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The start of my geeking
July 1, 2016 - 3:16 am
Member Since: June 10, 2016
Forum Posts: 6
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I work as a network engineer doing Cisco switches and firewalls, probably 15/85% split on those. I have 2 rungs up the corporate ladder oking my wish to live where I want so I need to get started. I bought S/V Boomer and renaming her S/V Liberty and fly out to do a trial work from boat next week. Will add a 4G external antenna, signal amplifier and wifi hotspot to hopefully deal with the close to shore stuff. Planning on staying in San Diego Bay until the boat is complete. Also need to work the details on two flip down monitors from the salon of the cabin in the pilothouse so I can continue to not having to flip through applications. 

I will be adding KVH satellite shortly so I can actually take my boat offshore. Not sure if people are looking to do the same but will document the process just in case someone else has the urge to spend 50 cents a MB for internet access. Then there is always the 802.11 wifi with the fancy directional antennas for when you just have to post a new Youtube of your adventures and  you are too cheap to pay for the ATT hotspot. 

Well that is my immediate projects so I can get sailing offshore. I will probably take a look at virtual machines and things like OpenCPN too just so I can put on my pocket protector and look like a nerd. 

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Scott Carle
July 1, 2016 - 11:02 am
Member Since: October 10, 2009
Forum Posts: 1480
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Just some thoughts based on my experience setting up 3g/4g access on commercial boats.

One of my past customers was one of the casino boats here in SC that for years used a satellite system. It worked but was horrendously expensive and best speed was about 256 k or something like that. Seemed to me that they were ripping customers off as I have another customer that we connected a remote mountain cabin with satellite for 100 a month and he got decent high speed and no data charges. However in the marine realm the satellite companies that provide it charge the shit out of it. I have always wondered if you could build your own satellite system using Hughes net equipment and account that could track the satellite. Or adapt one of the marine satellite hardware systems to access your Hughes net satellite Internet account.

Ok to some hard info. The casino boat was paying about 2500 a month for Internet with the satellite system. 98% of the time they only went between 3 and 10 miles from the coast line. I had been able to maintain a signal on my cellphone out to about 4 miles and sometimes 5 from the top deck of the casino boat so we started to research doing data over it. We purchased a cellular router, antenna and booster unit from the  Being high speed I decided that we wanted 4G to give the best performance. Antenna went on highest mast on boat with about a 50 ft cable from it to the booster unit. Then from booster unit we converted down to a dongle that attached to a usb 3g/4g att/sprint (we tested both att and sprint with about the same results) dongle that in turn plugged into the 3g/4g router. It worked great at the dock with it set to 4G. Blazing fast.

Then there was the but!! but it didn't work reliably and totally crapped out about 2 miles off shore a lot of the time. Didn't work at all if the weather was bad.. etc.. I spent a lot of time troubleshooting and researching antennas and other stuff (finally talked to a antenna manufacture in california that gave me that answer to our problem). So we finally figured out the issue. 4G data (LTE, WiMax) is commonly on  1700-2100 MHz, 1900MHz and 2500-2700 MHz).  3G on the other hand runs on 900 mhz..

In a humid environment or in rain or heavy clouds etc.. the moisture in the air kills the signal in the higher 4g frequencies. Under ideal conditions it still has less than half the effective range of 3G. Once we changed the antenna to one designed for 900 mhz, put a 3G booster in place, and forced the router to only connect at 3G or less everything started working. They could under almost all conditions maintain decent internet up to 6 miles off shore. I could even do remote access over it most of the time. Running a network of about 25 computers on the boat their bill ran 300 to 400 a month.

This is the heart of the system we used. A cradle point router that when at dock connected to internet through wifi and when the boat left the dock automatically failed over to the 3G signal..

It seems most of the boosters we used are discontinued but any reputable one that works on 3g frequencies should work.

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
Scott Carle
July 1, 2016 - 11:16 am
Member Since: October 10, 2009
Forum Posts: 1480
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I found for hardware that the people at the were very knowledgeable about exactly what cables and adapters I needed to go from one piece of equipment to the next to make it all work together. You will end up with about 3 different types of connectors on the units that all need to be adapted from one to the next if I remember correctly. Also their prices on pre-made antenna cables and adapter cables was very competitive/reasonable. I had more than a couple long phone calls with them as I went through the learning process on doing this.

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Scott Carle DE38 Cutter s/v Valkyr
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