Wi-Fi for the boat

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Four Suns, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    I had a chance today to run my boat for about 2 hours to the boat yard to get it hauled and the bottom cleaned/painted. I just upgraded my marine PC that I have on the boat and hooked up a marine Wi-Fi antenna that is on the hardtop electronics mast. The one I am using is from Radio Labs ( http://radiolabs.com/products/wireless/wireless-marine-antenna.php ) and I must say I am fairly impressed. I was about 1.5 - 2 miles offshore (on the James River) and I was picking up private Wi-Fi networks very easily. The product literature says "up to 1 mile" but I was definitely doing better than that. Many of these appeared to be from homes along the riverbank (you could tell because the name would be "Smith Home Network" and such). Although about half of them were locked down, about half of them were open to connect to. Unbelievable. There were always about 7 or 8 different networks detected and a few that would allow a connection. When I got into the marina, being closer to shore and more populated, the list of networks available was fairly long....

    Anyway, before anyone says "I am on the boat and I don't want an Internet connection", I'm posting this for those of you who like having connectivity once in awhile. When you are cruising for days/weeks, it's nice to have a solid Wi-Fi capability. I can also tie into a Verizon's EVDO/1xRTT network using my phone but I thought the Wi-Fi thing was pretty cool.

    Anyway... just an FYI and my 2 cents. I am not a geek. Really.
     
  2. Morpheus

    Morpheus New Member

    May 7, 2007
    Odessa, FL
    2006 SeaRay Sundeck 240
    5.0MPI Mercruiser w/ Bravo III
    I'm a GEEK! I'll admit it!

    I've been wondering if there was something for my boat I could get. I too have the Verizon EVDO wireless network card which works great but is there another wi-fi marine service that would be better?

    Time to do some searching I guess! :smt024
     
  3. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    I used to have a Verizon card but just recently stopped the service as I have it on my phone and can use blue tooth for a modem connection... however, EVDO is not available everywhere and you get to use the slower 1xRTT speeds which are around 80 kbps and the latency is painful IMO. And many places don't even have the ability to do 1xRTT and so you get stuck with the $1/minute dial-up cell crap from Verizon even if you have an "unlimited" data plan. I'm sure Verizon's priorities for EVDO are for highly-populated regions which is not where our boat usually ends up. Nothing beats a good 802.11 Wi-Fi connection to an access point hard-wired out to the real world at this point. That's why I wanted both but put a priority on the Wi-Fi experiment here.
     
  4. waterlogged

    waterlogged New Member

    238
    Oct 3, 2006
    Boca Raton, FL
    2006 340 DA
    8.1s
    Thanks Gary, I've been planning on doing this, but haven't settled on what to get. I'll check out Radio Labs antenna. Do you connect the antenna directly to a wireless card, or go through a router?
     
  5. osd9

    osd9 New Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    MidAtlantic
    2003 410DA
    Caterpillar 3126-TA w/ ZF 80-IV
    Gary:

    Help me out here....I understand that you mount the antenna on the outside of the boat, and I understand that a wire/lead is run from the antenna to somewhere inside the boat......The part that I'm missing is, what is at the other end of that wire?... :smt017

    Do you have to plug it into to your laptops PCMCIA slot or USB port?

    I guess I'm having a senior moment...it's early aternoon and I didn't get my nap in...
     
  6. Morpheus

    Morpheus New Member

    May 7, 2007
    Odessa, FL
    2006 SeaRay Sundeck 240
    5.0MPI Mercruiser w/ Bravo III
  7. Morpheus

    Morpheus New Member

    May 7, 2007
    Odessa, FL
    2006 SeaRay Sundeck 240
    5.0MPI Mercruiser w/ Bravo III
    osd9 and waterlogged.

    The one gary posted appears to have it all built into the antenna so the end is just usb and you plug it in. But what I noticed it's only 802.11b which is ok but fairly older technology.

    The one I found but a bit more money is a pcmcia card which has a plug for an external attenna. Costs more but then you get 802.11 a/b/g networks.

    The only bad thing I see about both of them is you have to plug in the pc or laptop to them.

    My ideal setup would be a way to plug either into a network hub that did a/b/g networks wifi that way my laptop wouldn't have to be connected basically making the boat a wireless hotspot/repeater.
     
  8. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    The Radio Labs antenna I got has a small internal wireless card inside the antenna (I actually took it apart to see what was inside... I am not a geek). The cable coming out of the antenna is about 20' long and has a USB connector on it. This product is for a direct connection to a laptop/PC. It worked for me well because I have a ruggedized marine PC mounted under the helm tied to a Nauticomp touchscreen display. The PC I built from parts I mostly got from mini-box.com (ZoomPC-2 enclosure, Intel mini ITX board with 2 ethernet and 4 USB ports on the back). The touchscreen nauticomp display is a wonderful display... a bit pricey though ( http://www.nauticomp.com - I have the "signature series" display). I use the PC as a router and then have a wireless access point tied into it so once the marine PC is connected in any form, anyone can use my network on or around my boat (SSID is "SCREAMING BRATS").

    I could have went with a seperate amplified system by tying in a dedicated Wi-Fi marine antenna (like http://www.digitalantenna.com/prods/wifiantenna_marine.html ) and then have a direct injection amplifier between the antenna and a wireless router (Radio Labs sells those up to 1 watt I believe). However, I wasn't sure how to quickly change networks with that set up other than logging into the router and resetting the system. Seemed too messy for me. I could, however, put a PCMCIA wireless card in the marine PC (or laptop) and use the PC -> internal card -> amp -> antenna setup but I thought I would see what this all-in-one system would do first... and I think it did fine... and I can quickly "borrow" any network by simply touching the screen on the Nauticomp display.

    Dom: The other end is a USB plug... You could wire it down in the cabin and just have in come out in a grommet of some sort near where you would use your laptop.
     
  9. waterlogged

    waterlogged New Member

    238
    Oct 3, 2006
    Boca Raton, FL
    2006 340 DA
    8.1s
    Thanks guys, I think I want to go "G" and try to have an access point in the cabin. I think the Glomex is about to go :grin:
     
  10. Morpheus

    Morpheus New Member

    May 7, 2007
    Odessa, FL
    2006 SeaRay Sundeck 240
    5.0MPI Mercruiser w/ Bravo III
    :smt038 Very nice install I'd not thought of that but very very cool idea to have a touch screen pc at the helm! Now I'm envious/gealous. I definitly need a bigger boat now so I have more helm space to do what Gary did. If you had the urge you could go as far as installing network jacks in the cabin (I know over kill but very geeky idea)

    And Gary says he's not a geek :lol: I am and admit to it everyday but from what I see here Gary did I give him a :thumbsup: for the Marine Wifi Install!

    Gosh I need help now, all the ideas going through my head raft'd up with others you'd be the hot spot for other laptop owners, your boat could have it's own server and website I think I'll stop before I geek out to much.
     
  11. osd9

    osd9 New Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    MidAtlantic
    2003 410DA
    Caterpillar 3126-TA w/ ZF 80-IV
    Got it.... :thumbsup: thanks........I'll be sure to bring my laptop to BIH and log in to CSR through "screaming brats" .... :grin: .....
     
  12. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    I should mention that this PC is also a complete and independent navigation system. I tied in an NMEA multiplexer from Brookhouse ( http://brookhouseonline.com/nmea_multiplexer.htm ) and I have an airmar weather station/gps/compass ( http://www.airmartechnology.com/uploads/brochures/weatherstation.pdf ) hooked up to it. I also have the SeaTalk option so I can get info off the SeaTalk bus (waypoints, etc.). The PC has the MapTech software running on it which is partially on the SeaRay Navigator (I do not have a Navigator and this screen is where the Navigator would have been). I also have WxWorx on Water tied to an XM reciever ( http://wxworx.com/ ). I also have a wireless compact keyboard ( http://www.wireless-computing.com/products/rf-220.php )

    The big advantage... I have my entire iTunes collection on the marine PC tied to the stereo. :grin:

    Anyway... This gives me two independent navigation systems... and it is a hobby of mine... ok... maybe I'm a closet geek.

    All this stuff is mounted under the helm and looks like it belongs there... and my kids can get to YouTube and MySpace so they are happy... and some of my posts here on CSR are sent from my bridge :grin:
     
  13. Morpheus

    Morpheus New Member

    May 7, 2007
    Odessa, FL
    2006 SeaRay Sundeck 240
    5.0MPI Mercruiser w/ Bravo III
    Now your being a show off :smt043 and I love it! I still say you need a webserver on there and get www.SCREAMINGBRATS.com or maybe www.SCREAMINGBRATS.info and with a little bit of programming I bet you your boat could have it's own website showing it's current positionon a google map or something or even a places it's been map. The ideas are endless.

    Now I really really want a bigger boat!
     
  14. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    Back to the original topic, I think the SIMPLE solution Radio Labs offers works nicely if you just want to install an antenna and plug it into your laptop. :thumbsup:
     
  15. JC3

    JC3 Active Member

    Oct 6, 2006
    Kentucky
    N/A
    N/A
    I started reading Garys "STUFF" started laughing :grin: , got a headache :smt021 , scratched my head :smt017 , and am now going to see a Patient, I think?????????? :huh: JC
    Gary=?Geek :smt043
     
  16. capt_jack

    capt_jack Super Moderator PLATINUM Sponsor

    180
    Jul 10, 2007
    GA
    185 Sport
    4.3 Merc
    You know, to make a full wireless network on your boat what i would get is a Wireless access point that takes evdo pcmcia cards.

    Something similar to this: http://www.techonweb.com/products/productdetail.aspx?id=D05374&src=FG

    The go get yourself a verizon EVDO card ($60/month) and get one of those large external antennas. I bet you could hit the evdo network several miles offshore and still maintain decent connecivity.

    If i had a decent size boat this is what i would do. But i have a 185 so really, no point... This would give you a nice wireless network on your boat for anyone to use that has a laptop or pda-cell phone (yes pda-cell phones these days can piggy back off a WAP for internet connectivity - only certain ones though)
     
  17. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    Yeah... I've been playing with using my BlackBerry as a tethered modem with my laptop with Verizon's EVDO network and I can't really tell the difference between my cable modem at home or the EVDO set up. It's very fast... Additionally, the all in one boxes that take an EVDO card sure look like a good way to go.

    There are a few caveats though. Verizon specifically bans the use of multiple computers off a single data connection and if they catch you, they'll disconnect your service. Sprint allows it... but not Verizon... and it's easy to find.

    The other thing, on top of the multiple computers, is if you start downloading big video files and such, they'll send you a nasty letter and threaten to cut you off (I've already got one of those). Since I'm now putting an AppleTV in the boat and will be downloading rented HD videos, they will have a fit and kick me off the network...

    That's why I think Wifi has a few more years until the Cell networks are built out a little more and have more capacity and more competition.
     
  18. capt_jack

    capt_jack Super Moderator PLATINUM Sponsor

    180
    Jul 10, 2007
    GA
    185 Sport
    4.3 Merc
    Ah yea, for massive downloading evdo cards are definatly not the way to go. But they dont really know when your using multiple computers off the card when you use a access point, so you are ok in that aspect. But it is definatly not a route to go if you want to be downloading differnt videos constantly. But it is probably the only for sure solution that could be used reguardless where you were, besides satellite internet and who wants to pay that enormous fee.
     
  19. Four Suns

    Four Suns Head Pot Stirrer TECHNICAL Contributor

    Oct 4, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    2003 480 DB
    Zodiac ProJet Dinghy
    Yamaha 110vx WaveRunner
    QSM-11 Diesels
    Actually... they do. Although the access point looks like a single IP address, companies actually have software that look at the traffic patterns from the network behind them. For example, if you have 3 Yahoo IM ID's going, your busted... If you are playing XBox, and StarWars on a PC, your busted... etc...
     
  20. Morpheus

    Morpheus New Member

    May 7, 2007
    Odessa, FL
    2006 SeaRay Sundeck 240
    5.0MPI Mercruiser w/ Bravo III
    Here is some nice info on the product Gary originally posted.

    The WaveRV Marine is a B/G unit. The older model used to be B only, but was updated a while back to B/G and works very well.

    A is 5.8 GHz and is generally not used by the public... it is a non-standard frequency. 802.11 N has absolutely no benefit over B/G systems and would actually in some circumstances decrease your range. The B/G is the best performance available. If N was better, or easy to use, we would already be making a unit for it.... just no need to.

    Thanks again, Chris@RadioLabs.com
     

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