• Wifi For Your Boat - What You Need And How To Do It - Ubiquiti Bullet 2HP Installation and Setup.

    After the frustrations of trying to connect to the internet with the usual methods I finally decided to bite the bullet, or at least install one, a Ubiquity Bullet2HP to be exact.

    Now I am not a computer network engineer by any means and the most complex thing I have accomplished before this task was installing a router and cable modem at home to set up a wireless network, that's it.
    To begin this process I scoured the internet trying to find out as much information as I could about the hows, whats and whys. What I found was either information scattered all over the internet that didn't give me the whole picture or I found the complete packages with all the goodies setup and ready to go. What I could not find was a good example that described how to set up all of this fancy equipment and answer all of my questions.

    The complete packages may be a good deal for those that don't want the hassle of figuring it out on their own and most come with excellent tech support but, if you are willing to do it yourself you can save a lot of money and probably learn something in the process.

    The cost of the package that I installed is broken down below:

    L-com 8db HGV-2409U antenna - $45
    radio (bullet2hp) - $70
    Air802 POEVAVADR poe injector - $15
    cat 5 cable - $10
    wireless router - $50 (optional)

    total: $190

    What Does This System Do For You!
    Let's say you are traveling and find yourself at a marina that has free internet access for their transient customers but you manage to tie up so far away that when you attempt to connect the signal is unusable. This system will boost the signal making connections easier.
    Attachment 922
    This setup is nothing more than a repeater that boost the signal to a usable level, you still have to have someone providing internet access either via a free wifi access point or provide you with the proper login information for secure wireless networks. This system will allow you to connect to un-secured wireless networks as well but some people consider that un-ethical. There are still quite a large number of people that leave their wireless networks unsecure specifically to allow others access to it and if they don't want you to use it, then they will normally activate its security features.



    Components


    Antenna
    Antenna selection can be quite confusing to say the least. You can ask 10 different people and they will give 10 different opinions. There are several different types of antennas on the market but for use on a boat an omni-directional antenna is recommended.

    Attachment 717
    In the diagram above the values are for illustrative purposes only and to help explain the general concepts.

    Notice the omni-directional antenna's radiation pattern covers 360 degrees but its range is only 2 nautical miles, while the directional antenna has a very focused pattern of around 20 degrees but has a range of 8 nautical miles. Even though the omni-directional antenna does not have the range that a comparable directional antenna exhibits, its purpose is better suited to boating since you don't have to worry about pointing the antenna at the wireless source.

    To extend the range of your omni-directional antenna, you will need a higher power antenna. But as you increase the power the radiation pattern narrows when viewed from the side. You can see in the illustration that the 10 dbi antenna does not have the range of the 24 dbi antenna, but the wireless source is outside the beam of the 24 dbi antenna.

    By now you should realize there are trade-offs and here are the things you should consider in choosing an antenna. If you are planning on installing the antenna 50 feet up the mast of a sailboat where it will be rocking considerably you will want a lower power antenna, probably around 9 dbi or so, but if you are installing the antenna on a more stable cruiser then you can go with a higher power antenna, say 15 dbi.

    When you are shopping for antennas be aware that some retailers don't tell the whole story. If the antenna only shows its rating in db (decibels) that really does you no good. Decibels is a unit-less measure of gain and does not indicate an antenna's true performance. To compare apples to apples, you will need the value in dbi's which is referenced to an isotropic antenna. That is a fancy way of saying they are comparing it to the gain of a theoretical perfect antenna (which does not exist). Or you will need the value in dbd which means they are comparing the gain relative to a half wave di-pole antenna which does exist. In other words they have to compare it to a standard (dbi or dbd) to provide you with numbers that mean something.

    If you find one antenna listing its gain in dbi and the other in dbd, you can subtract 2.15 from the dbi value to get a dbd value and then compare the antennas.

    Another important point to consider is the connector on the base of the antenna. For our system you will want an antenna with a female N-type connector. This will allow you to screw the bullet2hp directly to the base of the antenna.


    Bullet 2HP
    The Bullet2HP is the transmit/receive radio portion of this setup and comes with its own setup and configuration software built into the unit (AirOS). The Bullet screws directly into the base of the antenna's female N-type connector and receives its power through the Cat 5 cable supplied by the POE injector. The Bullet can handle more than 12 volts but for my setup that is sufficient. Since the Bullet is connected directly to the antenna there is minimal power loss between the radio (bullet) and antenna like you might have in some radio installations, this is a good thing!


    POE Injector (Power Over Ethernet)
    The POE Injector is the power source for the Bullet. The injector receives 12 volt DC from my boat and injects that into the Cat 5 cable where the Bullet picks it up as its power supply. The POE injector basically allows you to power various pieces of equipment over the same ethernet cable that the data will pass through which greatly simplifies wiring.

    The Setup In General
    There are two common setups that you can accomplish and your needs will help determine the setup you choose, with option 2 being the most versatile.

    With option 1 only a single computer can be connected to the network at a time. This setup will work fine if you don't care to move around the boat with the computer and tend to leave it at a particular station. You will have the antenna connected to the bullet, the bullet will connect via Cat 5 (ethernet cable) to a POE injector, the POE injector connects to the computer with Cat 5 cable.

    Attachment 718
    Option 1



    The diagram above shows a minimal installation without setting up a wireless network. The laptop uses cat5 network cable to connect to the network port on the POE injector, from the POE/Equipment port on the POE injector another cat5 cable connects to the Bullet2HP and the Bullet2HP threads into the antenna.


    Attachment 719
    Option 2



    The setup shown above is the most versatile and what most boaters opt for. The setup is identical to the one above with one exception. Instead of connecting your computer to the Network port on the POE Injector, you connect a wireless router. This will allow you to wirelessly connect a variety of devices.


    Connecting the Equipment

    It is a good idea to not mount any of the equipment until after you have gotten it programmed correctly. Also if you are going to use a wireless router don't worry about connecting that until you have everything setup and can access a wireless hotspot (we will not cover the router settings in this article, consult your operating manual).

    Connect the Bullet to your antenna and insert one end of the Cat 5 cable into the Bullet. Insert the other end of the Cat 5 into the POE Injector port labeled POE/Equip (Important you can damage your computer if you get these ports mixed up). Now connect your POE Injector to a fused (2 amp) source of 12 volt power and install a switch for turning the POE Injector on and off as needed. (Tip: I initially programmed everything at home and used my car battery as the power source to do the initial setup, then installed the unit on my boat).

    Connect one end of a Cat 5 cable to the Network port on the POE Injector and the other end to the LAN port on your computer. Now switch on the power to the Injector and you should see a single green light power) on the Bullet as the internal AirOS software boots up.



    Caution: You may want to download our "Bullet Setup" guide before proceeding since you will lose your internet connection while performing the steps below.

    The steps in this guide are written for Windows 7, if you have an earlier version of Windows the steps will differ slightly to access the appropriate menus. The following steps follow the general setup process found in the nano quick setup guide found at www.ubnt.com


    Setting Up Your Computer So It Will Talk To The Bullet


    See this post for Here are the AirMax settings for a Titanium 2.4 Ghz BM2-TI:

    The Ubiquity Bullet is essentially a router so it will have two IP addresses, one assigned to it via DHCP from the shore-side wifi access point (WLAN) and the other is 192.168.1.20 which is the private IP address (LAN) programmed into it. Private IP addresses are not routed across the internet and are used to access the configuration software installed on various devices, i.e. the Bullet. To configure the Bullet we must access the Bullet's AirOS configuration software using this private IP address 192.168.1.20 which we will type in our browser window. But first our computer must be connected directly to the bullet and have an IP address in the same network segment (ex: 192.168.1.21) so these first steps are designed to accomplish this.

    1. Click Start

    2. Click Control Panel


    Attachment 723

    3. Click Network and Sharing Center or View Network Status and Tasks


    Attachment 724

    4. Click Change Adaptor Settings

    Attachment 725

    5. If your Local Area Connection is not enabled you will need to right-click it and select "enable".

    Attachment 726

    6. If you have a wireless network adaptor, it must be disabled. Right click Wireless Network Connection and select disable.


    Attachment 742
    7. Now back to the Local Area Connection, left click to highlight it then right click it and select "Properties". Unless you want to share files and printing across the network, for security purposes ensure these boxes are deselected.

    Attachment 728
    8. Double Click Internet Protocol Version 4.

    9. Fill in the fields as shown in the image below. Here we are assigning the static IP address to our computer of 192.168.1.21, the subnet mask is 255.255.255.0 and the default gateway is the IP address of the Bullet 192.168.1.20 The Bullet will also be acting as a Domain Name Server so in the preferred DNS server block we put the IP address of the Bullet 192.168.1.20, now select "OKAY" twice.

    Attachment 729

    Now you should see two LED's illuminated on the Bullet, power and network cable. Now the computer can talk to the Bullet so the next step is to configure the Bullet.


    Configuring the Bullet



    Now our computer has a static IP address in the same network range and is wired directly to the bullet. One of the things we are going to do is turn on DHCP for the Bullet. That will cause the Bullet to act as a DHCP server and automatically assign IP addresses in the appropriate range to the devices connected to it. This will also allow us to go back and change the settings on our computer to allow it to get its IP address assignment from the network which is the typical setting on most computers.

    1. Open your internet browser and in the address bar type the IP address of the Bullet, http://192.168.1.20 and press the "ENTER" key. The AirOS software login page should appear, the default username and password are both ubnt. Fill in the appropriate fields and select "LOGIN". If you do not see the login screen then you may have a problem with your Cat 5 cable, your computers network card or a firewall may be blocking it. Also check to make sure both lights (network and power) on the Bullet are illuminated, it may also help to unplug the network cable from the computer and plug it in again.

    Attachment 730

    (note: once you have everything working correctly you should open AirOS and change the administrator username and passwork as shown below).


    Attachment 732
    2. Now select the "NETWORK" tab and fill in the information shown by the arrows and blue box below.

    When we originally logged into the Bullet, we typed http://192.168.1.20 into our browser window and this opened the AirOS menu. However that IP address is in a very common range of 192.168.1.x so to prevent it from being in the common range of shoreside networks we have changed the Bullets IP address to 192.168.10.20 In the future this is the new IP you will type in the browser window to access the Bullets AirOS software.

    This is also the point where we are turning on DHCP for the Bullet to allow it to assign IP addresses to the devices connected to it. We have given it a range of IP addresses to assign from 192.168.10.100 to 192.168.10.200


    Attachment 733

    When you have completed the above entries don't forget to click "Change" at the bottom of the screen. When you do this you will see the "apply these changes" message appear at the top of the Network page. Don't apply them yet, we still have more changes to make then we can apply them all at once.

    Attachment 743

    3. Now click the "ADVANCED" tab and make the changes shown by the arrows below.

    Attachment 744

    Don't forget to click "Change", but don't click "Apply these changes" yet.

    4. Now click the "Link Setup" or "Wireless" tab, the name of the tab will depend on the version of AirOS firmware installed in the Bullet. In this example we have version AirOS version 4.0.4 Complete the items marked with arrows as shown below.

    Attachment 746

    Don't forget to click the "Change" button. Now you can click "Apply these changes" at the top of the screen.

    Attachment 745

    Reconfiguring the Computer



    At this point we have lost communication with the Bullet since we changed its IP address from 192.168.1.20 to 192.168.10.20 and our computer is still set up with a "fixed IP address". So we need to go back and change our computer to obtain an IP address and DHCP server automatically.

    Follow the steps listed above in "Setting Up Your Computer So It Will Talk To The Bullet" and navigate to the menu shown in step 9 and make the changes as shown below.


    Attachment 738
    Click "OK" twice to save the settings and then close out the rest of the menus.

    These settings allow our computer to get the needed settings to connect to other networks without having to go through the hassle of manually configuring it every time.

    Now we have everything setup and should not have to change any of the settings in the future, thank goodness! Now the only thing we have left to do is connect to the internet.


    Connecting to the Internet



    In your browser window type http://192.168.10.20 (the new address assigned to your Bullet). You should see the AirOS login screen. Before you login make this process easier in the future by saving the login screen as a bookmark in your browser. That way in the future you won't have to type in that long IP address to get to the AirOS software and it will make it much easier to connect wifi access points.

    1. Now go ahead and login again, username ubnt and password ubnt.

    2. Now select the "Link Setup" or "Wireless" tab.

    3. Click "Select"

    Attachment 747

    4. Now you should see the "Site Survey" screen pop up.

    Attachment 748

    If the station you are connecting to has encryption you will either need the network "key" or password.

    5. Now click "Change" and then click "Apply", now wait a few seconds to allow the Bullet to connect to the access point.

    That's it! You should be connected to the internet.

    If you select the "Main" tab it will show you information about the connection and is an easy way to tell when the Bullet is connected to the internet, see below.


    Attachment 749

    Download a PDF copy of this article here!

    And finally a Bullet and Antenna combo mounted on a boat.

    Attachment 750

    Crabber 50 gave us this latest update on the software and settings:

    Thank you for the excellent tutorial. Installed mine November of 2014, screens are a bit different now and one thing I had to do was enable NAT under WAN Network settings. Previous to this setting I was able connect but client PC' did not have internet access.


    HackSwiTcH likes this.

     

    Comments 77 Comments
    1. wilofthewind's Avatar
      wilofthewind -
      What about connecting the router?
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Wil I am not sure exactly what you are asking. Are you asking how to setup the router? If so it will depend on the router that you have. On mine after the Ubiquiti was set up, I unplugged the network cable from my laptop and plugged it into the un-powered router. I then powered the router up and it automatically received its IP from the Ubiquiti. The router was an older one that I had at home, so it was pretty much setup in advance.

      At that point it was a simple wireless connection from my laptop to the router.
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Update: I have used this setup for a few months now and I am very satisfied with its overall performance. I regularly see dozens of access points that were previously invisible to my laptop. The only thing I would change in my setup would be to go with a higher gain antenna.
    1. capnjack's Avatar
      capnjack -
      First of all, thanks for a very informative article - one that I followed pretty much to the letter. When all the parts arrived I assembled them per the guide, configured the Bullet per the guide (except the firmware was apparently a later version, and the screens - while similar - added a few items and left off a few of the items in your article), and connected to one of the FORTY networks that showed up.

      So far so good, but when I diagnosed the 'cannot display web page' issue, the result was something that indicated a DNS problem - like 'cannot resolve msn.com' - I'll work on the problem some more in the next few days, but meanwhile do you have any clue as to what might not be set right?

      I've been involved with computers since well before PC's, but I haven't been able to figure this one out yet.
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Capnjack did you possibly miss a step, specifically the step under reconfiguring the computer where you "obtain DNS server automatically. That is the only thing I can think of. I am like you as far as involved in computers for a long time but when I first set my ubiquity up it was a bear, which is why I wrote this article. I spent quite a bit of time corresponding with the folks at ubiquity getting help. Other than what I mentioned above I don't know what to else to suggest. Ubiquity has some pretty good support resources at Ubiquiti Networks, Inc. or give them a call at 408-889-8437 to talk to one of their engineers.

      Let us know what solves the problem!

      timg
    1. limacina's Avatar
      limacina -
      Captnjack,
      This is a common problem. I see it when we use a verizon broadband card with a broadband router (like cradlepoint). The best solution might be to add the google DNS. Heres their web site on it if the ubiquity scenario fails. This google solution actually leads to faster web browsing.
      Google Public DNS
      Or just do a google search on google DNS.

      Tim, thanks for this article, I've sent your link to a few coworkers to upgrade some of our stuff. I'll certainly be adding this to my boat for the summer. I think I'll be able to pick up my work wifi on my mooring with this.
      By the way guys, this project is listed as a kit in Defender for like $350. thanks again for your effort and research digging it up.

      At what point do you think adding gain will diminish your signal based on what you've found with you antenna?
      Andy
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      I boat on the Tennessee river so in most cases my boat is not rolling like it would on the open water. I went with an 8db antennae and probably could have easily handled a 15db. With the 8db I can see connectable hotspots out to around 3 miles in my area. Since I have installed this I am hearing from folks that have antenna's above 15db that are not experiencing problems, so I would say up to 15db should be fine.
    1. capnjack's Avatar
      capnjack -
      UPDATE:
      1) I was able to set up the Bullet in 'bridge' mode to connect with the two secure networks I have in my office. I saved that configuration as 'config-1' to my laptop.
      2) Then I was able to set up the Bullet in 'router' mode to connect with any unsecured networks that might be found. I saved that configuration as 'config-2.'

      When I want to connect to one of my own networks I just pull up 'config-1' and apply it, and poof...there it is. To connect to an unsecured network, just pull up 'config-2' and apply it, and poof2 happens! Works great.

      Incidentally, the long cat5 cable I bought through Amazon was pretty pathetic - one gets what one pays for - so I suggest using a much higher quality cat5 or cat6 cable for the run between the bullet and the POE box.
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      CapnJack thanks for the update and I am glad you got it working. I also purchased Cat 5 cable from a seller on Amazon that was substandard. I have since decided to buy all cables locally so I can visually inspect the quality.
    1. capnjack's Avatar
      capnjack -
      Quote Originally Posted by TimG View Post
      Capnjack did you possibly miss a step, specifically the step under reconfiguring the computer where you "obtain DNS server automatically. That is the only thing I can think of. I am like you as far as involved in computers for a long time but when I first set my ubiquity up it was a bear, which is why I wrote this article. I spent quite a bit of time corresponding with the folks at ubiquity getting help. Other than what I mentioned above I don't know what to else to suggest. Ubiquity has some pretty good support resources at Ubiquiti Networks, Inc. or give them a call at 408-889-8437 to talk to one of their engineers.

      Let us know what solves the problem!

      timg
      1. Finally got the onboard system connecting with the two secured networks in my office by configuring the Bullet in 'bridge' mode. Works flawlessly. Then saved that configuration as 'config-1'

      2. Then got the onboard system connecting with various unsecured networks by configuring the Bullet in 'router' mode. Also works flawlessly. Then saved that configuration as 'config-2'

      When I'm in range of my office networks I call up 'config-1' and apply - and poof ... the connection works as if I were right there. When wanting to connect with any of the unsecured networks found, I call up 'config-2' - and poof(#2) ... that connection also works fine.

      TimG, I agree with your assessment regarding using a higher power antenna, and that's the easy part - just unscrew the old antenna and screw on the new one!
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Good deal! Yes I will probably be purchasing a new antenna this year, not sure which one yet.
    1. limacina's Avatar
      limacina -
      blackbox.com has the best ethernet cables, way beyond standard spec. By the way, forget about the weather hardened cables for outdoors. Your better off buying two regular ones.

      Just make sure what ever you buy is stranded core, not solid core. Just like AC electrical on a boat.
    1. gchabs's Avatar
      gchabs -
      I just joined this site in part because I was researching the how to's and why's of on board wifi. In that regard, I would like to thank TimG for the detailed directions on how to install and configure a bullet. I think I could follow those directions, but am a little concerned. As an unsophisticated computer user, some of the info in the installation instructions goes right over my head. With that in mind, my observations is that programming my computer and the bullet prove very difficult. Particularly, if one small step in the process is missing, or has been added. Would I be simply better off just buying a kit from Island Time or similar provider, so that I can rely on a voice on the phone to give me personalized support as I do this? Does Ubiquity provide that service when you buy a bullet? Should I simply ignore my apprehension and go for it? I would appreciate your thoughts. George
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Like you I was intimidated by the thoughts of trying to set up a bullet but the more I researched the less apprehensive I became. The pre-configured packages are very nice if you are willing to spend the money. If you have a problem with one of those I would think you may be able to get support a bit faster. One issue with some of those pre-configured setups that I found while researching is that sometimes they use their own software to configure various settings, if you go that route then it is likely that they will be the only ones able to help you since it is their software.

      While I was installing my system I did get stuck, I picked up the phone and called ubiquity directly. Ubiquiti manufactures quite a variety of products and once I told the technician what I was doing he walked me right through the process. They also have an extensive forum where you can correspond with others for help as well.

      I am not aware of any special advantage in capabilities (special settings etc to increase performance) that you will gain from getting a pre-configured package. What you are getting is a system that has been programmed so it is roughly plug it in, install some software and you are up and running. I would imagine that the majority of their customers fall into two categories, those that don't want to fool with setting a system up, and those that are apprehensive and don't think they have the capability.

      They both have phone support, the main difference is that Island Time knows what you are calling about and is intimately familiar with their software and the system, while Ubiquiti techs handle all types of installation and components. You will likely have to explain what you are doing to the technician so he can understand your needs. Try this test, give Ubiquiti a call 408-889-8437 (9am-5pm PST), ask for support, tell them what you are planning to do and ask them, If I get stuck can you help me.

      Ultimately the decision is yours to make, I don't think it will be as arduous a task as you think should you decide on the do-it-yourself route, but only you know your capabilities.

      Let us know which method you pursue, and we are always willing to offer help when we can.

      timg
    1. gchabs's Avatar
      gchabs -
      Well, after giving it a bit of thought, and doing some research, I have decided to do it myself. I figure I can get the entire system for at least $100 off a kit, plus, I get to pick the better components that I might not get with the kit. In that regard, I am going to purchase the Ubiquiti 2HP Bullet; the L-com 8db HGV-2409U omnidirectional antenna; the Air802 POEVAVADR poe injector; and the required lengths of CAT5 cable. I considered getting a router, but will first make sure I can get this system to work before adding more stuff. I will mount the antenna and bullet on my mizzen shroud, about 10 ft. off the deck, and run the CAT5 cable down into the boat through a gland which will be also used for some solar panel wiring. Which brings me to the only question I have - thus far at least - while I am going to get the outdoor cable to prevent UV degradation of the cable jacket, do I want the cable to also be shielded? It will be run adjacent to a number of 12v wires, the SSB and VHF and related wiring, as well as other electronics. Will the CAT5 cable give off emissions that will interfere with those items, or will those instruments interfere with the signal to my computer? Thanks very much for your assistance on this project. I appreciate it a great deal. George
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      George I can't definitively answer that question for you. I do know many people I have talked to have opted to use non-shielded cable, but in your situation with the cable running so close to the VHF and SSB, I think you are making a wise choice by choosing shielded cable for that portion of the run. You may be able to get by without shielded and you could try it, but for me that decision would depend on how easy it is to access the cable run and whether I wanted to do the job twice in case the normal cable did not work. I also agree with your decision to hold off on getting the router. Get the basic system up and running and then add a router.
    1. limacina's Avatar
      limacina -
      Update, I found these parts. I was having trouble finding the listed 12vdc input PoE in the article.

      WISP-Router, Inc Your One Stop Wireless Shop: News
      UbiQuit Bullet 2
      802.11b/g, 2.4GHz, 1000mW HP version $79.00


      TP-DCDC-1218 DC to DC PoE 9-36VDC in, 18VDC Out $37.95
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Good deal!

      Even though just about any injector will work, I believe you can still get that Poe injector here Air802 LLC :: Search results the biggest difference is that the power connections use screw terminals while some of the other ones use quick clips.
    1. adlibber's Avatar
      adlibber -
      Excellent article, TimG. I had put all my (ancient) IT skills way behind me and, when thinking about the Bullet installation, I got very nervous about having to relearn a whole load of stuff. Your clear and well-written article on the subject worked wonders. Thank you.
    1. TimG's Avatar
      TimG -
      Thank you adlibber!
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