simple ways to boost cellular signalOk so you’re off grid and your cellular signal varies from 1-2 bars to maybe no service.  Well this blog post will most likely be helpful to you.  If you make it to the end of the post I’ll leave the links for the product(s) I purchased that have significantly improved our communication and texting on our Verizon and AT&T cell phones.   We have 2 cell phones, iPhone 5 on Verizon and an iPhone 6 on AT&T.  We are both on the prepaid plans at around $45-$60/month which includes unlimited calling, unlimited texting and limited data with around 3-5GB of data.  However on our land we really couldn’t use our Data side of the service (Verizon), and my AT&T Service got NO Service, that is no voice calling OR data, when I entered our Camper Trailer.  So here was the problem.  The place on the land where the cellular signal was reaching — barely was NOT the ideal place to place our home or temporary trailer.  So during the first month of struggling with NO service inside the RV Camper… unless the wind was blowing exactly right, the phone was in the North facing window, and the sun was in alignment, my AT&T iPhone stayed in NO Service to 1 bar.  When I got 1 bar, my text messages would come in sporadically.  Kelly’s iPhone 5 on Verizon got 1-2 bars inside the trailer, but to have decent cellular conversations she had to have her headset plugged into her phone and leave it in the window.
Old POTS telephone hanging on a wallCan you imagine… having to use your phone in one place in your home with a wired connection that you cannot move more than a few feet away from your phone?  Any of you old timers, should recognize that last statement, that most younger generation kids — will NOT even know what I’m talking about when the OLD POTS (Plain Old Telephone System), the days when the rotary dial and later the touch tone phones were mounted on a wall in central part of the home.  And to make or receive a call you had to go to that part of the home, and stand or sit in a chair near the device!!

So I researched many solutions from the super expensive to the moderate and then I decided to give one of those less expensive boosters I found on Ebay and Amazon a shot.

Screen Shot 2016-11-08 at 12.50.06 PMFrom all of the research I looked at, the company Wilson Electronics (their cellular boosters are branded around WeBoost) seems to be the most knowledgeable.  I have a magnetic mount antenna and a hard wired cellular cradle in my car that I installed that does allow for better calls while I’m driving and in fringe areas.  The antenna is mounted on the center of my foot exactly 1/2 way between the end of my sunroof and the end of the back of the car.  The goal is to keep the antenna AS FAR AWAY from the cradle as possible AND centered on the roof – to create the largest “ground plane” an area where there is the most amount of metal around the antenna.  So if you draw circle and place a DOT in the center of it, that’s where you want to place the antenna.

So after my experience with the car booster, I gave Wilson Electronics a call.  I talked at length with one of their wireless engineers who gave me the in’s and outs of the hardware needed to solve my problem of low cellular signal inside our trailer.  The products he recommended were the We-Boost line of products, Screen Shot 2016-11-08 at 12.51.02 PMhowever I just didn’t have an extra $900 lying around to buy their complete solution.   Their solution for Verizon and AT&T that boosted both Cellular and LTE was their strongest Weboost Connect 4G-X (wilson’s site), the best place to order this is on Amazon Prime (see link at bottom of this blog post).

However being an indian, and trying to be “frugal NOT cheap” I pulled out the manual on my vehicle booster and looked at the frequencies that it transmitted and received at, and they were the 800 / 1900 Mhz bands.  LTE, 3G, and all of those Acronyms are simply “code” for a frequency range that they operate in.  Go I researched on Amazon and Ebay… to find a cheaper booster that covered those frequencies, and I came up with a complete KIT that the Wilson Electronics had shared with me.

The KIT that was recommended was one with the proper cable, exterior Yagi type directional antenna, and interior omni directional antenna, along with the booster and power supply.  So I found the Dr. Tech product on both EBAY and AMAZON.  I choose to order most of my stuff through Amazon because of their 30 day return policy, and their tracking of where the product is and when it will be delivered is incredible.

So I ordered the DR Tech 800/1900 Mhz Dual Band Network Signal Booster.  The link will take you to an Amazon affiliate link that we get a small commission if you order the product.   It’s the same price from Amazon and the best price I found anywhere.

To install the Dr. Tech, I needed to install the EXTERIOR Antenna AS FAR AWAY as possible from the INTERIOR antenna to avoid feedback — the kind of noise that occurs similarly to when you take a microphone and get it near a speaker and press record and you hear this screaming / squelching noise.  Here is a short video on how to MINIMIZE the cellular oscillation feedback loop.

IMG_2786So I installed our 2nd Yagi antenna – the higher square one,  (you may remember my FIRST Yagi (Arrow looking thing on a pole on our RV Camper)  read our blog about how we boosted our Cellular INTERNET for our computers here.    The manual says to make sure that if you have 2 antenna on a pole that they must be separated by at least 3 feet.  I figured the farther the better.   I attached a 1″ PVC pipe I had laying around the homestead and zip tied them with heavy duty ties and extended the new antenna even higher than the first one.

IMG_2776

After the exterior antenna was installed, and the interior antenna was setup (or hung) in our case, I powered on the booster box.    Within about 30 seconds, my AT&T phone had phone service, and Kelly’s Verizon phone was pegged out at 5 Bars of Voice (1x), with 3G showing up.

This solved our ability to receive and make calls from the trailer.  However what we found out later was sending pics using using 3G is MUCH slower than LTE.  Even though we have iMessage, that helps but since we’re sending a lot of images to family and friend, this is the SLOWEST part of our wireless experience.   So after doing it “cheap” again, if I had the extra $600 dollars I would have definitely purchased the WeBoost product, so in the mean time — as all normal human beings need to realize, sometimes we just cant have what we want when we want it.  And taking things slower is not a bad thing.

Please support our blog to allow us to keep making these videos and messages for you by purchasing the products seen below on our affiliate links, as we will receive a small compensation from them.  Thanks for reading and keep on moving forward in your own dreams and goals.  No matter how small the steps are, as long as you are making progress — mostly forward, you’ll get there.

And i’ll leave you with this video below that helps you understand why it’s critical to separate your interior and exterior antenna with as much distance as possible.  

Written by:
John
www.offgridhomesteading.com

 

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