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Thread: Tools and stuff

  1. #41
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Ah, ok... I haven't been able to find anything on them. So an old laptop won't work (they are ide with the small ide connectors).

    We've been looking at everything from very expensive lap tops to looking at some cheap ones (300-400 range) where we can buy 1 for use and 2 for back up to be set up and then stored.

    I've got a netbook that does everything I need. However, the screen is too small for reading digital charts and weather maps. That can be fixed by adding an external monitor (more power requirements). So - it becomes an emergency back up if I have to. Otherwise, I'll just use it as cheap machine to carry into town with me or whatever to a wifi hotspot. They are light.

    We're looking at some 15-17" screens right now and I got a line on some Dell lap tops that are 329 right at Best Cry because they overstocked the crap out of them (they are 399 normally). They told me to come back in today and they'd have them all out on the floor.
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  2. #42
    Super Moderator Malsua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    If you buy a new laptop for $329 and drop a Sata drive in it, you're golden except for water proofing.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    I'm not too concerned about waterproofing. Won't have the pc in the cockpit unless I'm at anchor or something, not traveling. If I need the screen, I can run a video cable up and have a monitor there for tracking. For the most part, I won't be doing anything like that anyway.

    There's not a hell of a lot one can do about warm, moist air. However, most sailboats are dry down below as long as they aren't leaking. If they are leaking that's another issue altogether.
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  4. #44
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    So, we picked up an inexpensive lap top, Dell Inspiron.

    It's got a pretty good sized screen. Has Windows 7 on it. I guess when Win8 comes out I can get an "upgrade" for 15 bucks or something.

    Anyway, I basically created a "Navigation Computer" out of it. I connected a simple hockey puck style GPS unit, loaded it with "OpenCPN", downloaded the charts from NOAA for the US, and much of the Caribbean and tested it all last night.

    It works great.

    Since it was so cheap (less than 350) we're considering a second one as a back up PC. But probably won't bother. Given that I'll use paper charts for most harbors and such, I wouldn't use a PC/chart plotter for entering a harbor or getting me around inside. That's what eyeballs are for.

    So this brings me to another question... Mal do you have Internet connections on your boat?

    I'm looking for something that's going to give me a long range connection to a freebie hotspot, then let me make an AP there on the boat for the local stuff (iPad, etc).

    I've found a bit of stuff so far. So, any suggestions would be good.

    Anyone?

    For the technically minded:

    Basically a wifi receiver/router that will collect packets from a near-by (up to 5 miles away for instance) wifi hotspot, then feed that to a local wifi transmitter, and to the on-board computer system. I guess there are pretty complex systems available using bridges etc- but that's too much work, isn't simple enough, etc.

    I can probably kludge something together myself, but I suspect there is already a solution out there
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  5. #45
    Super Moderator Malsua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    What you want to do is buy a wifi repeater and put a big honking antennae on it, then mount it high up on your mast.

    Many routers can be converted to repeaters and there is even firmware out there to convert an old cheesy Linksys router into a full fledged repeater.

    I know they make 8-10-12db marine antennas...what I don't know is what their connectors are.

    At each port, you'll have to log into the repeater and authenticate it to the local wifi hotspot. Thereafter, your laptop will see the repeated network. You laptop may see the original signal but much weaker than that from the repeater.

    It sounds more complicated than it is.

    Essentially you go to the web interface of the router http://192.168.1.1 go to the remote configuration page, enter the SSID and the encryption password and you're done.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
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  6. #46
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Cool.

    I have a lot of different ideas now!
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Ok, so I think I got this.

    I'll use an omni-directional antenna, connected to a Ubiquiti "Bullet" to act as my "cable modem", connect that to my wireless router inside the boat and I can hard wire my lap top or use it without cables.

    I need a POE or Power over Ethernet box. Should be able to power everything off the 12vdc system aboard the boat.

    I've been in contact with some other folks who had similar (though different) designs - and it looks like this works pretty well. This is similar to your idea Mal.

    The Ubiquiti bullet thing is merely a radio inside a plastic pipe with an N type antenna connector and you run an Ethernet cable to it instead of coax cable. If you set the wireless side of the Bullet to act as a WAN port on a router and the LAN side of the Bullet set as a NAT/router and then connect a wireless router in the system then the Bullet will perform the same function as a basic cable modem might in your home system.

    So, I think I got this!
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  8. #48
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    So which is doing your NAT? The Bullet or your wireless router? If your answer is both, you'll have an issue if they both use the same subnet. For example, if your bullet is doing 192.168.1.x on the Lan side and your wireless router does 192.168.1.x on the lan side, the router won't know how to route packets because the router will have a 192.168.1.x on both the wan and lan interfaces and will have no way to know which direction to send packets.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


  9. #49
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Well, if I understand this correctly, all I have to do is set up my router to a different subnet - so say I set up the Bullet as 192.168.1.1 and the router as 192.68.1.1 and then tell the router the bullet is the "gateway".

    That's how my current modem is set up.

    I get assigned an IP address at the modem. Then I use that as my "gateway" for the router and everything gets set internally on my network to 192.168.1.x

    I've got to experiment a bit with it, but.... I plug my "Bullet" into the WAN connection if I got this right....
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    I ordered the gear I needed, minus an antenna - which I will build. Just have to do some calculations for coils and lengths of brass rod. Will mount it all inside of pvc or something to protect it from a marine environment (when it is ready for the boat anyway) and test it at the house, then later on once I get things working I'll set it up in the trailer we're planning to "live out of" for a few months.

    (Yep, we get to become trailer trash! WOOT!)
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  11. #51
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Having lived on my boat last week, for a week, it's about like living in a trailer. It sucked donkey balls.

    Shedding a house and mortgage would be nice though except for the donkey ball suckage.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


  12. #52
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    LOL

    I can do without that part too....

    The mortgage thing isn't too bad for me. My house is nearly paid off now and our payments are tiny compared to almost everyone else on the planet (Bought the house so long ago and all that).

    As to living in the trailer - we only are going to do that from the time we sell the house to the time we can move aboard our boat (when we get the boat).

    So the plan is basically, sell the house. Move into the trailer for a few weeks or a couple of months (sitting at my daughter's house) and put 2-4 months of cash away. The only bills we will have then will be food, insurance and gas to go to work for the most part. I think our kids have no issues with putting us up on and off if necessary (since every last one of them moved back in MORE THAN ONCE with us, lol! They OWE US and they know it).

    Then we head across country, we've got some planned stops to visit friends and relatives across the way. Eventually we should make it to where we will buy a boat (we've been shopping already and have a good idea of what we're looking for, used, older, bigger than 30 feet, but less than 40 and probably about 34-35. Modified keel, ketch etc.) Once we find the boat and start the process we will start looking to sell the trailer. Once we move aboard the boat and outfit things - we'll sell the truck and depending on the season we'll head out (have to chose our seasons for where we're going).

    So I figure going from the house to the trailer won't be TOO bad but going from the trailer to a boat which is bigger will be a 100% increase in space! lol
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  13. #53
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Ok, here's my antenna solution for the boat!

    LMAO!



    What do you think?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
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  14. #54
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Nice cantenna.

    I imagine that if you were to park offshore, holding that device like that, you'll get a visit from the locals right quick.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Ya think? LOL

    Maybe a mast mount on the stern of the boat with a stepper motor seeking strongest signal? (don't laugh, I saw a small can-tenna type thing mounted on a servo that did that) haha
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  16. #56
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    You know Mal, those two pieces are actually helical antennas, not "cantennas"

    Here's a "real cantenna" made from a sardine can. Stick it on your old DirectTV dish where the LNB is located and you've got a 60db gain antenna haha

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  17. #57
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Take that back... probably about 38db
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  18. #58
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    You know...you could pick up a used DirectTV or Dish dish for about $5 and put your antennae on the end of the feedhorn support rod.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    I have one laying in the backyard (free )

    and one still on the roof I haven't removed yet.

    I had two of them on the house to keep from running cabling all over the place and putting splitters on when I used to have DTV.

    I'm going to make one of the little bi-quad antennas so I can do just that for a long distance connection. Won't work on a boat though unless I'm in a slip. If I'm at anchor I'll be swinging with the wind with no way to keep it aimed.

    BUT it will go with me. Cuz if it comes down to it, and I happen to be in a slip, I can always mount that thing and aim it at the distant wifi hotspot
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    Default Re: Tools and stuff

    Ok, so after all my research I figured out there is a company selling exactly the thing I am building. Hahaha

    So I wrote to them and asked some questions and the owner (Bob Stewart) was kind enough to share information with me even though I likely won't buy one of his set ups. I can build an antenna for a couple of bucks for connectors and pvc piping, and I have plenty of wire laying around I can use for the elements.

    Anyway, here's a quick diagram they have on their web site:


    So, I have the laptop (new), router (I have a Netgear wireless router) and I ordered the Ubiquiti "Bullet" yesterday as well as the POE. Cable... I have scads of it around and can build my own cabling.

    I am working on a simple collinear antenna with sufficient gain to pick up pretty weak signals. A secondary antenna will be the dish you and I talked about yesterday Mal.

    I'll try to take a few pictures and post them for anyone else interested in --- say --- connecting to a distant wifi hotspot (within a couple of miles). I'm not advocating "pirating wifi", but certainly if the wifi is a known, open spot (Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, a local bar or something like Rock Bottom does) then I'm certain it's ok to use it as long as you don't abuse it

    Unfortunately I don't have a good, easy to use drawing program (I do all my notes in a note book... how retro is that?) so I can't really post a good schematic or anything right now.

    ---

    On a side note... dealing with the various distributors of this "Bullet" has been a pain in the ass. For some reason every, single one of them have insisted that I "sign a form" that states I will "follow FCC regulations in regard to the use of the equipment".

    What is interesting is that the paperwork is written for distributors and I'm not one. They DISTRIBUTORS are supposed to sign the form for the FCC, not the end user. Weird. I signed it anyway and attached a letter explaining that under FCC Part 15 rules this might be true, but under FCC part 97 (which *I* fall under) it doesn't apply. I also sent them an email explaining this but told them I'd sign the letter, but by FCC regulations I'm not bound by this letter. So tough on them.

    I think they all distribute this equipment to other "distributors" and they ASSUME I'm going to be using it commercially or something.
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