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.

RJ45 Ethernet Connections

 

RJ45 Connector

With more and more marine electronics using Ethernet networking onboard boats, being able to assemble RJ45 Connectors is a useful skill to have. This week we were aboard a 50ft yacht on the Hamble that was having problems accessing our WL510 long range Wi-Fi adaptor. The WL510 was connected to our iNavConnect wireless router and by looking at the iNavConnect web interface, on a browser, we were able to confirm that it was not getting an IP address from the WL510 on its WAN socket.

First step was to connect a PC directly to the WL510, using a spare network cable and on doing this the PC immediately got an IP address (in the 192.168.10.xxx range) from the WL510.

On further investigation, we found that the installer had run a long network cable between the iNavConnect and the WL510 and it was this cable that was causing the problem. Careful inspection of the RJ45 connectors showed that the connections between the wires and the RJ45 IDC connector (insulation displacement connection) had not been made correctly. Talking to the installer, it was clear that despite using the right crimping tool and new RJ45 connectors from popular UK reseller Maplins, the correct assembly procedure had not been followed.

The image above shows the type of popular RJ45 connector used and it features a small wire guide through which you insert the eight wires of the Cat5 or CAT6 network cable. It is important to wire the connector as per the international EIA/TIA-568B specification as shown in the image below.

RJ-45_TIA-568B

The first step is to poke the cable through the plastic connector cover (if you are using one). It is probably the most common mistake that people make and it is so frustrating if you finish making the cable and find that you forgot this step, as you cannot fit a cover to an assembled connector unless it is already on the cable.

Carefully remove the outer insulation of the network cable and the foil shield if you are using a shielded cable (recommended for extra mechanical strength rather than electrical properties). Be very careful not to cut/damage the individual wires. Once the outer insulation (and shield) are removed, untwist the pairs of wire, spreading them out and arranging them in the order shown above. Now insert each wire in to the wire guide in the correct order, noting the bevel on the guide which needs to point upwards towards the connectors.

Wires in guide

A good tip is to mark the top edge of the bevel on the wire guide with a black marker pen, so that you can see it when you insert it in to the main connector. Push the wires in to the wire guide as far as you can, so that the wire guide is as close to the outer cable insulation as possible.

Now trim the wires as close to the wire guide as you can using side cutters.

Wires Cutting

Now insert the wire guide in to the main connector, ensuring that the bevel you have marked with the black pen, is facing upwards towards the gold connectors. Push the wire guide in to the connector as far as possible and it should end up right underneath the connectors with the black bevel visible just behind the gold connectors.

Cable Inserted

Once you are sure that the cable and wire guide are pushed in as far as you can go, use a proper RJ45 crimp tool to compress the IDC connectors, forcing them down so that they cut through the insulation on each wire and make good electrical connections.

RJ45 Crimping Tool

Finally if you are going to be assembling a lot of these RJ45 connectors, it is definitely worth investing in a network cable tester, which will allow you to check long cable runs after you have installed them through the boat. The unit shown below is a typical example and has a detachable “Loop Back” module that you plug in to one end of the cable and then plug the other end in to the main tester and LEDs illuminate to tell you if the cable is OK. This same tester will also check USB and coax cables.

RJ45 Cable tester

 

Digital Yacht Tech Training – A great resource

We’ve decided to publish our dealer training presentations on line so that the whole boating community can benefit.  Paul Sumpner, Digital Yacht’s CTO, was at the CA Clase distributor training event this week and presented a great overview on some of our core technologies including:

  • AIS – Hints and tips on transponder operation, programming and antenna selection
  • Wireless NMEA – differences between TCP/IP and UDP connections and app integration
  • GPS antennas and interfacing
  • Wireless internet and routers including common problems with accessing marina hotspots

Most importantly he covered lots of installation issues with hints and tips and important product selection advice.  Of course, reading a presentation on line is not as good as hearing the real thing so if you do have questions, feel free to contact us.

You can download the presentation from HERE  or click the picture below

tech training front cover

 

What’s in a Name ? – Good and Bad SSIDs

Bad SSID

We have noticed that quite a few of our WL450 and WL510 customers are using their long range Wi-Fi installation to connect to a “personal hotspot” or “tethered phone” depending upon whether they are an Apple or Android user. If you have a good or unlimited data plan on your phone, then this is a very useful way to get internet in places where the Wi-Fi is not so good but the 3G signal is strong. Normally it is the other way round, but if you find yourself in this situation, it is a “good tool to have in your tool box”.

The long range performance of the WL450/WL510, means that you can place the phone anywhere on the boat to get the best 3G signal and the WL450/WL510 will connect to it. If you also have the WL450/WL510 connected to a router like our iNavConnect then everyone on board connected to the router, will also be able to use the 3G internet connection.

Last week we were contacted by a customer trying to do just this with his iPhone but he could not get his WL510 to connect to his personal hotspot. After a bit of head scratching, we realised that he had an apostrophe in the SSID like the one in the image above “Paul&Kay’s iPhone” and this use of a special character was stopping the WL510 from connecting to it.

Looking online there did not seem to be a definitive Specification or RFC that stated what characters must or must not be used in an SSID, but the general recommendation seems to be that SSIDs should use standard characters, avoiding the use of special characters and spaces. So in our example above a much more compatible SSID would be “PaulandKays_iPhone”.

Once we changed the iPhone’s name (SSID) to a more compatible set of characters, the WL510 connected first time and he was able to get a very good 3G connection in the Norwegian Fjord he was moored in !

Digital Update August 2014 Out Now

The August 2014 edition of Digital Update is now out and available to download from the link below.  This month we explore:

  • NavLink UK – our new MAC based navigation program designed to integrate with our NMEA to wireless and NMEA to USB products and will turn your MacBook into a full featured navigation system.  Now available for the US and UK – Europe coming soon!
  • WL510 Hi Power WiFi Access System – Wins Best on Test in this month’s PBO magazine
  • SmarterTrack Lite gets an upgrade
  • Using iOS with our hi power WiFi systems – useful tech tip on iPhone and iPad compatability

Newsletter_Aug_Front Page

Download from here Digital Update August 2014

WL510 wins Best on Test in this months PBO review

Leading UK magazine PBO carried out a test on wifi access systems in this months issue.  It’s a comprehensive test and our WL510 was awarded “Best on Test” as it outperformed all other systems.

pbo front page

Our WL510 is a two part hi power wifi access system comprising high gain external antenna and below deck modem and amplifier.

It allows boat owners to connect to wifi hot spots so that their on board PC’s or equipment can connect to the internet. With internet connectivity on board you can download the latest weather or chart updates, watch movies, listen to music as well as having a mobile office on board. Most harbours and ports have either free or subscription based services available.  With the range offered by the WL510, you’re not limited to local access points either and many users take advantage of free wifi from cafes, bars and other sites even when a few miles offshore.

wl510 and antenna

The system has a compact, DC powered below deck mounted 600mW booster/modem and external, hi-gain (12dBm/15dBi) antenna with 10m (33ft) low loss LMR400 coax interconnect cable. The antenna measures 0.9m (2.95ft) and is supplied with a deck mount base.  There is also an option 1″ adaptor fitting to suit industry standard 1″ mounts

The WL510 modem connects to an on board PC through a regular RJ45 CAT5 network cable for simple driver free installation. Connect the WL510 to a router such as our iNavConnect or iNavHub and everyone on board can share the long range wireless internet connection. Compatible with all popular operating systems – Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.3 (and higher) and LINUX, the WL510 supports 802.11b/g protocols as well as WEP/WPA/WPA2 encryption.

Wi-Fi range depends on many local factors, but Digital Yacht has seen ranges of up to 4-6 miles with this low cost system. In general, using an internal Wi-Fi adaptor typically found on a notebook, you’ll be lucky to find the signal at the end of the dock, so if you plan to access the internet whilst on board, the WL510 could be the solution for you.

FEATURES

  • Ideal solution for permanent installation and new builds
  • Network Interface for connection to one PC or to a Router for shared long range connection
  • Easy to setup and control from any browser through web based interface
  • Adjustable (up to 600mW) Wi-Fi modem and high gain (12dBm/15dBi) omni-directional antenna gives ERP up to 4W
  • Supplied with threaded deck mount for antenna and 10m of low loss LMR400 coax cable
  • Supplied with 1m network cable – can be extended with any CAT5 network cable (up to 50m)
  • Requires connection to boats 12v DC supply
  • No drivers – works with all popular operating systems as connects via network interface and set up is done through the web browser