Topics

Mobile communications - 4G, WiFi


David Crisp
 

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to be cruising the Mediterranean for the next few years. For internet/email access my primary channel will be mobile/4G although I'll use WiFi when available. Consequently I'm looking to install a good antenna/router system for 4G and WiFi.  I see there's one or two ready assembled products available from people like Digital Yacht or I could buy my own components and maybe get more bang for my Euro plus get even more job self-satisfaction!

Does anyone have any experience they can share?

Regards
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace


Ryan Meador
 

I decided to build my own system.  I think it was lower cost, and it's great knowing that I can troubleshoot and repair every aspect of it.  I've been meaning to do a full writeup on how I did it for my blog for some time, but I haven't gotten around to it... I'll give you the unpolished version:

  1. I bought a Mikrotik hAP AC Lite router.  This supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi, it has Ethernet, it has USB, and it can be easily powered from our onboard 24VDC power system (just cut the end off the wall adapter, taking care to match the polarity when you connect to the onboard wiring).  This is the "indoor" router that acts as my access point.  I mounted it above the bookshelf next to the nav station.
  2. I bought a Mikrotik GrooveA 52 with antenna (more on the antenna later).  This is powered via Power-over-Ethernet, has a single Ethernet port, is compatible without 24VDC power system, and it's weatherproof.  This is the "outdoor" station that connects to the marina's free WiFi network (2.4GHz or 5GHz).
  3. I installed the GrooveA on the main backstay with the included zip ties, then ran outdoor-rated Ethernet cable down the backstay and inside the boat (I had a hole at the base of the mizzen already from an old radar installation that was on the backstay).  This cable plugs into the uplink port on the hAP router and a PoE injector (included with the GrooveA, I believe).  You may want to consider putting it on the mizzen mast instead (see below re: antenna).
  4. I configured the GrooveA, which is very user friendly. You just put it in CPE mode and it's ready to scan for and connect to WiFi networks, so that's basically done.
  5. The hAP was a little trickier.  This is why I've been holding off on writing it up for my blog... I need to make sure I'm not missing any steps.  If you're good with networking, you can probably figure it out just like I did.  Things I remember:
    1. You need to give them different IP addresses so you can connect to both of them for configuration.  I believe you have to do the hAP first.
    2. You need to configure the hAP firewall to allow packets through (there's some setting like "forward")
  6. At this point, you have functioning WiFi!  Yay!  And when you get to a new marina, you just pop open your browser, connect to the GrooveA's IP address, and select the new network.
  7. But you also want LTE.  Remember that USB port on the hAP?  You can buy a USB dongle that goes in there.  There are a ton of supported models on the Mikrotik website, but I went with the Huawei E3372.  Take care to get one that matches the LTE bands in use in the region(s) you're going to be.  Some of them even support external antennas (mine does not).
  8. I use Google Fi as my phone provider, so it was a simple matter of requesting an extra data SIM card from them to put into the LTE dongle, then plugging that into the hAP.  You'll want to ensure you only plug in either the LTE dongle or the GrooveA, not both at the same time, unless you like running your data bill up.  It's possible to set them up to automatically switch back and forth, but I'm not going to go into that detail.
This setup has worked very well for over a year.  There is one small flaw... the antenna included with the GrooveA has high gain and is quite polarized, so the signal comes out in a thin plane perpendicular to the antenna (I believe there was a related discussion on this list about VHF antennas recently).  This is normally a good thing, if it's lined up with the access point in the marina or on shore.  Problem is, I mounted it on the backstay, which is slanted.  So it's easy for the signal to miss the access point.  I partially solved this by buying a lower gain antenna, which has a wider signal pattern.  A better way to solve it would be to mount it vertically, likely on the mizzen mast.  I was going to put it up on the mizzen spreader, but that's too high to use in our home marina -- the marina access points are only about 6' off the ground -- so my signal would go right over them.  If you're always going to be at anchor, it would probably work wonders up there.

I hope that brain dump wasn't too much.  If I get that written up for my blog soon, I'll drop you a link to that.

Ryan and Kelly
SM 233 Iteration
Boston, MA, USA


On Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 2:26 PM David Crisp <david@...> wrote:
Hi Everyone,

I'm going to be cruising the Mediterranean for the next few years. For internet/email access my primary channel will be mobile/4G although I'll use WiFi when available. Consequently I'm looking to install a good antenna/router system for 4G and WiFi.  I see there's one or two ready assembled products available from people like Digital Yacht or I could buy my own components and maybe get more bang for my Euro plus get even more job self-satisfaction!

Does anyone have any experience they can share?

Regards
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace


eric freedman
 

I have been using the groove 52 antenna and router for a few years . It picks up a weak signal and I get great connections. Right now no one on my dock has internet except me.
Fair Wind,
Eric
SM 376 kimberlite

On January 21, 2020 at 2:26 PM David Crisp <david@...> wrote:

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to be cruising the Mediterranean for the next few years. For internet/email access my primary channel will be mobile/4G although I'll use WiFi when available. Consequently I'm looking to install a good antenna/router system for 4G and WiFi.  I see there's one or two ready assembled products available from people like Digital Yacht or I could buy my own components and maybe get more bang for my Euro plus get even more job self-satisfaction!

Does anyone have any experience they can share?

Regards
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace

 


Ryan Meador
 

Eric, where did you mount your Groove?

Ryan and Kelly
SM 233 Iteration
Boston, MA, USA


On Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 10:37 PM eric freedman <kimberlite@...> wrote:
I have been using the groove 52 antenna and router for a few years . It picks up a weak signal and I get great connections. Right now no one on my dock has internet except me.
Fair Wind,
Eric
SM 376 kimberlite

On January 21, 2020 at 2:26 PM David Crisp <david@...> wrote:

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to be cruising the Mediterranean for the next few years. For internet/email access my primary channel will be mobile/4G although I'll use WiFi when available. Consequently I'm looking to install a good antenna/router system for 4G and WiFi.  I see there's one or two ready assembled products available from people like Digital Yacht or I could buy my own components and maybe get more bang for my Euro plus get even more job self-satisfaction!

Does anyone have any experience they can share?

Regards
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace

 


eric freedman
 

Hi Ryan,
When I had Kimberlite made Amel mounted a bar between the backstays for our KVH Sat phone. Since we have the go- and no KVH we have extra space on the platform to mount the Groove.
Fair Winds,
Eric
SM 376 Kimberlite

On January 21, 2020 at 10:47 PM Ryan Meador <ryan.d.meador@...> wrote:

Eric, where did you mount your Groove?

Ryan and Kelly
SM 233 Iteration
Boston, MA, USA


On Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 10:37 PM eric freedman < kimberlite@...> wrote:
I have been using the groove 52 antenna and router for a few years . It picks up a weak signal and I get great connections. Right now no one on my dock has internet except me.
Fair Wind,
Eric
SM 376 kimberlite

On January 21, 2020 at 2:26 PM David Crisp < david@...> wrote:

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to be cruising the Mediterranean for the next few years. For internet/email access my primary channel will be mobile/4G although I'll use WiFi when available. Consequently I'm looking to install a good antenna/router system for 4G and WiFi.  I see there's one or two ready assembled products available from people like Digital Yacht or I could buy my own components and maybe get more bang for my Euro plus get even more job self-satisfaction!

Does anyone have any experience they can share?

Regards
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace

 


 


Gerhard Mueller
 

I still have the old Ubiquiti Bullet 2HP which is similiar to the Groove.
Depending the conditions I use 2 different kinds of antennas.
The usual rod antenna has the characteristics as shown below:

360 degrees horizontal but only a small angle vertically.
That means the antenna should be mounted as near as possible to the horizontal line to the access point.
However a directional antenna has this characteristic:

That is nearly same quality horizontal and vertically.
So if you know the direction to the access point take this one.

Another thing to know: My Bullet as well the Groove are routers. When you attach them to another router in your network on board the boat then only one router in the network can be configured as DHCP server which handles the IP addresses in your network. Otherwise the network is blocked.
--
Gerhard Mueller
Amel Sharki #60
Currently Kalamata, Greece


Ryan Meador
 

Gerhard, thanks for including those diagrams.  That makes it a lot more clear what I was trying to say in my earlier post.  The directional antennas are great if you can be sure it will always be pointed in the right direction.  On a mooring, it's not going to work very well.

You bring up a good point about the DHCP configuration.  The easiest way to fix it is isn't to turn off DHCP on one of them, it's to ensure they assign from separate IP ranges and ensure one is plugged into the uplink port of the other.  Then the downstream router will get an IP from the upstream one just like any other device.  I recall this was very easy to set up with the Mikrotik routers.

Ryan and Kelly
SM 233 Iteration
Boston, MA, USA


On Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 5:31 AM Gerhard Mueller via Groups.Io <carcode=me.com@groups.io> wrote:
I still have the old Ubiquiti Bullet 2HP which is similiar to the Groove.
Depending the conditions I use 2 different kinds of antennas.
The usual rod antenna has the characteristics as shown below:

360 degrees horizontal but only a small angle vertically.
That means the antenna should be mounted as near as possible to the horizontal line to the access point.
However a directional antenna has this characteristic:

That is nearly same quality horizontal and vertically.
So if you know the direction to the access point take this one.

Another thing to know: My Bullet as well the Groove are routers. When you attach them to another router in your network on board the boat then only one router in the network can be configured as DHCP server which handles the IP addresses in your network. Otherwise the network is blocked.
--
Gerhard Mueller
Amel Sharki #60
Currently Kalamata, Greece


Joerg Esdorn
 

I have the Bad Boy Unleashed WIFI extender system Amel offered as an option on the 55.  It has worked well enough but I have found that in the Med, WIFI is usually useless because of lack of bandwidth.  I Found that in most marinas I visited the WIFI was overloaded at the times I wanted to use it.   Restaurants WIFI I found no better, typically worse.  So I installed a 4G SIM card in my Redbox router (Mailasail) which gives me WIFI via a 4G LTE connection on the boat.  In most countries in the Med, cheap 4G SIM cards are available which typically give you 10G or more for $10.  I found this solution cost effective and much less stressful than trying to get a decent WIFI connection.  It requires you to get a new SIM card in each country, though.  

joerg esdorn
A55 Kincsem
Vigo, Spain


Gerhard Mueller
 

Joerg

Correct, the bandwith is often very poor. It is a little better at night times when most users are asleep. But a nice antenna helps a lot. When you have a poor signal strength you have also a small bandwith. That is the way the WiFi protocol works.
--
Gerhard Mueller
Amel Sharki #60
Currently Kalamata, Greece


Brent Cameron
 

Those directional antennas generally have a +/- 3  degree plane off vertical. Using the old (and very handy)  1 in 60 rule (1 degree at 60nm is equal to a distance across that arc of 1 nautical mile or 6000 feet).it’s easy to calculate that if you are say 1/10 mile from the source antennas, then you can be as much as 30 feet off plane and still get a decent signal. ( 6000/ 60 / 10 * 3 degrees = 30’)   I’m not sure that I’d put the directional antenna on top of the Mizzen as the extra height isn’t doing you any favours up really close  but Eric has a good solution (at say 15’ off the water) as that would easily allow you to hit an antenna at that elevation but also up to 45 in at that distance (the further out you are, the less it’s a problem- 1/2 mile would be 150’, 1 mile is 300, etc. ’Anyway, unless you are sitting right on top of the source antenna, in which case your computers would likely get Wi-Fi anyway, it won’t make much difference where you mount it.  The range is still likely to be fairly close just because of the signal strength so unlike VHF (or AIS),  boosting your antenna to get additional line of sight isn’t going to make much difference anyway. 

Brent Cameron, Future Amel owner & Amel Owner's Registry Moderator

On Jan 22, 2020, 10:27 AM -0500, Ryan Meador <ryan.d.meador@...>, wrote:
Gerhard, thanks for including those diagrams.  That makes it a lot more clear what I was trying to say in my earlier post.  The directional antennas are great if you can be sure it will always be pointed in the right direction.  On a mooring, it's not going to work very well.

You bring up a good point about the DHCP configuration.  The easiest way to fix it is isn't to turn off DHCP on one of them, it's to ensure they assign from separate IP ranges and ensure one is plugged into the uplink port of the other.  Then the downstream router will get an IP from the upstream one just like any other device.  I recall this was very easy to set up with the Mikrotik routers.

Ryan and Kelly
SM 233 Iteration
Boston, MA, USA


On Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 5:31 AM Gerhard Mueller via Groups.Io <carcode=me.com@groups.io> wrote:
I still have the old Ubiquiti Bullet 2HP which is similiar to the Groove.
Depending the conditions I use 2 different kinds of antennas.
The usual rod antenna has the characteristics as shown below:
<WiFi-Rundstrahlantenne.png>
360 degrees horizontal but only a small angle vertically.
That means the antenna should be mounted as near as possible to the horizontal line to the access point.
However a directional antenna has this characteristic:
<WiFi-Sektorantenne.png>
That is nearly same quality horizontal and vertically.
So if you know the direction to the access point take this one.

Another thing to know: My Bullet as well the Groove are routers. When you attach them to another router in your network on board the boat then only one router in the network can be configured as DHCP server which handles the IP addresses in your network. Otherwise the network is blocked.
--
Gerhard Mueller
Amel Sharki #60
Currently Kalamata, Greece


--
Brent Cameron

Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator

Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada


Gerhard Mueller
 

Brent
Do you have mixed the idioms "directional antenna" and "rod antenna" perhaps?
Please see the diagrams above to make things clear.
Would you like I post a picture of a rod antenna and a directional antenna to see its difference?
--
Gerhard Mueller
Amel Sharki #60
Currently Kalamata, Greece


Brent Cameron
 

Jorge, I use a UK three SIM for when I’m travelling in Europe and they have a wonderful roaming plan. I get about 20G for 15 British Pounds (you can even get unlimited for about twice that). and it works in over 90 countries including many of the islands in the Caribbean (not Bermuda or Mexico though). I got it on Amazon and I do the top ups from PayPal so it works even though I don’t have a Uk credit card or address. 

Brent Cameron, Future Amel owner & Amel Owner's Registry Moderator

--
Brent Cameron

Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator

Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada


Brent Cameron
 

Good catch Gerard! I meant the Rod Antennas in your terminology of course. I was referring to the fact that rather than a simple 1/4 wavelength antenna that is Omni directional (like our sailing VHF/AIS antennas) or the ones you see on home routers, the Rod ones are relatively flat in the horizontal plane. Your highly directional antennas of course are much better but then need to be aimed at the source as your diagrams show. Sorry for the confusion. I’ll blame it on my iPhone!  LOL. 

Brent Cameron, Future Amel owner & Amel Owner's Registry Moderator

--
Brent Cameron

Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator

Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada


David Crisp
 

Since my original post I have read the responses (thank you all) and trawled the web.  There maybe others like me treading this path so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned/concluded so far.  One caveat, I’m a very modestly technically literate sailor, definitely not an RF, electronics or networking engineer. If I have made any silly errors please let me know, I’m keen to learn.

 

I’m not currently aboard so doing much of my layout thinking from memory.

 

To recap the requirement: I’m going to be cruising the Mediterranean and want to be able to access the internet. Ideally, I’d like to able to get weather forecasts whilst coastal sailing offshore/between islands, subject to the limits of 4G coverage of course. Budget: Conscious that cheapest isn’t always the best, I’d rather spend a bit more to get performance and quality than save a bit but regret it later.

 

 

(a) Prioritise 4G/LTE over Wi-Fi. A number of people have commented how Wi-Fi systems are often overloaded and slow, that 4G provides better data rates.

 

(b) It’s more cost effective (and satisfying) to assemble my own system than buying a turnkey setup (e.g. DigitalYacht, Red Box etc). I’ve found a couple of exceptions to this but they have a major downside with the SIM card being badly located – more on this later.

 

(c) Antenna

Use an external omni-directional antenna (vs. one down below).

 

Keep the cable run from antenna to modem/router as short as possible to minimise losses. Mounting the antenna high up is less important than keeping the cable run short. This leads me to thinking possible locations for the antenna are: mizzen spreader / aft rail or arch / between the backstays. Least attractive is on top of the mizzen mast due to the distance.

 

Use LMR-400 coax cable if the cable routing permits.

 

To get the benefit of 4G/LTE a MIMO antenna is needed. The Poynting OMNI-402 gets very good reviews on build quality  but it’s expensive at UK£290 (https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-antenna-omni-402). One or two articles seem to challenge the benefit of a MIMO antenna https://seabits.com/poynting-omni-antenna-testing/ and https://novaroundbritain.home.blog/2019/10/18/internet/ and maybe a simpler OMNI-291 (UK£144) SISO antenna would deliver pretty much the same performance (still very good build quality) but at half the cost.

 

I have looked at a couple of integrated solutions such as the WEBBOAT 4G LITE from Glomex (€609) https://shop.glomex.it/en/webboat-coastal-internet/660-it1104-webboat-coastal-internet-4g-wi-fi.html and Solwise QuSpot omni LTE/4G (UK£452) https://www.solwise.co.uk/WI-AX11S which have the antenna, 4G modem (SIM card) and router all integrated into the antenna dome. These look cost effective, eliminate antenna cable losses and look simpler to install however it means regular access to the SIM card is a problem if installed on a spreader or between the backstays. Why the need for SIM card access? From what I can understand there’s a need to either return to the UK with my UK SIM card every few months to maintain the EU roaming or to buy a SIM card in each country as the EU roaming expires. Either way regular access to the SIM card is needed.

 

(d) 4G Modem/Router

The Teltonika RUT 240 (UK£124) https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-routers-rut240.html looks like it’ll do the job. The LAN port means I can one day connect an NMEA bridge should I want to. One could spend a little more and get the Teltonika  950 (UK£166) https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-routers-rut950.html as this has 3 LAN ports which leave room for more expansion.

 

Location of the router will be determined by where the antenna cable enters from above (I’m not aboard at present). I’m assuming with a GRP structure WiFi propagation from the pilot berth or aft cabin (likely router locations) throughout the boat should be adequate, certainly to the saloon and aft cabin.

 

(e) WiFi

Assuming marina/cafe provided WiFi data capacity will be usually poor I may still buy a WL-Patriot-DB (UK£87) https://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-Patriot-DB to at least try in each location. This would plug into the WAN port of the router. It’s powered over ethernet which simplifies matters. I’d either locate it somewhere inside or stick it outside temporarily via a porthole maybe.  It’s IP65 rated so if its outside in a rain shower it should be okay, but I’d be reluctant to mount it permanently outside.

 

 

Comments and suggestions encouraged.

--
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace
Amel 54 #58


Paul Dowd and Sharon Brown
 

David,

 

In my experiences, in the Med 3/4G has worked well, in the Caribbean wifi has given me a better service. If you do use wifi be aware that systems that use a USBL cable to connect to a receiver integrated in the base of an antenna, such as Redbox, will not work very well if the cable is too long. I have used Digital Yacht (coax to the antenna) and Bullet, also known as Webcatcher, and currently in use (RJ45 cable with PoE to the antenna) without problems but had no end of trouble with Redbox (USBL). I have never used a directional antenna. When I bought the Webcatcher in Martinique (Diginav in Le Marin) it came with a choice of three antenna sizes, and I took the middle one which was a good compromise between vertical beam width and range. Note that in rolly bays vertical beam width does become significant. This system has not failed me in four years. Note that my priority has always been reliability, then cost.

 

Cheers,

Paul

S/Y Ya Fohi - Amel 54 #98

 

From: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io <main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Crisp
Sent: 23 January 2020 07:25
To: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io
Subject: Re: [AmelYachtOwners] Mobile communications - 4G, WiFi

 

Since my original post I have read the responses (thank you all) and trawled the web.  There maybe others like me treading this path so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned/concluded so far.  One caveat, I’m a very modestly technically literate sailor, definitely not an RF, electronics or networking engineer. If I have made any silly errors please let me know, I’m keen to learn.

 

I’m not currently aboard so doing much of my layout thinking from memory.

 

To recap the requirement: I’m going to be cruising the Mediterranean and want to be able to access the internet. Ideally, I’d like to able to get weather forecasts whilst coastal sailing offshore/between islands, subject to the limits of 4G coverage of course. Budget: Conscious that cheapest isn’t always the best, I’d rather spend a bit more to get performance and quality than save a bit but regret it later.

 

 

(a) Prioritise 4G/LTE over Wi-Fi. A number of people have commented how Wi-Fi systems are often overloaded and slow, that 4G provides better data rates.

 

(b) It’s more cost effective (and satisfying) to assemble my own system than buying a turnkey setup (e.g. DigitalYacht, Red Box etc). I’ve found a couple of exceptions to this but they have a major downside with the SIM card being badly located – more on this later.

 

(c) Antenna

Use an external omni-directional antenna (vs. one down below).

 

Keep the cable run from antenna to modem/router as short as possible to minimise losses. Mounting the antenna high up is less important than keeping the cable run short. This leads me to thinking possible locations for the antenna are: mizzen spreader / aft rail or arch / between the backstays. Least attractive is on top of the mizzen mast due to the distance.

 

Use LMR-400 coax cable if the cable routing permits.

 

To get the benefit of 4G/LTE a MIMO antenna is needed. The Poynting OMNI-402 gets very good reviews on build quality  but it’s expensive at UK£290 (https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-antenna-omni-402). One or two articles seem to challenge the benefit of a MIMO antenna https://seabits.com/poynting-omni-antenna-testing/ and https://novaroundbritain.home.blog/2019/10/18/internet/ and maybe a simpler OMNI-291 (UK£144) SISO antenna would deliver pretty much the same performance (still very good build quality) but at half the cost.

 

I have looked at a couple of integrated solutions such as the WEBBOAT 4G LITE from Glomex (€609) https://shop.glomex.it/en/webboat-coastal-internet/660-it1104-webboat-coastal-internet-4g-wi-fi.html and Solwise QuSpot omni LTE/4G (UK£452) https://www.solwise.co.uk/WI-AX11S which have the antenna, 4G modem (SIM card) and router all integrated into the antenna dome. These look cost effective, eliminate antenna cable losses and look simpler to install however it means regular access to the SIM card is a problem if installed on a spreader or between the backstays. Why the need for SIM card access? From what I can understand there’s a need to either return to the UK with my UK SIM card every few months to maintain the EU roaming or to buy a SIM card in each country as the EU roaming expires. Either way regular access to the SIM card is needed.

 

(d) 4G Modem/Router

The Teltonika RUT 240 (UK£124) https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-routers-rut240.html looks like it’ll do the job. The LAN port means I can one day connect an NMEA bridge should I want to. One could spend a little more and get the Teltonika  950 (UK£166) https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-routers-rut950.html as this has 3 LAN ports which leave room for more expansion.

 

Location of the router will be determined by where the antenna cable enters from above (I’m not aboard at present). I’m assuming with a GRP structure WiFi propagation from the pilot berth or aft cabin (likely router locations) throughout the boat should be adequate, certainly to the saloon and aft cabin.

 

(e) WiFi

Assuming marina/cafe provided WiFi data capacity will be usually poor I may still buy a WL-Patriot-DB (UK£87) https://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-Patriot-DB to at least try in each location. This would plug into the WAN port of the router. It’s powered over ethernet which simplifies matters. I’d either locate it somewhere inside or stick it outside temporarily via a porthole maybe.  It’s IP65 rated so if its outside in a rain shower it should be okay, but I’d be reluctant to mount it permanently outside.

 

 

Comments and suggestions encouraged.

--
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace
Amel 54 #58


--
Cheers
Paul
Ya Fohi - Amel 54 #98


Ryan Meador
 

David, since you seem to be so interested in having an external LTE antenna (which I've never found the need for), might I suggest you get one of those hockey-puck portable hotspots?  I've had good luck putting it in a waterproof bag and sending it up the mast on a halyard when I want to use it and bringing it back down to charge.  That would also give you easy access to the SIM card. I stand by my original recommendation as a better, permanent solution.

Ryan and Kelly
SM 233 Iteration
Boston, MA, USA


On Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 8:29 AM Paul Dowd and Sharon Brown <paul.dowd@...> wrote:

David,

 

In my experiences, in the Med 3/4G has worked well, in the Caribbean wifi has given me a better service. If you do use wifi be aware that systems that use a USBL cable to connect to a receiver integrated in the base of an antenna, such as Redbox, will not work very well if the cable is too long. I have used Digital Yacht (coax to the antenna) and Bullet, also known as Webcatcher, and currently in use (RJ45 cable with PoE to the antenna) without problems but had no end of trouble with Redbox (USBL). I have never used a directional antenna. When I bought the Webcatcher in Martinique (Diginav in Le Marin) it came with a choice of three antenna sizes, and I took the middle one which was a good compromise between vertical beam width and range. Note that in rolly bays vertical beam width does become significant. This system has not failed me in four years. Note that my priority has always been reliability, then cost.

 

Cheers,

Paul

S/Y Ya Fohi - Amel 54 #98

 

From: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io <main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Crisp
Sent: 23 January 2020 07:25
To: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io
Subject: Re: [AmelYachtOwners] Mobile communications - 4G, WiFi

 

Since my original post I have read the responses (thank you all) and trawled the web.  There maybe others like me treading this path so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned/concluded so far.  One caveat, I’m a very modestly technically literate sailor, definitely not an RF, electronics or networking engineer. If I have made any silly errors please let me know, I’m keen to learn.

 

I’m not currently aboard so doing much of my layout thinking from memory.

 

To recap the requirement: I’m going to be cruising the Mediterranean and want to be able to access the internet. Ideally, I’d like to able to get weather forecasts whilst coastal sailing offshore/between islands, subject to the limits of 4G coverage of course. Budget: Conscious that cheapest isn’t always the best, I’d rather spend a bit more to get performance and quality than save a bit but regret it later.

 

 

(a) Prioritise 4G/LTE over Wi-Fi. A number of people have commented how Wi-Fi systems are often overloaded and slow, that 4G provides better data rates.

 

(b) It’s more cost effective (and satisfying) to assemble my own system than buying a turnkey setup (e.g. DigitalYacht, Red Box etc). I’ve found a couple of exceptions to this but they have a major downside with the SIM card being badly located – more on this later.

 

(c) Antenna

Use an external omni-directional antenna (vs. one down below).

 

Keep the cable run from antenna to modem/router as short as possible to minimise losses. Mounting the antenna high up is less important than keeping the cable run short. This leads me to thinking possible locations for the antenna are: mizzen spreader / aft rail or arch / between the backstays. Least attractive is on top of the mizzen mast due to the distance.

 

Use LMR-400 coax cable if the cable routing permits.

 

To get the benefit of 4G/LTE a MIMO antenna is needed. The Poynting OMNI-402 gets very good reviews on build quality  but it’s expensive at UK£290 (https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-antenna-omni-402). One or two articles seem to challenge the benefit of a MIMO antenna https://seabits.com/poynting-omni-antenna-testing/ and https://novaroundbritain.home.blog/2019/10/18/internet/ and maybe a simpler OMNI-291 (UK£144) SISO antenna would deliver pretty much the same performance (still very good build quality) but at half the cost.

 

I have looked at a couple of integrated solutions such as the WEBBOAT 4G LITE from Glomex (€609) https://shop.glomex.it/en/webboat-coastal-internet/660-it1104-webboat-coastal-internet-4g-wi-fi.html and Solwise QuSpot omni LTE/4G (UK£452) https://www.solwise.co.uk/WI-AX11S which have the antenna, 4G modem (SIM card) and router all integrated into the antenna dome. These look cost effective, eliminate antenna cable losses and look simpler to install however it means regular access to the SIM card is a problem if installed on a spreader or between the backstays. Why the need for SIM card access? From what I can understand there’s a need to either return to the UK with my UK SIM card every few months to maintain the EU roaming or to buy a SIM card in each country as the EU roaming expires. Either way regular access to the SIM card is needed.

 

(d) 4G Modem/Router

The Teltonika RUT 240 (UK£124) https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-routers-rut240.html looks like it’ll do the job. The LAN port means I can one day connect an NMEA bridge should I want to. One could spend a little more and get the Teltonika  950 (UK£166) https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-routers-rut950.html as this has 3 LAN ports which leave room for more expansion.

 

Location of the router will be determined by where the antenna cable enters from above (I’m not aboard at present). I’m assuming with a GRP structure WiFi propagation from the pilot berth or aft cabin (likely router locations) throughout the boat should be adequate, certainly to the saloon and aft cabin.

 

(e) WiFi

Assuming marina/cafe provided WiFi data capacity will be usually poor I may still buy a WL-Patriot-DB (UK£87) https://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-Patriot-DB to at least try in each location. This would plug into the WAN port of the router. It’s powered over ethernet which simplifies matters. I’d either locate it somewhere inside or stick it outside temporarily via a porthole maybe.  It’s IP65 rated so if its outside in a rain shower it should be okay, but I’d be reluctant to mount it permanently outside.

 

 

Comments and suggestions encouraged.

--
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace
Amel 54 #58


--
Cheers
Paul
Ya Fohi - Amel 54 #98


Matt Salatino
 

Amel currently installs the World Pepwave, combined WiFi, 3g, 4g system. At least that is what they installed on our boat, completed last September.

~~~⛵️~~~Matt

On Jan 23, 2020, at 6:25 AM, David Crisp <david@...> wrote:

Since my original post I have read the responses (thank you all) and trawled the web.  There maybe others like me treading this path so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned/concluded so far.  One caveat, I’m a very modestly technically literate sailor, definitely not an RF, electronics or networking engineer. If I have made any silly errors please let me know, I’m keen to learn.

 

I’m not currently aboard so doing much of my layout thinking from memory.

 

To recap the requirement: I’m going to be cruising the Mediterranean and want to be able to access the internet. Ideally, I’d like to able to get weather forecasts whilst coastal sailing offshore/between islands, subject to the limits of 4G coverage of course. Budget: Conscious that cheapest isn’t always the best, I’d rather spend a bit more to get performance and quality than save a bit but regret it later.

 

 

(a) Prioritise 4G/LTE over Wi-Fi. A number of people have commented how Wi-Fi systems are often overloaded and slow, that 4G provides better data rates.

 

(b) It’s more cost effective (and satisfying) to assemble my own system than buying a turnkey setup (e.g. DigitalYacht, Red Box etc). I’ve found a couple of exceptions to this but they have a major downside with the SIM card being badly located – more on this later.

 

(c) Antenna

Use an external omni-directional antenna (vs. one down below).

 

Keep the cable run from antenna to modem/router as short as possible to minimise losses. Mounting the antenna high up is less important than keeping the cable run short. This leads me to thinking possible locations for the antenna are: mizzen spreader / aft rail or arch / between the backstays. Least attractive is on top of the mizzen mast due to the distance.

 

Use LMR-400 coax cable if the cable routing permits.

 

To get the benefit of 4G/LTE a MIMO antenna is needed. The Poynting OMNI-402 gets very good reviews on build quality  but it’s expensive at UK£290 (https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-antenna-omni-402). One or two articles seem to challenge the benefit of a MIMO antenna https://seabits.com/poynting-omni-antenna-testing/ and https://novaroundbritain.home.blog/2019/10/18/internet/ and maybe a simpler OMNI-291 (UK£144) SISO antenna would deliver pretty much the same performance (still very good build quality) but at half the cost.

 

I have looked at a couple of integrated solutions such as the WEBBOAT 4G LITE from Glomex (€609) https://shop.glomex.it/en/webboat-coastal-internet/660-it1104-webboat-coastal-internet-4g-wi-fi.html and Solwise QuSpot omni LTE/4G (UK£452) https://www.solwise.co.uk/WI-AX11S which have the antenna, 4G modem (SIM card) and router all integrated into the antenna dome. These look cost effective, eliminate antenna cable losses and look simpler to install however it means regular access to the SIM card is a problem if installed on a spreader or between the backstays. Why the need for SIM card access? From what I can understand there’s a need to either return to the UK with my UK SIM card every few months to maintain the EU roaming or to buy a SIM card in each country as the EU roaming expires. Either way regular access to the SIM card is needed.

 

(d) 4G Modem/Router

The Teltonika RUT 240 (UK£124) https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-routers-rut240.html looks like it’ll do the job. The LAN port means I can one day connect an NMEA bridge should I want to. One could spend a little more and get the Teltonika  950 (UK£166) https://www.solwise.co.uk/4g-routers-rut950.html as this has 3 LAN ports which leave room for more expansion.

 

Location of the router will be determined by where the antenna cable enters from above (I’m not aboard at present). I’m assuming with a GRP structure WiFi propagation from the pilot berth or aft cabin (likely router locations) throughout the boat should be adequate, certainly to the saloon and aft cabin.

 

(e) WiFi

Assuming marina/cafe provided WiFi data capacity will be usually poor I may still buy a WL-Patriot-DB (UK£87) https://www.solwise.co.uk/wireless-Patriot-DB to at least try in each location. This would plug into the WAN port of the router. It’s powered over ethernet which simplifies matters. I’d either locate it somewhere inside or stick it outside temporarily via a porthole maybe.  It’s IP65 rated so if its outside in a rain shower it should be okay, but I’d be reluctant to mount it permanently outside.

 

 

Comments and suggestions encouraged.

--
David Crisp
SV Wilna Grace
Amel 54 #58


Micky Ball
 

Hi Matt , Thanks for letting us know what Amel have fitted to your boat , could you comment on how effective it is and in what situations you use it , ie berthed in  home  marina , visiting other marinas ,, in Europe or Elsewhere , Many Thanks ,  Micky Ball (Future Amel SM owner )


Matt Salatino
 

Hi Micky,
I would love to give you that feedback, but we don’t step aboard until mid March. I would give a full report after that, though.....

~~~⛵️~~~Matt

On Jan 23, 2020, at 4:23 PM, mik-ball Ball <mik-ball@...> wrote:

Hi Matt , Thanks for letting us know what Amel have fitted to your boat , could you comment on how effective it is and in what situations you use it , ie berthed in  home  marina , visiting other marinas ,, in Europe or Elsewhere , Many Thanks ,  Micky Ball (Future Amel SM owner )


Alan "Woody" Wood
 

We have been sailing the med for the last few years, home educate our kids, run a YouTube channel as well as stream films etc., so are heavy users of wifi! We did instal digital yacht gear but never got it to work properly and gave up in the end.. an expensive white elephant!  What we discovered is phone coverage in 90% of the Med is excellent (4G) even in places like Turkey and Tunisia with (mostly) uniterupted on-the-go coverage coastal sailing even between countries. So we just use our I-phone as a hotspot onboard with a UK Vodaphone deal which covers all of the med and some parts of the Caribbean. (about €30/100gig - Sim only per month). Only caveat is you need a UK address. We have two iPhones on this deal so that’s 200gigs at €60 which we never get through even with our heavy usage. Things may change once we leave the Med but mobile tech will always be ahead of the curve and coverage expanding and improving (5G) all the time. I know many people have invested a lot in Wi-Fi routers etc onboard (us too!) but tbh I think mobile technology is the way to go if simplicity and convenience is your priority. Just my t’pence worth!