Max BR1 MKIII + Puma 221 - boat installation

I recently purchased a Max BR1 MKII, along with a Puma 221 antenna to install on my boat. The boat is a 35’ Tiara Open cruiser/fishing boat with a hard top.

My idea is that the system will connect to the marina’s WiFi when we are in the slip, and then to cellular when we are out on the water. (pretty much a standard use case). When out on the water, I want to maximize the range of the cellular connection, which is why I purchased the Puma antenna.

The hard top has VHF, open array radar, and TV antennas on top. Yet, the top is large enough to allow for some separation between each antenna.

My plan would be to install the Max BR1 MKII in the cabin with other equipment, and the Puma 221 on the hard top.

My questions are primarily around what I should do regarding antenna configuration.

  1. Is it a good idea to install the antenna, above the radar, on a pole, vs. directly on the hard top?

  2. My initial plan was to connect the primary cellular, primary WiFi, and GPS to the Puma antenna, and use the smaller antennas included with the Max BR1 for WiFi (B) and Cellular (diversity aux). Does this make sense, or am I better off connecting all 5 connections to the Puma? (or some other combination). The boat isn’t that large, but I do want solid Wifi inside the boat, as well as outside in the cockpit/helm area.

I’m not totally clear on the relationship between the primary and diversity cellular connections, as well as the WiFi A & B connections, so it’s hard for me to decide which antenna setup is best.

Thank you all for any advice you can give me!

Hello @JBrandonJ,

Welcome to the Forum!

First to explain to you about the modem. It’s a singular LTE modem, with dual antenna. Dual antenna means that it uses the main as the transmit and receive, the diversity is an optional, but recommended extra receive antenna. It helps for multi-path receive signal (i.e. the received path reflected of the water compared to the direct path). This allows the modem to “clean up” the signal and thus improve the reception quality. Much like your 2 ears work better in hearing and understanding what is being said, compared to just using 1 ear! So, I would suggest you have both the antennas above deck for better performance, i.e. in your case both in the Puma. Although normally it is recommended that the 2 antennas are 1.5m apart and even vertically separated.

And where to place the antenna, well… as high as possible! It works on line of sight, and just as you can see further when you are higher up, so does the antenna!

For WiFi, well same goes here, to connect to the shore (as a WAN service) you want the antenna to be high as well. But for you to have good reception inside the boat, you will want the antenna below decks. So I would suggest that you place one of them connected to the Puma, and the other below. Which will give you that flexibility.

GPS of course on to the Puma, although the GPS does not need height, as its line of sight is upwards into the sky (to the satellite), but it does need to have a clear view of the sky to work best.

In any case, it is super important to keep any cable run as short as possible… cable runs is what causes the greatest loss in signal strength on boats. And if the budget stretches to it, get yourself a good cable, like LM400 or alike, it makes a difference.

Don’t hesitate to ask more if you need, we are here all happy to help get the best out of your system!