Has Anyone Actually Have Working Wifi On Their Boat?

Hello Folks, I am radio guy, 30 years experience installing mobile and base radio gear. I want to install wifi on my sailboat. Common sense tells me to install a device on the mast, so cable losses are not at issue at 2.5 or 5Ghz. I am not a wireless network guy. My idea was to install an AP on the mast or hoist it up when I want to use it. I would like it to be capable of a b g modes.

Now my questions;

What AP's can operate on 12 Volts? Can I do this with just a AP, wired to the lan jack on my laptop? You get the idea, Please make a recomendation on what equipment would be suitable for this purpose (i do not want to be a beta tester). I have been searching for this info on the net for weeks, and all I read about are failures and no success stories. I am handy and would not mind buying a AP and mounting in a waterproof box.

Thank You, Louie KA2PFL

Reply to
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You can run the AP via "power over ethernet" (PoE) and it's easily a DIY project. Google for "diy poe".

I can't speak to the 12v question, but one of the web pages you find probably does.

Reply to
Al Dykes

The Linksys WRT54G series can. I've got a pair of them on my boat. One's in the radar arch maintaining the link to shore. The other's down in the cabin providing an on-boat wifi network. Works pretty well once we're at anchor.

You could do it with a wire straight from the wifi unit. But having a wired laptop might not be terribly convenient. You'd have to deal with that cord all the time. Run the wire from the up-mast device to the in-cabin device.

True, and higher gain may also pull in a wider set of networks. You'd end up listening to "too many" and get even worse performance. And the radiation pattern from most of these antannae is shaped like a donut. When the boat is rocking that donut gets tilted up and down, in and out of the coverage area. Higher gain antennae have a much narrower area of coverage. So any rocking with a typical 14db omni would render it almost useless. Same deal goes for a directional antenna, if you swing on anchor there goes the coverage.

Depending on where you're planning on travelling and how you're anchoring there would be different recommedations. I've had a 10db omnidirectional stick on my radar arch and it's done a pretty good job of pulling in wifi signals.

-Bill Kearney

Reply to
Bill Kearney

Would there be any merit to fitting an antenna with a gimbal of sorts?


Reply to
Shaun Van Poecke

Probably not as the swing period would undoubtedly end up out of sync. A powered gyro stabilized setup would be a more likely solution. That's what they use in the satellite TV dishes.

Reply to
Bill Kearney

Most likely no...the strain of the coax would be greater than gimbaled mass. Even if you attached an extension rod for greater mechanical leverage, it might not synch up with the swells.

Reply to

"Bill Kearney" hath wroth:

OK, so you went with the omni. Photos of what I originally suggested. Might be useful:

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

I'm considering a wandy unit on my radar arch with an omni on top of it... The wandy is successfully used in marine environments on inshore freightships. Distances over 5 km's are reported with good connections.

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utp cable provides (also, next to the signal up and down) the 12v and there is no long coax that eats a lot of dB's. Gimballing is a thought but the specs mention a 60 degrees antenna beam width so I doubt if gimballing will really make any difference. But I agree and think it's worth a little test before I make the final choice regarding gimballing it or not. Like cowboy says gimballing it would be simpler with the "soft" utp-cable than with the rigid coax. Keeping the unit leveled at whatever swell could be achieved by adding a low weight (if necessary). I intend to make the buy in a few weeks, if the firm allows me to test it before buying it... I'll write anything worth reporting to this NG.

Regards, Len.

Reply to

Yes, that's more or less just the sort of setup I went with. I went with using a PVC extension to raise it above the radome. I went with using a PVC end cap that I drilled through to mount the N connector. Then I've got a thin gauge lead running down to the WRT54G mounted just underneath the mount, tucked inside the arch. From there I run 12v power and wired ethernet down into the cabin. Wired ethernet into a switch and power to the ship's systems via a fuse. Worked quite well. Using it was simple, fire up the laptop and surf to the router in the arch to select a shore SSID. There were only a rare few situations where it wasn't possible to pickup a reasonably strong signal. For this upcoming season I'm considering making use of a PCMCIA modem bridged to a cellular network.

Reply to
Bill Kearney

Hi, Bill,

Are you considering a modem because of lack of stations available, or to be able to do your internet under way, or some other reason?

I'm waiting for my Linksys 54GL to arrive (prolly today) to breadboard the LiteStation2 and see if I can't duplicate your results before swapping out the Senao on the mast...

In that case, I'd probably put my Vonage (VoIP telephony) unit on a Lan port, and specify it for DMZ in order to get the most possible bandwidth, rather than trying to have it do the router job. However, even with the crappy Senao on the top of the mast, last weekend I got more than 3 miles with it (over POE direct to the computer), while under sail (albeit minimal heel).

For those not seeing my setup, it's an 8.5dBi omni stick antenna on which Jeff has previously discussed reception and output patterns, mounted to a cast aluminum NEMA box 62 feet in the air, powered and data-fed over POE rather than separate wires or worse, coax with its inevitable huge losses at that distance. Nonetheless, it seems to work adequately, other than when we're over the AP I'm trying to reach (the site is very close), in which case the small downtilt in the antenna pattern doesn't get far enough down before it overshoots the target. Of course, since I'll never use a marina, that won't be a problem once I leave, in about a week...



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Reply to
Skip - Working on the boat


When there's no signal it'd be nice to be able use the cell network service. No sense bothering with using that if I can get wifi. I'd like to have the option.

That and as you've discovered, if you're "too close" to the base station it can be tricky to get a reliable connection when the antenna's pattern "misses" it.

Reply to
Bill Kearney

On 11 Jan 2007 15:39:51 -0800, "KA2PFL" wrote in :

What you want is a wireless Ethernet (client) bridge, not an access point, powered over Ethernet. Senao units are popular for this application.

Reply to
John Navas

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