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Old 15-05-2008, 16:59   #1
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USB Marine Wifi Antenna

I am looking for a good, cheap means of extending my wifi access while in various harbors. Right now all I have is the network connection built into the laptop. I would prefer something that will boost the range as much as possible, connect through a USB port and not be a nightmare to mount or setup.

Down the road I plan to have an arch added to the rear and I can permanent mount various antenna but for now I would probably mount it temporarily to a stanchion while in port and run the USB wire through a port to the nav station for use.

All ideas are welcome!



Terry
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Old 15-05-2008, 17:20   #2
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The simplest and cheapest step up would be one of the misnamed "USB WiFi Antennas" such as

Super USB WiFi Antenna

There are a number of different products that look very much alike from different vendors, some work well, others don't.

The biggest limit is that there's a limit on the USB cable length, typically 5 meters (15 feet) unless you add a powered hub to extend that a bit.

I say misnamed because these are NOT ANTENNAS. They are a complete WiFi radio attached to a gain antenna. Calling them "antennas" is like calling your car a "stereo" simply because there's one of those attached to the dashboard. The antenna, like the stereo, is not the point of the whole thing. Putting the WiFi radio right on the antenna allows them to leave out the normal antenna cable--which is a great source of loss and cost in normal setups. Great idea, lousy name.

And if you're mounting it outdoors, you might want to bag it over or add other protection against the salt air.
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Old 15-05-2008, 17:39   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tspringer View Post
I would prefer something that will boost the range as much as possible, connect through a USB port and not be a nightmare to mount or setup.
If you know where the antenna you are recieving from is located, go with a cantenna (aka waveguide) or panel. Panel will be more expensive. Down side here is you have to aim them. If you are at a slip, this shouldn't be so bad. If you are floating in an anchorage, this is pretty much out.

If you are at an anchorage or have no idea where the antenna is go with an omnidirectional.

In either case, look for the decibels.
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Old 15-05-2008, 18:56   #4
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I too have been trying to decide what to do. I found this one on the web and it looks promising! Amplified USB Marine WiFi Setup [maxERPUSB] - $250.00 : GetMarineWifi.com, Where The Internet Gets Wet If anyone has any experience with any of these listed I would love to hear if they work as advertised.

Fair Winds
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Old 15-05-2008, 18:58   #5
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What do you guys think of this one:

¤RadioLabs || WaveRV Marine - Wireless antenna


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Old 15-05-2008, 19:15   #6
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Terry,
You have a few options when it comes to wi-fi antennas. You can get an omnidirectional or a directional. You also have the option of getting a low gain to a high antenna as well. The lower the gain the more watts that you are allowed up to a maximum of one watt for a 6 dB antenna (4 watts EIRP). For a 24dB antenna you are allowed 0.1 watt. Those are the two extremes with a range of different wi-fi antennas in between.

For anchoring where the boat may swing some, I would get a directional but not too high of a gain. This will allow for some swinging of the boat without having to re-aim the antenna. If you think you are going to be swinging wildly on the hook and rolling a lot then get a 6dB, omnidirectional one watt antenna. A 0.5 watt, omnidirectional 9dB might make a good compromise between rough conditions and calm conditions.

The greater the gain the greater the directionality, but the greater the chance of signal loss and the fewer watts that you are allowed to use.

I hope that helps you to understand the compromises.

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Old 15-05-2008, 19:48   #7
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What do you guys think of this one:

¤RadioLabs || WaveRV Marine - Wireless antenna


Terry
Terry,
This is an 8dB omnidirectional antenna which means the boat can swing anyway it wants plus you don't have to worry too much about it rolling. The compromise is don't expect great distances.

The website does not say how many milliwatts which leads me to believe it may not have the maximum allowable power for an 8dB antenna. Personally, I would go with an antenna that shows both gain and watts in the specifications. The specs are missing an important piece of information.

Quote:
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I too have been trying to decide what to do. I found this one on the web and it looks promising! Amplified USB Marine WiFi Setup [maxERPUSB] - $250.00 : GetMarineWifi.com, Where The Internet Gets Wet If anyone has any experience with any of these listed I would love to hear if they work as advertised.

Fair Winds
This would be a good one that I mention above as a "nice compromise". 9dB, omnidirectional, 500mW. (good choice )

David
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Old 15-05-2008, 21:47   #8
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Check this out

This would be a good alternative to high costs. I know the home made dish works because we made our own dishes to pick up XM radio in the Bering Sea. We used the cheap $20 home attennea and a stainless bowl from the gally. Works great, do not see why it would not work like this link.

http://www.usbwifi.orconhosting.net.nz/
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Old 19-05-2008, 08:16   #9
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Thanks David, I ordered the one you suggested!

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Old 19-05-2008, 09:44   #10
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What do you guys think of this one:

¤RadioLabs || WaveRV Marine - Wireless antenna


Terry
With very little extra work, you can save $175 by ordering the parts contained in this one separately and putting it together yourself (Alpha USB adaptor and 8db omni antenna).

I think there has been one or two good threads on this board with lots of information. Might want to try a search.

Mark
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Old 19-05-2008, 09:45   #11
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With very little extra work, you can save $175 by ordering the parts contained in this one separately and putting it together yourself (Alpha USB adaptor and 8db omni antenna).

I think there has been one or two good threads on this board with lots of information. Might want to try a search.

Mark
Oops, I meant to refer to this one:
Amplified USB Marine WiFi Setup [maxERPUSB] - $250.00 : GetMarineWifi.com, Where The Internet Gets Wet
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Old 19-05-2008, 17:29   #12
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At $100 a 400-500mw WiFi radio with an omnigain antenna stuck onto it (which is what these thigns are) would be very reasonable. At $150 it would have enough profit margin to be built like a tank and warrantied for a full year.

And the ones that are over $150? OINK OINK! That's just plain greedy. Folks are taking advantage of rich sailors.

Buy a gain antenna ($35 on sale for $20 sometimes) and a USB WiFi dongle ($20-80, buy one with higher power and warranty) then pot the connection between them and glue then together. Now buy a USB extension cable for the length you need ($10-25) and you'll probably have something just as good for $75 out of pocket.

On power ratings? 25mw is low, 50mw is common, 100mw is decent, 200 very good, and 400-500mw is about as good as you'll find.

Antennas? Typically will have a gain of 6dbi to 8dbi, they're all fairly similar in that range.
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Old 19-05-2008, 17:35   #13
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I'm connected at anchor in Bermuda harbor right now on a Hawking 8WU8DD directional antenna with a 6 ft USB cord extender. Total cost $80, and works great. It sits under the dodger, and gets wrapped in a plastic bag when it rains.
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Old 20-05-2008, 12:03   #14
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"a plastic bag when it rains."
If you wanted to do something really radical and terribly expensive...You can buy "vinyl" spray paint, probably $10 for the big can, and spray a couple of coats over the antenna to hermetically seal it. I would *think* that vinyl paint is fairly transparent to microwaves, but if you want to be sure, spray some on a piece of scrap and stick it in a microwave for a minute (along with a small glass of water). If the scrap doesn't heat up--the vinyl isn't absorbing microwaves. Assuming the scrap material doesn't heat up when nuked all by itself, unpainted, of course.

I'd say liquid vinyl--but that wouldn't be anywhere near as neat.
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