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Wi-Fi Hack Aids Boarding Parties

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the guess-where-i'm-iming-from dept.

United States 69

Kage-Yojimbo writes with a link to the site Strategy Page. There, they're reporting on a military adaptation of civilian wi-fi equipment to use in boarding operations on the high seas. Modifications to normal off-the-shelf gear can result in a range of over 700 meters, allowing information to be passed through on-shore internet connections. "The main reason for all this was to speed up the transmission of passport photos and other personal data back to the ship, so that it could be run through databases to check for terrorists or criminals. This wi-fi hack cut several hours off the time required to check documents. The Expanded Maritime Interception Operations (EIMO) wireless system was developed last year, to provide several kilometers of range to the original wi-fi gear (which has been in use for over three years). Each pair of wi-fi units costs about $1400 to construct, using common parts to add more powerful antennae to standard 802.11g wi-fi equipment."

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69 comments

$1400? (2, Interesting)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19284921)

Seems a lot for a Pringles can (http://www.oreillynet.com/cs/weblog/view/wlg/448)

Re:$1400? (2, Insightful)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19284957)

Seems a lot for a Pringles can
Remember we're talking about an institution that pays $5000 for a screw and $20000 for a toilet seat...$1400 for a pair of Pringles cans is cheap by comparison.

Re:$1400? (2, Informative)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285025)

"and $20000 for a toilet seat"

It was $10,000 not $20,000. It later came to light this was hoy money for covert operations was being found.

Re:$1400? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19291745)

someone doesn't understand the metaphor

Re:$1400? (1)

ampathee (682788) | more than 6 years ago | (#19304405)

I'd mod you informative, but your sentence doesn't parse. Rephrase?

Re:$1400? (4, Informative)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19284985)

Or basic WISP equipment. Tranzeo has 4.9ghz systems that start at $433 per radio, and can do a good 5 miles or so. Each unit can act as a client, a bridge, or an AP (they sell directional units, and units with n-connectors so you can attach a direction or omni antenna) Ive installed their 2.4ghz radios as far as 5 miles from an AP. $1400 bucks for a pair of radios seems a bit much, IMO. Not that the article was heavy on details anyway.

Re:$1400? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285379)

Ive installed their 2.4ghz radios as far as 5 miles from an AP. $1400 bucks for a pair of radios seems a bit much, IMO

In the marine environment? Salt water? Rough seas? Coastal patrol or naval vessels?

Re:$1400? (2, Interesting)

who's got my nicknam (841366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288191)

Okay - yes, Tranzeo, yes, in a marine environment, no, not on naval or patrol vessels, but on a commercial fishing vessel. 5 kilometres, ship-to-shore. $150 CAD per radio (2 required), 2.4ghz. Horizontal polarisation, approximate antenna height above sea surface was 5 metres. Sure, we had to manually keep the yagi aligned with the shore station, but that's because I was too cheap to build a gyro system. With a 30-degree spread, the yagi was actually pretty forgiving. Actual throughput around 1.8Mbps. On land, I have installed Tranzeo radios over 12km apart - and those are only putting out 80mw (19db gain flat-panel antennas). They rock. Back on topic, people have gotten 50km out of "off-the-shelf" wifi gear (ie, consumer-grade gear from Best Buy, like a Linksys box), simply by placing the antennas at the focal point of large parabolic dishes. This isn't an increase in power output, but rather an increase in GAIN. Antenna gain is the crucial thing here - but you need to have similar gain levels at both ends (duh). Back in the day, I was setting up wifi links in the 10km range using 30mw radio gear from Orinoco and high-gain parabolic (24db) grid antennas. That's not suitable for marine use of course, since those antennas have something like a 3 degree beam spread, so keeping them aligned would be a real bitch. But with 14db yagis, you'd be laughing. My conclusion is that this story is only significant because it shows how stupid the military folks are, not how innovative they are. A 700m ship-to-shore link can be done for cheap-as-free using bits from Best Buy (or my shelf). What they SHOULD have done was implemented a 128kbps VHF solution. For the kind of data they need to send, 128k is plenty, and the VHF is rugged, the signal is robust, the frequency is licensed, and the range is enormous. There's dozen (probably hundreds) of products that'll meet marine specs out there. Whatever.

Re:$1400? (2, Funny)

djmcmath (99313) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286093)

It's the US Navy. If there's a $5 solution commercially available, we can guarantee that it will cost $500, and be delivered 20% past deadline. We're also very good at signing contracts that won't expire until the technology that we've contracted has been obsolete for 20 years. No worries, finest Navy in the world, right here, boys.

Re:$1400? (3, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19287561)

As a former resident of Maine, I know the Bath Iron Works fairly well, and have family members that still work there. The Yard has a deserved reputation for delivering boats ahead of schedule and under budget, and better-built than either requested or expected. Even the Harley Burke class (Aegis) which they had to share some design work with Ingalls on, much to their detriment and consternation. It was a matter of pride at the Yard to survive the inevitable updates, changes, and interference by the Navy and other yards, and launch better and better boats. The Burkes, in particular, took long enough to build that most of the electronics went through a full generation of development. BIW developed innovative methods and used CAD (for the first time in Navy shipbuilding, believe it or not) to adapt to changes and do more with less. The newest program required them to participate in a design-off with Ingalls (and Newport News I think), and led to a 'joint' design. My former brother in law, a navy liason engineer, literally cried talking about how many compromises were endured working with other yards, and how much more money it would cost, the fights over overruns, and the shoddy engineering other yards were imposing on the process. His best quote: 'They intend to fix it in the water'. Second best quote: 'We just don't build boats in Bath with problems. We expect our boats to SERVE our sailors!'

In Bath, at least, delivering the best value and best boat is still a matter of pride to the entire operation.

And yes, I don't doubt there is waste. To bring this back on topic, I can imagine the idea that a $1400 Pringles can solution is pretty wasteful. Just consider this - put one of your Pringles cans on a styrofoam float in a fountain, and see if it still works in a breeze. With boats pitching and rolling, I'd spec a DS solution, something Breezecom used to make. I've gotten 15km out of them, and easily 5km with just Yagi antennae. For this application,an LNA for the receivers would solve it, but marine duty is harsh. Everything corrodes. Expect a working life of 6 months for connectors, and 2 years max for the black boxes. And expect the antenna to get snapped off 3-4 times a year, either striking the boat when launching/recovering, or accidentally when the boarded ship somehow gaffs it instead of reaching the sailor. "Woops, was that important?".

rick

Re:$1400? (1)

SkaOMatic (771887) | more than 7 years ago | (#19287377)

Equipment brands aside- It's not so much the cost of the radio as the cost of the antenna.

Per FCC regs, a Point-to-Point connection can have an 'unlimited' power output - that is to say, following the outlined methods of reducing the intentional radiation before the antenna - you are only limited by the radio's ability to scale its signal down, the passive gain and quality of your antenna's element, and the attentuation of the connecting hardware between the radio and the antenna (cabling, connectors, etc).

Thus, an inexpensive 50mw radio can legally output more power than, say, a pricey 1w radio because of this regulation.

Re:$1400? (1)

ajanp (1083247) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285001)

I just found the receipt for their expenses breakdown: 1. $20 for the pringles can (and lunch for the day). 2. $180 for the router (batteries not included). 3. $1200 to pay off The Pirate Bay to make sure they didn't attack while they were in the open seas.

Re:$1400? (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285131)

Bob Cringely did this years ago to get good Internet service to his house over a 10km Wi-Fi link:
First article [pbs.org] and followup [pbs.org] .

Part of that is to pay for the fines... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286011)

from the FCC, since there is a legal limit on EIRP for 802.11. I strongly suspect that any means of increasing range to "several kilometers" would violate that limit.

Note that this is a mobile application which is limited by the FCC to 1W EIRP (fixed applications get 6db more).

Of course, this is all related to terrorists and homeland security, so laws don't apply.

Re:Part of that is to pay for the fines... (1)

tzanger (1575) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286495)

from the FCC, since there is a legal limit on EIRP for 802.11. I strongly suspect that any means of increasing range to "several kilometers" would violate that limit.

Not entirely true. The FCC also allows you to increase EIRP up to 4W if your antenna gain is at least 6dBi and the system is a fixed, point-to-point setup (Part 15.247). You must also reduce your transmit power 1dB for every 3dB of antenna gain over 6dBi, which means you can technically achieve much higher than 4W EIRP if you've got a very directional system. Whether a ship anchored offshore qualifies as "fixed" or not, well I'm not sure. :-)

Re:Part of that is to pay for the fines... (1)

SkaOMatic (771887) | more than 7 years ago | (#19290151)

Whether a ship anchored offshore qualifies as "fixed" or not, well I'm not sure.


A tricky one, for sure. Oftentimes fixed is regarded as Point-to-Point, while mobile Point-to-MultiPoint.

The 4W EIRP is for PtMP - PtP/Fixed is only limited by the decrease active gain/increase passive gain rule and the fact that there comes a point when you can't reduce the wattage of the radio without attentuating before the antenna element.

Re:Part of that is to pay for the fines... (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#19287367)

I doubt the the US Navy operating on the High Seas using a line-of-sight frequencies need worry about FCC Regulations. Mostly reason for the power restrictions is so civians don't interfere with government use of the airways

Then you're wrong. (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19287529)

1) "several kilometers" from a land station is not the "high seas." (The US claims a 12 mile territorial limit)

2) 802.11 is a bidirectional link. How do you propose that a ship communicate with shore unless the shore station also uses an increased EIRP?

The military has their own frequencies which they can use for (relatively) unencumbered communications. When they use the ISM bands used by 802.11, they are bound to the same limits as the rest of us (legally).

Re:Then you're wrong. (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 7 years ago | (#19292179)

1) "several kilometers" from a land station is not the "high seas." (The US claims a 12 mile territorial limit)
It's not several kilometers from land, it's several kilometers between the home ship and the interdicted ship

Overseen by the Navy's Program Executive Office for C4I, the Expanded Maritime Interception Operations (EIMO) wireless system provides a data link between crews on interdicted vessels and their home ship up to a few nautical miles away. Unlike a simple radio unit, these wireless links can transmit biometric data, scanned documents, digital photos and e-mail from the boarding team, allowing near real-time analysis of such artifacts. The units use the 802.11g wireless protocol and Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 encryptions standards. Navy floats on-board Wifi [gcn.com]

and it called Expanded Maritime Interception Operations because we want to stop ships that may be smuggling WMD like nuclear weapons, chemical or biological agents or radiologically contaminating bombs before they enter coastal waters.after the data is onboard the home ship, its transfered through more traditional means to port.

Re:Part of that is to pay for the fines... (1)

EdelFactor19 (732765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288419)

This is for boarding ships out at sea you moron, the FCC doesn't have jurisdiction in A. international water or B. outside the U.S.
Secondly those regulations apply to consumer goods, not military.

Re:$1400? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286047)

It's for the government/military. You don't believe that a toilet seat for the white house costs $10000 either do you? (oblig. quote from a movie, guess which one)

Next to that, it costs so much because it has to be 'mil spec' meaning that it has to be handpicked and tested before it can be shipped to the customer. If that wasn't bad enough, the government doesn't pay it's contractors immediately. It can take up to 3 years after the project is done before it is budgetted and you see any $$$ coming your way, that's why doing a job for the government is always higher quoted than civilian and then the lowest quote is picked. Also a reason why you see some members of the military and other policing agencies buying their own gear instead of going with the 'standard issue'.

I think our comments pased like ships in the night (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286165)

I just added a remark something like yours.

To amplify your comments, here in Atlanta, I've seen Marines at REI picking up all sorts of gear.

TO ALL WHO RESPONDED (3, Informative)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286119)

I was making a smartass remark. Really.

I'll bet there's a Mil Std somewhere that requires the equipment to be resistant to everything from sea-salt to EMP. This adds cost. Probably for no actual good. However, as one of my commanders once told me "regulations are writen in blood."

$1400 may sound expensive, but what price on a life?

Re:TO ALL WHO RESPONDED (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19290803)

$1400 may sound expensive, but what price on a life?

Arab or American?

(may I pass over the gawddamn bridge now? I've got a Grail to find...)

Cost of Bureaucracy (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296201)

$1400 may sound expensive, but what price on a life?

It's not that, it's the cost of the bureaucracy to sell that $1400 radio. I looked at doing some government subcontracting and to build these radios probably required two full-time contracts people just to handle the thousands of pages of regs. required by the contract.

It's a big-boys' game - they all make money and we pay for it.

Damn Expensive (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19284941)

Each pair of wi-fi units costs about $1400 to construct, using common parts to add more powerful antennae to standard 802.11g wi-fi equipment."
$1400 sounds like an awful lot for attaching a pair of routers with Pringles cans attached

Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19284959)

Where's the news? The limitations on WiFi range are hardly inherent in the technological architecture. It's that there are limits to the permitted broadcast power in civilian bands without a license.

It would be fairly trivial to get a heck of a lot more range out of wifi by just boosting the transmitter. This is neither surprising nor interesting.

This is news for people who aren't nerds. Stuff that doesn't matter.

Re:Yawn (2, Informative)

DejaFu (1107779) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285447)

Bingo. No prob @ 500mw 2-way with antennas. Prob is: how do they get an 802.11 sig *back* from std xmit pwr w/o antenna @ 700 meters? I smell fish (fish = selling to bureaucrats). Here, fishy, fishy, fishy...

Re:Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19288641)

It works both ways. Your transmit gain is the same as your receive gain. Having one directional antenna and one almost omnidirectional (your usual 1/4 wave dipole) results in the gain in both directions.
There is no problem nor anything fishy.

Goatse! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19284969)

Goatse! [goatse.cz]

The Canadian Military Uses This Too... (4, Funny)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285007)

Except theirs is modified with a high-powered, ultra-top secret Pringles can...

Re:The Canadian Military Uses This Too... (4, Funny)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285285)

Canadian navy has ships that can take the additional weight of a pringles can?

Re:The Canadian Military Uses This Too... (4, Funny)

Runefox (905204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286771)

We just a couple of years ago bought (lease-to-own) a few state of the art diesel submarines from Great Britain circa 1990, with very few leaks. Due to their leak-free nature, Pringles cans are allowed on board to replace the excess water normally stored in the crew cabins, and the high-powered, top-secret nature of the new cans allow for internet connectivity at depths as low as two inches, nearing the maximum dive depth.

Re:The Canadian Military Uses This Too... (1)

SpacePirate20X6 (935718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288817)

Heh... Those suckers think those are submarines!

Re:The Canadian Military Uses This Too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19292725)

Since your ships leak, just replace the bailing buckets for pringle cans. Dual purpose is the rage these days...

Re:The Canadian Military Uses This Too... (1)

Runefox (905204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295413)

Excellent idea! We'll call it the MR-HI-CAMES, Multi-Role High-Intensity Communications And Moisture Expulsion System. I smell a winning defense contract. If only you Americans had such versatility in your designs!

Re:The Canadian Military Uses This Too... (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286787)

Canada has a navy? [satirewire.com]

Re:The Canadian Military Uses This Too... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296219)

Canadian navy has ships that can take the additional weight of a pringles can?

Just think of what a case of Molson weighs, eh?

Yarrr (3, Funny)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285013)

Only pirates are allowed to take part in "boarding operations on the high seas".
The Military can, however, "liberate" vessels.

Party Yachts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19285019)

Are they going to require all commercial vessels to have these onboard and broadcasting? If so, it should be amusing when some media intercepts a list of congressmen, lobbyists, and other hookers.

Re:Party Yachts (2, Informative)

ralewi1 (919193) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285715)

I believe you've missed the point on what EMIO (Expanded Maritime Interception Operations) involves and what this WI-FI communications system is used for - it's for boarding teams to relay information back to the mother ship, where specially trained sailors can use databases to help determine if there is a terrorist or smuggler on the boarded ship's crew. I understand that you're making an attempt at a cheap political joke, but this is serious, dangerous work, and it happens every day in the Gulf and other parts of the world.

Re:Party Yachts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19287619)

Ah! The mother ship. I knew this was alien technology.

Now you've done it. (2, Funny)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285063)

Now you've gone and done it. By publicizing the fact that they're using commercial off-the-shelf equipment you've opened the door to someone higher up mandating a "military-grade" system costing 100x as much.

Re:Now you've done it. (1)

xiux (1035790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286393)

> ..."military-grade" system costing 100x as much.

Being in the military, this has a hint of truth, someday ill post a pic of the army's $4000 version of a 1GB pendrive.

Re:Now you've done it. (1)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19288457)

Well that's why it's 1400 dollars instead of 5 bucks for the pringle can 20 for the antenna. Someone already found out.

I don't understand... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285137)

The benefits of using standard 802.11 are things like wide compatibility, and the use of unlicensed frequencies... It sounds like neither is even a slight benefit in this case, as the units have to be modified (somehow) and the cost of licensed frequencies would probably be easily covered.

Of course, this story wasn't exactly heavy on the details.

This has been common for a long time (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285155)

The military has much higher requirements for equipment. It wasn't until just recently that 'throw away' equipment became good enough for military use. By that I mean that the cost of replacement / repair became equivalent or parity. A cantenna and a $70 router can be replaced quickly without need for repairs... that is to say that the repair process is called replacement. This was never the case for military grade equipment in the past.

The advent of surface mount parts caused the cost of manufacture to drastically drop while the cost of repair soared. This doesn't work for armored vehicles, but for electronics it does.

You will notice other effects of 'modern warfare' also: the humble low-tech RPG has been a fiercely dangerous weapon. Very low-tech roadside bombs are rising in popularity too. While that has little to do with the cantenna and COTS 802.11g router, it does show that high dollar, high tech equipment is not always the best choice. If it works, well.. it works, and if people in the field find something that works, you will have trouble stopping them from using it.

I'm sure that the Pringles company are more than willing to keep shipping chips to the middle east.

Re:This has been common for a long time (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285289)

This was never the case for military grade equipment in the past.

Not so. The military has long found that it is sometimes more efficient to simply discard malfunctioning equipment. Remember, cost is not so much an issue as availability. A radio that's out for repairs is unavailable, and the cost of that unavailability can be higher than the price tag of a brand new unit. Trained service technicians are not always on hand either, particularly under battlefield conditions.

My father was in the military a long time ago, and the techs he know would often just tag a piece of electronic equipment as "unrepairable" when the only thing wrong was something like a busted knob. That's because new equipment was readily available, tech time was expensive and limited and it just wasn't worth their time to try and fix it. They had more important things to do.

Re:This has been common for a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19286795)

My father was in the military a long time ago, and the techs he know would often just tag a piece of electronic equipment as "unrepairable" when the only thing wrong was something like a busted knob. That's because new equipment was readily available, tech time was expensive and limited and it just wasn't worth their time to try and fix it. They had more important things to do.
Like posting comments on their /. stone tablets...

Re:This has been common for a long time (1)

Kotukunui (410332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296495)

There are stories dating back to World War II when New Zealand aircraft mechanics would trawl the junk piles at American air bases in the Pacific to salvage parts that were judged "unrepairable" by US forces. With a bit of time and effort, the part would be made servicable again and deployed on a NZ aircraft.

I guess with the relative rate of pay and armed forces budgets, it made economic sense for the Kiwi servicemen to spend time repairing, whereas it did not to the Americans.

These guys were the original dumpster divers...

I hope to god the terrorists don't know about p2p (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285211)

If there's anything that could jam that connection, it would be a poorly-configured emule client! Or so my roommate says when I hog all the bandwidth. *blush*

Now yeah, I know some of you are going to say "the network is coming from the coast guard boats, the vessel being boarded won't have access." I would like to remind you that this is a goverment operation so of course they'd be running their WAP wide-open, no security. :)

I RTFA (1)

Quixote (154172) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285231)

I clicked on the "Strategy Page" link to RTFA (I know, what was I thinking? ). And here's the article in its entirety:

The U.S. Navy has adapted civilian wi-fi (wireless networks) for use at sea during boarding operations. By modifying off-the-shelf wi-fi gear, the navy increased the range to over 700 meters. The main reason for all this was to speed up the transmission of passport photos and other personal data back to the ship, so that it could be run through databases to check for terrorists or criminals. This wi-fi hack cut several hours off the time required to check documents. The Expanded Maritime Interception Operations (EIMO) wireless system was developed last year, to provide several kilometers of range to the original wi-fi gear (which has been in use for over three years). Each pair of wi-fi units costs about $1400 to construct, using common parts to add more powerful antennae to standard 802.11g wi-fi equipment.

Which is the same as the summary... what's the point?

Searching further, here's a link to GCN (Government Computer News) with a little bit more details: linky [gcn.com] .

Re:I RTFA (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19290869)

Yeah, and all the insurgents will need is a dinghy stacked full of explosives, piloted either by home-rigged 'robotics' wired to a Linksys wireless router or a suicide bomber with a laptop running Kismet...

More like several miles (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285255)

I watched a NASA film of an experiment they did on the Great Lakes in conjunction with the US Coast Guard. Over a distance of several miles (line of sight) they still managed to get over 1 Mb/sec with a WiFi connection. It was standard WiFi equipment, though I believe they were using non-standard antennas (NOT pringle cans).

antennae/antennas (1)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285359)

Actually, antennas would have been the correct spelling even in Latin, since it is the object of the verb in the summary. So much for pedantry.

Re:antennae/antennas (1)

instarx (615765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19292619)

wow, well caught. Adding better "antennae" to the equipment would mean adding more than one antenna to each piece of equipment. Adding better "antennas" means adding a single new antenna to each, which presumably is the situation. Since that's now settled I'm never going to think about this again.

Re:antennae/antennas (1)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19294427)

That may be a possible way of discerning the plurals, but there's no formal definition, be it in a dictionary or anywhere else, saying those plurals work in that way. I'd be very wary about thinking that's what they mean in the future.

A hack? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19285463)

For that sort of price you can go and get commercially rated devices ready made.

)fr1st psot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19286317)

$1400 probably covers cost for procurment. (1)

lashi (822466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286381)

While $1400 seems high, it probably covers more than just plain material cost. There is quite a bit cost involved in the paperwork, testing, approval what have you. Dealing with the military isn't like installing a new router for your brother-in-law.

Re:$1400 probably covers cost for procurment. (2, Funny)

Runefox (905204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286925)

Cousin Timmy: OK, General, you're all set.

Gen: Thanks, son. Hey, why is it telling me that the connection strength is low?

Cousin Timmy: That's nothing to worry about. Also, you need to reconnect every ten minutes, because the router's a little weird, and I don't know how to flash the firmware. That's what the tech support forum said I should do.

Gen: ... What?

Cousin Timmy: Don't worry about that, there's nothing to the workaround. You just right-click on this icon here, click "repair" and you're done. Every ten minutes. Oh, and you won't get speeds over 1mbps, and your firewall won't let you share files. Also, your email sometimes doesn't work. It's a weird issue, I'm not in the mood to fix it.

Gen: Now wait a minute, I don't think-

Cousin Timmy: Like I said, everything's set up, and I've gotta get to class. Ciao!

Boring parties? (1)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 7 years ago | (#19286641)

I first read the headline as "Wi-Fi Hack Aids Boring Parties". I was thinking maybe someone hacked someone's wi-fi LAN to redirect every website into a porn site, and the prank made the papers or something. Then I started reading the summary, and it was all about the military raiding ships at sea. And I could only think to myself, "Holy shit, man, I may be a boring nerd, but I don't think I want my parties to be that exciting!"

Then I re-read the headline. I think I liked my version better. :)

FCC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19287343)

Does this system use normal Part 15 frequencies? Because it's illegal to boost the power too much (either by high gain antenna or actually boosting the power).

a bit of history (2, Interesting)

Arglebarf (1107929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19289079)

The initial work on this was done under the auspices an "off the shelf technology" program aboard USS Fletcher (DD 992) during work-ups and deployment in 2000, seeking to implement commercially available equipment in the tactical environment. This was a personal pet-project of one Capt. Noble, who went on to work at Defense Aqcuisitions at the Pentegon. The goal of the experiments then were to supplement the information broadcast over Link 11 systems with info from new-fangled digital cameras and personal GPS units. The difficulty then, and now, is that the system is standalone, i.e. the data broadcast over the wifi network is not immediately available to the battlegroup's common information systems. It must be copied from the communicating computer and manually copied to the ship's LAN. An example of this is the attempt to implement the wifi network on boarding support helicopters, which was halted upon realizing that the range was inadequate, it would require a fragile (by military standards) laptop aboard the aircraft, additional antennae would need to be mounted to the airframe, the aircraft's own datalink system combined with its own sensors often provided more tactically relevant information, and connectivity dropped out during any kind of maneuvering. This is not to say that there wasn't a need for the capability to transmit digital imagery to the on-scene commander, but the system as implemented suffered under the lack of integration with primary networks and the physical demands of boarding operations, usually carried out well beyond visual range of the mother ship, much less within reasonable wifi range.

Nice work if you can get it (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19290229)

Hmm..

Asus WL500G Premiun Wifi router (none of your Linksys tat) - £67 each
dd-wrt + crank up the power output to 100mW - FOC
9dbi gain antenna - about £6 each
12V DC battery pack - £20 each
10 mins for 'consultant' to flash the routers - £500

I used a similar setup (with mains adaptors and set to 40mW) to provide a stable link over about 700m from office to office across a public car park. Unfortunately, as an employee I couldn't charge the 'flashing fee'!

I hope they ban these things (1)

CrkHead (27176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19294221)

Before pirates start using them.

Kind of wierd. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296999)

Why did they not use a Repeater type of setup like Packet Radio or richochet type gear? You could have every boat's radio reciever be a repeater as well creating a instant mesh network as the boats went out. Main ship has the sattelite link, service craft all use the mesh repeating radios and everyone has perfect net connectivity.

No, they use COTS wifi gear with a amp+preamp and some cubical quad patch antennas and have to worry about direction and path.

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