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WiFi Wayne’s way, USB economy?

Wifi USB Nub_362b A chap named Wayne B. is very happy with his new boat WiFi set up over at rec.boats.electronics. He says he’s “hitting low power, indoor access points at least 300 yards away,” and expects to get commercial outdoor APs at over a mile. Wayne’s using an external USB-powered NUB-362(EXT) radio connected with 30’ of Hawking CoAX to a 9dB Hawking omni-directional antenna that’s 30’ off the water. Those links go to online sources and the whole kit adds up to around $185, plus, per Wayne, “an adapter to go from an SMA connector to type N coax, also available at CompUSA”. Cool, and less expensive than purpose built marine gear we’ve seen here and here. But I couldn’t get the NUB362’s specs to open and am not sure this will work with my son’s Mac. Anyone know a sure fire way to improve a Mac’s WiFi range?

PS 7/31: There’s another interesting discussion of Wayne’s WiFi  rig going on at rec.boats.cruising. Also the whole bundle of hardware is available cheaper at Netgate (though it turns out the radio is only 200mW, not good enough for Jeff). And thanks, everyone, for Mac WiFi booster ideas!

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher since 4/12/2005, and now excited to have Ben Stein as a very able colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2018 and beyond.

7 Responses

  1. Jeff says:

    I can find no spec for the NUB-362 that shows how many milliwatts of power it outputs. This seems strange and concerning. I would want to know this value before purchasing this device and I’d want to make sure it was 300 or more.

  2. Cian Hughes says:

    The best way to extend the range of a Mac, indeed any computer in my opinion is to use an ethernet WiFi bridge such as the WET54G from linksys. This allows you to place the reciever right beside the antenna in the mast, minimizing the cable run and consequently maximizing the power output. The unit has an external antenna and a pigtail is availible for it, it’s not waterproof, but when has that ever stopped anyone?
    Best of luck, and drop a comment if you have any questions. -Cian

  3. Mark Haskell says:

    We’re also looking for a good Mac OSX solution. We’ve found:
    http://www.radiolabs.com/products/wireless/waverv.php
    and
    http://www.macwireless.com/html/products/outdoor/odComplete.html
    but haven’t reached a decision.

  4. You could also use a Dr. Bott wifi antenna, which is pretty Mac specific. BTW, the maximum legal wattage for WiFi is 200mW.

  5. Mark Haskell says:

    Cian,
    We just received the linksys wet54g to use with our mac. Can you clarify your posting a little for us? It has a USB cable and an AC power cord. Have you rigged a Power over Ethernet injector? If so, which one? Did you purchase a different antenna or use the one on the wet54g? When you say, “place the receiver right beside the antenna in the mast” to which antenna are you referring.
    Thanks,
    Mark s/v Intuition

  6. Cian Hughes says:

    Mark,
    Are you sure your wet54g came with a USB cable?
    Acording to Linksys they come with an Ethernet cable.
    I placed a 9dbi omni directional wifi antenna outside my mast, connected my 2ft of high qualtity cable to a pigtail and onto the WET54g which in my case sits inside the mast! (Though you could just place it outside in a box of some sort.)
    I then ran a long ethernet cable from there to my Mac Mini at the chart table.
    What you may not know about 10/100Base-T ethernet is that of the 4 pairs in a Cat 5 cable, only two of them are use (one rx and one tx pair). So I used the other two pairs to carry power to the WET54g a dc-dc transformer may be needed, as the WET spec sheet says 5v, (it is rumoured to work on 12, but I’m not responsible if you fry your WET).
    You could also use a PoE injector to send power to the linksys, but this is totally unnecessary if you are remotely good at wiring.
    Best of luck, and drop another comment if you have any other questions.

  7. John Navas says:

    The problem with using 30 feet of cable is signal loss — even with thick HDF-400 the cable loss will be about 2.5 dB, effectively knocking that 9 dBi antenna down to no more than 6.5 dBi (less as antenna, cable and connectors age). Performance might well be better with that 9 dBi antenna mounted at deck level with a short antenna cable.
    As for high power, it tends not to help much because higher power only helps on transmit, not receive. What you get is an “alligator” — big mouth with small ears. Worse, your higher power will tend to interfere more with other Wi-Fi users, making you a bad neighbor. Instead, just use a higher-gain antenna, which helps on both transmit and receive. A directional antenna has the additional benefit of reducing interference from other radio sources.
    (By the way, maximum permitted Wi-Fi power isn’t fixed — it depends on antenna gain.)
    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

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