Sunday, 31 October 2010

Communication and Entertainment

By now you will have worked out we intend to live aboard the boat; probably 4-5 years. The idea is to spend the first five years of our retirement on the boat constantly cruising the network. It’s therefore important we have the necessary resources to keep ourselves amused. Obviously we will be out and about during good weather, however there will be days when leaving the boat is a less than inviting idea.

We need to think how we might keep ourselves amused during these periods of confinement in our “steel pipe”.   What resources will be required?  I’ve already written about the TV and media centre setup. Additionally, we will want voice and data communications to maintain contact with family and friends. This is particularly important as I can’t see the postman chasing the boat down the towpath in an effort to deliver ‘snail-mail’.

One point I’ve noted from other boaters blogs is the frequency where a mobile phone signal can’t be obtained. In an effort to mitigate this problem we are going to fit an external mobile phone aerial to the roof of the boat. Being significantly larger than the UK; Australia has an even greater problem maintaining a reliable mobile communications network. It’s therefore quite normal to see outback vehicle fitted with with one or more aerials to increase mobile phone range. Our research indicates the UK mobile phone frequency spectrum is very similar to Australia.  As our 4x4 already has a large aerial mounted on the front “bullbar” we have decided to take it with us.



Whilst the aerial has a spring coil base it’s not sufficiently flexible to bend more than a few degrees. We’re going to need to pull it to a horizontal position when passing under bridges and other overhead obstructions.  Ben is arranging for a small steel plate to be vertically welded to the roof of the boat. This will be the base for the mounting bracket.  I noticed that Chris on nb Belle has done something similar as shown in this photo from his blog.

antenna mounting

Photo taken from nb Belle’s blog

The idea is the external aerial will be connected to a usb modem which will then connect to a wireless router.  This will give us a wireless local network throughout the boat.

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