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Old 26-01-2013, 14:16   #1
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Internet Connectivity

We are planning on cruising the Caribbean for three years starting in Nov '13. We will be homeschooling our daughters (10/11) and need connectivity for studies and general email. I have read the idea of 3G hotspots, USB drives and WIFI boosters. We are living in the Canadian Arctic and will investigate this further in Sept when we relocate to Florida but I would appreciate any recommendations for WIFI on a boat that doesn't need to be tied to a dock.
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Old 26-01-2013, 14:25   #2
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Re: Internet connectivity

Very hit or miss in large parts of the Caribbean for Internet via WiFi on the water. Yes, there are Internet cafes in almost any town of size, but in my experience very few places where you can get a signal in the harbor. You would have to pick a place near a large modern marina, which is not usually the best place to be anchored. We homeschooled onboard for two years and made do with occasional WiFi when we tied up in marinas or went ashore.
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Old 26-01-2013, 21:25   #3
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Re: Internet connectivity

Thanks for the response. What about the WIFI booster or the hotpot using an Iphone? I am really a computer moron so out of my depth here but there must be an easier route than sat com. I gather sail mail via SSB is an option but I was hoping that technology had improved the situation.
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Old 26-01-2013, 21:28   #4
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Re: Internet connectivity

Besides the hurricanes, sharks and pirates, the homeschooling is another area of concern for us. Can we pick your brain ref how you accomplished this and lessons learned?
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Old 26-01-2013, 21:55   #5
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Re: Internet connectivity

We home schooled 4 childen till high school, in the days of snail mail !! and very seldom with SSB. 3 of the kids went on to get collage degrees never had a problem with acceptance from California collages, or FLA either. Im sure in these days of wifi you will have no problem getting the job done ! Im sure you don't need to have daily hook ups to do the studys ?? It worked for us !
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Old 27-01-2013, 12:04   #6
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Re: Internet connectivity

Did anyone look at packet radio where wifi is not readily available. Fast speed modem with speeds of up to 56k can be sustained?

Its free, (the local loop at least) and it gets us some Internet (email IMs and other services over Internet)
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Old 29-01-2013, 02:13   #7
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Re: Internet connectivity

For internet connectivity...if you get yourself an unlocked cell phone/smartphone you can get a sim card from the local service providers in any given area/country and use your phone in any country you visit.
A universal modem for your computer works the same way. You buy the modem and as you travel from country to country you get a data sim card for whatever country you are traveling in. Just go to the local providers and ask. Or ask other sailors in the area to find the best one. The computer modem will be working on a cell phone signal. Depending on the volume of usage will define the price but i have found that outside the usa cell data is very affordable. Some places close to certain marinas or restaurants may have wifi so you just turn on your computer and navigate by wifi signal. My boyfriends work is dependant on him having internet connectivity. I have watched as he motors thru anchorages searching for wifi signals. Get a good signal- drop the hook.
I hope this helps you
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Old 29-01-2013, 03:09   #8
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Re: Internet connectivity

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Originally Posted by tightgroup View Post
Did anyone look at packet radio where wifi is not readily available. Fast speed modem with speeds of up to 56k can be sustained?

Its free, (the local loop at least) and it gets us some Internet (email IMs and other services over Internet)

I dont know where you are getting that data, effective bps is round 1700 per second at best. winlink is 32 bps and WinMor isnt much better.
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Old 29-01-2013, 04:15   #9
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Re: Internet connectivity

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
I dont know where you are getting that data, effective bps is round 1700 per second at best. winlink is 32 bps and WinMor isnt much better.
Here's some interesting info on real throughput of packet data on HF through Winlink:

"120000 bytes is the largest 'compressed' message size that will be accepted for Winlink. Due to the much slower transfer speeds of radio paths (compared to dial-up, etc) it is better if messages are kept as small as practical, while still accomplishing the communications objectives of both users. Following are approximate air times needed to transfer a 4K message (after compression) for several modes of operation, under
ideal conditions:

Packet (1200) direct 2 minutes
Packet (1200) 1 Node 2.5 minutes
Packet (9600) direct 1 minute
Pactor 1 15 minutes
Pactor 2 4 minutes
Pactor 3 30 seconds
Pactor 4 15 seconds
WINMOR 3-10 minutes, depending on the Bandwidth used
Telnet (Internet Access) seconds"

http://home.earthlink.net/~k7bfl/WL2K_FAQ.pdf

It's very slow! So a 4kB message has maybe 28,000 bits of content plus overhead, call it 35kb. If it goes over Pactor 3 in 30 seconds, that's 1166 bits per second -- about like an old 1200 baud modem. Remember them?

Not good for much but plain text messages and very small image files like weatherfax, I think. I am not aware of any way to have any Internet connection via HF radio (however, a very slow Internet connection with appropriate browser, like the very first phone browsers from the 90's, would be extremely useful!!!).
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Old 29-01-2013, 04:38   #10
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Re: Internet Connectivity

Home schooling via snail mail in the 80s was great. I did it as a kid while cruising and loved it. For the last 2 years my son was going through the same school as I did, but now it is set up for continuous internet connection. They simply cannot deal effectively with snail mail.

We struggled in the Caribbean and the Pacific over those 2 years. Assume you can connect in the Caribbean, say, once a week for a full day of uploading and downloading, and then choose a home schooling course to suit. Do not choose a course which requires an almost daily connection. Or, better still, choose a course which does not rely at all on the internet. Our mistake was in the selection of course and its manner of communication.
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Old 29-01-2013, 04:45   #11
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I've been doing a bit of sailing between Singapore and Thailand and have found a combination of wifi booster (Ubiqiti Bullet) and 3 G modem work best.

In Thailand 3G has only just been approved by the regulators, so there if we anchor off we do a search for strong signals on the wifi booster. Invariably there will be one or two bars or restaurants with wifi. Usually they have passwords. So our first day or so is a very enjoyable drinking and eating session where we visit all the found places ( usually the wifi names are the same as the business) and have a drink or meal and ask for password. We find these are rarely turned off when the place is closed and usually we can get 2+ Mbps even 2 miles offshore with the Bullet

In Malaysia we've found one carrier has extraordinary coverage ( on the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia) at least - Maxis - so we can cruise the coast with great coverage via a 3G modem.

Realise your question is not for the same part of the world but just wanted to share a strategy that is working well and I expect would work for you too.
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Old 29-01-2013, 04:46   #12
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A single reasonably good modern Internet network would consume the entire HF radio's band from 1MHz to 30MHz. And probably still be poor at that because of propagation and noise. The power required would be huge.

A single Wi-Fi channel is 20MHz wide, no?
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Old 29-01-2013, 04:47   #13
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Re: Internet connectivity

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

It's very slow! So a 4kB message has maybe 28,000 bits of content plus overhead, call it 35kb. If it goes over Pactor 3 in 30 seconds, that's 1166 bits per second -- about like an old 1200 baud modem. Remember them?

.
Thats what I said my own measurements suggest around 1700 baud, I had a brian fart with winlink , I meant to say PSK21 and Winmor, both of which are slower then P3,P4.

I happen to be a radio amateur, though I dont do much now. Took my exam after the code requirement was dropped some years ago. its was very easy to do. I currently have a ICOM 7000 setup at home.
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Old 29-01-2013, 04:50   #14
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Re: Internet Connectivity

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A single reasonably good modern Internet network would consume the entire HF radio's band from 1MHz to 30MHz. And probably still be poor at that because of propagation and noise. The power required would be huge.

A single Wi-Fi channel is 20MHz wide, no?

22Mhz wide, with a 5Mhz spacing, ( they overlap). 802.11n can optionally use 40 Mhz

Dave
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Old 29-01-2013, 05:37   #15
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Re: Internet connectivity

Quote:
Originally Posted by tightgroup View Post
Did anyone look at packet radio where wifi is not readily available. Fast speed modem with speeds of up to 56k can be sustained?

Its free, (the local loop at least) and it gets us some Internet (email IMs and other services over Internet)

even banda ancha in mexico is s l o w at best...aint any sechuva thang as fast, reliable internets in mexico.

i have 2 puters--one uses banda ancha, the other will not accept it here in mexico---they both have similar speeds, and downloading pictures is not always an option.
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