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Old 02-06-2014, 04:18 AM   #21
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As many others have stated the Ubiquiti Bullet is the basis for most of the good wifi systems. Here in the Caribbean there are many commercial pay as you go sites available to boaters, most of whom use the bullet in one form or the other.
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Old 02-06-2014, 07:17 AM   #22
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While I haven't tried it, the Wilson Electronics cellular boosters with an omni antenna mounted high on a mast could have a pretty significant effect on cellular coverage as long as there is no intervening terrain.
This is exactly the setup I've been using for the last 6 years although I switched the amp part a couple of years ago to one that handles the 4G spectrum.

Things might be different along the west coast. But I've been offshore from all parts of Beaufort, NC to Key West/Bahamas and I've never been able to get more than about 7-10 nm of connectivity. At around 5 nm, you start getting 1-2 bars and things become unreliable.

The idea of using a directional antenna in a boat has been experimented with by many people over the years. It quite obviously has never succeeded - the beam width is quite narrow. I have seen longer range cellular work between islands in Maine but they were all land based (both sides) and were both sides were using directional antennas.
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:10 AM   #23
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Does anyone know of a wi-fi antenna booster that won't set me back 3-4 hundred dollars ? Everyone I looked at were over priced, at least for my budget.
I bought something, I believe it was an "Alfa" brand or something similar for about $30 a couple years ago. It bosts weak sgnals and is better than the internal receiver in a laptop.

Wanting to have reliable service at all (or most) times on the water, I gave in and bought a Verizon hot spot that works much like a cell phone and can have several devices connected to it (wirelessly). Yes, it cost $50 to buy and $50 per month to use, but it works just about anywhere.

Hunting around for, and using someone else's wifi connection is a PITA and unless it's intended for public use, you are effectively stealing the service. And it's often very slow. The Verizon hot spot seems as fast as my home cable based service. And if I'm on the water looking for a place to anchor or a nearby marina, I can go online to active captain or cruisers net and find places, prices and reviews while my wife drives.

It's been a plus for me and worth the cost.
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:20 AM   #24
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I would look at his device with an external antenna. It uses a 12 vdc power supply so could be wired into battery power, seems to be easy to use and has a 4 port ethernet hub. I went with a high dollar system and don't think it is any better than this. I find more often than not I am Wifi tethering my Iphone to the hotspot and using it for internet access.

Amazon.com: EnGenius Technologies 4-Port Wireless N300 Media Bridge and Extender (ERB300H): Computers & Accessories

Antenna

Amazon.com: TP-LINK TL-ANT2415D 2.4GHz 15dBi Outdoor Omni-directional Antenna, N Female connector, weather resistant: Electronics

Cable

Amazon.com: TRENDnet Low Loss Reverse SMA Female to N-Type Male Weatherproof Connector Cable (8M, 26.2ft.) TEW-L208: Computers & Accessories
I have this set up and it works fine for us as we cruise. It was plug and play.
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:24 AM   #25
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The issue with hotspots is cost if you stream and don't have unlimited data.

Even with my bullet based system, it only takes me about 2-3 minutes to set up a connection even if I have to make it several attempts...hey...cruising timeline... what's a few minutes?

but all of this is thread drift as the guy might know what he want...just how to do it more inexpensively....
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:36 AM   #26
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If you stream on somebody else's system and they don't have unlimited data, that's a propblem but I guess it's their problem. Their service slows down and they pay for extra data that you used.

I suppose the fact that they failed to secure their network makes it OK.
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:40 AM   #27
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I'm either amazed or totally misguided.

I use my Verizon hotspot simply because I'm only paying about $30 more per month for the extra gigs and it's become clear, at least from what I read, that the only WIfi you can trust is your own.

In other words, at home, your home network connected to broadband or cable or phone, you set up your own Wifi and you're good to go.

On the other hand, with open Wifi you may as well invite everyone into your computer and even with an encrypted commercial Wifi, you are hoping that network has not been compromised, either with or without the owners knowledge.

Maybe it's jsut a NY thing, but we're (NYers) paranoid at this point.
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:59 AM   #28
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In other words, at home, your home network connected to broadband or cable or phone, you set up your own Wifi and you're good to go.

On the other hand, with open Wifi you may as well invite everyone into your computer and even with an encrypted commercial Wifi, you are hoping that network has not been compromised, either with or without the owners knowledge.
That's some additional thread drift but two things:

- A quality VPN will secure your connection, even on an open WiFi router. Expect to pay about $70 per year today for that service ("quality" being the important term above).

- Having your own WiFi at home with an open router is also a security problem but I'd assume that everyone with a home router uses WPA security/passwords today.

The thing to be very careful about is an open marina WiFi system. The marina keeps it open because they are tired of answering the, "what's the password" question. In that case, anyone else, including the 14 year old in the condos next to the marina, can easily view your traffic including some email passwords. A few years ago, someone on Panbo told me that I was making that up. So I used a couple of free tools and provided a packet dump showing a password in the open of another device on the marina's WiFi setup.

WPA is important because even people knowing the password cannot see your traffic. WEP doesn't have that advantage and should be feared in the same way as open WiFi.

Note though that a VPN protects your network traffic in both directions even on a completely open network.
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Old 02-06-2014, 09:13 AM   #29
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That's some additional thread drift but two things:


WPA is important because even people knowing the password cannot see your traffic. WEP doesn't have that advantage and should be feared in the same way as open WiFi.

Note though that a VPN protects your network traffic in both directions even on a completely open network.
Thanks. I'm going to look into that.
I'm wanting to make a whole new boat network this spring.
Any suggestions as to how to proceed??
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Old 02-06-2014, 09:13 AM   #30
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That's some additional thread drift but two things:

- A quality VPN will secure your connection, even on an open WiFi router. Expect to pay about $70 per year today for that service ("quality" being the important term above).

- Having your own WiFi at home with an open router is also a security problem but I'd assume that everyone with a home router uses WPA security/passwords today.

The thing to be very careful about is an open marina WiFi system. The marina keeps it open because they are tired of answering the, "what's the password" question. In that case, anyone else, including the 14 year old in the condos next to the marina, can easily view your traffic including some email passwords. A few years ago, someone on Panbo told me that I was making that up. So I used a couple of free tools and provided a packet dump showing a password in the open of another device on the marina's WiFi setup.

WPA is important because even people knowing the password cannot see your traffic. WEP doesn't have that advantage and should be feared in the same way as open WiFi.

Note though that a VPN protects your network traffic in both directions even on a completely open network.
I thought that by having your router to amplified antenna on the boat WPA, even to a marina open wifi , gives you adequate protection?

And again, using amplified antennas to pickup open wifi at venders you frequent, weak marina signals, libraries, open town wifi etc...etc is what I mainly use it for and that's what the open wifi is there for.....I find it REALLY rare along the AICW that you can pick up a private individuals wifi that's not protected anymore.
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Old 02-06-2014, 09:20 AM   #31
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I thought that by having your router to amplified antenna on the boat WPA, even to a marina open wifi , gives you adequate protection?
Assuming the outside WiFi modem is connecting to an open WiFi marina router? Nope - you're way exposed.

LAPTOP/WPA ----(encrypted)----BOAT ROUTER
----(open)----OUTSIDE MODEM----(open)----MARINA WIFI

Having WPA on your boat's router just protects others from getting onto your boat's WiFi system.
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Old 02-06-2014, 09:22 AM   #32
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Any suggestions as to how to proceed??
Island Time PC - it's the best way to go in terms of price, quality equipment, and support. When I have a tough WiFi problem/question or when a marina contacts us about something they're having a problem with...I go to Bob at Island Time.
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Old 02-06-2014, 09:49 AM   #33
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Yea... and there's that too. As cell coverage improves, it's almost better to leverage that technology with a small MyFi rig. TBH, if I am THAT far away from cell signal, I got there on purpose and really am better off without it for a day or two
Thats our take as well.

We have a large shared data plan with AT&T

Our boats MIFI costs $10 a month on that plan, and we have a Cradlepoint router on the boat to provide network connectivity.
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:46 PM   #34
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I have struggled in the past with trying to get a decent wifi signal at various marinas. This thread gave me some food for thought so I ended up ordering the Alfa AWUS036H from amazon. WOW! I had no idea how tuff this little bugger is. Just at my own dock, I was usually getting 2 or 3 signals. Now I'm picking up over 20. Some as far as a 3/4 of a mile away. Best $30 bucks I have spent. Just sharing the intel...

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Old 02-18-2014, 04:57 PM   #35
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I have struggled in the past with trying to get a decent wifi signal at various marinas. This thread gave me some food for thought so I ended up ordering the Alfa AWUS036H from amazon. WOW! I had no idea how tuff this little bugger is. Just at my own dock, I was usually getting 2 or 3 signals. Now I'm picking up over 20. Some as far as a 3/4 of a mile away. Best $30 bucks I have spent. Just sharing the intel...

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Old 02-18-2014, 07:06 PM   #36
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I have struggled in the past with trying to get a decent wifi signal at various marinas. This thread gave me some food for thought so I ended up ordering the Alfa AWUS036H from amazon. WOW! I had no idea how tuff this little bugger is. Just at my own dock, I was usually getting 2 or 3 signals. Now I'm picking up over 20. Some as far as a 3/4 of a mile away. Best $30 bucks I have spent. Just sharing the intel...

Cheers
I have the same unit and it works great - will at least double or triple your coverage. Not as good as a rogue or other external based antenna, but for the money great investment. Nice thing about the alfa is that you can take it with you shore side. Unit fits in the palm of your hand.
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:08 PM   #37
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Yeah no kidding. For such a small unit, it really kicks ass! I'm sure there's bigger and better units but like I said, for 30 bucks. It's pretty tuff to beat it.

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Old 02-19-2014, 09:13 AM   #38
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I have struggled in the past with trying to get a decent wifi signal at various marinas. This thread gave me some food for thought so I ended up ordering the Alfa AWUS036H from amazon. WOW! I had no idea how tuff this little bugger is. Just at my own dock, I was usually getting 2 or 3 signals. Now I'm picking up over 20. Some as far as a 3/4 of a mile away. Best $30 bucks I have spent. Just sharing the intel...

Cheers
That's the unit I mentioned in my earlier post. The problem is, if you go from 2 or 3 signals to 20 but they are all secured and you don't know the password, it doesn't really improve anything. And even if you can access them, many times they are very, very slow.

Mine is sitting on a shelf somewhere. The Hot Spot works much, much better and it works everywhere I've been including on the water and in remote anchorages.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:25 AM   #39
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Boating on the USA/CAN border waters I use both, MiFi hot spot and Bullet wifi radio.

The MiFi hot spot is linked to one particular provider on one side of the border that is not always accessible. The Bullet wifi radio gives me an extended and reliable up to 7 miles, albeit accidental, reach on both sides of the border.

Bullet also saves me the MiFi bandwidth/data use in marinas and urban areas where I can connect to many public hot spots.

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Old 02-19-2014, 09:42 AM   #40
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An outside, amplified antenna is certainly not a cure all for instant, strong, fast internet.

But after 2 trips between NJ and Florida...my antenna has saved the day for getting internet in dozens of location. One of the most notable was the Mega Dock in Charleston...sure they have antennas and good signal strength all over that HUGE marina but the speed was so slow we were gonna slit our wrists using it. Because we stream Wifi to Skpe our kids, watch television, and overall entertainment in many forms...we are usually happy to get good internet without paying a fortune in monthly data plans. With my bullet rig I was able to pick up an unsecured wifi that had to be a 1/2 or more miles away (so some range extension is necessary) that worked fine.

I find many marina HAVE Wifi but it is so slow that they might as well not advertise. Can I always get an open signal?...no...but in more than half the marinas and anchorages (picked because of available Wifi) I could because of my setup.

Is it worth $300 up front and possible need replacement in a few years (mine is on 24/7/365)?

To us it is...but I can see maybe not everyone.
I'll repost my previous just so I don't have to retype...

If you stream stuff and don't or can't via unlimited data from some plan...and my hotspot would be cost prohibitive...an amplified antenna is definitely worth it.

As I have posted...some marinas have weak or slow signals at the dock you are at or even the hole marina..my amplified antenna has picked up libraries, other marina's, coffee shop's, McDonalds, etc..etc that I do occasionally frequent as a customer so it's hardly stealing as they make their signal so strong it booms out way past their establishment..probably like advertising hoping you may have them on your mind for something to buy.

I'll agree if all you do is a few minutes or even an hour a day of browsing/checking email that a hotspot is hard to beat.....but if you are going to enjoy the unbelievably great world wide web full of online movies and streaming music....having a great amplified antenna has been worth every penny if you cruise in areas where you use marinas or anchorages nearby towns.
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