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Skip Gundlach
 
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Default wifi improvement

I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very flaky
wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range improver (get your
signal out to others better) but I don't see much, if anything of the other
way around.

Topsides, the range is only flaky, but at least I can pull and send stuff,
albeit I have to choose my moments. However, the screen is invisible in
anything between dawn and dusk and the keyboard is invisible in the dark,
limiting me severely in timing/scheduling.

So, I'd like to be able to go below, where there's no reception, not to
mention, protection from the elements.

Who's used what (up the mast isn't what I had in mind, though if it made
sense (I can't imagine it would, financially), I'd look at that) in the line
of plug-in remote antennas?

I've lost the link, but I saw something which was an antenna for those
laptops without wifi, on some unknown length of USB lead; one can buy
"active" USB extensions for not too much, which I assume would make it
feasible for me to put the antenna out the hatch while I'm at the nav, for
example...

Thanks for any real-world experience...

L8R

Skip

--
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig
http://tinyurl.com/384p2

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you
didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail
away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore.
Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain


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Glen \Wiley\ Wilson
 
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On Thu, 31 Mar 2005 10:30:43 -0500, "Skip Gundlach" skipgundlach sez
use my name at earthlink dot fishcatcher (net) - with apologies for
the spamtrap wrote:

I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very flaky
wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range improver (get your
signal out to others better) but I don't see much, if anything of the other
way around.

One solution is to use a wifi pcmcia card that allows external
antennas. I use the Orinoco Gold Classic now marketed by Agere. When
I bought it, it was one of the very few cards supported by
Netstumbler, which I wanted to play with. Now there are a fair
number, but I'm satisfied with the Orinoco. Pretty old technology
now, though. Probably not up to date with the latest security
improvements. It does support an external antenna; few do. Without
an antenna, your range is variable, typically from a hundred feet to a
few hundred yards.

As for antennae, many people recommend what are called "Cantennas"
about the size and shape of a Pringles can. The original model
actually was a Pringles can. These are yagis, with some wave guide
types, that look very similar and seem to have similar specs and are
widely available on Ebay. These are OK in the slip, but useless at
anchor. They are highly directional, with only about a 30-45 degree
beam spread. They claim 12-17 db gain. There are omni directional
whips made for car use and boast about 7 db gain, with a magnetic
base. I recently saw a 4 ft pole-mount whip omni antenna that claims
12 db gain. I haven't actually tried any of these antennae yet, I'm
still in research mode. 802.11b and 802.11g use the same antenna.
802.11a uses a different frequency, but you won't see many 802.11a
networks.

The tricky part are the connectors. Each antenna has a connector
(commonly N type), each card has a connector (varies by brand, with MC
type perhaps being most commonly seen in the field.) They are seldom
compatible. The antenna vendors offer pigtails for the conversion.
The typical pigtail is about 5 feet long. This is not acceptable for
boat use, IMHO. First 5 feet is not long enough, but the cable
normally used is fairly high loss. I don't have the specs onhand, but
if you need a longer cable, research low loss cables. Don't just
daisy chain a couple of 5 footers. Also, the connectors on many cards
are notoriously unreliable. They wear a bit every time you remove and
replace the cable, sometimes needing repair or replacement after about
20 uses. One solution is to buy a short (1 foot) pigtail and "glue"
it to the card with silicone. Then use whatever length of low loss
cable you need to get to the antenna.

Hope this helps;

Glen
__________________________________________________ __________
Glen "Wiley" Wilson usenet1 SPAMNIX at world wide wiley dot com
To reply, lose the capitals and do the obvious.

Take a look at cpRepeater, my NMEA data integrator, repeater, and
logger at http://www.worldwidewiley.com/
  #3   Report Post  
Rosalie B.
 
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Default

"Skip Gundlach" skipgundlach sez use my name at earthlink dot
fishcatcher (net) - with apologies for the spamtrap wrote:

I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very flaky
wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range improver (get your
signal out to others better) but I don't see much, if anything of the other
way around.

Topsides, the range is only flaky, but at least I can pull and send stuff,
albeit I have to choose my moments. However, the screen is invisible in
anything between dawn and dusk and the keyboard is invisible in the dark,
limiting me severely in timing/scheduling.


It would be easier IMHO for you to learn to touch type for at night.
Since the screen is visible, you can see if you make a mistake. Or
clip a battery operated light onto the screen if touch typing is too
hard for you.

And put a hood over the screen for daytime. Our PC is in a box in
the cockpit (made of marine plywood and faced with that counter
material (melamine or something like that) which he had left over from
another project. We have it set up that way so we can use the
navigation software on it in lieu of a chart-plotter. I can't type
on it very well like that because it is awkwardly positioned, but your
box doesn't have to be made of plywood and installed permanently. A
cardboard box would do.

So, I'd like to be able to go below, where there's no reception, not to
mention, protection from the elements.

I have used wifi on the boat, and sometimes, after I've logged on the
first couple of times, and gotten the PC 'used to it', it will also
connect in the cabin. Places where I have connected in the cabin
include Deltaville and Charleston Harbor Marina. I just refuse to
accept that I can't be more comfortable.

It often says the signal is weak, but it doesn't seem to make any real
difference. I have my own wireless set-up for the house, and the
computer will tell me that the signal strength is low or that the
signal strength is very good at different times even though neither I
nor the wifi have moved. I don't know why.

You do have to have some kind of signal at the boat for this to work.
I've also been places where there was a wi-fi, but it was restricted
to the office of the marina and/or the deck outside, and I couldn't
get the signal at the dock, let alone the boat. This is the case at
the Bellhaven Waterway Marina, and the Oriental Marina.

Who's used what (up the mast isn't what I had in mind, though if it made
sense (I can't imagine it would, financially), I'd look at that) in the line
of plug-in remote antennas?

I've lost the link, but I saw something which was an antenna for those
laptops without wifi, on some unknown length of USB lead; one can buy
"active" USB extensions for not too much, which I assume would make it
feasible for me to put the antenna out the hatch while I'm at the nav, for
example...

Thanks for any real-world experience...

L8R

Skip


grandma Rosalie
  #4   Report Post  
RW Salnick
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Skip -

I have been thru several iterations. My recommendations:

1. Get a 200 mw wifi PCMCIA card, instead of the standard 30 mw card.
SMC used to make one - don't know who else does. The SMC card is set up
for both internal and external antenna.

2. Get an external antenna. I use a 5 db gain stacked vertical:
http://www.fab-corp.com/ (look down the page for the 5.5 db gain with
the MMCX connector - this fits the SMC card) - costs $11

3. Add a reflector. This one is cheap, easy to build, and _very_
effective: http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template/. It can be
built with much more gain than a cantenna. My first version I made
from cardboard with aluminum foil taped over it - took about 15
minutes to build, and gave approx 18 db gain above the 5 db stacked
vertical. Having proved the concept, I have a more permanent version
now ;^)

bob
s/v Eolian, DE45 #11
Seattle


On Thu, 31 Mar 2005, it was written:

I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very flaky
wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range improver (get your
signal out to others better) but I don't see much, if anything of the other
way around.

Topsides, the range is only flaky, but at least I can pull and send stuff,
albeit I have to choose my moments. However, the screen is invisible in
anything between dawn and dusk and the keyboard is invisible in the dark,
limiting me severely in timing/scheduling.

So, I'd like to be able to go below, where there's no reception, not to
mention, protection from the elements.

Who's used what (up the mast isn't what I had in mind, though if it made
sense (I can't imagine it would, financially), I'd look at that) in the line
of plug-in remote antennas?

I've lost the link, but I saw something which was an antenna for those
laptops without wifi, on some unknown length of USB lead; one can buy
"active" USB extensions for not too much, which I assume would make it
feasible for me to put the antenna out the hatch while I'm at the nav, for
example...

Thanks for any real-world experience...

L8R

Skip

--
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig
http://tinyurl.com/384p2

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you
didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail
away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore.
Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain



  #5   Report Post  
Vito
 
Posts: n/a
Default

"Skip Gundlach" wrote

I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions


http://www.jefatech.com/ (Temporarily closed)

http://www.turnpoint.net/wireless/cantennahowto.html

http://flakey.info/antenna/waveguide/#list_of_tins




  #6   Report Post  
jeannette
 
Posts: n/a
Default


On Thu, 31 Mar 2005 10:30:43 -0500, "Skip Gundlach" skipgundlach sez
use my name at earthlink dot fishcatcher (net) - with apologies for
the spamtrap wrote:

I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very flaky
wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range improver (get your
signal out to others better) but I don't see much, if anything of the other
way around.

Thanks for any real-world experience...

L8R

Skip


I use this Linksys USB wifi adapter. You can put a pretty long usb
cord on it. Works great for me.

http://www.linksys.com/products/prod...id=44&prid=435


Jeannette
aa6jh
Bristol 32, Puerto Escondido
http://www.eblw.com/contepartiro/contepartiro.html
  #7   Report Post  
dazed and confuzzed
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Skip Gundlach wrote:
I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very flaky
wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range improver (get your
signal out to others better) but I don't see much, if anything of the other
way around.

Topsides, the range is only flaky, but at least I can pull and send stuff,
albeit I have to choose my moments. However, the screen is invisible in
anything between dawn and dusk and the keyboard is invisible in the dark,
limiting me severely in timing/scheduling.

So, I'd like to be able to go below, where there's no reception, not to
mention, protection from the elements.

Who's used what (up the mast isn't what I had in mind, though if it made
sense (I can't imagine it would, financially), I'd look at that) in the line
of plug-in remote antennas?

I've lost the link, but I saw something which was an antenna for those
laptops without wifi, on some unknown length of USB lead; one can buy
"active" USB extensions for not too much, which I assume would make it
feasible for me to put the antenna out the hatch while I'm at the nav, for
example...

Thanks for any real-world experience...

L8R

Skip

For another avenue, try Verizon's "AirCard". THeir service is excellent,
and works anywhere there is Verizon cell service (nearly).

--

The constitution promises freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM
religion. Think about it, It ain't that hard to figure out. If your
religion is none, then deal with it.

I strongly urge everyone reading this to check out WWW.anysoldier.com,
and support our troops with a letter, a package or a donation.

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Larry W4CSC
 
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Default

"Skip Gundlach" skipgundlach sez use my name at earthlink dot
fishcatcher (net) - with apologies for the spamtrap wrote in
:

I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very
flaky wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range
improver (get your signal out to others better) but I don't see much,
if anything of the other way around.



Here, have some fun while you're playing with it....

http://www.oreillynet.com/cs/weblog/view/wlg/448

My wireless router is 50' up a tree inside an inverted plastic bucket to
keep it out of the rain. It's a Netgear with diversity antennas and
receiver. The boys on the air force base enlisted housing about a mile
away get great access to it with the Pringles Antenna featured in this
article. There's several Pringles Antennas on the roof over there.

It's what I do to "support our troops"...(c;

Here's lots more antennas for your wireless routers:
http://www.turnpoint.net/wireless/has.html

The Pringles Antenna is a sharp little "beam", which is great because in a
city environment where there are lots of competing wireless signals, you
can POINT it at the node you want to hear, and it reject very well all the
nodes it's not pointed to. The added 12 dB gain for your miserable little,
FCC-hobbled transmitter gives your output signal to that node a real boost,
too!

Remember - ALTITUDE IS OUR FRIEND on microwave frequencies like 2400 Mhz.
It's why the telephone company's microwave antennas were way up a tall
tower!


  #9   Report Post  
Casey Jones
 
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Default

Skip Gundlach (net) wrote:
I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very

flaky
wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range improver

(get your
signal out to others better) but I don't see much, if anything of the

other
way around.


I use Broadband Express here in the Northwest and Canada. I bought
their P{CMIA card as well as there omni directional antenna and have
received signals over half a mile away. Works great and I can almost
always get a signal if I anchor in populated harbors.
http://www.bbxpress.net

Casey Jones
s/v Baba 35
lying Eagle Harbor, WA

  #10   Report Post  
Casey Jones
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Skip Gundlach (net) wrote:
I'm looking for experience with external antenna solutions to very

flaky
wifi access on the boat. There's every sort of hub range improver

(get your
signal out to others better) but I don't see much, if anything of the

other
way around.


I use Broadband Express here in the Northwest and Canada. I bought
their P{CMIA card as well as there omni directional antenna and have
received signals over half a mile away. Works great and I can almost
always get a signal if I anchor in populated harbors.
http://www.bbxpress.net

Casey Jones
s/v Baba 35
lying Eagle Harbor, WA

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