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Old 24-01-2012, 16:47   #1
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WIFI Amplification, Feb 2012: How Far , How Fast , How Much ?

Hi All,

I have already spent hours reading about wifi signal amplification, including a couple of long threads here on CF. I was ready to order the Radiolabs WaveRV II + extended range antenna, but the more I read the less I seem to know. So I hope you'll all forgive me for starting a new thread on this topic, with the excuse of the many new, better and cheaper devices on the market every month. What system would you recommend today? (25 Jan 2012)

If manufacturers' specs are to be believed, I understand that even a dead cheap ($15) USB dongle with high gain antenna is now capable of picking a good signal up to 4-500 metres away. So what do you recommend (and how much about) for 1 mile of range with decent speed? (for Skype, etc) And possibly for up to 3 miles?

I'm not looking at the very best, but at the best value / ease of use, power supplied by USB, and an antenna (fixed or not) that I would keep on the roof (+/- 10 ft above water). Also, what would be the best/easiest/cheapest/more energy efficient way to share that Wifi connection with another netbook computer and two tablets?

Thank you for your advice.
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Old 24-01-2012, 17:17   #2
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

For sharing over wifi which is becoming the standard (iPad, iPhone, iPod etc.) you need two radios: one for the uplink to the Internet and one to share that link within/around your boat.

When you want USB, you immediately deny yourself the best options. I recommend an Ethernet based setup.

If you spend most time swinging behind an anchor:

- Ubiquity Bullet M2 with 8dBi - 12dBi omnidirectional antenna for uplink
- Ubiquity PicoStation M2 for local sharing

If you spend most time in a marina or behind anchor without too much swing:

- Ubiquity NanoStation M2 for uplink
- Ubiquity PicoStation M2 for local sharing

These two radios will be interconnected with Ethernet and also powered over those same Ethernet cables. For 12V power, you need to order a couple of 12V power injectors for them.
Your computers/gadgets connect using wifi... no cables at all.

Give Bob @ IslandTimePC a call or Dalton @ wififorboats.com .

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 24-01-2012, 17:46   #3
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post

Give Bob @ IslandTimePC a call or Dalton @ wififorboats.com .

ciao!
Nick.
+1

Bob at IslandTime PC is a great guy and will hook you up! Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC
I have not personally dealt with Dalton but I have heard nice things about wififorboats.
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Old 24-01-2012, 17:55   #4
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

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Originally Posted by Wellington View Post
Hi All,

I have already spent hours reading about wifi signal amplification, including a couple of long threads here on CF. I was ready to order the Radiolabs WaveRV II + extended range antenna, but the more I read the less I seem to know. So I hope you'll all forgive me for starting a new thread on this topic, with the excuse of the many new, better and cheaper devices on the market every month. What system would you recommend today? (25 Jan 2012)

If manufacturers' specs are to be believed, I understand that even a dead cheap ($15) USB dongle with high gain antenna is now capable of picking a good signal up to 4-500 metres away. So what do you recommend (and how much about) for 1 mile of range with decent speed? (for Skype, etc) And possibly for up to 3 miles?

I'm not looking at the very best, but at the best value / ease of use, power supplied by USB, and an antenna (fixed or not) that I would keep on the roof (+/- 10 ft above water). Also, what would be the best/easiest/cheapest/more energy efficient way to share that Wifi connection with another netbook computer and two tablets?

Thank you for your advice.
Take a look at the Wirie Marine WiFi and RV WiFi solutions: The Wirie and The WirieAP Simple easy to use can share the signal.
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Old 25-01-2012, 06:30   #5
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The Wirie vs Ubiquity Bullet

Thank you Nick, Zydeco and Capt. Chuck for your precious feedback.
I can see on the website of Ubiquity that their products are so advanced that they are subject to US Export Controls - in theory, can't be used if sailing in Cuba), and have to be bought from and installed by licenced agents (through many sites offer them directly). The Wirie seems to be much easier (plug and play)

Pricewise and performance wise, it seems to be a no brainer: The Bullet claims "over 50 km, antenna dependent" (hard to believe, a tenth of that distance would already be amazing!), draws only 4 watts (+ 12 watts for the Picostation: in your experience, is electric draw that low?), and the whole system costs about:
- $79 for Bullet
- $59 for Picostation
- $20 for Ubiquity 15V power injectors
- about $60 for Antenna (is it worth taking a 24V grid V 12V omni?)
Total +/- $220 and "more than 30km"
Can a layman easily intall this system? That would be the icing on the cake

On the other hand, The WirieAP is plug and play, you only have to bring 12V power with a switch and 2A fuse to the unit.
But it costs over $100 more, for a (claimed) much lower range

Again many thanks for your input!
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Old 25-01-2012, 06:51   #6
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

The part about not being able to use ubiquity stuff in other countries and needing to be installed by licensed agents isn't true. This gear is sold to consumers everywhere, and there is nothing at all hard about its installation. Since this stuff is also used as professional level gear, I suspect you were reading about commercial and high end installation systems and the regulations that go specifically with that.

Power injectors can be bought everywhere for under $5, and you can even just splice straight into the cat 5/6 cable to your boat DC and do away with the injector all together.

The Picostation makes for a great way to share the wifi on-board, but if you already have a standard home router, you can use that just as well and not buy the Picostation.

The antenna isn't voltage sensitive. An omni is going to work easiest and best all around unless you are on a dock or know you won't ever be swinging a lot at anchor. About $60 is the correct price for a good 8-12db omni.

These systems are just plug and play, even more so if you buy them from a commercial systems place that have them all set up and often even put on custom firmware/software.

Mark
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Old 25-01-2012, 07:14   #7
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post

When you want USB, you immediately deny yourself the best options. I recommend an Ethernet based setup.


ciao!
Nick.
x2

I have a good long-range USB directional antenna, and I hate it. Wireless on the boat is the way to go. 15' USB cable on the PC means the Antenna doesn't go were I want it, and the PC can only sit in one place on the boat. Not to mention the mess of the wire itself strung across the cabin from the companionway to the berth.
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Old 25-01-2012, 07:19   #8
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Re: The Wirie vs Ubiquity Bullet

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Originally Posted by Wellington View Post
Total +/- $220 and "more than 30km"
Forget the 30km distance claims. This is valid only for situations where you control both ends of the connection and are using very high gain, directional antennas over carefully chosen terrain.

A cruiser can expect good connections at distances of 2-3km and sometimes greater if you are connecting to a commercially installed outdoor access point and have your antenna mounted at least 3-4m off the water. This would be with either a USB or ethernet based system that uses high quality radios such as those found in systems based on Alfa Networks or Ubiquiti Networks hardware.
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Old 25-01-2012, 07:39   #9
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pirate Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

I 'm going to add my 2cents about buying from Bob at Island Time. Having him at the other end of the phone line when a problem arises is like having your Mom holding your hand when you're sick. A year after purchase and he's still hand holding here in S Louisiana. Last summer in the Bahammas he walked us through direct wiring when the POE got wet from an errant rainstorm and an open hatch and this year he's helping with advice on top of mast installation.
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Old 25-01-2012, 09:59   #10
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

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I 'm going to add my 2cents about buying from Bob at Island Time. Having him at the other end of the phone line when a problem arises is like having your Mom holding your hand when you're sick. A year after purchase and he's still hand holding here in S Louisiana. Last summer in the Bahammas he walked us through direct wiring when the POE got wet from an errant rainstorm and an open hatch and this year he's helping with advice on top of mast installation.
Again, another vote for Bob at islandtimepc.com.

You might save a few bucks assembling it yourself, but you would deny yourself of a fantastic resource and well written instructions.
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Old 25-01-2012, 11:02   #11
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

Everyone withthe Ubiquiti praises the customer service of Bob and Dalton for help in setting up; everyone with the Wirie doesn't need help because the Wirie is practically plug and play.
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Old 25-01-2012, 11:17   #12
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

Yes to Islandtime Bob.

BUT

Finding an unencrypted wifi source is becoming more and more difficult. And running cracker software to get past the simpler types of encription exceeds my personal ethical limits on stealing. The owner of that wifi transmitter uses encryption with the expectation of security; breaking into his bought-and-paid-for internet access is just plain B&E.
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Old 25-01-2012, 11:38   #13
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

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Finding an unencrypted wifi source is becoming more and more difficult.

Where are you cruising? I was wondering how many open hotspots I would find down the Easy coast and through the Caribbean.
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Old 25-01-2012, 11:55   #14
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

I use the $15 high gain antenna and it works just fine in most locations. And shortly I won't even need that, when true 4g cellphones come out. Many of them can act as a wifi hotspot for a few bucks extra a month in any location where you can get a cellphone signal on your carrier's network.
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Old 25-01-2012, 12:51   #15
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Re: WIFI amplification, Feb 2012: how far, how fast, how much?

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Where are you cruising? I was wondering how many open hotspots I would find down the Easy coast and through the Caribbean.
There are fewer and fewer unlocked networks. But, the Wirie helps when you get a password from a bar or a bakery or even when you pay the $5 or $10 to access by making the signal stronger and creating a wifi network on the boat for all the gadgets we seem to find necessary. And, yes, I use unsecured networks when I find them, but I did secure our own wifi network on the boat. Feels a little hypocritical.
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