The New Digital Yacht WL500: Long Range Wi-Fi For Boats
15 May 2009
On board internet is now easier thanks to the Digital Yacht WL500 wi-fi access system. Digital Yacht, the Bristol based manufacturer of marine PCs, navigation products and communication systems have introduced a long range, wi-fi internet access product for boats. The new WL500 allows boat owners to connect to wi-fi hot spots so that their onboard PCs or equipment can connect to the internet. With internet connectivity onboard, you can download the latest weather or chart updates as well as having a mobile office onboard. Most harbours and ports have either free or subscription based services available.
The system has a compact, 12v DC powered, below deck mounted 500mW booster/modem and external high gain (8.15dBi) antenna with 10 metre low loss LMR400 coax interconnect cable. The antenna measures just 0.9m in length and can be supplied with either deck, mast or industry standard 1″ x 14 TPI mountings. The modem connects to an onboard computer through a regular USB connection with a plug ‘n’ play driver disk supplied for Windows XP and Vista operating systems. It supports 802.11b/g protocols as well as WEP and WPA encryption. The software will show a list of hot spots available and indicate if they are security enabled and their signal strength, allowing the user to select the most appropriate choice. Even if there is already wi-fi access onboard through an existing PC, this could be disabled and you can take advantage of the superior range and speed that the WL500 system will offer.
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 in the notebook, you would be lucky to find the signal at the end of the dock – so if you plan to access the internet whilst on board, the WL500 could be the solution for you.
The WL500 is priced at £399.95 (inc.VAT), complete with cable and antenna.
A lower cost model called the WL200 is also available at £199.00 (inc.VAT) but has a power output of just 100mW.
The WL500 with the high gain antenna offers an effective radiated power of up to 1 watt. Users should check legal requirements for their particular country. Further details are available at www.digitalyacht.co.uk
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