Monday, March 21, 2011

Reach out and touch...

Please welcome new contributors *V* and *L* from s/v Letitgo!  In this post they describe how to build a "marine" Alpha wireless antenna, without paying the "marine tax".  I can assure you we will be hearing more from them!

How do we build a Wi-Fi long range device?

First of all we search on the net what everybody else does, and find out that for $250 we get you a “marine” magic box with an Alpha thingy plus an 8db gain antenna in a pelican box. Now we know that unsecure network are getting rare around the world, but still when you are anchorage or at the back end of a marina you may need a little boost even for a paid one.

After a few minutes of research on the net, we found with data Alliance, the kits we needed:
  • 1 Outdoor Enclosure for Alfa AWUS036H / AWUS036NH combined w/ 9dBi Antenna & 5-meter USB Ext Cable (Active)
  • (10-meter: Increases kit price $6 to $33.99 total) @ $33.99 = $33.99
  • 1 Alfa AWUS036H 1000mW USB Wireless WiFi Adapter + Antenna. Long-Range. Upgrade from 500mW        @ $25.99 = $25.99

Attention this is not a water proof but weather proof, so we added a rubber gasket (home depot $1.09) and some generous silicone application. To hook it up to a lifeline or for us to the boom, we added two stainless snap hook (home depot $4). Total $65.07 for a system we can leave outside and bring with us, when we go on shore and need to get into that coffee shop network without having to be inside or seating just outside on the curb. People are too quick to judge you, when you stay in that posture, done it before no more!

Now for the hard part, you didn’t think it was all going to be easy. You need to get that antenna inserted into the gasket, a very tight fit. At home we have a fancy “organic” Dishwasher liquid not the best for that application. So now we just had to ask “our neighbour” for some Vaseline and look what we got! We know, for anybody who is ever going to see this box on our boat, it will bring a smile.

From our condo, the first comparison show that we jump from 6 networks available to more than 30. We will have to test the generosity of our environment in this summer cruise.

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