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How hard is it to set up a cell yagi antenna?


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I think we're going to be in a marginal cell spot for a couple of months later this year. The Verizon map shows 3G in the area around the campground and, when I was there a bit over 2 years ago I recall it was only a bar or two of 3G.

 

I already use a Wilson Sleek cradle and it makes a great difference. I'm toying with the idea of an outside antenna (as opposed to the little window mag mount) and thinking that as seldom as I need that serious of a signal boost that I might want to push it a bit farther and get a yagi directional antenna.

 

However, I've never used one. As an Amateur Radio operator I'm familiar with aiming antennas (my old tri-bander had a 30 foot wingspan). However, I'm wondering about aiming one of these little jewels.

 

How hard is it? I'm imagining using a phone app to give me the general direction to the tower, mounting the yagi on a push up pole and then use the phone bars to tell me when I'm aimed properly.

 

So what's the scoop?

 

Thanks.

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Plus the update rate on the signal strength bars is NOT real time. You have to move the yagi a little and wait, move a little and wait. takes time. If you find a phone app that gives you real time signal strength please let us know.

 

Lenp

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I agree with what the others said.

 

Use your phone signal strength indicator, or the modem signal strength indicator - NOT the bars - to determine your signal strength. But you still have to move the antenna in small increments and then wait some.

 

Also, be aware that you have to get a yagi that will capture the spectrum (bands) that you want. Make sure that if you have 4G available in the area - which you probably do at this point in time - that the yagi gets those bands. Frankly, you may find a panel antenna operates just as well. It just depends on the particular antennas.

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Use your phone signal strength indicator, or the modem signal strength indicator - NOT the bars -.

 

Where would I find the signal strength indicator? I looked under Settings, but didn't see anything that had to do with the signal. I have an android phone.

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Thanks all! Good deal all around. I won't act on it until I get there and unless things are as I remember.

 

While I think I'll just buy one I did find this DIY article informative and interesting: http://bcbj.org/antennae/lte_yagi_diy.htm

Scott, if you read the article you reference - which is excellent, BTW, and the one I used to build my own yagi - then you will see the issues.

 

You really need to allow for both 4G LTE AND AWS spectrums. And that is difficult. OR, if you KNOW the specific tower bands being used...which you can discover by experimentation - then you can build a yagi optimized for those frequencies. But it will be challenging especially if multiple bands are on that tower - which they mostly are these days.

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Settings-->About Phone-->Status---->Network type and Strength (on mine anyway)

 

Yes, that's where I found it. The numbers don't mean a thing to me...I've seen the 4G vary from around 83dBm to 90dBm (I assume the higher the number, the greater the signal strength). It's good to know that the information is there in case I ever need it, so thanks for the information!

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Scott, if you read the article you reference - which is excellent, BTW, and the one I used to build my own yagi - then you will see the issues.

 

You really need to allow for both 4G LTE AND AWS spectrums. And that is difficult. OR, if you KNOW the specific tower bands being used...which you can discover by experimentation - then you can build a yagi optimized for those frequencies. But it will be challenging especially if multiple bands are on that tower - which they mostly are these days.

 

As I say, I don't think I want to build one, although I laid out a 10M yagi on my roof one time, aimed at Asia. My old tri-bander worked on 10/15/20 meters. It was on a 60 foot tower and had a rotator. It was a good one and I talked to people all over the world with it. One thing that was fun was to get some really good propagation going and turn it around to talk to people long path. A couple of times I actually heard the echo that meant I was hearing them from both directions at once!

 

Anyway, I'm good with buying the Wilson or some other decent brand. Any recommendations will be noted.

 

And, again, I don't plan on doing any of it till I actually get there and see what it's like.

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Yes, that's where I found it. The numbers don't mean a thing to me...I've seen the 4G vary from around 83dBm to 90dBm (I assume the higher the number, the greater the signal strength). It's good to know that the information is there in case I ever need it, so thanks for the information!

 

 

Lower number the better (it is a negative number). Here is one's view of the relative db numbers:

  • -50 to -60 (very strong, near a cell tower)
  • -60 to -70 (extremely good, rare)
  • -80 to -85 (normal downtown)
  • -90 to -95 (getting on the weak side)
  • -95 to -98 (weak, dropping calls)
  • -98 to -100 (bad, hard to stay connected)
  • -100+ (basically no usable signal)
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With my Note 3 without amp, the signal strength where I am is about -98 to -102. I don't have calls drop at that level but conversations do break up. With my Wilson Sleek 4G I get a whopping 10db improvement (very disappointing it doesn't help more) and the conversations then no longer break up.

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Lower number the better (it is a negative number). Here is one's view of the relative db numbers:

  • -50 to -60 (very strong, near a cell tower)
  • -60 to -70 (extremely good, rare)
  • -80 to -85 (normal downtown)
  • -90 to -95 (getting on the weak side)
  • -95 to -98 (weak, dropping calls)
  • -98 to -100 (bad, hard to stay connected)
  • -100+ (basically no usable signal)

 

Those are RSSI numbers, which are only good for 1X and Verizon 3G. For 4G (LTE), you are dealing with RSRP numbers. Gord enlightened me and gave a link long ago, but you can go 20 dbm with 4G, so -120 dbm would be marginal and -100 would be similar to 80 in RSSI. I can't remember the reference Gord supplied, but found this one - http://s4gru.com/index.php?/blog/1/entry-308-rssi-vs-rsrp-a-brief-lte-signal-strength-primer/.

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We winter in an area that has Very poor cell reception,and most of the time had to find just the right spot to make calls.

With the new 5th wheel, I decided to try something to change that! I picked up a Wilson small building cell amplifier and mounted it on the TV antenna that I never had a use for. It connected to the existing Coax and is directional at the touch of a button. I'm happy to report that it works very good and I can get both AT&T and Verison where I haven't been able to before! ....Got Cell!... Got internet!

 

Cellboost1_zps76bf0fcf.jpg

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Big Z - looks like a nice setup to me but I'm surprised that the TV coax run works - I'd be interested in more information on that.

 

I came across this interesting article about using an old satellite dish to boost the cell signal. Not practical for me but it would be fun to play with.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Cell-Phone-WiFi-Signal-Booster-Antenna/

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Big Z - looks like a nice setup to me but I'm surprised that the TV coax run works - I'd be interested in more information on that.

 

I came across this interesting article about using an old satellite dish to boost the cell signal. Not practical for me but it would be fun to play with.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Cell-Phone-WiFi-Signal-Booster-Antenna/

 

This is the unit I picked up... http://www.wilsonamplifiers.com/wilson-dt4g-desktop-60db-amplifier-kit-460101/

 

Even though the unit comes with coax cable, it was easier to use the one already installed! :D Disconnected from the antenna and reconnected to the cell booster, and the same on the other end!

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This is the unit I picked up... http://www.wilsonamplifiers.com/wilson-dt4g-desktop-60db-amplifier-kit-460101/

 

Even though the unit comes with coax cable, it was easier to use the one already installed! :D Disconnected from the antenna and reconnected to the cell booster, and the same on the other end!

 

You had me interested till I saw the price!

 

Seriously, glad it works for you. I'll likely look at yagi antennas - I don't expect to use it all that often and probably wouldn't invest that much money in the project because of that.

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