Long Range WiFi -- Posting right now using "long range" wireless
I hooked up my new Ubiquiti Bullet2HP to a 12v source and I am making this post using it right now. Really nice.
Of course, I'm very close to my own wireless access point at home, in fact there's no antenna connected to the Bullet. I'm using a 12v spotlight battery for power. When I get to our boat, I'm going to hook it up to the mystery antenna at the top of my mast. Once that's accomplished, you can be sure I'll have my pick of wireless networks to use.
To hook this up, I got a piece of normal Cat5 cable and carefully stripped off the outer plastic shell, revealing 4 pairs of wires. I hooked +12 volts to the blue pair (solid blue and blue striped), and ground to the brown pair (solid brown and brown striped). The Bullet immediately powered up with the "on" LED lit up. The other 2 pairs of wires remained connected to the plug at the end of the cable. I plugged that plug into my laptop. Then I followed these instructions: http://www.ubnt.com/downloads/Nano_Quick_Set-up.pdf The instructions are for another product, but they are close enough to figure out what to do.
If you aren't comfortable stripping wire (or stripping striped wire), you can get a Power Over Ethernet (POE) device, that breaks-out a power connection for you. There's a simple one that costs about $6 that I saw online, that would be suitable for use on a sailboat. Other POE "injectors" may be starting with 110volts, where you don't have to.
Once you have it setup, you can have it automatically find wireless networks, or you can set it so you can choose which wireless network you want to connect to. The former may connect you to a less-than-optimal network (perhaps a strong signal coming from another boat that is also simply a repeater), while the latter method would have to be done at each new anchorage. I went with the former, but I can easily change it through the web interface that the little device has built into it.
Here's the setup:
When I do install it, I plan to wrap it in electrical tape like the installer did for this one. Actually, I'll wrap the tape lower, since a few (actually, ten) Bullets had leaks under the clear cover that's over the LEDs -- bad glue that they've since fixed. To help it last a long time, I'll probably use electrical tape down to right below the LEDs. White tape would also look better too.
You'll need to get a WiFi (2.4 GHz) antenna with a female "N" type connector. The Bullet attaches right to the antenna at the top of your mast - no antenna cable. You have a Cat5 cable carry the signal (and power) to the unit. This eliminates the signal loss that you usually get from running a coax cable up to the mast. Here's an example:
When you unscrew the lower cover, you can see where the Cat 5 cable attaches. The lower cover has a hole for the cable that has white plastic O-ring. I tore it while removing it, so be careful when taking that grommet off the unit and sliding it over the Cat 5 cable. I plan to tape it up pretty thoroughly with electrical tape, so no harm done.
Choose an antenna that's right for the amount of pitching and heeling/rocking you will be doing when you surf the Internet. Unless you are at a dock or otherwise facing a specific direction all the time, you'll want to get an omnidirectional antenna. These antennas are available in increased gain, but the higher the gain, the narrower the vertical width of the beam. So heeling and pitching will affect a 12db gain antenna much more than a 6db gain antenna. From some cursory research, 6db to 10db ought to work. Since I plan on using the Internet mostly at anchor, if I didn't already have an antenna, I'd go for an even higher-gain omnidirectional antenna, maybe even 15 db or more. The higher the gain the longer the antenna gets, it seems. A 15db omnidirectional antenna will probably be 70 to 90 cm long and pull in signals from pretty far away. We'll see what range I get with my set up, using an unknown antenna that came with our boat.
At home, with no antenna, I pulled in my own wireless network. By holding a 6 inch wire onto the antenna plug, I could see 3 wireless networks. I can only imagine what I see once I get a real antenna connected.
Finally, I may hook a Linksys wireless router to the Bullet, so that I have WiFi in our boat. From what I understand, the Bullet can be setup as a repeater and serve your wireless laptops on your the boat, but I may use a separate device anyway (something about throughput). But initially I'll use a wire to my Bullet. I can get it setup that way quicker and I will be burning less amps (8 Amps, I think).
There is a forum for this product. Some useful threads are there. (Careful, one of the threads linked to an antenna with a female "type N" connector. You will need a male connector.)
marine wifi?? - Ubiquiti Networks Forum
Best Marine Antenna for B2HP Bullet - Ubiquiti Networks Forum
For the techie types - and if you made it this far then you are one - here's the datasheet: http://www.ubnt.com/downloads/b2hp_datasheet.pdf
Here are some places to buy it: bullet2hp - Google Product Search Note that you choose how powerful you want it to be. I got the 800 mW one by accident because I didn't pay close enough attention. I'd go for the 1000 mW one. It costs a bit extra, but considering the effort to get everything in place and buy an antenna, it's worth it.
***EDIT: I'm not affiliated with Ubiquiti, not related to anyone there, don't even know anyone there. I saw the product mentioned in another WiFi thread and thought I'd try it out.***
I have had nothing but irritation with my bullet2 and I have not even powered it on yet. I have ordered 2 antennas from 2 different vendors both saying they are N-type female and neither of them fit the unit. If I had to do it over again I would just get the pico and be done with it several times over.
Is it irritation with the Bullet2 or with the antennas?
The male connector has the threads inside the thing you turn to tighten. The threads are hard to see.
Maybe the people on the other end of the phone need some educating before they ship it to you. Either way, it's a shame that it's keeping you from some good connectivity.
i built an omni ant that is built right on to a usb wireless adapter. it works well but is slightly directional. it has picked up networks from about a mile, but i did not try to connect to em.
i also have a linksys router running wwdrt, set up in wireless repeater mode that i was going to use on the boat. problem is my home router died just as i got the linksys running so it got stuck at home.
i need to get one of these things too, then i have three options.
i do like the usb thing, becuase it take no outside power, and i have it on about 20 feet of usb cable built in to a pvc tube. so its weather tight, i just hang it when i need it
Also the vendors I talked to kept steering me to high gain antennas even though I told them many times I am on a boat and the gain could make things worse not better. Finally I told them I just wanted an antenna ANY antenna so I could power up the thing and configure it. By that point I had pretty much lost faith in them and just gave up. I will probably just order a pico and call it good. Now I have a strange assortment of antennas and parts.
I heard somewhere that there were 2 types of N connectors. I don't have the time now to research it, but that could be the problem. After you get one that works, can you post pictures of the differences to help others avoid that problem?
Great post, Bene. Great post. I am sending you a PM.
I'musing a Portnetwork directional antenna here in the Baltimore inner Harbor. It is picking up about 30 signals. I have it attached to the mast about 10 feet off the water.It works best, of course, when the boat is not swinging around at anchor. I also have a 5-mile amplifier I use at anchor but its reception is not as impressive.
Great write up, Bene!
Instead of electrical tape, try a roll of "self vulcanizing butyl tape" aka "coax seal" or self-stick silicone tape, which is clear instead of black. The butyl & silicone tapes are in the plumbing section at the big-box hardware stores and they adhere to themselves--with no goo or adhesive. Lasts much better than electrical tape, costs more of course.
And I'd put a dab of silicon grease in the terminal fittings, to ensure no water or oxidation in them.
Sure is a nice elegant solution to hoist aloft.
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