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Jun
18

Review: WiFi antenna “BAD BOY Xtreme”

Long-range WiFi antenna “BAD BOY Xtreme” (bitstorm inc., www.bitstorm.com)

We bought a BAD BOY Xtreme three months ago and have had it in use almost permanently since then. We haven’t installed it permanently (yet), but only hoist it with a halyard about 10 m high and take it down for passages.

Short description

The BAD BOY Xtreme consists of a high-gain antenna directly attached to the transceiver unit. An Ethernet cable (which can be up to 90 m long, 23 m are included) connects to a 12 VDC-power injector and your computer’s LAN port. The BAD BOY Xtreme is meant for a permanent installation aboard (clamps for rail mount or flat-surface mount are included). In comparison to USB-powered alternatives, you need to supply the power injector of the BAD BOY Xtreme with 12 VDC. For more convenience, you could combine it with your own WiFi hotspot (the bad boy extreme has a built-in router, DHCP, etc.). Then, several laptops, smartphones etc. can share the internet connection without any annoying cables.

Our experiences, what we like and dislike

++ Its superb reception (-98 dBm) and high-power transmission (36 dBm, 4 W) give indeed long-range WiFi.

++ The web browser-based configuration, hot-spot selection, and monitoring does not require any drivers or extra software, so any operating system is supported. (– Even though for our version, a firmware update of the badboy was necessary to make it work with newer firefox or google chrome browsers.)

– Build quality could be better:

* After only a couple of weeks, the aluminium tube of the antenna showed already signs of corrosion even though we rigged the antenna only when in anchorages. I don’t want to imagine what it would look like after an ocean crossing…

* The housing of the transceiver unit is made of very thin and brittle plastic.

* The electronics of the badboy is very sensitive to DC power irregularities and bouncing. E.g., powering the unit via plugging into a cigarette lighter socket or using a cheap switch causes multiple short on-off instances which in turn cause the badboy to hang. A proper debouncing circuit may solve the problem. However, this is not an issue if you choose it for a permanent installation.

Our recommendation

Even though the material could be better and we had some initial problems, we are happy with its performance and can recommend it to other cruisers.

4 comments

  1. Megan East says:

    We bought the Bad Boy wifi booster in Antigua and after several days of pure frustration and hours on the satellite phone to Bitstorm in Canada trying to get it to work, we exchanged it for another unit. We then couldn’t get the second unit to work. We have a new Mac but were assured it wouldn’t be an issue. In the end we returned it for our money back but still have no idea what the problem was! Disappointing.

    1. Mike says:

      Investigation into Megan’s specific issue has so far yielded that their issue is likely due to cabling. From our return report from Budget Marine, the cable had been cut to facilitate their installation. From our discussion with Megan, they had not bench tested prior to full installation. When exploring their issue, we suggested a cable continuity test but they were not able to do this. With a defective cabling install, neither the first nor replacement units would work. We are having both kits returned for detailed inspection of this double failure and will post the complete results here when determined.

  2. Mike says:

    We always appreciate real world feedback.

    We understand the aluminum based antennas experienced premature corrosion. We have ceased the use of these in the summer of 2012 and switched to ones including stainless steel construction. Anyone who has an aluminum based antenna that has corrosion is, of course, free to have a warranty replacement stainless steel one.

    On the issue of power up: when plugging into an older cigarette lighter style socket, there can be numerous make and break cycles of the voltage. To the Xtreme, these represent rapid startup and shutdown sequences. While the processor is fast, numerous up/down sequences can cause the firmware to lock up. Our current injectors now include a delay start regulator to not only avoid this situation, but filter the power and ensure a clean supply to the system. We’ve even included a remote reset button.

    Next, the housing is of a material that is resistant to UV and will not crack and break after long exposure to the elements. It is stronger than typical plastics found on indoor use electronic devices.

    Lastly, firmware updates are always free in the Support section of our website. We are now up to v4.1 and encourage anyone with our products to update.

  3. Christian says:

    It now seems our blog site gets repeatedly mistaken for the official support site at bitstorm.com. Please, for any questions or problems around the bad boy product refer to support AT bitstorm.com. Their support team usually replies quickly to any enquiries. Thanks.

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