Get Wired for Wireless

Posted: December 1, 2012  |  Tag: 

By: John Temple

When I am out cruising or even at my home marina, getting the signal can be difficult. I like to use my computer belowdecks, but often I either have to go up top or even on shore to get a signal. Wiring is difficult on my boat, so I have restrictions. Any ideas how to get a boat wired under these conditions?
We faced the same issue on our 39-foot Carver, Bigger Juan II. In today’s high-tech world, getting wired to receive Internet service on a boat is important for both personal and business reasons. In remote areas, it can be easier to get Internet than cell service. However, the wireless access points at a marina often are limited to a fairly short distance from its antenna.

To facilitate a successful wireless installation, you need the correct components. The provider broadcasts and receives its signal from a wireless access point (WAP). The best way for a boater to receive that signal is on a wireless bridge, which then has a CAT5 connection to your wireless router.

So, the solution is to get a good WAP receiving device, called a bridge, on your boat, because it can pick up weaker signals and broadcast stronger signals than your PC’s internal wireless card or a standard router. A great way to “get wired” is to install the receiving bridge on your boat’s bridge in a covered location with a cable that goes to an antenna. Once you hook up the hardwire connection from the bridge to your router, such as a Linksys device, your PC, Mac and other wireless-capable devices can pick up the signal anywhere on your boat from the router.

When I installed the bridge on our upper deck, there was no AC power up there; I just connected a small inverter into the 12v DC, and everything works. No other wiring needed. As you cruise in to various ports, you can point the bridge device to the desired access point.

You can buy a bridge from various retailers, such as Amazon, but I recommend you talk to someone at a company that understands bridge use on a boat. Beacon (beaconwifi.com/bbx-2) is one good example.

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