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Old 05-31-2012, 04:30 AM   #1
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Default Wireless internet

Can anyone suggest a cardbus (aka pc-card or pcmcia) wifi modem capable of 54MHz and which has an external antenna connector? I'm gonna need more than the meagre range of the standard gadget internal to my notebook.

I do have a 1W 2.4GHz amp, a 6dB omni and some low-loss cable around someplace. To hell with going ashore to use a library.

Rob
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:42 AM   #2
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Hi, for getting wifi when it is available somewhere nearby I just have a router that I used on land. It is in the boat but at the highest point in the cabin. It captures wifi wonderfully. I have another router which is ethernet wired to that first one router. The second one supplies a wifi signal to here on the boat and to anyone nearby that I give a password to access my local wifi hot spot.

There are places that sell amplifiers and all to get better range on your wifi card, but I don't have that.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:32 AM   #3
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Interesting idea. What sort of range do you get? I'd imagine this would only work if you're in a marina or very close to shore.

I'm moored at a swing mooring about 200m offshore and will be trying to pick up any open network available. With a good antenna or a small dish the range should be in the kilometers (or miles, for the USA).

I do like the concept of retransmitting to set up a network for other boats. Nice. That would also allow file sharing, for movies or audio files on the disk. Not legal at all but a good idea.
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:09 AM   #4
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Hi

On our boat, the farthest away we've gotten a signal is (according to the chart plotter and scale on the chart!) a whopping 315 meters. That is the distance we were moored away from the Newport Beach American Legion Post which had free wifi. We were there for more than a month and had consistently good wifi. Hubby could get the signal on his little bitty hand-held Nokia N810 if he sat on top the boom.

I started to write to you that we have not done anything special with our own boat's wireless receiver --that is a regular wifi router WRT-54G is the model--but hubby tells me he put after market software onto the router which allows us to re-set the firmware to have ability to amplify the wifi system. who knew

That software package also allows you to treat the router like a computer on a network if you want to. See this site for the router software www.dd-wrt.com | Unleash Your Router

We have the ability to remove the existing (external) antenna on the router and replace it with one that we hang up high in the rigging. We have not seen the need to do so--since our amplifer software seems to work well. Other cruisers do purchase the antennas and hang them up in the rigging. I suppose if we did that, we could get wireless from a very great distance. I read that the record in 2005 was 125 miles! Wow.

We also have a Sprint tether cellphone (EVDO) which works well for us when we're at anchor in many places (as long as a major road is somewhere nearby there will be a cel tower) and plan to get a 4G wireless package in the next few months if we continue to sail in the San Francisco Bay area.

Let us all know what you choose to do.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:43 AM   #5
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Hi,

I do have a WRT-54G in storage and was aware of the firmware upgrade, but it's a power hungry solution and I was looking for something more modern. Found it today:

eBay Australia: Buy new & used fashion, electronics & home d

It appears this USB stick will be the go, it's the only one I've seen for years that has an external antenna connection available. I've used Edup products before and they work very well. And you can't beat the price!

I'll probably extend the antenna connection up high and add a yagi or dish antenna. There are also amplified antennae around that give fantastic range.

Rob
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Old 07-04-2012, 02:54 AM   #6
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Default A better solution

This seems to be more like what I was after in the first place. An external multi-antenna array panel and 500mW transmit amplifier, all sealed to IP65 rating . It also has a 5m cable and mount. Can't believe how cheap this stuff has become, I paid $800 for the 1W amplifier 10 years ago and today I bought this device for under $30.

eBay Australia: Buy new & used fashion, electronics & home d

Brand is Egasky Venu 2414N and it should transmit for miles.

Rob
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Old 08-13-2012, 04:07 AM   #7
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Cruising the West Indies it became pretty obvious that if we wanted wifi aboard, we were going to have to put out some serious cash.
We opted for the "Badboy" X-treme; it has worked flawlessly and we haven't even gotten it aloft yet!
First place we tried it was Fort de France Martinique. 4 wifi signals on the computer before we put out the BBX, 40 (honestly!) after. Have gotten signals from as far away as 2.3 miles (on the GPS).
You can purchase the same gear separately, but then it requires some programming and frankly, that is something I'll pay someone else to do.
I don't work for BBX, but I am a fan now!
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:49 AM   #8
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The output of the Egasky unit I bought is 500mW which is slightly more than the Badboy "Standard" model. The 4W "Hi-Power" model is illegal to use anywhere in the world, maximum output should be 1W and the extra power is pointless anyhow since noisy reception is the main limitation with an amplified front end.

I haven't yet tested the Egasky but expect to get similar improvements. It also has a directional panel which has far higher gain than the Badboy's omnidirectional antenna, although in rough conditions this may cause intermittent loss of signal.

At $30 each I bought a spare as well. Bargain.

Rob
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Old 08-13-2012, 11:49 AM   #9
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We use a small USB wi fi adapter purchased on Amazon and it works as well as any I have seen. Totally portable! Amazon.com: Alfa AWUS036H High power 1000mW 1W 802.11b/g High Gain USB Wireless Long-Rang WiFi network Adapter with 5dBi Rubber Antenna and a 7dBi Panel Antenna and Suction cup / Clip Window Mount - for Wardriving & Range Extension: Electronics gts1544
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:16 AM   #10
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Now have about 4 weeks' experience using the Egasky on a daily basis. I'm 200 metres from shore in a river and can see 20 signals at least in any direction. Of these five are open networks, one of which has been close enough to use. Range approx. 300-400 metres, signal levels vary from 23% to 57% depending on conditions. Anything over 31% signal is usable.

Main problems come from drifting on the mooring, I have to adjust the antenna to point correctly occasionally, especially at tide changes when the boat is swinging about. Conclusion: It's workable if not totally reliable. I haven't needed any other internet connection since coming aboard.
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Old 05-06-2013, 12:35 AM   #11
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Update: Fitted a second unit to the yacht moored on Brisbane River. I'm connecting to the internet via an access point atop the Gateway Bridge, a distance of 500 metres.
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:05 AM   #12
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Correction: Did a run from my yacht to the bridge in my brother's tinny the other day, the distance is more like 1km. That bridge is a lot bigger than I expected.

I'm planning to move the yacht closer though, connection is unreliable due to the need to keep the antenna focused at a small angle on the horizon. When she was bottomed on the mud it worked fine but now that she's swinging on anchor it's difficult to maintain.
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:17 AM   #13
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Low wattage is not the big issue. Get the highest Db omni ant you can find and get it up as high as you can.
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:32 AM   #14
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By definition an omni antenna is a point source with no gain. What passes for an "omni" in most cases has a cylindrical dispersion pattern, which as you imply (but don't actually state) will have the least problems with movement of the yacht. However, since it only has a gain of 6dB it wouldn't even see the signal at 1km. I'd rather have 37% signal 10% of the time - and be able to use the internet - than 0% signal 100% of the time.

Your advice is also incorrect about power and antenna height. Standard wi-fi is 100mW which has a range of less than 100 metres. I use the legal maximum of 500mW and a high gain directional antenna for good reason. Additional height is pointless at this range (noting that there are no obstructions over water) and would simply reduce output through antenna cable losses, which are significant at these frequencies.
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