WaveRV WiFi revisited, 400mw redefined?

WaveRV screen

When I first heard of the WaveRV Marine USB WiFi combo radio/antenna last year, I wrote that the radio pumped out 400 milliwatts. One Panbo commenter wrote in doubting that figure, and he was right (that was AdriftAtSea, and hearts out to him for hWaverv-marine-antenna-on-mountis recent tragedy). As you can see in the connect software that comes with the WaveRV (and is quite good), the actual “Tx Power Level” is 100 mW. When I questioned RadioLabs about this, they said that their 400mW spec is based on the combined power of the amp and antenna, justifiable since they are physically combined. Well OK, fellas, but how about putting that information clearly into your specs
  RadioLabs has scaled down its performance claims from the “Up to 30 Times the Range of Standard Integrated Wireless Cards. Line-of-sight up to 4 Miles.” on the original press release to the “Over 15x the range of your notebook wireless card!! Up to 1 mile of range to a wireless access point.” now on their Web site. But I doubt I saw any ranges approaching a mile when testing the WaveRV in Maine, the Netherlands, and Florida over several months. But it certainly did increase my range as compared to the Intel PRO radio built into my HP laptop. I also tried it in the same Camden Harbor locations as I did the Port Networks Ethernet radio and, while changes in the APs spoiled a direct comparison, I’d say that PN’s box did better. (And I also tried it with an older laptop, but the connection was pokey due to the limitations of USB 1, not the WaveRV.)

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

9 Responses

  1. Bob Hinden says:

    I wonder how much better this is as compared to a good external attenta. For example:
    I note the prices for these antenna aren’t much lower.

  2. Microship says:

    I use their Wi-Pod beam and love it, but when I bought the WaveRV Marine I discovered that the available Atmel drivers (circa December 2006 anyway) don’t work with Intel-core Macs. RadioLabs graciously took it back in exchange for their 15dB high-gain omni, which looks to be packaged adequately for a marine installation. This approach also allows upgrading the radio equipment without changing antennas, though of course cable loss is more of an issue.

  3. Mike O'Dell says:

    for those willing to get bits under the fingernails, netgate.com has a large assortment of components and packaged systems for wifi deployments. Jim Thompson, the proprietor of netgate.com, has a wealth of painful experience in commercializing wifi and the information available there is worth a visit all by itself.
    Full and fair disclosure: I’ve known Jim for a along time and have bought kit from him for my boat installation.
    -Mike O’Dell

  4. jackietreehorn says:

    I’ve had the WaveRV for about a year now. It works well on the right computer but hasn’t worked at all on my Intel based Mac Mini. I’ve been through hell trying to get this to work. Response from Radiolabs has been fairly poor – promises of “I’ll figure it out and get back to you” and then nothing. This has been extremely frustrating especially when it says on their site that it works with all macs and PCs – not true. My last email to them was returned promptly however and they say it should work now and was a Mac problem. I haven’t been down to the boat (which is covered in snow) to test this out.
    The first piece of gear I bought from them (a 15db antenna and access point for our yacht club) went off without a hitch so maybe this experience is an exception – not sure.
    I’ll try to get down to the boat and let you know if the problem has actually been fixed by a system update.

  5. caribelectronics says:

    For me the important thing with this antenna is that the 2.4GHz cable loss is as close to zero as you can get it. The radio card is right there in the antenna connected by inches of cable.
    The cable to the computer is all digital and does not contribute to the link budget.
    Works great for me.
    Now if only someone had waterproof active USB extension cables……

  6. Mike O'Dell says:

    cable loss at 2.4GHz is a non-trivial problem, although the wifi deployment frenzy has generated some new alternatives. there is now cable with essentially TimesMicrowave LM-400 performance in
    a surprisingly flexible cable that is the same size as 9913 so the same connectors work, including cable-mount RP-SMA of both flavors, etc, etc. i’ve bougght raw cable and connectors and “made-up” cables from http://www.therfc.com/ and been happy with them. the RFConnection guys do wifi installations and know the drill pretty well.

  7. John Navas says:

    Big drawbacks to WaveRV Marine are that it (a) is 802.11b only, not 802.11g, and (b) supports only insecure WEP, not secure WPA. Not to mention being expensive for old, obsolete technology.
    The easiest and cheapest ways to improve Wi-Fi on a boat are to use either a cabled USB Wi-Fi adapter or a wireless Ethernet bridge with a moderate directional (e.g., panel) antenna, placing it outside on the top of the cabin when needed.
    For more information, see “Wi-Fi on a Boat”, part of the Wireless Wiki I founded, at http://wireless.wikia.com/wiki/Wi-Fi_on_a_Boat
    -John Navas

  8. Randy says:

    I would suggest if you do want a powerful marine system for your boat that would solve your marine need (WIFI) i would recommend you try this guy who sells the Airlive antennas in the Caribbean, he is based in St. Lucia. I would recommend anyone to talk to him about what you need and i guarantee you will not regret it. I have one marine outdoor solution and it works without any trouble. I sail throughout the Caribbean, and with his solution I’m headache free. Also many people who i recommended to him i never heard anything bad so give him a try. He also offer excellent support. ( his email is [email protected])

  9. Mike Dawes says:

    You asked how come you cannot link up with unsecured WiFi access points.
    Some systems require you to register your WiFi system’s MAC number with them. Then they maintain a list of allowed MAC devices. If you are not on that list – no connection. I ran into that in a marina in Turkey.

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