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Author Topic: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster  (Read 340 times)

Frank B

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Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« on: August 11, 2017, 07:08:48 PM »
We boondock as much as we can.  A cell booster has become a necessity.  I used to take the one out of the truck and move it in the trailer, but it was a nuisance.  Finally bought another one last year, and while I mounted the yagi antenna on the TV mast last year, I just ran the wire in a window while I tested placement and so on.

The big issue is always trying to wire things.  With the yagi cell antenna mounted on the TV mast, I can turn the very directional yagi to point to the nearest cell tower.  The best place to bring the wire in would be along with the TV coax.  Turned out that this was a very good solution.

We also learned that directly under the yagi is the best possible place to put the booster and the transmit antenna.  The yagi does not see 'down', so there are no feedback problems, even with the transmit and receive antennas only about three feet  apart.  That was a surprise.  I DID get feedback with the transmit antenna at the far end of the trailer -- the furthest I could put in the trailer and not have it outside.   :)   Someone more knowledgeable than I can explain that.  I suspect it has something to do with the transmit / receive planes of the two antennas.  In any case, in our trailer, the transmit antenna works best directly under the yagi.

I removed the inside hand crank assembly.  I then pulled the antenna assembly off the roof, and then drilled a 1 1/4" hole in the top of a nearby cabinet that was only 10" away from the hand crank on the antenna mechanism.  I then used a fish tape from the cabinet, through the fiberglass insulation in the ceiling, and managed to be able to see the fish protrude into the antenna mounting hole after about 3 or 4 tries.  I then pulled the cable through, and tied it off in the cabinet for now.

Next step was to try to feed the 50 ohm cell antenna coax up beside the 75 ohm TV coax.  The wiring that came with my kit was WAY too heavy.  It might have fit through that hole in the antenna base alone, but not along with the TV cable.  I made a trip to our nearby electronics retailer and bought a pair of Type N coax connectors (what is used by the booster and yagi), and a few feet of lighter RG58 50 ohm coax.  That cable was thin enough to fit alongside the TV coax, and with some coaxing, even through the rubber boot that goes over the cable pass through hole.  I then reattached the TV antenna mount with just a couple of screws while I attached the N connector, and tested it.  I didn't have the proper crimper, but some judicious pressure with some side cutters did the job, and the heat shrink tubing covers up the ugly crimping job.  ;)

As the connection checked out physically and electrically, it was time to reattach the antennas themselves, and screw down the antenna mast assembly.  Just need to dicor it again, and the outside work is done.

Next week I mount and wire the booster.

Frank.

I keep forgetting to rotate the pix from my phone before I post them.  Sorry that 3 or 4 of them are sideways.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 07:10:41 PM by Frank B »
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
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Sun2Retire

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2017, 09:01:56 PM »
Frank, I am planning an almost identical install. Which antenna and booster are you using?
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

Frank B

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2017, 08:16:40 PM »
Scott:

I have the Uniden U60 kit.  This is the link for the Canadian website.  There is a US site as well, but I didn't see the same product there when I looked quickly.

I traded the included antenna for a yagi unit, which is linked here.

Both products are 800 - 850 and 1900 - 2100 MHz (I think), so they work with just about anything.

A nice feature of the U60 booster is that it has 5 to 15 db attenuation adjustable PER BAND on the end of the unit, allowing one to stop feedback on one band without reducing gain on the others.  This is one of the reasons that I am mounting my unit out in the open so that I can easily see and adjust those DIP switches depending on our location.  And, personally, I don't find the brushed aluminum case to be ugly either.

How do you plan to attach your yagi?  I can give you a closeup of mine if you wish.  Our bat wing antenna is plastic, so I had to fabricate a small stainless steel bracket to attach the yagi to the metal arms of the mast.  The yagi is very light, so having it on the mast does not strain the mechanism, and allows me to 'fine tune' the direction of the yagi from inside the trailer, using a simple signal strength application that I downloaded from Google Play to my phone.

Frank.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 08:19:02 PM by Frank B »
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
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1.2 kw solar

Sun2Retire

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2017, 11:14:18 AM »
How do you plan to attach your yagi?  I can give you a closeup of mine if you wish.  Our bat wing antenna is plastic, so I had to fabricate a small stainless steel bracket to attach the yagi to the metal arms of the mast.  The yagi is very light, so having it on the mast does not strain the mechanism, and allows me to 'fine tune' the direction of the yagi from inside the trailer, using a simple signal strength application that I downloaded from Google Play to my phone.

Yes please post a picture of your install. We never watch anything other than movies (DVD, Netflix when avail) so the batwing has only been raised once during pre-delivery inspection. I'm considering removing the head to save weight, then attaching an omni wifi mast plus an extendable fiberglass pole with a cellular yagi. The idea is to leave the pole retracted unless absolutely necessary so roof access is typically not needed, and would put the yagi about 5 feet above the roof with the pole retracted. Then, if necessary, climb up and extend the mast. Some of these poles extend up to 20 feet from a 5 foot retracted length; have to look at available roof area when the pole is lying down and retracted. I'll have to have the yagi in hand and temporarily attached to the proposed pole to see what the resulting weight from the long lever-arm feels like. All just ideas at the moment, possibly not good ones.  ::)
« Last Edit: August 13, 2017, 11:23:20 AM by Sun2Retire »
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

Frank B

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2017, 11:22:15 AM »
Yeah, I think I'd have to see a picture of that to understand what you mean. We haven't felt a need to put a yagi up that high.  I did have an extensible steel mast bolted to the side of an older trailer that we had that allowed me to put the analog cellular 800 megahertz antenna up about 10 ft over the trailer. I don't remember if the extra height made that much difference. Usually it either works, or it doesn't.


If I understand what you have in mind, a 25-foot antenna mast might be a liability in the wind. You would have to have a pretty strong base support to keep it from twisting off.


Let us know what you come up with.


Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Sun2Retire

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2017, 11:38:37 AM »
a 25-foot antenna mast might be a liability in the wind. You would have to have a pretty strong base support to keep it from twisting off.

Like I said, these may not be good ideas  ::)

It may be a better idea to use a lightweight, fixed aluminum mast of around 4-5 feet to save complexity and weight, along with cable coiling issues associated with an extendable mast. And re the height making a big difference, unless there is a specific object you're trying to "see" over, you're probably right. On our last trip we were in a two situations where there was a very weak signal but it was reflected, so (short of a 300' pole) height wouldn't have mattered. In both of those situations there were others with yagis that were doing OK.

My plan is to have the antenna mounted before attaching the booster so I can play with internal antenna location.

We also learned that directly under the yagi is the best possible place to put the booster and the transmit antenna.  The yagi does not see 'down', so there are no feedback problems, even with the transmit and receive antennas only about three feet  apart.

I can see why that would be, and that would greatly simplify the installation and place the internal antenna where I want it
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

Frank B

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2017, 12:06:20 PM »
Scott:

FWIW, I've posted some pictures of what I did.

The batwing antenna sits on the end of a parallelogram to that it rises and descends parallel to the top of the trailer.  I wanted my yagi to do the same, but could not attach it to the batwing directly as the batwing is mostly plastic, and is getting brittle with age.  However, with a small 'u' shaped hoop of light gauge stainless, I was able to straddle the same mounting pins. 

The only issue was notching the stainless so that it would fit over one of the batwing supports.  That was done with a narrow blade grinder, but a hacksaw would work as well if one had a vise to hold it.

After drilling some holes in the bracket, I was able to use the same steel pins to mount my bracket straddling the batwing plastic bracket.  All the weight of the yagi (small as it is) is now on the steel pins, and the metal arms of the antenna mast assembly, with no strain on the plastic batwing.

I also decided to point the yagi to the rear the same as a flag.  I thought that pointing it into the wind might cause it to 'twist' when going down the highway.

For us, this has worked.  There is no cable to wind and unwind -- just a small loop to allow movement of the mast mechanism -- the same as was done OEM for the TV cable.  I can raise the antenna about 30" over the top of the trailer, and turn it to almost any direction from inside.  No fuss, no muss.  Worked great where we were boondocking in BLM lands last year S of Quartzsite, and again W of Salton Sea.  Near Quartzsite, the cell tower was 'reflected', but worked.  At Salton, it was line of sight, but about 20 miles away (at a guess).  Using the booster there was a balancing act, as I almost got enough signal without it, so we sometimes ended up with one competing against the other.

As is the case for you, having the transmit antenna in the rear of the trailer under the mast is a good location for overall usability as well.  That is where our 'living room' is, and where we use the data connection most anyway.  I can put our mifi device right beside the transmit antenna, and the mifi then sends enough signal through the wall of the trailer that we can use data outside under the awning as well.

Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Sun2Retire

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2017, 12:09:12 PM »
I have the Uniden U60 kit. 

How is the indoor range of your unit, i.e., how far away from the interior/transmit antenna can you be and still get good signal boost? Many claim you can be a long ways away when in reality they aren't much good beyond a foot or two.
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

Frank B

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2017, 12:10:50 PM »
Yeah, a foot or two is about it.

For us, we have a mifi device that I just leave close to the transmit antenna.  It then has a powerful enough wifi transmitter that we get signal over the wifi throughout the trailer.

Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Frank B

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2017, 12:19:27 PM »
The short range of the repeated signal is another reason why I am mounting the booster up high on a cabinet wall close to the door.  If I need to make a cellular phone call, I need to hold the phone close to the transmit antenna.  That works better standing up near the door where I don't have to go through contortions to keep the phone close to the transmit antenna.  Probably not good for the brain, however, being physically that close to that transmit antenna, so I try to keep close contact and phone calls via the booster to a minimum. 

We mostly use data when boondocking, and this is why the mifi is so handy.  It can be physically close to the transmit antenna, then broadcast the wifi all over the trailer as well as through the wall outside under the awning.  The wifi seems to have a much wider range than the boosted cell signal.

Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Sun2Retire

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2017, 12:29:14 PM »
Yeah, a foot or two is about it.

For us, we have a mifi device that I just leave close to the transmit antenna.  It then has a powerful enough wifi transmitter that we get signal over the wifi throughout the trailer.

I suspected so re the range. 95+% of our cellular usage is data so I could also put the mifi & Mobley near the antenna. We do have both business and personal reasons for others to be able to reach us by cellular. As you mentioned, for outbound calls one can just move closer to the antenna. I guess one could also do so a few times a day to check for incoming voicemails and texts.

I've started using our inexpensive (about $20) Netgear wifi range extender to connect to the Mobley and mifi. It extends the range to about 100' on average. I also use it when I'm using an outside wifi signal that doesn't require boosting but requires a per-device login. We were just at a place that had this, no extra charge but a pain to setup. This way, one login covered all devices.

Nice antenna install.
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

Frank B

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2017, 12:32:33 PM »
Scott:


Yeah, it seems we do think a lot alike!  ;D


I have had a wifi repeater in our trailer for a couple of years. I haven't thought about registering it as the single device where we buy WiFi, as like you say, the setup is a pain. Ordinarily, I just sent it up to link to our MiFi device, and leave it that way. Then, as you say, it will transmit WiFi a fair distance.


Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

Sun2Retire

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2017, 12:53:27 PM »
Yeah, a foot or two is about it.

Are you using the indoor omni? Did you consider the indoor panel transmit antenna? It has a 120 degree arc but for me would have to mounted forward of the batwing about 4', if I can find a spot. Could be feedback issues.
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

Frank B

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Re: Permanently installing 60 db cell booster
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2017, 12:57:22 PM »
No, just use the little stick antenna that came with it. I never thought about using anything else.

A panel mount on the ceiling pointing down might work if there is next to no radiation on the back of the panel. However, like I said, I never tried anything else.



Frank.
Linux:  Free, open, elegant.
06 GMC 3500 Duramax crew/long pulling 2010 Arctic Fox 30U with 1700 lb Reese Titan Class 5.
1.2 kw solar

 

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