Antenna vs choice of hardware

Hello from a newbee...

Purchased a TP-LINK TL-ANT2412D antenna. Its a 12dbi outdoor omni antenna.

The purpose of my setup is to mount this antenna on the highest point of my boat to connect to various hotspots. A boat moves, so it must be a omni antenna, and as I got a steel boat, i prefer to keep Wifi and other radio stuff outdoor. It will be like sitting inside something near a faraday cage with radiowaves thrown back and forward.

So i like to connect the antenna to the most suitable wifi router or whatever else is the better option and then cable in to the box with my laptop.

Since I am here in this forum its obvious that I want to run and learn OpenWrt.

My current options is to choose between a premade 10 meteror 5 meter cable from the (here is the question), to the antenna.

Preferably whatever is suggested, it has minimum 3 ethernet ports and more is better.

I am really not able to figure out what hardware that will match the antenna and make a "perfect couple" in the sense of getting the better range in 2,4ghz. The antenna only supports 2,4ghz. Not 5Ghz, So i do not need the latest model i believe.

The suggested hardware might only have one connection to a antenna, as i only got one of these TP-LINK antennas. I am assuming there is some way that i can manage the hardware in order to log on to whatever hotspot i can use and that my PC thinks its on a cabled network.

Sorry if the question is messy. As said... Newbee:-)

You'd probably achieve much better results with a weather tight router/ AP with stock antennas up the mast and passing the ethernet cable down/ inside. rf cables at those frequencies really kill the signal, so you want those to be as short as possible (not several metres).


Thanks for your great tip. My steel boat has a targa as its highest point.

I see there are some solutions to this as the Wavlink ac600.

As it is today I need to sit on the fly bridge(outdoor on top of the boat) in order to obtain some speed on the various networks i can connect to. When inside my boat it gets really bad.

There is no such hardware for sale in Oslo, Norway and I do not live the life with creditcard and capability to import etc.

So can we meet halfway somehow and that i put some OpenWrt capable wifirouter on the targa and then stretch a ethernet down inside the boat?

So i go into budget mode awaiting the moment later when i can purchase the perfect hardware to obtain the optimal solution?

I can simply make whatever wifi router weatherproof by putting it int a plastic box on the targa and from there make a cable as short as they come.

So then the question is will be what kind of stock Wifi Router would perform well connected to a this TP_LINK antenna and that supports OpenWrt?

You will have to try, I just don't think the results will be convincing, as you'd most likely lose more in the cable, than the antennas give you.

How about a PoE switch inside the boat with Ethernet ports and then get a device that provides desired functionality (and supports being powered by PoE) at the top of the mast in weather proof box?

That way you only need a single Ethernet cable up the mast...

Do you have a requirement to do anything special with multiple VLANs, zones, etc.?

If you don't require any of the Ethernet ports inside the boat, then you could just use PoE injector to power the device at the top of the mast...

in this setup i try to explain that i put the router as close to the antenna as possible, so the RF cable will be as short as 10cm or even less if possible., and not 5 meters. So i stretch 12 volt or whatever up and ethernet down.

So both the antenna and the router is in the same place upon the targa.

I got the idea that the long (5m) RF cable would become the bottle neck, and with this setup, there is no long RF cable no more.

But in order to understand this. Is the antenna sort of a bluff? Like i purchased something that looks nice, but is useless?

And is hos much loss can one expect on a 5 meter cable, compared to a 5cm one?

Getting a outdoor repeater or whatever is one thing, but for that to survive the extreme maritime environment is another. This is why I was hoping that I could keep just a antenna outdoor. Maritime environment means salty air, extreme corrosion and such gear is next to military grade hardness. Marine grade gear is usually very expensive and hence that i must reach a usable compromise here.

I like the idea of a single ethernet cable. Less is more.

My need is very basic.

Being able to connect to hotspots or wifi AP from my boat that is moving and are not stationary.

Since my boat (a cabin cruiser 36 foot), is made of steel, the wifi signals are very weak from inside the boat and I do not wish to have a repeater or so inside the "steel cage", so hence that i bought a TP-LINK outdoor omni antenna said to be 12dbi/2.4Ghz only.

I do not know or understand if one wifi router works "stronger" than the other or if its the antenna that matters. But i am guessing its a combination. So for this reason I try to match the antenna with the most suitable router that runs OpenWrt. I like to learn more about OpenWrt as a curious person.

So i begin to understand that a RF cable will kill the antenna sort of. The longer the cable the less the antenna will perform. On the other hand there, I might give it a try as I today experience horrible connection as low as one to tree mb/s. I do not do gaming, nor have special need like watching Netflix in 4K .

A speedometer test from inside the boat shows 5ms ping, 95 jitter, 3mb down and and strangely 4,5up. The current AP i connect to for this winter season is like 100 meters away with no obstacles in between if I use the antenna on the targa.

I assume like at least 4 devices will be wired on to my "boat network".

As for the needs is just to be able to log on to networks. Nothing complex nor special. Just to obtain better connection and get the wifi traffic outside my steel boat.

Is there any common wifi router that supports OpenWrt and that can run on PoE?

Does that mean it will be less powerful? I do not mind to have something that does utilize the antenna to its max and pulling power up is the smaller problem.

Probably the cheapest part i sort of guess.

if you really need that antenna I ll take a look at

alfa tube 2 hp

1 Like

The Alfatube is nice, but i did already buy the DL-LINK, and thats the one going to work soon hopefully. AlfaTube is not marine grade. It will not have a very nice or long life in the seas of Norway.

The reason i got the DL-LINK antenna is that its simple with one connection and thats it, so i can marinize it a bit by using grease and such. And I paid around 20 USD for it :slight_smile:

That cable obstacle was very bad news for me. It broke my plan one might say.

I realize i either need to give it a go, with as short cable as possible or place a router up on the targa in a waterproof box, with power cable or PoE.

As from a economical perspective i believe the PoE solution will narrow my choices down and force me into a shop, while cabling a power cable up and a ethernet down, gives me a broader range of hardware to choose between.

I am inn for trying them all, but first and most of all, i want the wifi signals outdoor and if the connection becomes faster, i am very happy.

So assuming I first try what seems more easy, to cable power up and ethernet down, what common Wifi router would match the antenna and run OpenWrt?

that antenna is made for devices like Ubiquiti bullet m2, alfa tube 2 hp, Mikrotik groove52, etc, that antenna have sense only with this devices
also this devices are poe

You guys rock.

I have found a UBIQUITI Bullet M2, 2.4 GHz, Hi-Power 28dBm at a decent price in Norway, so i do not need to import anything. The PoE injector as well, all priced to around 60Euro including them both. So I am very happy now. No mistakes made thanks to you guys.

Ok... So there will be a Ethernet cable coming inside my boat.

I there a device that can provide even more usability and flexibility to this setup?

As a ethernet router that runs OpenWrt?

Let me admit that I have made some Puppy Linux spinnoffs that specializes in reversing a laptops Wifi chipset by using Hostapd, so I am sort off into experimenting with this, as one thing is to provide me with a optimal solution(withing a pirate budget) for connecting to a AP, but I do not hesitate to try to allow others to connect to my network, in order to play chess, in order to share files. I am very much into all sorts of maritime Open Source project, so in my world its in a longer perspective a goal to make others boats connect to me to download such things as OpenCPN, Maps, share legal files, remote support, security and such. Running a chess game server is also a nice way to bring a boating community closer. Even multiplayer games(as long as open source)

Maybe the Ubiqiuiti M2 offers that, but I am still hoping that the OpenWrt can be included in my setup, as I love these efforts to provide better solutions than what the manufactures CAN offer.

I might even look for more antennas like the one I got and more Ubiquti M2, in order to first have to, where one connects me to AP and the other is a AP for my boats server.

If i get 3, i might look into creating a passive Doppler Radar by using Wifi.

So finally after some digression here, is there a decent small and neat Ethernet Router that can be placed inside my boat running OpenWrt, if it makes sense?

make sure the version of bullet you found is 64 MB ram, 32 MB is not good

I'm not sure why you hate the alfa tube 2 hp

The Bullet XW can serve as your main router for several users and you just need a basic switch to hook up more than one wired device.

Clearly you're going to want some sort of small WiFi transmitter inside. A basic 4+1 router can be used it is getting hard to find those with large memory though. The wifi card in a laptop could be set as an AP with connection sharing.

I have nothing against Alfa Tube2 hp. Would love one.

But let me be straight on this. I live a different life. No bank account, no adress, no creditcard. I deal in cash only and importing something is a pain in the ass. There is taxses and there is administration.

No matter what I add being a Alfatube or a Bullet M2, its not going to have a very nice life. Salty air, storms, rain and temperatures that can go as low as 20- Celsius is the shit my stuff must live with. So nothing is going to live forever up there.

If there was a Alfa Tube that I could pick up here in Norway and simply exchange it for some pieces of papers and or coins, I would choose that, due to your advice, that was THE breakthrough in my setup, as the slh brought some very good advice on avoiding the RF cable, and you pinned it down to something optimal, within range of my wallet and physical reach.

So here is the Bullet M2 offered to me at a fair price here in Norway.

I can not say if its a 32 or 64mb version.

As a new user i could only add one image so here is one more out of 3

And the last one...

Its a 32MB variant according to this.

I do understand that 64 is better, but how will the difference "hit me", and what is the consequences of this being 32MB?

I understand that in the longer run this M2 will be replaced with a Alfa Tube 2 HP, but I got to start somewhere.

This is the spec of the M2HP

ok, i see , if so that will do the job, me too, not sure about the size of ram on that device. anyway that is the best option for your TP-Link antenna. also I think that kind of radio, bullet, tube and groove are made just for boat.

As my boat is made in steel, a part of my project is to cable it fully on the inside. I want to avoid Wifi inside the "steel", as its not needed. Its a one man show Mancave, so there will be basically just me that uses the network, and my Open Source Navigation system, a cabled camera for the engine room and my laptop.

There is a lot of switches to choose between and then I wonder if it makes sense to pick one that can have OpenWrt support. I know it makes sense if its a wifi router, but does it make sense with a switch?

When i pick the hardware to run my open source chartplotter etc, i will choose something that runs either Coreboot or OpenBios, just to hopefully one day have a 100% open source system on my boat.

Ubiquiti might not be open source, but i look at this as a long term project where all non open source shall be replaced with open source.

The German translation of "boat" is "boot", so by all means Coreboot seems the better fit, assuming a completely non-technical selection mechanism ;)
1 Like