Part two in our series on Breaking Free Of Corporate Internet looks at long range wireless internet.
Everyone is familiar with this technology, plug a Wi-Fi router into your broadband connection at home and POOF… you are free to roam the house surfing gCaptain on your laptop free of the entanglement of wires. But this Wi-Fi has plenty of restrictions, most notably limited range.
There are free solutions for surfing wirelessly from far out to sea but you’ll either need to have the expertise to hack satellite signals or bear through the excruciatingly slow speeds of a SSB modem. For the rest of us we may not be able to surf a few hundred miles offshore but can certainly catch our gCaptain fix while running any populated coastline with the help of a Ubiquity Bullet.
First the good news. Wireless internet is an international standard meaning that it doesn’t matter if your connecting to a wi-fi router in Tokyo, Galveston, or even Zanzibar… your laptop should connect without a problem. The bullet is basically a fast and cheap internet router that is designed to be mounted on a marine antenna and hoisted up the mast providing up to 5 miles of range for connecting with open hotspots along the coast.
The unit itself looks like a miniature light saber but on one side is a watertight internet plug and on the other is an N-Type antenna connection. Simply screw and antenna into one end, mount this unit high up on the mast mast and plug in the internet cable. But that is where the simplicity ends. Because the router lives on the mast it can’t be plugged into just any 110/220 volt receptacle, rather you will need to purchase a separate POE injector that beams 12 volt DC power through the actual internet cord and up to the bullet. This has the major advantage of no signal loss between the modem and the antenna but adds an eliminate of complexity. Once connected you will need a few hours staring at this manual to figure out the settings needed to change the unit from broadcast to receive mode.
At gCaptain, we constructed our own Ubiquity system with a bullet router on a sailboat mast and Ubiquity nanobridge fixed to the roof of my house a mile away. The system worked great allowing us to tunnel right through to the house modem, we where also able to connect to nearly a dozen other homes and coffee shops in the neighborhood that were running unsecured wireless routers. Once underway, most of the connections dropped off a mile from the coastline but we where still able to connect to one access point nearly four miles from shore. On a ship with a much higher mast, this range would most certainly be increased.
As well as the system worked, it was a real pain to set up. The configuration of the routers alone was troublesome despite help from an internet guru and we tried out three different POE injectors until we found one that worked properly.
Enter Island Time PC.
A search on the internet, including some outstanding reviews in the comments section of Panbo, led quickly to a phone conversation with the company’s owner and tech guru, Bob Stewart. Bob’s service is simple: For a modest price he will build you a Ubiquity-based solution specifically to your needs. This service includes pre-configuring the troublesome set-up procedures as well as technical support. Bob recently sent gCaptain a sample of the equipment, and it’s very high quality stuff. Likely to last for years exposed to the marine environment.
If you are interested in this technology please bookmark this page. We will be updating it with other promising solutions for internet at sea including Rogue Wave WiFi and other custom packages.