It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. – George Washington
I’ve been busy learning the ropes from Ben over at Panbo.com so it has been awhile since I posted. No excuses though! It won’t be an overly exciting post but I wanted to tell you about my latest gadget – a wireless boat router. Costing more than a dollar – US$40 actually – I just received the router pictured in the photo which I ordered on eBay and came speedily from Latvia. The dollar bill is to illustrate its smallish size.
I had been using an old Apple AirPort router but it needed an inverter which wasn’t the slickest marine solution. It also used to flake out every now and then requiring a full re-configuration which was frustrating. What is Mikrotik? It sounds like a bug that might cause dutch lyme disease but I’m happy to report it doesn’t…
The Mikrotik Routerboard hAP RB951Ui-2nD 5 port wireless router (named by geeks for geeks) is small, light and best of all has a handy 10 – 28 volt DC input for direct wiring to your boat. Wireless protocols are 802.11 b/g/n. Be advised that it is strictly an indoor product. Not water resistant at all!
For now my intention is to use it to connect to my WaveWifi Rogue Wave antenna which is permanently mounted on the handrail at the back of my flybridge. The Rogue Wave uses POE as well but has its own separate power injector.
This is a 100 MBs router (not Gigabit) which should be more than enough for most boats. If you can think of an application that requires a faster router on board, please post it in the comments below.
The goal of all this is to be ready for the iKommunicate when it ships. The iKommunicate is not wireless and needs to attach itself to a router to be useful. I have a bunch of NMEA 2000 wiring to run while I’m at it.
One of the main reasons I purchased the router is Mikrotik’s RouterOS. Hidden from view, the router is actually running on Linux. The router’s firmware is regularly updated and is extremely powerful. This means that no matter what you try to accomplish later, it will be possible even if you need help to achieve it. Even though I’m a Mikrotik rookie, it was quick to setup via the easy to configure web interface which is accessed by direct ethernet connection on your computer at 192.168.88.1.
A guest network can also be setup so you don’t have to share your main wireless password. Here are instructions to set up a guest wireless network.
The router supports and includes Dynamic DNS for free. If that sounds technical, it is but here’s the layman’s version. Because your boat moves from port to port it will be connected to the Internet on different networks (cellular hotspot, marina wifi, satellite, etc). If you wanted to connect to your boat (remote monitoring or switching) from another boat or from land, you probably wouldn’t have a clue which IP address it was connected to.
Dynamic DNS means that the router connects once every minute to a cloud service and says “this is my IP address.” It says it over and over again (when it is on) and keeps the cloud service updated as to its whereabouts. All you need to know is the permanent host name that doesn’t change (e.g. 123456789.sn.mynetname.net). Mikrotik includes this service for free with their routers but you need to set it up in your router with these DDNS instructions. What isn’t obvious is that you type the command from a prompt which is accessed from the web menu on the left.
Future proof: Yes
12v DC direct in: Yes
3G / 4G Cellular Modem Support: Yes
Powerful networking device: Yes
Dynamic DNS: Yes (free)
Guest Network: Yes
Power of Ethernet: Yes
Low Power Consumption: Yes < 5w
Cheap: Yes (Wow only US$40)
* Important note. I discovered after much hair pulling that you need to make sure the router is in Home AP mode (it sometimes ships in WISP mode). Arduino doesn’t like Mikrotik WISP.
– Safe Boating –