Om Sweet Om, with WiFi
Unfortunately Web posting at PMY has gotten a little slow lately—just so many minutes in the day—but my June Wifi column is now up. It includes a thumbnail of this picture above, which deserves more detail. That’s a gentleman named Park Walker who lives aboard a 41’ Little Harbor trawler with the fine name of Om Sweet Om. He’s had good luck using WiFi to do some technical consulting while cruising. “Without wireless I would be severely restricted in where and when I could roam. Now my clients ask ‘Where are you today?’.” The details of Park’s sophisticated setup are worth knowing for those of us who’d like to do something similar:
I have a 9dBi omni-directional antenna mounted on my radar arch with 25ft of LMR400 cable running into the main cabin. The antenna cable is connected to a LinkSys WET11 wireless bridge. This is an 802.11b device that operates as a pass-thru client rather than a router. The ethernet interface is currently connected to the WAN port on a Netgear WGR614 which provides wireless service to the desktop computer and the laptops on-board.
The LinkSys box is what makes the connection to the available WiFi service. With the 9dBi antenna I have been able to connect to base stations with a clear line of sight up to about 1 mile from the boat. We used it extensively in the Abacos over a two month period roaming from Green Turtle to Little Harbor without ever being without a usable signal. I didn’t go with a higher gain antenna as this one suited my needs, but the range can be increased to 5 or 6 miles using a 15dBi standard antenna and even more using amplification.
Running the connection from the LinkSys into the Netgear router provides NAT, DHCP and a firewall to the computers on-board. While in a marina I typically make the service available to neighboring boats who happen to find out that it’s available, although I have started putting MAC address filtering in place to keep track of who is using it.
The original hi res picture, by the way, was taken by Park and send via WiFi.