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Telstar 28
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In a previous thread, I recommended a boat WiFi solution called the NanoStation 2.


photo courtesy of Titan Wireless, click photo to see this at their site.

I think it is one of the better solutions for sailors to get an amplified WiFi antenna for use on their boat, and reasonably inexpensive at $80 street retail (click photo above). It has about a 60˚ coverage horizontally and 30˚ coverage vertically, and gives you a 10dB gain. Wiring it is simple, since the unit uses a single ethernet cable for both power and data.

However, several people have been having issues setting it up... so I thought I'd write a bit about how to do so for the non-geek.

The NanoStation 2 has a default LAN (hardwired ethernet) IP address of 192.168.1.20. You need to set your computer's Ethernet card to a 192.168.1.xxx IP address so you can talk to the NS2. Depending on what OS you're running, this can be fairly simple to do. On most Windows boxes, you can right click the network interface and select properties, and set it in there.

Once you've got it and your laptop talking, and you've got the information you need for the access point in question: the SSID or network ID and the WEP or WPA Pre-shared key password/encryption key, then you can configure the NS2 fairly easily. If the WiFi network isn't secured, you can often use the SSID of "any" to connect to it.

I'd recommend you go to the NanoStation Wiki, located here, which gives you the setup step-by-step. These instructions are based on the step-by-step instructions in the Wiki.

In Step 2, you'll want to set it up in "Bridge" mode, with a "DHCP" IP address most of the time. Most WiFi networks use DHCP to simplify IP address management. If you go with a static address, and they're using DHCP, you're likely to get stepped on when someone else gets assigned the IP address you've statically encoded.

In Step 3, you'll want to set it up with the SSID you were given for the network (called an ESSID in the NS2).

In Step 4, you'll just want to select the Country Code to match where you're located. Different countries have different regulations on WiFi radio spectra and also may have different ranges assigned to it. In the US, there are 11 bands or channels assigned, in other countries there may be up to 14. Leave the rest as default, unless you know the access point is an 802.11g vs. 802.11b access point.

In Step 5, pick the security mode, usually WEP, or better WPA or WPA2. They may not have security, but IMHO you're better off it is activated. Enter the Encryption Key or Pre-shared key as required. WEP is pretty worthless as security goes, as it can be cracked in under a few minutes with enough data passing through the wireless network.

Follow Steps 6 & 7.

BTW, if your e-mail service allows you to use SSL or other encryption, you should use it, otherwise your username, server password and e-mail are all sent in CLEARTEXT... and anyone else on the WiFi network can see it with the right software. I know that Gmail, dotMac and many of the other larger e-mail providers support this, if yours doesn't, you should write to them and complain.

You should also always use the "https://" version of your financial institution's website, which is the SSL-encrypted version, when logging in, for similar reasons, rather than the "http://".

The NS2 interface is actually rather easy to use, once you're used to it and understand it.

If you are new to using WiFi networks, I'd highly recommend you read this WiFi Primer.
 

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You read my mind SD. After reading your prior recommendation, I was thinking about getting one of those for use at anchor near, but not quite near enough, to a wifi source and was wondering about hooking it up.
After reading your directions here, which I think I can implement ok, I wondering if I will need to reconfigure my computer next time I DONT want to use this device, say when I take the computer to a local cafe with readily available wifi. Will the laptop's separate built in wifi receiver and the ethernet plug used for this device work independently without switching all my settings back and forth? (Sorry, this may be obvious but theres a lot to learn about this stuff)
 

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Scosch....I set mine up (with difficulty and help from SD - thanks!) and used my Linksys to test with. I disabled the onboard wireless adapter to make sure that it was the NS2 communicating with the Linksys to get to the internet. I haven't tried running with both the ns2 and onboard wireless active, but, for sure, when you're in the wireless cafe, the onboard will work fine. Leave the ns2 on the boat.
 

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Telstar 28
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, that's the beauty of using the NS2-you don't have to muck with the WIFI settings on your laptop, since it uses the ETHERNET card. Just disable the WiFi card when you're on the boat, and when you go to the internet cafe, just re-enable the WiFi card.

You read my mind SD. After reading your prior recommendation, I was thinking about getting one of those for use at anchor near, but not quite near enough, to a wifi source and was wondering about hooking it up.
After reading your directions here, which I think I can implement ok, I wondering if I will need to reconfigure my computer next time I DONT want to use this device, say when I take the computer to a local cafe with readily available wifi. Will the laptop's separate built in wifi receiver and the ethernet plug used for this device work independently without switching all my settings back and forth? (Sorry, this may be obvious but theres a lot to learn about this stuff)
 

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Any idea the range over water one can get with that set-up? If there's a network on shore, how far out to sea could one be and get a signal, I'm wondering.

Is this for using the internet at anchor or would it work mid-sail on a coastal cruise a few miles out in the blue?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Kulokoo-

I doubt it would work more than a mile or two out, though the maximum distance I've setup a link using two NS2s is almost 8 miles at this point..but that was a terrestrial setup without any movement involved.

ScottyT-

You might want to read the post I wrote about setting up the NS2, which is a bit more in-depth than the one here. It is on my blog.
 

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i have been using the ns2 for a year now. setting it up in the first place was a bit mysterious - I just followed the directions on the net (probably sd's but I dont remember) like a cookbook because there were NO instructions whatever with the device. - and it worked like a charm. We had wireless every place we went on Chesapeake Bay last season except Dividing Creek in the Wye River. Just switch the wifi switch OFF on the boat and then ON when in the cafe on land. very easy.
 
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