set up many ISP's in the Caribbean
over the years.
always had complaints from sailboats regarding signal strength even though the signal
was usable from up to a mile away via dinghy
. Issues were usually antenna placement and the occasional "dead" zone. (yes they occur despite the denials, always conducted a signal survey
when setting up a commercial
wifi ISP so we knew where they were).
1. In a sailboat salon
, which is usually at or below water line it is just not going to work.
My multiwatt transmitters can beacon you but your 17mW return signal just doesn't reach from virtually underwater. I even ran receive amps but without a decent antenna and some kick it just isn't reliable. Thus, the need for external amps and antennas.
2. I have used Linksys routers with DDWRT firmware in repeater mode for ages. They are cheap
, reliable, will put out up to 250mW in native mode, and will repeat the signal so all you have to do is set the bloody thing somewhere with a clear view of the ISP and it will translate their wireless signal onto your own private wireless net. All it needs is a 12Volt power wire. NO ether cables
I had one survive for 3 years in a plastic bag on the boom in south america
I have run them up the mast on a halyard
I have even placed them ashore in a vehicle parked between the ISP and my boat.
This works because the DDWRT firmware will also "daisy chain" so a friend on a boat with better reception
can act as a repeater for you. The DDWRT 54GL (available from walmart by special order, $50) also has external antenna connectors so you can
add a beam or omni external for a few more dB gain.
3. It is amazing what will interfere with a wifi signal. I have noticed substantial differences in signal level just by moving the antenna from inside the shrouds to outside the shrouds at the same height and heading. Some folks had great results putting the wireless device in a cheap
chinese colander and making a beam out of it.
My experience has been if you can't see the antenna without obstruction, including
even a shroud wire, then sooner or later you will have problems in fringe areas.
The other thing to consider is most good wifi coverage is in mooring
fields or relatively
. That masthead mount is above both your own boats interference
and most of your neighbors. The spreaders not so well. Your own mast and a row of 50 others may be in the way along with the grounded shrouds of all those other boats. (or wait till that steel trawler
anchors next to you and blanks you entirely till
If you decide to go low, i use a 120 degree beam antenna. Its not as sensitive to swing as a tighter 15 degree but still gives you some gain and the ability to aim through some of the interference. However, it is a pain in the backside if you swing a lot.
And i second the imho of coax up the mast is a loser. Yes, it works, but it is so much
more expensive and doesn't work near as well as a power over ethernet solution or
a repeater like i recommend to my customers. And coax insulation
degrades with moisture. Particularly at these frequencies. Yes I know, the manufacturer guarantees their coax won't absorb moisture. File that with the government
is here to help, the check is in the mail, and the 100 mpg carburetors.