Wifi booster or extender?

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PhilPB

Guru
Joined
Oct 5, 2021
Messages
720
Location
Palm Beach County
Vessel Name
Sun Dog
Vessel Make
Mainship 34
Looking to get an inxpensive option to get better onSpot wifi signal to the boat at our marina. I already have ac outlet on the flybridge so power is not an issue.
Suggestions? We just have a smart TV, and a better wifi signal for that and our phones would be great.
 
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What is OnSpot? Is that some sort of cellular hotspot device?

I’m trying to understand how you are set up today in order to understand what can be improved, and how .
 
What is OnSpot? Is that some sort of cellular hotspot device?

I’m trying to understand how you are set up today in order to understand what can be improved, and how .

It's the wifi system in our marina, and others use. Why it's a marina option I don't know. As I understand it, it's just their choice for wifi connectivity for others to use. Basically, internet hot spot
 
What is OnSpot? Is that some sort of cellular hotspot device?

I’m trying to understand how you are set up today in order to understand what can be improved, and how .

We connect to it as we would as any connection. Select the network and input their general password.

It's a weak signal and looking for options to improve it on our end.
 
I have looked into this but not tried one yet. What you need is an external high gain antenna to pick up the WiFi signal, and then an interior access point to rebroadcast it to your devices.

Here's an example: C. Crane CC Vector RV Long Range WiFi Repeater System 2.4 GHz- Extends Distant WiFi to All Devices in Your RV, Boat or Big Rig https://a.co/d/cigvqXe

There are standalone external repeaters that would work, too, e.g. plugged into your shore power at the slip. However those would rebroadcast to everyone around and thus reduce the benefit to you (unless you get into bridging them to a different network name, but that gets complicated quickly).

The main concern is whether you would have a strong enough signal to begin with where the external antenna would go. You can test that with a "WiFi meter" app on a smartphone; those apps report the WiFi strength that is being picked up.

Note that WiFi is fairly sensitive to interference from reflective surfaces and people (bodies are largely water, which absorbs the signal; same as microwaves) so measure at a busy time. (That is BTW why WiFi is so often terrible at large conferences, etc.)
 
What you are looking for is a bridge unit. Here is an example.

https://www.milltechmarine.com/Wave-WiFi-Rogue_p_363.html
I tried a Wave. Wasn't great. BTW - also need some sort of small router for it.

My thoughts are there is no inexpensive solution that works reliably. May improve performance a bit sometimes. But not reliably. Better to for over $1k (perhaps a bit more) to get a decent Peplink router and antenna.

Peter
 
Bandwidth. The boosters available will bring in the weak signal, but they cannot improve it. My marina has basic service email & maybe light internet surfing, shared by as many that happen to be there. 1/2 of the year forget about streaming without the circle spinning.

I have 80GB data om my cell and when there is good cell signal it works way better than any marina wifi.

Right now Starlink is allowing onboard remote access
 
If you’re going to spend a bunch of money on this, Starlink might be more cost effective. You’ll have a good signal plus you can use it away from the dock.
 
I tried this unit as a signal booster on our current boat and I'm very happy with it. It picks up the wifi signal from our house 200' away without an issue at all. I just couldn't wrap my head around spending $4-600 for a Wave unit, so I figured it was worth a gamble to see if it worked. It's 2.4 & 5 GHz dual band and it comes with an antenna.
A word of caution, it's software isn't the easiest in the world to use. Wave has much more user friendly software but once you get used to it, it's not terrible.
For less than $150 for everything including wireless onboard router from Amazon , I am happy. I use 12v for everything , not 110, but the antenna will do both.
 

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Looking to get an inxpensive option to get better onSpot wifi signal to the boat at our marina. I already have ac outlet on the flybridge so power is not an issue.
Suggestions? We just have a smart TV, and a better wifi signal for that and our phones would be great.

The best advice would come from your marina management??
 
Is the problem bandwidth or weak signal? If the slowdown coincides with the time of day everyone else in on the internet , then it’s bandwidth. Test by trying out “reception” at 5 or 6 in the morning. If you have a good signal then, but it degrades at 9:00 then it’s a bandwidth problem.

If it’s just reception, DM me as I have an microtek antenna that is surplus equipment.
 
Looking to get an inxpensive option to get better onSpot wifi signal to the boat at our marina. I already have ac outlet on the flybridge so power is not an issue.
Suggestions? We just have a smart TV, and a better wifi signal for that and our phones would be great.

Onspot Wi-Fi is one of the better Wi-Fi systems out there. Revamped marinas (including ours) that have installed their system have enough bandwidth for their slip owners/renters to stream Netflix etc. They also usually have multiple antennas to choose from to give good coverage at each slip. If switching to another On Spot antenna doesn’t help, check with your dockmaster. Sometimes at ours an antenna needs to be rebooted or (rarely) replaced.

We have used the microtik bullet & router for 8 yrs. It definitely pulls in weak signals but, as other have said, that won’t help if there is insufficient bandwidth behind the amplified signal. A rudimentary test for this is to run a Speedtest type app on your phone, to confirm. In crowded signal areas, you may sometimes need to turn down the antenna gain to improve reception. If we are at a marina with good cell and poor Wi-Fi, I just use my phone as a hotspot run through the Microtik antenna & router to save reprogramming all the tv’s etc.
 
Onspot Wi-Fi is one of the better Wi-Fi systems out there. Revamped marinas (including ours) that have installed their system have enough bandwidth for their slip [UNQUOTE]

Not enough bandwidth though when it starts to rain and everyone at the marina turns on the tablet to watch Dingy Content videos on YouTube.
 
I had a wifi extender 7 years ago and it worked pretty good at pulling in a weak signal. But the problem was that even when I pulled the signal in the wifi internet speed of the service (including On Spot at marinas) was just not fast enough to do things like video stream, Then the cell phone data became unlimited and the hot spot allowance got to be 50GB+ so I stopped using my booster the last 5 years and used cell phone instead. Then I got Star Link and got tossed out the booster and switched cell phone to a cheap linmited plan.
 
Onspot Wi-Fi is one of the better Wi-Fi systems out there. Revamped marinas (including ours) that have installed their system have enough bandwidth for their slip [UNQUOTE]

Not enough bandwidth though when it starts to rain and everyone at the marina turns on the tablet to watch Dingy Content videos on YouTube.

Is the problem bandwidth or weak signal? If the slowdown coincides with the time of day everyone else in on the internet , then it’s bandwidth. Test by trying out “reception” at 5 or 6 in the morning. If you have a good signal then, but it degrades at 9:00 then it’s a bandwidth problem.

If it’s just reception, DM me as I have an microtek antenna that is surplus equipment.



Good points! I will explore if it's reception or bandwidth when I go back to the boat tomorrow to finish my v-berth mattress project.
 
That mirotech looks like a Ubiquiti Bullet, which I use, usually with an omnidirectional antenna. However, I also have a yaggi antenna (very dirrectional) with which I can suck in a signal from quite a distance.
 
Bear in mind if there's not good coverage there might also not been good throughput in/out of the marina network. Worst case being weekends if it's raining. All the kids are inside streaming movies, all sharing the same wifi network and performance through it absolutely tanks.

We use a Peplink MBR1 Pro 5G. It's able to use the marina WiFi as a WAN connection or use the cellular link. We have several phones on Verizon and our plan is unlimited, so it's often faster to use cellular most of the time. it has be ABSOLUTELY worth the money to get the MBR. It's been totally rock-solid reliable and pretty much set-and-forget to operate.

Also consider that having a GOOD wifi setup, with actual outdoor antenna(s) might help improve the situation too. It really helps to use a setup with cables as SHORT as possible.

Boosters generally don't help the faster network connections a lot of things require these days. I've tried a few over the years and they generally tend not to have been worth it.
 
Throughout the day I have been getting an average of 35mbps download and 30mbps upload. Each has ranged +/- 5 maps. I've been streaming YouTube on the TV and it seems stable.
 
The marina where we spend most of the winter (Longboat Key Club Moorings) uses OnSpot and their techs recommend PepWave routers/extenders. We use the PepWave Soho and it works very well. I recommend you ask your marina manager for the OnSpot tech number in your area. They will recommend router choices and they are also a great source of willing tech help.
 
Marina Internet

Marina Internet speed for your boat via WiFi is the function of several factors:

(a) your boat's, or device's, wifi
(b) how close you are to the marina's nearest wifi antenna
(c) how many users are accessing the internet using marina internet at the time you are accessing it
(d) what those users are doing - streaming video being the worst

Marinas have struggled to deal with the rapid escalation of wifi internet use, which has traditionally been a free amenity and they have only purchased limited bandwidth. Streaming video for many simultaneous users is a huge bandwidth demand which can cost a marina serious $$$ to fully satisfy. As a result of the inevitable compromises made, most marinas have inadequate internet capacity to cope with the current demand. OnSpot's service to many marinas has improved (b) for them, but there are still issues with marinas with OnSpot in my experience, mostly from (c) & (d).

You may want to ensure that (c) & (d) are not a problem at your marina before spending money to address your (a) problem. Otherwise you will spend some $$$ and still have weak internet that won't support streaming to your Smart TV.

Often I find the best strategy is just to use the internet when everyone else isn't. Late evening after the kids' videos have stopped, or very early morning when many are still sleeping.

If the speed is truly important to you and your marina is not upgrading the service soon, I suggest an alternative personal internet source (paid) such as 5G or StarLink.
 
Second vote for Ubiquiti Bullet

plus an engenius antenna and a cheap wifi router. it's a bit fiddly to set up - I have extensive TCP/IP experience, but there are some good online guides - but then you'll have a permanent boat wifi network for your printers and other devices to live on, and you can bridge it to whatever you want.
 
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I bought a Mikrotik a few years back. Drove me nuts. I found to techy and not user friendly for my limited knowledge level, which is basic dummy level.
If anyone has a easy user directions for it please send, I will resurrect it from my basement.
And my 2 cents on marina wifi ....... too many boaters on at the same time using a limited system at best.
Thanks
Barrie
 
On our ship, Starlink has been the answer! When in port, we don't use the roaming feature and have literly unlimited bandwidth. When we leave dock, I turn on the Roaming function, which can be quite expensive at $2.62/GB.

I have D-Link Access Points on each deck which provides seamless service when on a call and your going from Engine room to Bridge.

We have 22 berths so quite a different story to 99.9% of the users on this list but here in Canada, unlimited service when in port for a flat fee of $170 per month is a pretty low rate. For those that care, each AP is connected to a powered ethernet port on our switch so no need for electrical wiring to the DAPs.

I know this is not the cheapest solution being presented but a look at how larger ships might do it and stay relatively frugal!

Our configuration is Starlink dish to Starlink router, to Ethernet switch, which is wired to Access Points on Bridge deck, Forecastle deck, Main Deck and a 4th DAP on the back for the ship to cover any users working on the back 104 feet of clear deck.

I have a spare 4 ports hardwired to the Main Deck should clients want secure access from their Seacans or subsea equipment.

One problem I am grappling with is how to monitor total GB data use by the clients so I can charge them for their use! In some cases, if a University client, might put on remote classrooms with live video streaming out which can become quite costly. I am already using different SSIDs and VLANs to isolate users, (eg: clients, crew, company management and online systems like our mapping systems).
 
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Onspot Wi-Fi is one of the better Wi-Fi systems out there. Revamped marinas (including ours) that have installed their system have enough bandwidth for their slip owners/renters to stream Netflix etc. They also usually have multiple antennas to choose from to give good coverage at each slip. If switching to another On Spot antenna doesn’t help, check with your dockmaster. Sometimes at ours an antenna needs to be rebooted or (rarely) replaced.


We've been to several marinas with Onspotwifi, and generally it works better than most others we've encountered.

In our home marina, I think we have about 20 (?) different access points, spread over 2.4 and 5 gHz... and not counting the ones reserved for marina management.

Tech support is from Onspot direct. Great support, actually. 954 number, IIRC. They'll recommend a router, but I forget which one it is (or they are).

We use a Radio Labs o2Air router. Not expensive, works well.

There's usually enough bandwidth for streaming (we also have Samsung TV Plus, of all things...).

-Chris
 
I bought a Mikrotik a few years back. Drove me nuts. I found to techy and not user friendly for my limited knowledge level, which is basic dummy level.
If anyone has a easy user directions for it please send, I will resurrect it from my basement.
And my 2 cents on marina wifi ....... too many boaters on at the same time using a limited system at best.
Thanks
Barrie

Is a Groove or a Bullet? We had a bullet (Re branded as a WebWhip by Shakespeare Antenna) on our last boat and while it worked great, it was a nightmare for someone like me who just wants the basic functions and doesn't have the need or patience to tweak everything. Plus it is 2.4 GHz and the Groove 2.4 & 5 (I've never used the 5 gig receiver side but it's nice to know it's there).
The OP asked for suggestions for an inexpensive wifi extender and MicroTik is exactly that. What they're not is super easy to program but for a $500 savings compared to other dual-band receivers, I can endure the learning curve.
 
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I had a wifi extender 7 years ago and it worked pretty good at pulling in a weak signal. But the problem was that even when I pulled the signal in the wifi internet speed of the service (including On Spot at marinas) was just not fast enough to do things like video stream, Then the cell phone data became unlimited and the hot spot allowance got to be 50GB+ so I stopped using my booster the last 5 years and used cell phone instead. Then I got Star Link and got tossed out the booster and switched cell phone to a cheap linmited plan.

That mirrors my experience, except I don't have Starlink yet. LTE/5g mobile data is fast and cheap these days, and available almost everywhere I go.
 
Starlink!

We tried a reputable extender and it was terrible. Got Starlink installed and it's been awesome. Works at the dock and has also allowed us to anchor in places that we could not before because we did not have enough cell signal. RV version is relatively easy to install and cost is $150/mo. Can turn it off for months that you are not using it. Highly recommend!
 
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