Thursday, May 15, 2014

Leaving Legacy

Now back at our home-port, comfortably tied up at The Bluffs Marina in Jupiter, I've finally found a few minutes to write a post.

The West Coast Of Florida Tour was a great success; from Marina Jack's at Sarasota to Legacy Harbour in downtown Ft. Myers, and over to Longboat Key Moorings, we've managed to make everybody's life online a lot better.
The onSpot wifi guys did a great job.

All of our installs are challenging, but Legacy Harbour Marina was an especially difficult undertaking.
It took more than just mounting the smart gear and turning 'em on, we had to break some rules, technically going where others won't go and doing what others don't.
Though they tried, most of the support the Ruckus techs kindly offered up didn't work, we were on our own.
We say we build Better Marina WiFi Hotspots and we didn't stop till that was true.

 Eric, Legacy's Harbourmaster, giving Will a few pointers on operating the manlift.

Just putting the Access Point high atop the marina office was an obstacle. We had to utilize a lift to get it up there.

But the real problems were to come from these Hi-Rise Condo Towers adjacent to the marina.

The radio frequency interference blasting from these towers can render most WiFi hotspots useless.

After the installation was complete, we ran our first tests and were amazed at how quick the network was. Immediately we were seeing blazing speeds. We were cautiously pleased to find our worries about the towers were unfounded and our smart gear was truly outsmarting the RF noise.
The boaters at the marina were ecstatic.
So we tested till late that night then tested again early the next morning and found the same thing. Fast, real fast.

As usual, I stay around after the install to provide the boaters technical support and do onsite, real life, monitoring. It proved to be a good thing, two days later the network came to a creeping crawl. Something had broken.
The boaters weren't happy anymore.

So we went to work on figuring out the problem and soon we found it.

Not only are the huge condo towers an RF nightmare, over on the other side of the marina is a large cell tower that's using the same 2.4Ghz frequency that we use. What we were experiencing was the radio frequency equivalent to the perfect storm.
Our very strong hotspot was causing disruption on the cell provider's network so they turned up their signal, effectively blasting us out of the park with their more powerful equipment.

So back to the drawing board.

We can make most changes remotely via the net, but this was an extraordinary situation. So onSpot loaded up the test gear and a few spare parts and headed back to Legacy Harbour.

To make this tediously long story short, we fixed it. Not only did we have to step out of the proverbial box, we had to throw the box in the trash. Almost everything the Ruckus smart guys had us try didn't work and almost all our past experience didn't apply.
But, after a couple of days of, "what ifs and let's see", we fixed it.

Like all things worth doing, Legacy's still a work in progress, but their network's running fast and reliably — at the speeds we guarantee.

Constant Improvement.

As Mel and I left the marina, heading back to Jupiter, I left my web-cam on to record our departure and to see how far our network reached... all the way out to the entrance of the marina.

The proof's in the pudding



P.S. I know most of you tune in for stuff about cruising and boats and we'll be headed to the islands pretty soon. Mixing business with pleasure, we're building a new network at Staniel Cay, Exumas. They've been needing it for a long time.
Should be fun in many ways.