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Old 03-02-2012, 13:37   #1
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Wi-fi On Board

How good are the marine wi-fi antennas that I see for sale?

Do you have one that you recommend?

What is the range?

I had one on my last boat, cost me $125 and looked like a piece of wood with some pins sticking out, it only worked in certain harbours and certainly not as well as the makers claimed. However that was 3 years ago. Have they got better?

George
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Old 03-02-2012, 13:46   #2
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Re: Wi-fi on board

Long-Distance WiFi Device

That ought'a keep you busy for awhile...
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Old 03-02-2012, 14:06   #3
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Re: Wi-fi on board

cliff notes: the "bullet" product or the wirieAP, both of which when reviewed by practical sailor had nearly identical range.
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Old 03-02-2012, 14:11   #4
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Re: Wi-fi on board

Here's the one I have been using. Works great.

Marine WiFi Systems
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Old 03-02-2012, 16:56   #5
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Re: Wi-fi on board

We are using a directional one when at the dock. It is OK.

We found antennas hardly ever an issue: we get great signal strength most of the time anyway. The point is the networks (here) simply do not have the thru-put (or whatever the proper name is).

b.
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Old 03-02-2012, 17:49   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel
We are using a directional one when at the dock. It is OK.

We found antennas hardly ever an issue: we get great signal strength most of the time anyway. The point is the networks (here) simply do not have the thru-put (or whatever the proper name is).

b.
That's as good of a word as any. :-). I call it bandwidth but have been known to interchange the two.

I have plans on this project in the next 6 months. I'm looking at 3. Islandtime PC, WirieAP or the Bullet. I'm still fact finding myself. SC
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Old 03-02-2012, 19:37   #7
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Re: Wi-fi on board

Look at broadbandq Wireless works up yo 5 miles off shore, completely portable 1-1.5 med download, runs skype, netflix $249. 00 and $89.00 per month unlimited data.
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Old 03-02-2012, 19:37   #8
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Re: Wi-fi on board

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Originally Posted by sailcruiser View Post
That's as good of a word as any. :-). I call it bandwidth but have been known to interchange the two.

I have plans on this project in the next 6 months. I'm looking at 3. Islandtime PC, WirieAP or the Bullet. I'm still fact finding myself. SC
I think you are only looking at two because IslandtimePC is a bullet system.

Mark
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Old 03-02-2012, 19:40   #9
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Re: Wi-fi on board

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Hoskins View Post
I had one on my last boat, cost me $125 and looked like a piece of wood with some pins sticking out, it only worked in certain harbours and certainly not as well as the makers claimed. However that was 3 years ago. Have they got better?

George
Yes, they have gotten much better. And cheaper. I have the greatly improved version for sale for only $89.95:

Mark
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Old 03-02-2012, 20:12   #10
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Originally Posted by colemj

I think you are only looking at two because IslandtimePC is a bullet system.

Mark
Doh! Good point Mark. Thanks for the correction and sorry for the confusion. Now I need to find the name of the third. :-/ SC
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Old 03-02-2012, 20:25   #11
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Re: Wi-fi on board

There are several flavours of 'Bullet' around. i use the Island Time PC one and have been happy with it at anchor in the US and BVI.

Previously, i had the 5 mile wifi, which was great when it was working well but had a very fickle configuration (if you plugged in the adapter without the antenna connected, it would fry the antenna and there would be no diagnostic to let you know the antenna was fried). Also, it only worked with one PC. By contrast the Bulllet will connect to a wireless router and then every wireless device on board can get online.

In the bvi this Christmas, i was online in the cockpit with my tablet while my kids were down below skyping their friends through their ipod touches. It was pretty cool.

Cheers
Colin
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Old 03-02-2012, 21:27   #12
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Re: Wi-fi on board

Hi George,
This is something that is really important to me and I did lots of research before I invested. I did a blog post about that research a little over a year ago and though things have changed a little, I think the most recent version of the bullet is still the basis for the best antennas out there.

If I were you I would take a pass on all the USB units. Read the blog as to why.

The ones that repackage the Ubiquity Bullet are the ones that will give you the range, but just because you can see a station a mile away, that doesn't mean you can actually connect to it with any kind of signal. The reality is that nowadays there is often one unsecured network available at the anchorage and if there are a dozen yachts there, that probably means twice that many computers and some of them are trying to download music or stream video and the bandwidth is squeezed down to a trickle.

All of the ones like Island Time PC, Bad Boy Extreme, Rogue Wave, etc. are really the same - assuming they are all using the most recent version of Ubiquity's products. You can buy the Bullet directly from Ubiquity and put together your own system for the cheapest price of all if you know something about networking and electronics. The real difference is the user interface. Ubiquity has their own AirOS and it is not for the faint of heart. They produce products for the IT trade. Ubiquity is not accustomed to dealing with consumers, so you shouldn't expect great tech support from them, either.

After doing my research, I ended up buying the Rogue Wave from Land and Sea Wifi because they provide their own version of the software for you to interface with the antenna and they also provide excellent tech support. Once I connect to a given network, the next time my computer will see that "hot spot" and remember it. It also stores passwords that I've entered if I'm on a marina network and I appreciate that ease of use. I paid well over $100 extra premium to get that, but it was worth it to me. Anytime I have had a problem, my calls and emails to Randy have been answered promptly.

I have a friend who is an IT guy and who put together his own system, though, and he is equally pleased with it. He can deal with the AirOS that comes native with the standard antenna. THAT is the question I would ask if I were shopping again. I would ask if the company selling you the antenna system has burned their own software onto the thing or if they are going to be using the native AirOS.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:22   #13
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Re: Wi-fi on board

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailcruiser View Post
Doh! Good point Mark. Thanks for the correction and sorry for the confusion. Now I need to find the name of the third. :-/ SC
Engenius?

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Old 04-02-2012, 08:40   #14
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Re: Wi-fi on board

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Originally Posted by christinekling View Post
You can buy the Bullet directly from Ubiquity and put together your own system for the cheapest price of all if you know something about networking and electronics. The real difference is the user interface. Ubiquity has their own AirOS and it is not for the faint of heart. They produce products for the IT trade. Ubiquity is not accustomed to dealing with consumers, so you shouldn't expect great tech support from them, either.

...
I have a friend who is an IT guy and who put together his own system, though, and he is equally pleased with it. He can deal with the AirOS that comes native with the standard antenna. THAT is the question I would ask if I were shopping again. I would ask if the company selling you the antenna system has burned their own software onto the thing or if they are going to be using the native AirOS.

Just my 2 cents.
I agree with you that Ubiquity's purpose is IT and not customer support for consumer-level operation. However, their AirOS software is very simple. The only thing one needs to know for boat use applications is to set it up as a router with DHCP and NAT addressing. These are three check boxes. Once set, you never need to deal with them again. The software then does everything you mention - remembers access points and their passwords, etc.

AirOS does offer the ability to completely customize and control the bullet, so it may look like a lot of confusing "stuff" is in your way. But you can just ignore it, or click the little question marks beside these parts and learn a bit about networking. Custom firmware mostly just hides that part of it, which may make a lot of people feel better. Package sellers like IslandtimePC who choose to stay with AirOS instead of custom firmware have it all pre-set as a plug and play system for you.

In my opinion, if someone wanted a bullet system they should go with a vendor supplied system and base their choice on price alone. All of the systems have equal performance, all of the vendors provide excellent customer service and I don't think any of the custom firmware is worth the extra cost.

If you know the smallest amount about networking and don't mind sourcing the pieces, then you can build your own for even less money.

Mark
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:56   #15
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Re: Wi-fi on board

I have referred IslandTime PC to a number of cruisers. They all are happy with the results. The owner of Island Time was a cruiser before he was forced to go back land side. See this link: Marine WiFi Systems

Bill
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