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Old 25-04-2017, 10:23   #1
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Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

While the rig is out, I am going to add a Bullet to pickup wifi when possible.

The issue is, I have two places to install this unit.

1: At the satcom/horn bracket about 20ft-25ft off the water
Pro: higher dbi antenna for longer range due to hight off the water
Con: wooden mast in the way directly behind the antenna, thus loss of signal depending on location when at anchor/moored.

2: At mast head at about 70ft-80ft off the water
Pro: 360 degree unobstructed view
Con: lower dbi antenna due to the downward angle needed if in a tight marina

What do you guys think? am I over thinking this? I just want to get this right so I can get the best signal in most situations.

Also, what have you used as a cover for the Bullet unit? I was on a boat in the med. that had an antenna with a housing that fit the Bullet perfectly, just cant find it state side.
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Old 27-04-2017, 16:27   #2
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

I've heard that the forest of masts in a marine are hell on a Wifi signal. Therefore my intuition to be for the top of the mast. Are you considering any signal enhancers?
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Old 27-04-2017, 16:31   #3
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

Why not consider a Shakespeare Wi-Fi Antenna?
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Old 27-04-2017, 16:37   #4
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

Nope, not overthinking...

You would be insane to put it at the mast head.. In a year and half of cruising we have run a Bullet. Its on a Haylard.. NOT FIXED height.. We pull it up and down as needed. In many cases lowering it a foot gives us a rock solid connection. Most of the time we are hooked up when our buddy boats can't get a fix. Sometimes, they hook up to us instead!

We also run 2 antennas.. One 12db (omni) for long unobstructed shots. Our other antenna is a 8db (omni) which we use for tight marinas with lots of masts. Yes, it makes a big difference when we switch between the 2!

You have absolutely no worry about a wooden mast "obstructing" the signal. Wood is "mostly" permeable to 2.4ghz signals (not as permeable as fiberglass, but close). Keep the anetenna away from Aluminum or Stainless steel. Both of those will obstruct the signal big time!
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Old 27-04-2017, 16:43   #5
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

P.S. our Bullet (Titanium) has lived out in the open hanging on a haylard for a year and a half.. We have no cover or other protection.. Just a bullet with an antenna attached. It has lived through 50 knot winds and pelting rain..

You need to worry more about your cables than the bullet. Make sure you buy VERY high quality Cat 5 (5E or 6) cables. The higher quality means the more chance the contacts are gold and will corode less. In a year and a half, we have changed that cable 3 times. Most cruisers don't even realize their poor performace is due to crappy cables!
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Old 29-04-2017, 06:15   #6
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

Thanks for the responds guys!!!

I was just about to order a 9Dbi antenna with a 7 degree downtilt in order to get the vertical beam pattern angled down as much as I could. I would love to be able to hoist the bullet on a halyard and make adjustments, but this would not meet the cosmetic character of the vessel, sadly.

The last unit on the boat was an old WaveWiFi box with a cable running up to the antenna on the satcom bracket. Every time the boat was stern to the marina, it wouldnt get signal. I know it's wood but it's about 2 1/2 feet wide, thus a pretty solid obstacle.

I might just try the downtilt antenna and if it doesnt pickup and signals, go aloft and take it down to a different location. I just hate having to run new cable while the rigs are in.
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Old 29-04-2017, 06:32   #7
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

Presumably you've got some sort of wifi router that the antenna plugs into.

Most have slots for two antennas, so as travellerw has done, you could run two separate antennas hooked up to the same router. These could be mounted at different heights and angles or be different types of antenna directional or omni.

Someone mentioned Cat5 cable, but wifi antennas usually use this type of cable and connector:

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Old 29-04-2017, 06:49   #8
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

https://www.ubnt.com/airmax/bulletm/

That is what I am using and what most people run for receiving shore based hotspots. It connects directly to the antenna with an N connector. No cable loss and all you have to run is a single RJ45 cable. Easy peasy!
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Old 29-04-2017, 13:25   #9
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

WiFi signals are multipath. They bounce off of lots of things, like radar does, and can arrive at the boat from strange paths and at different times. On access points with multiple antennas two different paths can be used simultaneously to increase effective bandwidth. The lower mounting (as opposed to the masthead) will probably work better more often.
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Old 29-04-2017, 19:27   #10
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

I'm not attempting thread drift here, just thowing a new tech idea your way. Wifi antennas are the past, companies like T-Mobile are now offering world wide roaming with unlimited data for only $20 on a mobile device like an iPad or tablet. You'll first need a mobile phone account with the company along with international service which is an additional $25 charge. In the USA, Canada and Mexico, you won't need the international plan if it's based in the US.

3G or 2G data unlimited for only $20 per month kinda makes wifi obsolete.

Again, no thread drift, I first learned about this possibility on a similar thread two months ago here on CF.

Right now, I'm using a US based T-Mobile plan and writing this post on my Ipad while sitting here in Italy for $20 extra per month unlimited data plan while connected to a TIM cell tower.
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Old 29-04-2017, 19:43   #11
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
I'm not attempting thread drift here, just thowing a new tech idea your way. Wifi antennas are the past, companies like T-Mobile are now offering world wide roaming with unlimited data for only $20 on a mobile device like an iPad or tablet. You'll first need a mobile phone account with the company along with international service which is an additional $25 charge. In the USA, Canada and Mexico, you won't need the international plan if it's based in the US.

3G or 2G data unlimited for only $20 per month kinda makes wifi obsolete.

Again, no thread drift, I first learned about this possibility on a similar thread two months ago here on CF.

Right now, I'm using a US based T-Mobile plan and writing this post on my Ipad while sitting here in Italy for $20 extra per month unlimited data plan while connected to a TIM cell tower.
How long have you been using this plan outside the US? TMobile puts this restriction on the plan on their site but don't state what it really means:
Quote:
[/Not for extended international use; you must reside in the U.S. and primary usage must occur on our U.S. network
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Old 29-04-2017, 19:50   #12
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
How long have you been using this plan outside the US? TMobile puts this restriction on the plan on their site but don't state what it really means:
That is correct if you don't have the international plan which costs an additional $25 per month. I purchased the whole enchilada, so we'll see how it works out.
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Old 29-04-2017, 20:15   #13
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

Well, I just got off the phone with T-Mobile to check out my Italian situation with phone and Ipad. The representative confirmed that all roaming data and texting is free for unlimited data on both my phone and iPad, but there was a surprise on my mobile phone charges. I'm being charged 20 cents per minute for incoming and outgoing calls, I thought I'd contracted the incoming calls to be free unlimited. So, I'll probably pick up a cheap sim card for $10 per month for 1000 minutes of international calling, or use WhatsApp or FaceTime to make data calls.

When I get to Croatia and Montenegro, this shouldn't be an issue since those countries use T-Mobile towers so I won't be roaming.
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Old 29-04-2017, 20:20   #14
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
That is correct if you don't have the international plan which costs an additional $25 per month. I purchased the whole enchilada, so we'll see how it works out.
It was the international plan page that has the restriction in bold
https://www.t-mobile.com/optional-se...VB5C1LRTMC5323
So you haven't had the plan long?
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Old 29-04-2017, 20:27   #15
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Re: Trying to choose wifi antenna location on mast

Yes Paul, that is the basic plan. But I pay an additional $25 per month for an additional international add-on to the plan which allows me to keep going here in Europe indefinitely.
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