Remote Access to Your Remote

Posted: November 1, 2013

Take one of the comforts of home cruising with you.

By: John Temple

A lot has changed on the technology front, both on land and on the water, since my wife and I bought our 39-foot Carver in 1995. Cellular service has gotten a little better, and Internet service — via satellite access points — has improved dramatically. To get online while we cruise, Candy and I use a standard satellite dish attached on a downrigger mount to the rails — tuned by yours truly once we get to a dock. But still, we want to access our home DVR at times. One of the parts of the home system is usually a DVR of some sort, and most DVRs have a way to access them remotely, such as through an iPhone/iPad or a similar kind of device. When we’re out boating, however, sometimes our cellphone signal is not strong enough, but we can get online. If you want to get online easier while you’re at remote cruising locations, keep reading. As you’ve no doubt found out for yourself, accessing the Internet from a service provider can be difficult if you are moored very far from the signal. The quality just isn’t there. And often you need to subscribe to a service such as BBX, now called Beacon Wi-Fi (beaconwifi.com). It’s a good idea to check its availability (or any other service you go with) in locations you frequent.

To get better access to the Internet, I recommend setting up an Access Point on your boat that then connects to a standard router. Beacon offers a combo unit with high-powered outdoor solutions that allow connection to a Wi-Fi and/or 4G network, sometimes from miles away. Get the bigger picture on the website. (If you’re in the Seattle area, Big Bay Technologies’ Tom Isaacson is a nice resource for advice and solutions.)

To watch TV through a device, the incoming bandwidth must be good enough. Some free independent wireless setups, and even Beacon, can be too slow, and many private marinas frown on such services, because one boat eats up most of their download capacity.

If you are not using a solution from your provider at home, or it does not give you the full control that you want, there are other alternatives. The two most popular alternatives are Hava and Slingbox. We have used Hava, which brings up a picture of your remote control on your computer monitor and allows you point and click, for many years. To make it work, there is a device in your home that emits signals to your home DVR for control, and then broadcasts the TV signal over the Internet. The nice thing is that it is simple to hook up.

One important feature is how you get the Internet to the Hava or the Slingbox. The box must be set up close to the entertainment system. If your CAT5 connection is far from your entertainment system, the Hava or Slingbox you install has to have wireless access. In the case of Hava, it can connect to the Internet wirelessly, and it broadcasts out within your house, so it doesn’t require the home Internet, which helps with bandwidth issues. I believe that to connect wirelessly on Slingbox, you need the company’s more expensive Model 500. Both companies’ websites give you download requirements at your remote site.

I used our Hava on my trip this year (I am at Dent Island Lodge while writing this). I also used it when I was in the U.K. last year, and Candy and I were on the phone watching a favorite show. Almost like being home together!

Posted By: On: 11/15/2013

Title: Captain Dave

Really? your showing your "ad"icle with a Palm Treo? Atleast its on Verizon....

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