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I have a project for this summer to improve wifi access to my installed B&G Wifi-1 wireless router/access point. I've so far not been able to take advantage of the ability to directly download Predict Wind grib files etc.
The Wifi-1 unit has a small mounted antenna and can access an external wifi source or change over to an access point for cell phones and other devices to hop in the B&G network. If I understand thing I would replace the mounted antenna with a coax feed from a new external antenna and/or a booster? Please help with any recommendations for antennas and/or boosters. I don't think I need another router, there is a free ethernet port on the wifi-1 but maybe there's a reason to add a router.
Thanks for any help
How are you connecting the WiFi-1 to the internet now? A remote WiFi network, or using the hotspot feature on your phone(s)? It sounds like you might want to be able to download GRIB files while away from the dock/marina/land as well? If you could help clarify your use cases a bit, it would allow for some recommendations that are likely more on point.
Yes exactly. Looking to download weather gribs onto the B&G chartplotter using Predict Wind which is built-in. Having just used PW on a recent long ocean passage (on a friends boat) I'm impressed with their product. There I was using a sat phone to an ipad. As most of my travel on my boat is coastal a cell phone or marina wifi should be fine.
Presently I have been trying to connect via my cell phone as a hotspot and the marina wifi. I have had no luck with either. I think the signal from the marina wifi is too weak as I keep getting server timed out error messages. Hence I'm thinking the need for a better antenna and/or a signal booster.
Marina WiFi is pretty hard to get right - I wrote an article about it at https://sailbits.com/marina-wifi-hard/ and you're likely having issues with 2.4Ghz WiFi interference if I had to guess.
If you want to improve that, adding a better antenna outside might help, but a booster would be the better way, although that would use the spare ethernet port on your WiFi-1.
I'm curious why using your hotspot isn't working, as that is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of getting another device online. I know I've used it with the Simrad version of the WiFi-1 which is the same as the B&G other than branding if I remember right. Are there errors or other things that are popping up, or is it just refusing to connect?
Yeah, same unit.
As I recall the cell phone hotspot issue was it was just timing out. I'm heading to the boat tonight and will try my cell phone hotspot again and see what happens. So my big picture question is where to connect the external antenna and how does a booster fit in to the layout? So it sounds like a booster/antenna combination would make an ethernet connection to the spare port? I was thinking you would run the external antenna to the antenna connection of the Wifi-1. Not worried about using the spare port, I'm fine with wireless connection for my devices.
There are two options:
Run new antenna cable and an outdoor antenna, and replace the existing antenna on the WiFi-1. This might help it find remote WiFi networks better, but since the WiFi-1 is limited to 2.4Ghz b+g you will still have difficulties in busy locations.
Add a booster like the MikroTik, Ubiquiti, Wave, etc. and use an ethernet cable from your WiFi-1's ethernet port to somewhere better outside where the booster is mounted. This would be the best solution, and would give you a much higher power way to grab the signal and get it to the WiFi-1. You can also leverage the built in WiFi-1 antenna to create a local WiFi network at that point and use that for devices on board.
Sounds like the wifi-1 unit is not for gaining Internet access, but for providing private wifi connectivity to your instruments.
Ubiquiti, Mikrotik, etc.. are not boosters so much as external antenna/radio/router in one box that are better for that purpose. They would connect to your phone hotspot, marina, etc... Mount them up high and run a shielded UV rated ethernet cable indoors to a POE unit or separate the wires and run DC to the radio if the cable length isn't extreme.
Went out the boat last night and was able to connect the Wifi-1 using my phone as a hotspot. Downloaded some B&G updates, maybe successfully but maybe not. Anyway that's progress. It sounds to me like the best course of action will be to start planning out the addition of a Wave booster and antenna and connect to the Wifi-1 with ethernet. I'll see if B&G can comment on whether the open port will provide dc power or if a separate POE unit is needed. Thanks everyone!
That does sound like progress. I'm nearly certain the ethernet port on the WiFi-1 won't provide power. Also, if it's only for the purpose of keeping your weather and firmware updated I don't see anything wrong with sticking with your phone as a hotspot and not adding the additional hardware.
Completely agree with Ben on both points. The WiFi-1 does not provide DC power (wouldn't that be nice!) and if you are just doing random updates, plus GRIB downloads underway, the easiest thing to continue using would be your phone (and cheapest!).