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Old 30-08-2013, 17:19   #1
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Suggestions for WAPS on a marina

I have been doing some IT support for the resort I work at for years. Also for the marina it joins and where I have my boat. I have tried for years to convince either to have a good wireless network installed.

Well I got the call today to set the marina up for wifi and although I've done buildings this is my first marina.

I should add I live in Australia (unfortunately there is limited mobile Internet coverage at the marina)

The situation is there is a floating office 1story at one end of a long narrow marina with 4 legs parallel to the office. In the initial leg adjacent the office are all the big power cruisers that have fly bridges towering over the office.

My inclination that sourcing a few directional WAPS on top of the office where all the network infrastructure is will be significantly degraded by these immediate boats.

I need to find a cost effective method to get a reliable signal to every boat. If its too expensive they will have a high price on access. For now they are talking low cost or free access.

Does anyone know of a good system that is cost effective to install in this sort of scenario?

I would love to get a system that is endorsed by its actual users rather then a Rep of the wap company.

I will add a few details. The posts on the legs provide single or 3 phase 220vac only and water. There is no telecoms no coax or anything else.

Thank you very much, any insight is very much appreciated.
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Old 31-08-2013, 08:39   #2
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Re: Suggestions for WAPS on a marina

Can you post a rough sketch of the area(s) to be covered, with dimensions and elevations or obstacles? Total number of slips? Also, what type of internet connection does the marina or resort have to the rest of the world?

A number of solutions are possible. I'm most familiar with the ubiquiti radios, but they can be a little daunting to configure, if you haven't done one before.

Another idea - visit (or sail into) a few of the large clubs or marinas near you, scope out their solutions, and assess them for coverage, speed, etc.
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Old 31-08-2013, 08:50   #3
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Re: Suggestions for WAPS on a marina

Open Mesh | Cloud-Managed Wireless Networks

more expensive but better:

UniFi | Ubiquiti Networks, Inc.


It depends on how many access points, how many devices, and how bullet-proof you want the system. There are a lot of people using OpenMesh with great results, but generally if you have more devices and lots of nodes Unifi is better.

If was doing a marina with < 100 boats, and maybe <20 liveaboards, I'd go with OpenMesh. More than that, or including offices, a gym, a recroom, and other stuff like that with a less tolerant user base I'd do Unifi.
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Old 31-08-2013, 17:17   #4
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I will try and get a rough plan of the marina posted soon.

Here's part of the issue. Currently they have 1 standard ADSL line coming in (that's as fast as we can get in our area.) for our resort I had them install 2 lines and I ran a balanced router to keep speeds as high as possible with multiethnic users.
At the marina there is a MDF within meters of the office and a makeshift IDF in the coms post outside the floating office. Which is then connected via an umbilical cord.
I don't think they will want to run too much cable if they can avoid it. But trying to get a signal through out by mesh (unless there's something happening there new I am unaware of) would be too slow or non existent by the end berths.

I'm not familiar with the other systems listed so Ill check into them.

Cheers
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Old 31-08-2013, 17:53   #5
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Re: Suggestions for WAPS on a marina

The mesh ones aren't too bad, they basically half the throughput in every hop, but a 1g connection halved to 500mb and then again to 250mb/s and again to 125 and so on and so forth still yields plenty fast results at the tail end, and that's through a lot of hops.

Your choke point will be the actual ADSL connection I think.

It's been a while since I've used openmesh but there is some stuff in there for throttling and otherwise regulating bandwidth. We did a deal in a marina in San Diego where for $10/month they got really blazing fast, and everyone else got ~20kb/s: enough for checking email but that's about it. $10/month x the 40 people who signed up for it paid to have a fiber connection put in.
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Old 31-08-2013, 18:30   #6
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Re: Suggestions for WAPS on a marina

mischief, see if you can locate a ham radio club in your area. Go to a meeting, ask if anyone has microwave experience or knows someone who does. It isn't uncommon among hams, and you will be far batter off having someone who understands how the various antennas work, radiation patterns, etc. to plan the deployment. You may find someone who'll help out for free, or someone who'll charge a reasonable fee. But if you have the proper antennas, to cover just the area you want to serve, you may be able to locate one high enough to beam "down" over the target area, minimizing some of the interference. Also, if you use the dual band 2/5GHz equipment (assuming that's legal there?) the 802.11n users on 5GHz will see a lot less interference. Any type of microwave (all WiFi) penetrates things like standing masts and tuna towers pretty well. They'll cause some multipath and scatter maybe, but I'd expect them to block a lot less signal than you're expecting.

But ask locally, you may be surprised at the experience you can borrow, for free or for the price of lunch.
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Old 31-08-2013, 18:42   #7
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Re: Suggestions for WAPS on a marina

Just a thought, a little outside the box perhaps, since they have power to the slips, how about Ethernet Over Power?
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Old 31-08-2013, 18:42   #8
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Re: Suggestions for WAPS on a marina

Another real problem I've noticed in several marinas is the amount of interference caused by the vessels themselves. A lot of people have mobile access points these days (wiri, bullet, etc) that create their own wifi networks. Add in a few cellular/3g/4g hotspots and you can easily have a couple dozen wifi networks in a really small area all overlapping each other.

That's the problem at Marina La Paz here in Baja. Every boat is a "cruiser" and as such is loaded to the gills with electronics including wifi access points 20' off the water. There's a cat5 jack on each power pedestal. Plug into that and you get decent speeds: you can stream Amazon videos, download at a few hundred k a second, etc.

Access anyone of the AP's for the marina, same outbound Internet connection, and it's a joke of interference and dropped packets.

The proliferation of wifi range extenders for sail boats has interestingly enough become its own worst enemy.
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Old 31-08-2013, 19:35   #9
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I am still active with a marina and hotel network in Panama. When there is no cabling to the docks present, it's best and cheapest to use wireless for that too.

Create a core of Ubiquity AirMax 5GHz to replace cabling.

Create a Ubiquity Unifi network around that core.

Start with studying the above mentioned technologies at www.ubnt.com. It gets pretty involved.

I'll make it easy for the core: use a RocketM5 router with Airmax Omni antenna on top of the office, like a single AirMax accesspoint. This costs a bit but performs well. Then use NanoStationM5loco radios around the area to link back to that central point using the AirMax protocol. These links are as good as 100Mbps Ethernet.

You connect the Unifi outdoors radios to the NanoStations. If distances are beyond 200m then use a NanoStationM5 instead of the smaller loco. It has a powerfull 2x2 antenna array multiplying distance performance.

I still use a MikroTik router to connect to the DSL lines, do the hotspot login page etc.
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Old 02-09-2013, 14:54   #10
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Thanks everyone so far. I am researching the Ubiquity system. I had also considered EOP but wasn't sure if it was strong enough to run multiple units spread out. I hear they are reliable enough but have only encountered limited users with these. But if someone has experience I'd rather have a few options that could work.
There is quite a few Waps throughout the property fortunately I should be able to get the hotel to turn theirs down somewhat but likely they would still overlap a number if berths. Then there are likely another half dozen signals throughout the marina.
I really appreciate the insight. I'd really like to make sure they end up with a reliable descent wifi since 1)I'll also be a user and 2) there are some nice cruisers there that would also appreciate it there. 3) The work I do will be exchanged for berthing credit for us and that could really help out with our plans.

Thanks again
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Old 02-09-2013, 15:19   #11
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I installed a wifi system in a small marina 2years ago,. I used OWL WAPs from 4ipnet. Its was 100 boat setup with about 300-400m as the longest reach.

Fed by ADSL , the goal was to support about 20% connection ratio.

The OWL are planar directional antenna/ and all antennas /wap were positioned above the office dividing the marina into sectors. While not a particularly high performance , there wasn't much point as the ADSL simply couldn't support high throughput.

Cost about 1000 euros all in. No downtime in 2 years from the APs. Even during recent very severe winters

Dave
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