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Old 28-01-2010, 00:45   #1
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The Wirie

This long distance wifi antenna system is being advertised on this site:
The Wirie: Marine and RV high power WiFi solution

Does anyone have any experience with it or opinions?

(I am in no way affiliated with the company - just have been looking at things like the Bullet and the Alpha and saw this)
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:28   #2
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I finally figured out how to use the search button more effectively and located some comments on this in the larger wifi thread. Whoops!
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Old 07-06-2010, 21:39   #3
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So, how happy are you with the unit? Has Wirie met your expectations?
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Old 09-06-2010, 21:18   #4
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So far we love it but we haven't used it enough to give it a full review. We connected to a marina at anchor while more than a mile away and we can see a lot more hot spots at our marina than before. I'm waiting to blog about it until we have more varied usage but so far it works exactly as advertised. It mounts just with a u-bolt and we have the annoyance of running the wire through the cockpit down below but that's because we haven't taken the time to route it internally.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:53   #5
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The Wirie is a consumer USB client adapter using the Alfa product. These are OK for what they do and for making better connections when taking your computer ashore. However, they are not a substitute for a professional client/bridge system (I have both Alfa and Engenius USB client adapters on board, so have extensive experience with what I am saying here).

In the past, putting together a professional client/bridge system was very technical, involved many separate parts and was much more expensive compared to the consumer USB adapters available. So comparing them in a cruising environment was apples and oranges.

But I am astounded at the prices now of repackaged systems like the Wirie (the Alfa adapter is <$40 everywhere and small pelican boxes are given away as novelties at boat shows). I give these guys credit for packaging and marketing these systems, but the costs are eye-popping.

Today, the professional systems are small (less than half the size of the Wirie) single-package plug and play at prices the same as or LESS than the Wirie and other repackaged USB client adapters. With far greater performance and flexibility (wireless on and around boat, mount up to 300' away with no loss of performance, share with friends, etc). As soon as people discover this, I suspect the USB companies will not have a sustainable business.

Two of these systems that come to mind are the ones offered by islandtimepc.com and bitstorm systems. I have no affiliation or products from either of these companies.

Four of us are currently anchored together. One has the Wirie, one has an Engenius 362, one has a Ubiquity Bullet 2HP and we have a Ubiquity Litestation (equivalent to the Ubiquity Bullet 2HP). The Wirie, Bullet 2HP and Litestation have the same gain antenna and are mounted the same distance above the water. The Engenius also has the same gain antenna and mounting height, but is using a longish run of coax, so it is hobbled and can't really be directly compared.

I can see and connect to 8 open and free access points (I see a total of 35 AP's). The Bullet 2HP boat sees the same ones as I do. The Wirie does not see any of the free open AP's and only a few of the pay per views, as does the Engenius. So those two are paying $10/day for access.

This wasn't surprising to me. Like I mentioned, I have both the Alfa and Engenius on board and have swapped them into my Litestation system for comparison. So I was able to make direct comparisons with everything exactly identical except for the physical transceiver.

I am not advocating any specific company's product, nor am I denigrating any specific products. I am just relating some personal technical and experimental direct experiences with these products.

Mark
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:02   #6
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Some other thoughts.

Hi,

I am Mark and manufacture and distribute The Wirie. I just want to add a bit to the comments another Mark made above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
The Wirie is a consumer USB client adapter using the Alfa product. These are OK for what they do and for making better connections when taking your computer ashore. However, they are not a substitute for a professional client/bridge system (I have both Alfa and Engenius USB client adapters on board, so have extensive experience with what I am saying here).
The Wirie uses a consumer based WiFi adapter, this is correct. We do this because most users ("consumers") find them easier to work and deal with. I built and designed The Wirie because of all the "professional" systems I was being hired to fix on people's boats. We could easily use our packaging with an Ethernet client bridge system (like the Bullet), but we know that for most consumers, a consumer based, not a network engineer based ("professional"), system is easier to install and use. Your claim is making it sound like The Wirie is not "professional" enough to be used on a boat (if I misinterpreted, I apologize). I would hesitate to make a statement like this when we fully disclose what goes into making The Wirie a marine grade [link deleted], waterproof product, as opposed to the "professional client bridge" systems you are talking about which were never intended to be used on a boat. There are plenty of facts about salt and water issues with the same professional equipment you refer to. [link deleted]

You won't find any of this about The Wirie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
But I am astounded at the prices now of repackaged systems like the Wirie (the Alfa adapter is <$40 everywhere and small pelican boxes are given away as novelties at boat shows).
However, you forget to mention some of the other pieces to The Wirie as well, such as our custom built marine grade antenna and mounting bracket. This new antenna is a major item that sets us apart from our competition at the moment. There is no other system at/near this price point on the market that is using a marine grade antenna [link deleted]. All are using off the shelf antenna's and will not have the same performance and durability as our new antenna. Unfortunately, being a manufacturing company, we are unable to go to boat shows, collect free merchandise, and then re-sell it .

A Bullet2HP can be bought for <$75, so the mark-up on the "professional" repackaged systems you mention you must also consider to be astounding as well, just to be fair.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Today, the professional systems are small (less than half the size of the Wirie) single-package plug and play at prices the same as or LESS than the Wirie and other repackaged USB client adapters. With far greater performance and flexibility (wireless on and around boat, mount up to 300' away with no loss of performance, share with friends, etc). As soon as people discover this, I suspect the USB companies will not have a sustainable business.
A few things to note that you are giving a false impression with:
1) Far greater performance, see my comments below.
2) Wireless on and around a boat can be done with The Wirie quite easily, and requires no additional hardware purchases like Ethernet based systems. We do it on our boat and 3 PCS and 1 iPhone all get online at the same time.
3) There is no need to mount a unit 300' away. So, this point is moot. The Wirie can be extended up to 80' which is more then anyone has needed.
4) Share with friends. I assume you mean the same thing as item 1 and were repeating it.

So, in reality, the difference between a USB system and an Ethernet system is simply the cable type that is used. USB systems of course being geared to consumers, and Ethernet system being geared more to network engineers. Other than that, they can all do and perform the same functions needed on a cruising boat. The differences in products comes down to ease of use and quality of components used.


Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Four of us are currently anchored together. One has the Wirie, one has an Engenius 362, one has a Ubiquity Bullet 2HP and we have a Ubiquity Litestation (equivalent to the Ubiquity Bullet 2HP). The Wirie, Bullet 2HP and Litestation have the same gain antenna and are mounted the same distance above the water. The Engenius also has the same gain antenna and mounting height, but is using a longish run of coax, so it is hobbled and can't really be directly compared.

I can see and connect to 8 open and free access points (I see a total of 35 AP's). The Bullet 2HP boat sees the same ones as I do. The Wirie does not see any of the free open AP's and only a few of the pay per views, as does the Engenius. So those two are paying $10/day for access.
I don't know where you are, or the "actual" circumstances of the test you are describing, but I frankly don't believe that things are all the same between the test environments, or the result you are seeing is not what you would be seeing. The Ubiquiti products will "see" more networks on their utility, but this is how Ubiquiti chooses to display networks. If you want to compare them evenly, you need to use a third party tool such as NetStumbler to get true results. The Wirie will try to show networks that it has a reasonable chance to connect to, the Ubiquiti products will show anything under the sun, even though they will be unusable.

PracticalSailor just did a more accurate test and comparison of The Wirie vs a few Bullet-based systems (April 2010 issue), and concluded they all performed the same. If a reader is interested in a fair test comparison in a more normalized environment, I suggest you read their article. (They also noted the same thing about the Bullet "seeing" more networks, and none of them being useable).

There are a lot of factors involved when looking at WiFi, and every boat has different interference patterns, locations, etc. To claim what you are claiming, is not a fair and accurate way to compare performance of two systems.

From the sounds of it, you are in the Caribbean, perhaps we can meet up and try the two systems on the same boat, in the same location and see what the true results are. I am fairly confident the results will be similar, or Practical Sailor would have already found this out to be true.

Sorry for the long post, but felt it was necessary.

Mark
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:54   #7
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That's great first hand information Mark - thank you.

I definitely think you can build your own for much cheaper than any of the pre-packaged solutions if you are so inclined (although no one has offered to give me a free pelican - I need to find YOUR boat shows!)
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:59   #8
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Hi Livia,

Yes, you can save some money sourcing both USB clients and client/bridges yourself, but I didn't mean for that to be my point. I was trying to make the point that all of these repackaged consumer USB client adapters that are coming into the marine market are more expensive and have way less performance and convenience than the new professional client/bridge systems that are available.

I wanted to let people know that there was an alternative and better way to get wifi on the boat. On the other hand, I may be making a mistake - I like having all the bandwidth in an anchorage to myself!

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Old 10-06-2010, 14:16   #9
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I'd like to be able to connect to more distant hotspots as well. I don't need an all-weather solution. Portability is my main concern. The Bullet looks like it has an integral antenna and would be ideal. How exactly do you wire one into your system? Thanks!

Brett
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Old 10-06-2010, 14:31   #10
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The bullet doesn't have an integral antenna. It has a male (or female - I forget) antenna connector that accepts a direct connection to an antenna. You would need to supply the antenna. The connection into the boat is through common Cat5 ethernet cable. The bullet has a waterproof connector for it and the other end is run into the boat and connects directly to the ethernet port of your computer (or router if you want wireless inside the boat). Ethernet cable length isn't a problem like with USB, so you have lots of options for running it into your boat (up to 295'). Power is supplied by an inexpensive power over ethernet injector. The bullet is all-weather by design.

Companies exist that supply everything (radio, antenna, POE injector, cable, router) in one package.

However, this is not really a "portable" system. It is designed for fixed access point or bridge use and is meant to be mounted. I suppose you could carry it around with you, but the USB client adapters like the Alfa are better for going ashore with.

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Old 10-06-2010, 15:02   #11
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I just got one of the new Engenius EUB9603H N/G/B High power units http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ef=oss_product , and it seems to perform significantly better than the EUB362EXT and the Alpha. Not quite up to the Island Time PC Client Bridge, but seems like a very good value for most users. (I have them all and have run tests for usable links).
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Old 10-06-2010, 15:31   #12
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I would like to buy the bullet 2HP based Island Time package but it does not work for 24v.

The Wirie may be my only option. Practical Sailor Apr 2010 rates them all about the same.
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Old 10-06-2010, 20:38   #13
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Quote:
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I would like to buy the bullet 2HP based Island Time package but it does not work for 24v.

The Wirie may be my only option. Practical Sailor Apr 2010 rates them all about the same.
That shouldn't be a problem - Ubiquitie's website states that it will run on 24V.

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Old 11-06-2010, 06:59   #14
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OK, so behind the scenes I have Mark from Wirie contacting me concerning my post. Please let me clear some things up.

My post was not intended to disparage the Wirie in any way. It was not targeted at that system at all. I was posting my experiences and opinions on different products, and attempted to do so objectively. I am not "against" anything or any system (One can be "for" something without being "against" another).

I have no vested interest - commercial or otherwise - in any system or type of system and was just posting my experiences and opinions. I don't care whatsoever what anyone else purchases or uses on their boat. I did not mean my post to imply that I did.

The original post asked specifically about experiences with, and opinions about, Wirie, Alfa and Bullet systems. When I responded, I mentioned those products by name, but only talked generically about other packaged system products. I want to make it clear that I was not advocating, targeting or isolating the Wirie or the Bullet specifically. My mention of them by name, while not mentioning other products by name, was in response to the request in original post. There are many other similar packaged systems out there of both types, and you should consider them all in your decisions. I don't know all the company names, but google is your friend.

When I mentioned prices, I was not accusing anyone of ripping people off. ALL of these packaged systems cost more than the component parts, and this is not a bad thing (few people build anything from scratch). Markups on the Bullet and other bridge systems are equal or exceed the markup on USB client systems (other than, and including, the Wirie). I don't know the markup on the Wirie, but have no reason to believe it is worse than any other system. They are definitely not ripping anyone off - just running a business like other companies. Whatever system you go with, I recommend purchasing a packaged system rather than piecing one together from components. You will get technical help and warranty service and, in a few cases, help out fellow cruisers. When I am asked my opinion privately, I give it and point to commercial vendors. I pieced together all of my systems, but have never recommended anyone else do the same.

Again, all these systems have a price markup from the bare components. My expressed astonishment was that the prices of the USB client systems have increased in the recent past, while those of the ethernet bridge system have decreased. They now all about cost the same to within $50 or so. I don't pay much attention to prices, and my astonishment was just my recent realization of prices and their equality. I probably shouldn't have mentioned that, or expressed it in that way, and instead just noted that they are all about the same price, give or take a few $.

The example I gave with four boats at anchor together was not a "test" and was not performed in collaboration. It was not designed to make any specific system look bad or good. It was specifically and expressly not designed to test the Wirie. It was not "designed" at all. We just happened to be on a beach together talking and two of the people asked if anyone else was getting a wifi signal. Two of us were, and we started talking about systems, mounting, etc. I was just relating that, and did not mean to imply that we got together and ran a test, or even a comparison.

I described systems as either "consumer" or "professional". These are the technically correct terms for them used in the profession. Some may mistakenly make an assumption from these terms that "consumer" system are not suitable for use on a boat. I did not mean to imply that only "professional" systems were suitable for use on a boat. I only meant to be clear about, and delineate, the types of systems available.

These forums are for people like you and me to discuss things at will, but vendors do not have the same freedoms here. So, in recognition of this, I am willing to withdraw my personal experiences and any data presented here and have everything I wrote earlier expressed as opinion only. Like I said, I don't care what people use to access wifi. Please view everything I wrote as one person's opinion, possibly heresy and incorrect, and do not make any decisions based on it alone.

I only expressed my experiences and opinions and did not expect to be drawn into argument or debate on the subject - technical or otherwise. So I am done with this topic, although I would be happy to further clarify any points I made that were poorly communicated. I will not be expanding upon my opinions.

Now let's talk about anchors, guns and multihulls!

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Old 11-06-2010, 07:02   #15
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Quote:
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That shouldn't be a problem - Ubiquitie's website states that it will run on 24V.

Mark
Oops, it says "up to 24V". Might be a problem since a nominal 24V system will have more than 24V on its lines. You can always use a cheap DC/DC converter to keep the voltage below 24V.

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