GeoSat Solutions’ high end marine WiFi

GeoSat WiFi radioOne problem with putting together a high power marine WiFi system is the need to use finger-thick low-loss LMR 400 coax—the shorter the better—between the high-gain antenna and the radio. The stuff is hard to run and particularly ungainly when plugged into the dinky connector on a laptop’s PCMCIA card. One solution is a WiFi “Ethernet bridge” which can be installed near the antenna and then connected to the boat’s computer or network router via a slim, no-loss Ethernet cable. GeoSat Solutions has gone the next step by designing a 12v, 250 mW bridge into a waterproof box and packaging it with a 10 dB omni-directional antenna. This is a serious ($1,395) big boat system.

It’s a little confusing but note that one of these bridges—there are inexpensive non-marine  versions—can connect to a conventional WiFi router. Thus a boater can use a normal WiFi laptop on board, connecting to shore via two WiFi hops. Here’s an interesting example of such a system installed on a Greenpeace vessel.

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

12 Responses

  1. Yme Bosma says:

    Great setup yes, wrote about it last year as well. It was even slashdotted.

  2. roger says:

    Hi,
    I fixed up a good system with a 9dBi omnidirectional aerial and some cable from thewifishop.net. Direct fit to my pcmcia card in my laptop. The prices were reasonable and really fast delivery.
    Hope this helps
    Roger

  3. GeoSat Solutions, Syrens WiFi, makes some very nice gear. This picture and article obviously quite old… but it’s getting good ratings on Google 😉 This old one looks like an Army Radio Box. The newer ones are quite sleek and fairly easily installed. They are also still quite easily expandable to more wireless access points and wired ethernet connections onboard a vessel. The Syrens unit, which remains on all of the time, maintains automatically the IP Settings on computers “connected” to it onboard a boat. This allows other things to work as well that need IP Addresses, like wireless printing and file sharing. You can also use many broadband telephone (voice over Internet or VOIP – Voice over IP) services over WiFi Connections.
    Just watch out that you don’t have more than one Internet router “gadget” onboard jacked into the wired and wireless networking, that will want to be the “Boss”. Syrens would normally be the server and nothing else should be. Sometimes this takes some design, planning, and instructions to be able to throttle over to different types of connections. (Say you have broadband cellular, or satellite Internet.)

    Alan Spicer
    http://www.marinetelecom.net

  4. billlentz says:

    I have the newer 1 watt unit that can also be used as a bridge. The unit is well built and performs. I have tried almost every other type of marine WiFi combinations and this is a proffesional product. If your serious about WiFi this is it! Regards Bill

  5. ibsailn says:

    I am looking to do a wifi install this winter and would appreciate any advice. Looking for decent range (2 mi) and reasonable price (bang for buck). I want to mount the radio unit in the Laz (water resistant, but doesn’t need to be water-proof) and then run about 15′ of high quality cable to an antennae on the radar arch (8ish db I figure). I would like to power the unit using POE to simplify the installation and turning off power to the unit when not in use. I plan to run a “normal” wifi router (or switch if that is how I need to do it) to network the two permanant computers and various laptops, iphone’s, etc. Thinking about an airport extreme to take advantage of the “airtunes” feature to play music through the stereo and control via iphone’s new “remote” software.
    I can’t find any details on what is available from GeoSat (website sucks). I had bought the Syrens lite unit from Capn Jacks, but it was already sold out. Any advise would be appreciated.

  6. Richard says:

    Note that the Syrens brand has been replaced or superceded by Wave WiFi. Still hardware by GeoSAT Solutions. Check here: http://www.wavewifi.com/ and their product specs here: http://www.wavewifi.com/wavewifi_products.pdf

  7. ibsailn says:

    Can they PLEASE use one product name and create a decent website. This is soooo confusing. Syrens still seems to be selling products (website still active) and I can’t tell the difference between their units and the wavewifi units.
    Has anyone used the EC-lite (syrens or wavewifi) who could give me a user review? This is the sort of price I would prefer to pay and it seems like it should provide a reasonable level of reception.

  8. Billlentz says:

    The SYRENS Lite is ok but nothing like the full blown High power unit. It is also not waterproof so you need more cable (loss) between the antenna and unit. Do yourself a favor get the high power unit. By the way GeoSat Solutions is the company that makes the real unit, Syrens is no longer with them. There is the URL posted 2 comments up from mine.
    Good luck. Bill

  9. sv JANDY says:

    Syrens??? WaveWiFi??? I say “Spendy Wendy” and not much for the money. The new 802Marineâ„¢ stuff about to hit the market are more powerful and the MSRP is $499.00 and is hitting the market at about 10% to 15% of that. REAL LMR400DB or RG213 broadcast industry cabling and connectors, marine grade box, built-in hi-bred model has a router too, true 12V or 24V DC or 110V AC powered. 12 or 15 dBi marine antennas, ethernet cables, thru deck, power leads, video and more, all “in the box” You get far less out there for 2 to 3 times the money and actually get less. 802Marineâ„¢ is going to sweep the industry or actually, bring the industry in to focus. Compact, powerful, affordable, long range WiFi. They are releasing this Spring 2009 http://www.802marine.com

  10. Kees says:

    @sv JANDY:
    This sounds like a plug for your own companyâ„¢… The state of the website you mention is the same as your home page: “more coming soon”.
    Plugging your own product in such a blatant way, overselling stuff you don’t have (yet), we’ve all seen it many times before.
    I guess the only thing you can do now is actually produce the goods, and make us awe in wonder at what you have done. Otherwise, just go sailing…
    Keesâ„¢

  11. Taffrey says:

    Syrens Onboard Wifi brand is still building quality marine grade Wifi units, but not with GeoSat Solutions. They have teamed up with a larger manufacturer with over 20 years of wifi experience, creating a quality product at a lower price with a 2 year warranty.
    http://www.radio-at-sea.com
    http://www.syrens-at-sea.com

  12. Bill Lentz says:

    Yes Syrens and GeoSatSolutions are both still in business after a break up I assume. I have no idea what transpired. I am partial to the GeoSatSolutions equipment. I enjoyed having an old EXT3220 upgraded to their firmware it took a pain in the tail unit and made it as easy to use as any GeoSatSolutions system. I do know Richard is a top notch technician and is always available when a technical question comes up. The companies Access Points work as advertised and are reliable. I installed a High Power unit with 2 sectors and 120 degree panels at my marina. At 500 feet not a single user has anything less than high quality signals using the integrated WiFi chipset in their laptops deep in the boat. Using my boats High Power unit it is very easy to do 5-6 miles over open water even with 15 degree downtilt on the 25′ high panels. I have done some war boating mapping with a Berkly Vertronix Yellowjacket/WiFi/test platform tablet using the SWARM propagation testing software. The files are fairly impressive given the limited spectrum in the US 802.11B&G band. N systems are supposed to shut down the 2.4ghz channel(s) (40mhz full band) when another B or G device is detected that is not part of it’s network. I find the N protocal maybe good if you keep all your channels (bonded)in the 5.7ghz band and need a good short high speed hop point to point link. Otherwise unless your on a T1 I don’t see the need for the 802.11N service. I believe a strong marine Access point would be a WiMax feed from Clearwire if they ever build any coastal systems feeding a good 802.11B & G Marina Access Point. I was at a Sprint WiMax launch meeting in Philadelphia and was very impressed with the WiMax speed using TDD/MIMO even with limited spectrum 8 to 10mbps speeds were seen on the download path and about 6.0mbps upload were observed with consistancy using speedtest.com. Since there aren’t many devices with WiMax chipsets. The U300 USB modem is the only current WiMax modem until the improved U301 comes out. I think Sprint should go after the copper providers DSL in rural areas and work with WiFi providers as the pipeline (backhaul) to the internet. Its a win win and Sprint sure could use a win soon to survive. I just don’t get the idea of deploying WiMax where there are already numerous high speed options other than mobility. I assume its based on POPs (population density or potential customers). I imagine time will tell.
    Bill Lentz

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