May 30, 2008 at 4:25 pm #539
I was thinking about some ideas I could or should contribute and decided the best place for me to start was internet distribution. I am not well versed on internet providers which cater to ships or sea platforms so I’ll be discussing after-the-fact options and ask anyone more familiar with these things to research our best options for oceanic isp’s. The following is merely suggestions and brainstorming from myself and a few members of my local “brain trust” feel free to chip in with anything you want. I’ll try my best to keep my thoughts on this organized.
I’ll begin with two basic assumptions.
1:Internet bandwidth will be shared(or sold) through one or more satellite connections as opposed to each individual having a satellite
2:Internet traffic will be exchanged between spar platforms and/or wireless internet connection has been chosen to cat or fiber optic on a single spar
The first thing we’ll want to consider is an 802.11b or 802.11g wifi connection. This is the most steady and available option for wireless internet connection at the moment(unless you count IPoAC, but the mess they make is horrendous). I’ll examine two options, in particular. I’ll note some of their more relevent perks and flaws and try, at least for now, to avoid getting into aspects of technical arcana related to each. We’ll consider this first by looking at the pros and cons of an off the shelf home wireless router.
Using wifi to share bandwidth has several advantages:
-low technical knowledge needed to initiate
-high environmental tolerance(ie, weather conditions will not drastically effect it)
It also has a few disadvantages:
-high power consumption
-susceptible to “noise” interference(especially important if widespread use of wireless technologies is being used on the stead)
-low range(I’ve gotten as much as 320 feet with the router outside on the top floor of my house, typically you can expect a little more than half that)
Range can be countered to a degree through repeaters and/or antenna improvements.(more on this later)
The next I want to consider is RONJA. RONJA is an optical communication framework. Essentially, it uses light to communicate from computer to computer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RONJA for those interested and/or unfamiliar.
It too has its advantages:
-low power consumption
-long range(myself and a partner in crime have achieved 1000 feet on a good day and I’ve heard of up to four times that)
-low “noise” susceptibility
-fast communication(at least until we sort out how to send those pigeons faster than the speed of light)
-FSOC technologies have been used for decades(though not commonly so this may be considered a disadvantage)
And one glaring disadvantage:
-if something gets in its way it loses connection(heavy rain, heavy fog, people, towers, alien warships, etc)
Use a combination of the two. As the proposed systems for water and power aboard the stead is already weather dependant, I see no reason the stead’s internet should not be likewise. On days of fair weather using RONJA would save a good deal in terms of power and offer faster service to users. On days of lower quality weather(assuming the internet itself works, satellite internet can fall prey to the weather itself, though not as easilly as RONJA) switch to wlan using antenna(both for sending and receiving data) on days when the weather is not at an optimum. This should allow for the best resource management as well as highest quality service.
Pending the responses I get from this thread the local brain trust and I are willing to crunch the numbers to give theoretical best range as well as design and run some experiments to give some more practical data. The experiments would basically amount to going out on the lake and testing range, power drain, and quality of a lan network using 802.11g wifi and RONJA at different ranges and under different weather conditions and likely trying a wifi repeater and a directional cantenna and yagi antenna. The experiments would be fairly cheap for anyone here interested to try out themselves and I would be willing to help anyone along with the electronics and software aspects.
So let me know what you lot think. I also want to add, for lack of a better place of putting it, that for computers on a seastead I most highly recommend using computers built with the mini itx form factor. They are more quiet, more energy effecient(much more), and smaller than your typical pc. Their cost is comparable to your larger pc and they will run whatever operating system you decide to install(windows, linux varieties, etc). Just a suggestion.May 30, 2008 at 4:42 pm #2722
Platform would have to be reaaaaaaaally still for free space optics to work.May 30, 2008 at 4:49 pm #2723
Internet over HF radio is feasible.
- extremely long distance,
- over the horizon capability,
- no line of sight restriction
- Well-developed radio equipment
- Not too expensive – mil surplus available.
- very low bandwidth (physical constraint of signaling at those frequency ranges)
- susceptible to weather interference.
- Best for text-only coms
- Can be jammed
- requires another gateway somwhere on the other end attached to the internet
- requires a dedicated send and dedicated receive frequency
- It’s a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint connection, but a robust mesh topology requires multiples of all equipment and frequencies
I worked with the Battle Force Email system a bit back when I was in the military.
May 30, 2008 at 5:03 pm #2725
- satellite coverage in certain areas of the world can be quite expensive, it’s not like Dish network back in the states. We pay tens of thousands of dollars per month for fractional T1 access at various sites in Iraq. The satellite footprint for internet just may not be there, depending on where you set up shop- the empty ocean has not been a huge target market for satellite content providers so far.
satellite coverage in certain areas of the world can be quite expensive, it’s not like Dish network back in the states. We pay tens of thousands of dollars per month for fractional T1 access at various sites in Iraq. The satellite footprint for internet just may not be there, depending on where you set up shop- the empty ocean has not been a huge target market for satellite content providers so far.
Suck to hear that, i though sattelite would be something we could count on.
What are the odds of setting up a wireless link with something we place 24nm away on land?
Well i guess if you stay within 24nm of a big city satellite would generally be available.May 30, 2008 at 5:04 pm #2726
Typically, yes, but not always. Movement is, beyond a doubt, highly undesireable, but not necissarily severe enough to rule out the option. On a seastead your single greatest source of movement on the mounts will be the wind. One of the tests the group and I have discussed is to use an array for the lightsource to make small casual movements less of a problem. Drifting between steads will not be, in my mind, too difficult a problem to overcome. Ideas such as using a tracking grid in the mount to register light movement so the mount can follow it via servo have been discussed. Another option would be to use accelerometers to gauge movement and adjust the mounts correspondingly.
So I agree we should add movement to the flaws. But I do not think it will be a fatal flaw and is much easier to overcome than issues of weather condition.May 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm #2727
Satellite services on the ocean are likely(correct me if I am wrong) geared toward craft moving with some regularity. Would this mean those services tend to have a decent distribution of satellites to handle that movement and keep the ships in touch with the net with more regularity? If this is the case, the footprint may be larger than we suspect and would potentially provide a semi-mobile seastead with better quality internet than ships using the same service.May 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm #2728
Since networking hardware has gotten so cheap, I think it’ll end up being a kitchen sink approach.
Having everything from 802.11 to VSAT to HF equipment to fibre while be relatively cheap.
It’s all really off the shelf except for HF.
This is the perfect topic for a Design Proposal (see wiki) and an eventual prototype. This could all be finished and demonstrated before TSI builds their first platform.
thebastidge: you sound like the most qualified to lead this?May 30, 2008 at 5:30 pm #2729
I’ll second that and if anyone decides to go ahead with it, I’d like to volunteer for the position of lesser flunky. I have degrees in computer engineering and computer science(human interfaces are my cup of tea) and a strong love of diy projects if anyone desires an l.f.
Heath, I noticed your PBX proposal and was curious as to whether you’d consider working with astfin or some designs of the free telephony project. I am only familiar with them in passing, but thought if mentioning it may help, I’d just go ahead and mention it.
Incidentally, is noon too early for beer?May 30, 2008 at 5:38 pm #2730
I did some cursory research on marine internet a while back. It is very expensive. The problem is not the downlink. There are high power Ku band satellites, like the ones used for DirectPC, over much of the globe. Keeping the dish pointed at the satellite even on a moving ship is not technically difficult, and there are a number of vendors with off the shelf solutions. The problem is the UPLINK. Contrary to what many people think, the uplink data on satellite internet doesn’t go through the satellite. It goes through some terrestial wireless network. In the case of marine internet it goes over a marine band radio data network. So you wind up with an assymetrical link with slow uploads and a very expensive price.
There currently isn’t any better solution, so seasteaders who wish to live way out from shore outside of any nation’s EEZ (200 nm or more) will have to either develop a new system or deal with the price and performance of existing systems. For anything less than a global community of seasteaders, satellites are not an option. They are simply too expensive. Your best bet is probably a com platform on a high altitude balloon with a dedicated high speed link to the mainland. Developing such a system may cost nearly as much as developing the seastead itself.May 30, 2008 at 5:47 pm #2731May 30, 2008 at 5:49 pm #2733
i wasn’t aware of the progress they’ve made on that…
I got a client that’s always talking about blackfin
i’ll have to try to con him into giving me one
it’s 6:00 somewhereMay 30, 2008 at 6:10 pm #2734
“i wasn’t aware of the progress they’ve made on that…
I got a client that’s always talking about blackfin
i’ll have to try to con him into giving me one :)”
Con is such a strong word. Let us call it “persuade through discussion of questionable merit”. Let me know how it goes
“it’s 6:00 somewhere”
Yup, and nothing gets a project kicked off like beer. I’ll have to get some pics someday of the shack that beer built.May 30, 2008 at 7:50 pm #2740
What about using the sea as a medium, for example using ultrasounds as a carrier ? Water is supposed to propagate sound waves very far, so it might be advantageous as a wireless transmission method.May 30, 2008 at 8:51 pm #2743
Low freq radio is often used for submarine communication. It is VERY slow. Ultasound would probably be equally slow and wouldn’t carry as well as radio.
In regards to the post about 2-way satellite, yes it exists but it isn’t how the DirectPC system works, which is what is currently available for marine internet in the vicinity of the US. I believe 2-way satellite is also more expensive than the hybrid directPC system (which is already pricey) Any satellite-based system is going to have monthly bandwidth limits as well.
If anyone has some hard numbers on the 2-way systems, be sure to post them.May 30, 2008 at 10:05 pm #2748
Heath, I can work on this. Note: even the HF gear is pretty much off the shelf, and the software to run the BFEM style gateway is widely available as a free download. Encryption can done in a variety of ways or done away with completely, as all encryption entails overhead and it’s on a fairly slow link anyway.
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