Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Tiny Bit More on WiFi Networks on Boats

17 04 2012

Today we walked over the border from Spain into Morocco.  Who knew Spain had an outpost in Africa?  Not us until we sailed over here.  In fact they have two, maybe more if we look hard.  We're looking.

There are no photographs of the border or the border town on the Moroccan side.  Vibrant hard working struggling humans need a hand up, a bit of encouragement with the difficult business of living life.  What is not needed is some moron walking around with a camera taking "poverty tourism" photos.  That would be insulting - to the idiot with the camera.

Our excursion decided us to continue sailing along the coast of Morocco for a while, taking advantage of new marinas available at good rates.  Morocco, under its new king, is trying to reform its economy.  Tourism is a logical first place to start.

A while back I wrote a quick blog about setting up a wifi network on your boat so you could pay for one wifi internet connection for the boat and then share it with all the crew.

It is only a bit trickier to share a wifi internet connection.  You  can do it without any additional equipment by using Microsoft's Internet Connection Sharing software in Win7 and loading a program called Connectify.  There are others but Connectify is easy.  Some boaters had issues with Connectify but had trouble sharing their wifi on a standard wireless router.  This is intended to help those sailors.

There are only three steps:

A.  Buy and Setup a wifi router.

B. Set up Internet Connection Sharing for the wifi adapter in the computer you will be using to connect to the marina wifi system.

C. Connect your laptop or shipboard computer to your router.  It is hard to believe but most people connect their wifi computer to the wrong port in the wireless router.


Buy a cheap wireless router.  Ours cost $14.95 in the cheapie bin at Tigerdirect in London ON.

Reset the router.  Stick a pin or nail in the reset button at the back and HOLD IT PRESSED IN for at least 30 seconds.  This resets the router.  You will save yourself a lot of grief by resetting.

Run the setup wizard.  You need to know some basic facts which will be in the manual: the url of the router, your username and password.  The URL will often be or or something that looks like that.  Open your web browser and type this number into the address box (do not use www or http or anything, just the number).

Choose WPA 2 Personal encryption unless you want everyone in the marina using your internet and perusing your movie collection while you sleep.

Set Up Internet Connection Sharing.

You must tell your laptop you are going to share its wifi internet connection.  This is not hard but there are a lot of buttons to push.  Here is the button by button guide.

1. Click on the Start Button (the circle at the bottom left of the computer screen)
2. Choose "Control Panel"
3. If your computer lists control functions by [Category] then choose [view network status and tasks].  If your computer lists control functions as  a list choose [Network and Sharing Centre].  A new menu will come up.
4. On the menu on the left hand side choose [Change Adapter Settings].  A list of network connections comes up.
5. Looking at the list you will see one choice called [Local Area Network].  Do not touch this but make sure it is there.  You will also see a choice called [Wireless Network Connection].  If you are using more than one wireless connection choose the one you are going to use to connect to the internet.
6. Right click on the icon for the wireless network connection.  From the list of choices that is presented choose [Properties]. It will be at the bottom of the list. A properties window will open up.
7. In the properties window there will be two tabs.  Select the tab called [Sharing].
8. On the Sharing page there are two boxes.  Tick them both.  For most people that is all you have to do. If you are using more than one wifi adapter another box will open up asking you to select the connection over which you will be sharing internet.  Choose [Local Area Connection].

You are done with setting up the Internet Connection Sharing and you should now close all the boxes.


Start Button
Control Panel
Network and Sharing Centre
Change Adapter Settings
Right click on [Wireless Network Connection]
Tick Both Boxes.

Connecting your laptop to the router:

The last step to setting up a wifi network on a boat is the easiest but is often done wrong.

Plug one end of a network cable into your laptop nand plug the other end into the WAN port on the back of your router.  It might be labelled "WAN" or "Internet" and should have yellow markings.   Most consumer wireless routers have a set of four ports or plugs in a single block.  Do not use these.  The router will have a fifth port which is separate from the other four: coloured yellow, takes the plug upside down to the others, has a big gap between it and the other four, something like that.  It is usually easy to spot the WAN port.  

You plug your laptop into this WAN port.  

Nothing will blow up or break if you plug your laptop into the wrong plug but no one will have internet access.

Now all you have to do is turn on your other devices, log into the wireless network you have just created and use the internet everywhere.  

Another advantage is that you can share files between your laptop and your other devices so, for example you can watch movies on your Playbook which are stored on the external harddrive plugged into your laptop.  

Your 80 GB music file (thanks to a friend indeed who must remain unnamed for fear of reprisals ) can be played anywhere your network reaches - drinks on shore, other boats, whatever.  No wires needed.  We take our music with us and now can share movies with other boats without having to move computers around.  We just log the other boat into our network and upload or download files.  

Yesterday we planned our trip to Saidia with another boat.   Sitting int their cockpit we brought up Google earth, plotted the route, checked for obstructions, measured the distances and then checked passageweather.  This is way cool. 

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