cellular modem ("MiFi") like Jerry's first component, above. Supposedly that shares the same data plan with your primary SIM card in your phone. Since so many providers now are blocking the ability to tether for data sharing, this might be worth checking into. Seems it might be better than paying for a separate plan just for data.
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Old 17-02-2018, 13:40   #14
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

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Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
Somewhere on this or some other forum, there was a discussion about Google Fi cell service.

It was claimed that, if you ask, you can get a 2nd SIM card to use in a cellular modem ("MiFi") like Jerry's first component, above. Supposedly that shares the same data plan with your primary SIM card in your phone. Since so many providers now are blocking the ability to tether for data sharing, this might be worth checking into. Seems it might be better than paying for a separate plan just for data.
Yes, that was me. I have Google Fi and they give you a second sim card to use for data on the same account. That is the sim card that I put in my 4G LTE modem. The plan recently got a whole lot better. Base charge of $20.00 + 10.00/GB. After 6 GB, you get unlimited data for no extra charge. Plus, you only pay for what you use in a particular month. So, when I'm not on the boat only using data on my phone, I seldom use more than a GB, so my bill is $30.00. When I'm on the boat and use the data sim in the modem, then I can easily get up to 6 GB and pay $80.00 for that month, but I'm only paying for what I use, not a set monthly data fee. For me, this is a very good deal. Of course, you need to get a Google Pixel phone to use Project Fi, but I think it's one of the best phones out there, I love mine.
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Old 17-02-2018, 13:45   #15
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Re: Need guidance re: VHF, Wifi Booster, AIS

I forgot to add that the Vesper WiFi will attach to the boat router. So, on my system, any device logged into the boat WiFi has access to internet as well as the Vesper AIS data (or any other data that is on your N2K network). Pretty cool.
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