A little late to this party, my apologies for being tardy.
I've done seminars on the topic "Wireless Communication for Cruisers" the last couple of years in Georgetown
, so I have a bit deeper perspective than most.
That seminar (a transcript is available if you'd like it; it's a bit long to post here, but if enough want it here, I'll do it, or gladly send it to any who like if you'll mail me direct at email@example.com
) covered everything wireless - VHF
, HF, Cell, Satellite
No one way fits all, and pretty much, out at sea (say, more than 15 miles), you'll be dependent on satellite or HF radio
, and only in tiny bit levels until you get into some very serious bux both to buy and subscribe in satellite.
And, in every case, big ears (the antenna) and a big mouth (the amplifier) control how far you can communicate. All have legislated limits, but, also, in every case, getting the signal to and from an antenna
, regardless of the strength of either the antenna or the amplifier, is key.
However, for coastal cruising in non-US areas, where there's a population base, I cant possibly say enough about what I have. Note, I have no financial interest in the company, but am a fanatically happy user. LOTS of cruisers, after seeing what I have, and the results therefrom, have reported back to me after purchasing
the same setup I have to say that their experiences match mine.
I have the WiFi (and also, FWIW, the computer setup) system sold by Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC
. If you mouse over the WiFi area on the left of his welcome screen
, you'll be able to get an idea of my installation
,and some of the screen
shots of my scans in several Bahamas
I'm on a mono sailboat, which moves around a lot, so I chose an 8.5dbi antenna, which is a good compromise between receptivity and having the "band" see the shore. Stable platforms could use a much more powerful antenna, but the practical limit for anything which moves is 12dbi, sometimes achievable on cats in sheltered waters.
This setup (which has the antenna directly mounted to the adapter/amplifier, a VERY key point, as signal loss at 2.4gHz, the WiFi band, is severe in cables
- stay away from anything with a cable run for the antenna!) routinely allows me to connect while 5-10 miles offshore, under way (in populated areas, of course). Here in Marsh Harbour, my usual choices of stations are, respectively, 6, 8 and 12 miles away. However, there are umpteen pay providers here which cause channel overlap and signal collisions, which slows down throughput. Anchored in, or under way in, the Sea of Abaco
, my throughput goes up significantly.
So, the further you can get away from very highly populated (with WiFi transmitters) areas, ironically, the better things can get.
That said, were I only coastal cruising the US, I'd likely use a setup I describe in my seminar. That's a USB enabled router with a USB cell data connection (such as one pictured earlier in the thread). You can do the same in the Bahamas
, but never get anywhere near the bandwidth, due to Batelco's limitations, using an unlocked USB cell device. Both of these options, of course, are paid, as they're cell contracts of one flavor or another.
Except in a couple of extreme cases, either where I had huge bandwidth needed (my recent computer rebuild
, which needed lots of downloads and updates), or, we were so far into the boonies that there were no other alternatives (no residential sites), we've never paid for access in the 3 years we were cruising, nor the three years prior to that during our refit
in the yard.
It's routine (those following my logs
can look at a year ago when we had my granddaughters aboard, on it constantly to home) for us to make Vonage (VoIP) calls while under way, such is our system's capability.
5Mile has a cable to antenna, and looks to your computer for power. Alfa and similar require an active USB cable to get it outside of the cabin
as well as using your computer for power. Others require TWO USB feeds to support the amplifier, doubling the issue of cabling, whether or not there's also an antenna cable. Then, once outside, it's a matter of positioning. A mast
, spreader or other substantial metal will have a very negative effect on your abilities to do omni communication.
Which is why my direct-mounted antenna is at the top of the mast
, deriving power from POE (Power over ethernet) and delivering and receiving data on the same cat5 line. NO signal loss, and it runs off standard boat power at 10.5-18VDC.
Lots of ways to skin a cat, but if it's pure WiFi you want, pretty inexpensively (under 250 plus whatever mounting choice you make - mine was a scrap piece of aluminum
Ell), the islandtimepc setup is Da Bomb. Mousing over the same place will also show you a couple of other setups. Dot's Way has theirs on their radar arch
. Nocturne (who called me on the boat, from Cleveland, to get the name of the supplier, after he got home and lost
his seminar notes!) has a backstay mount by, I think, Edson
However, for my money
(I'm a cheapskate) and the effectiveness of having it at the top, out of the way of any metal, mast-top installation
is the only way to go.
LMK if you want me to post the seminar here, or drop me a line and I'll send it to you, if you like.
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"Believe me, my young friend, there is *nothing*-absolutely nothing-half so
much worth doing as simply messing, messing-about-in-boats; messing about in
boats-or *with* boats.
In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's
the charm of it.
Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your
or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get
anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in
particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and
you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."