New set of “How To” Videos on our Long Range Wi-Fi Products

WL510+iNavConnect

Getting a good long range Wi-Fi connection in a marina can be a challenge, particularly if you have not used the equipment for a while and cannot remember the steps involved.

To try and help make this a little easier, Digital Yacht have created a set of “How To” videos that explain how to connect to the two main types of wireless hotspots that you will come across on your travels; the “Open” captive portal type hotspot favoured by most marinas these days and the “encrypted” password protected hotspot that most bars and restaurants still operate.

At the same time we also created a third video that covers the important process of securing your boat’s wireless, by changing the default wireless network name and password, so that only the people you want to connect, can join your network.

We recommend watching them in the order shown below and simply click on the link to take you to the video on our YouTube channel…

  1. Connecting our WL510 to a Captive Portal type Marina hotspot
  2. Connecting our WL510 to a Password Protected type Restaurant/Bar hotspot
  3. Changing the default SSID and Password on our iNavConnect/iNavHub/iKConnect routers

IMPORTANT NOTE
After Apple changed the way their auto login feature of iOS and Safari behaved earlier this year, we now recommend installing the free Google Chrome web browser for maximum compatibility when connecting to hotspots, on your iPad or iPhone and this is also true on Windows PCs as Internet Explorer does not always seem to trigger the re-direct to the marina’s welcome/login page.

Wi-Fi Congestion

WiFiAnalyzer

The range of 2.4GHz frequencies reserved for Wi-Fi is fairly limited and with so many Wi-Fi devices and networks these days, it is not unusual for wireless networks in the same location to share the same frequencies and this results in lower connection speeds and even connection drop outs in extreme situations.

The good news is that the wireless network(s) on your boat, once out at sea, will not be affected by the wireless networks on land or on other boats. That said, these days it is not unusual for larger yachts and powerboats to have two or more wireless networks and so it is really important to ensure that your own wireless networks are working at peak performance and not sharing the same frequencies.

The good news is that most Wireless Routers and Access Points can be configured to work on a specific frequency and so you should be able to ensure that each network is using its own frequency band without any overlaps.

There are affectively 13 frequencies in the 2.4GHz range and each wireless router will use five adjoining frequencies to setup its network. Looking at the diagram above, where each coloured curve is a separate wireless router/network, you can see that in general three frequencies are used; 1, 6 and 11. which allows three routers to work side by side with no overlapping/sharing of frequencies.

So how do you optimise the frequencies used by your wireless networks ? Well first you need to “see” what is going on by carrying out a wireless survey of your boat. This can be done using a number of free programs and apps. Unfortunately Apple do not allow iPhones and iPads to provide this level of Wi-Fi Information so you will need to use a Windows PC or Android device to do your wireless survey.

If you have an Android phone or tablet, then you are in luck as the free App “Wi-Fi Analyzer” is one of the best tools available and created the image above. For Windows PC users then “NetSurveyor” is very good or “WiFiInfoView” which is not so graphical but is only a few hundred Kilobytes in size and needs no installation, so can run straight from your memory stick.

Whichever tool you use, once you have conducted your wireless survey, you will be able to see what frequencies your wireless networks are operating on and decide if you need to change them. All Digital Yacht wireless products can be changed to use a different frequency and should you need to do this, please contact us for instructions.

Integrating our products with latest Raymarine a/c/e Series

Raymarine MFD Family

With the latest Raymarine a/c/e Series multi-function displays (MFDs) now having built-in Wi-Fi adaptors, we are often asked how our wireless products can be used with them. My immediate response is to ask the customer what do they want or expect the system to do ?

As we are seeing with the latest consumer electronics in the home and office, Wi-Fi enabled devices can do lots of things and bring new features and functions to the devices they connect to. However, just because two devices are Wi-Fi enabled does not mean they will definitely work happily together and there may be technical limitations that stop the devices working in exactly the way you had hoped.

Currently the most popular uses of Wi-Fi onboard boats are:

1)    Long range Wi-Fi connection to the marina for internet connectivity of the boat’s computers/tablets/phones

2)    Wireless transfer of the boat’s NMEA navigation data to a computer/tablet/phone

3)    Control of the Fusion 700 series entertainment system from your tablet/phone using the Fusion-Link App

4)   Wireless Control of a Raymarine MFD via RayControl App

5)    Wireless transfer of Routes and Waypoints between Raymarine MFD and Navionics App

It would be nice if we could have one wireless network on the boat that supported all of these functions but unfortunately, the Raymarine MFDs can only create their own wireless network, not join an existing wireless network onboard the boat. In addition, to use the RayControl App, you must be directly connected to the wireless network of the MFD you want to control.

What this means, is that you will need to have two wireless networks on the boat and switch between them if you want to have all of the functions listed above. The good news is that you will not usually be wanting to do all five functions at the same time and you will also probably not want to have the Raymarine MFD always ON as it does consume a fair amount of battery power.

Below is a simplified connection diagram showing how the units would be connected together. Click on the image to enlarge.

Raymarine+Fusion+iNavConnect

The following table shows what functions will be available when connected to either the Raymarine MFD’s wireless network or to the iNavConnect’s wireless network.

Function

Raymarine
Wi-Fi Network

iNavConnect
Wi-Fi Network

Fusion-Link App

Yes

Yes

RayControl App

Yes

No

Navionics Plotter Sync

Yes

Yes

Long Range Internet

No

Yes

If you want to also send wireless NMEA data to an App on your tablet/phone then you should use our iNavHub rather than iNavConnect unit, which has an internal wireless NMEA server. Click here to see a previous post on this subject.

For more information on this subject or to discuss a planned Wi-Fi installation prior to purchasing the system, please contact support@digitalyacht.co.uk

Using Fusion 700 Series with iNavConnect

Fusion 700

Recently a customer of ours asked us how to connect their new Fusion 700 Series entertainment system to our iNavConnect wireless router. Our first question was “Why do you want to do that ?” but then it became clear that the Fusion 700 Series is quite a sophisticated system. Using a wireless router and their Fusion Link App, you can fully control everything wirelessly from your iPad/iPhone.

So we immediately contacted Fusion UK and arranged to borrow a unit for testing. In fact it turned out to be much easier than we expected to hook the devices together and within minutes we had everything setup and the sound of sweet music echoed through the office, remotely controlled by an iPhone.

Our iNavConnect, directly connected to the boat’s 12v or 24v  DC supply and housed in an IP54 rated case that can be screwed/bolted down to a suitable bulkhead, is the ideal wireless router for connecting to the Fusion 700 Series and you can even hook up our WL510 and have one wireless network for controlling your AV system and getting long range wireless internet.

As always, we have published a new Tech Note to guide customers and dealers through the process of getting everything working and a copy of this can be downloaded by clicking here.

 

IT Support for an Oyster

This week, we were asked to help configure a special “Hybrid” wireless router for use on “Lush” a new Oyster 885 down at Ocean Village in Southampton. Gavin and Nick from IT@C a Digital Yacht Dealer, who specialise in large and complex installations, needed a wireless router that would provide wireless internet, wireless NMEA0183 data and also allow Waypoints and Routes to be wirelessly transferred to the Raymarine Navigation System from the very popular Navionics App for the iPad/iPhone.

Normally our iNavConnect would be used for customers that had a Raymarine Network and the Navionics App, whilst our new iNavHub would take care of customers that wanted wireless internet and NMEA0183. However, Gavin and Nick were very clear that they wanted one wireless router to do everything, so after a bit of head scratching, we proposed a new “hybrid” solution that took the iNavHub hardware and combined it with the iNavConnect firmware.

As this was the first installation of this type, we sent Paul Sumpner down to Ocean Village to help with the commissioning and after a couple of hours everything was installed, tested and working. We would like to thank Gavin and Nick for “pushing the envelope” and encouraging us to merge two of our units in to a new and interesting product and hope that this will be the first of many such installations.

IT@C are one of the leading specialist installation companies in the UK and do all of the Oyster installations, which are really cutting edge and produced to an extremely high standard – as you can see from this amazing picture of the Nav Station wiring loom.

DIGITAL YACHT AT NMEA CONVENTION

Last week saw the annual National Marine Electronic’s Convention.  Its the industry showcase event in the US and this year was held in Orlando Florida.  Digital Yacht hosted two presentations on wireless technology and on AIS and also exhibited at the event showcasing some of their latest products.  It was also an opportunity to liase with 100′ dealers and of course our 3 key representatives who are managing our East Coast US Business.  Here’s Nick giving a presentation at the event and you can download our latest presentations from the event here:

WiFi…WIFI ON BOATS – NMEA PRESENTATION

AIS…The Non-Idiots Guide