Aboard Astraea

Invest in experiences, not things

Wi-Fi for Astraea

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Last August I purchased and installed a Wi-Fi system aboard Astraea called Wi-Fi for Boats. It’s a kit made by a cruiser computer guy that includes everything you need to get long-range Wi-Fi aboard your boat. I bought the system and tested it by installing it on the stern rail of Astraea.

The system is pretty simple for a computer geek/boat nerd like me to install. All I had to do was wire in an extra circuit breaker in to my existing panel and plug everything in. The hardest part was running the wiring through the boat that goes to the external antenna.

A diagram of the network setup on Astraea

A diagram of the network setup on Astraea.

Here’s how it works. The Wi-Fi adapter on the mizzen mast communicates with a shore side station using it’s high gain antenna. That adapter is connected to a Power over Ethernet Injector bridge down in the cabin. The other Power over Ethernet Injector is connected to a PicoNet onboard hotspot that I connect my laptop to to blog about boating awesomeness.

The user interface for the system

Here’s a screen shot of the user interface for controlling the Wi-Fi system.

I rerouted the cable through the cockpit sole near the mizzen mast. I connected everything back together to test the system still worked, then went aloft and attached the antenna to the radar arch. The plan is to not use the radar when the Wi-Fi is in use, just in case it overpowers the little Wi-Fi system on the mast since they’re located so close together. The Furuno radar operates at 900MHz and shouldn’t interfere with the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, but I don’t want to tempt fate and blow one or the other up, so we’ll only use one at a time.

Wired in to the auxiliary panel. What a mess!

Wired in to the auxiliary panel. What a mess! I’ll clean all this wiring up later when I have more time.

The onboard access point and POE (Power Over Etherenet) injectors for the onboard and external Wi-Fi.

The onboard access point and POE (Power Over Ethernet) injectors for the onboard and external Wi-Fi.

The new high gain external antenna is mounted on the mizzen mast.

The new high gain external antenna mounted on the mizzen mast.

Wiring for the external Wi-Fi antenna is zip tied to the radar wiring on the mizzen.

Wiring for the external Wi-Fi antenna is zip tied to the radar wiring on the mizzen.

The through deck fitting for mizzen mast wiring. Left to right are the Wi-Fi, Furuno RADAR and VHF Radio cables.

The through deck fitting for mizzen mast wiring. Left to right are the Wi-Fi, Furuno RADAR and VHF Radio cables.

If anyone in the San Diego area is looking to get a great Wi-Fi system installed I highly recommend Wi-Fi for boats. Dalton recently upgraded the system to use a different antenna to take advantage of the latest generation of Wi-Fi. The kit is DIY friendly, but if you need help installing yours I’d be glad to help, for a reasonable fee.

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