Sunday, December 7, 2008

New Wifi and Computer System Update

I finally got all my tools and parts back from Shane in Florida and got a decent day on Saturday to finish the wifi install. The new WiFi antenna is the white one on the right (furthest outboard). I ended up needing an antenna extender since there was just no way to get the LMR-400-UF SMA connector down inside the hoop. Luckily West had all I needed in stock so I was able to finish before snow flew last night....thank god. I sure wouldn't have wanted to be climbing on my rather precarious ladder arrangement in the snow. It is quite difficult finding a location in a cockpit to place a 8' stepladder. In the spring I will need to re-rig my ladder in order to install a GPS antenna opposite the WiFi antenna on another Edson Rail Mount for the AIS unit we plan to install.

The Port Networks MWB-250 system by Alan Spicer Marine Telcom is working superbly. Looking at the site survey on the left (click for bigger), you can see signals about 1.5 miles away (Sail Newport) in a rather "Noisy" environment of downtown Newport.

Further long distance testing will have to take place in the future when there aren't sooooo many signals, but my initial reaction is that the system works quite well and is very easy to use. In the few minutes I played last night, I was able to connect to several access points around town, most of which aren't visible on my laptop even when in the pilothouse or out on deck.

The MWB-250 unit which is located in the pilothouse with a Power over Ethernet (POE) equiped Cat-5e cable connecting it to a POE injector and then to the Linksys WRT54GL router running an open source firmware DD-WRT. A LED equiped switch is located in the back of the desk flip-top to allow turning off the WiFi reciever to save power offshore as it runs on the same circuit as the Cell Phone Booster and Globalstar SatCom.

I love this router and firmware for its low cost, high power, and extreme flexibility. There is a great community providing support and sample scripts to allow many customizations such as multiple WAN ports and data shaping. I can certainly recommend Alan Spicer and Port Networks to any interested in a high powered WiFi system with a remote radio. If you are very savvy, you could probably buy direct from Port Networks and put together the antenna, cable, connectors, etc yourself, but if you want some direction, Alan's services and in particular his service contracts (which he is supplying to my client Shane) can be indispensable. With the service contract, he was incredibly price competitive on the parts.

I am also in the process of upgrading our computer system with a new Nav computer, moving the Nav computer over to Communications work and moving the 8 year old Com computer off the boat for Home Theater use. I will update on this and our entire onboard computer system in the near future.

1 comment:

dave88 said...
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