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Internet for Annie

Posted 05-02-2018 at 06:37 PM by annieairstrm

We want to be able to get Wi-Fi while we are traveling to be able to download movies on those days when it is pouring rain and to do some research about the area we are visiting or places to eat. Typically, Wi-fi is only available at the main office in the campgrounds. I looked at several Wi-Fi boosters and antennas but ruled that out because of expense and the slower speeds you get when sharing the signal with others. More research online led me to think about cellular service since it is becoming available almost everywhere and is getting much faster and more reliable. Also AT&T went back to unlimited data plans last year which made using your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot a much more desirable option.

Now the issue was how best to get a better cell signal inside the trailer. Sure enough Shakespeare makes a world-band (Galaxy 5239) antenna for boats that provides coverage for 2G/3G/4G, PCS, AWS and LTE as well as 802.11Wi-fi for under $150. We had a plate welded to the edge of the back bumper and mounted the stand for the antenna. The antenna is omni-directional so we need to also get a few extension bars so the antenna will be high enough to get a good signal. The next issue is how to physically get the signal inside the trailer and terminate it to some type of amplifier. I came across WeBoost used by trucks and cars for signal amplification. If I use RG-58 coax into the trailer with SME connectors I can terminate the antenna connection directly into the WeBoost up in the stereo cabinet and create my personal hotspot. I only needed a booster unit for a phone so I purchased the WeBoost Drive Sleek cradle booster. (The new version runs about $200.)

Photo: WeBoost cradle booster showing the SME connector for an antenna

To get into the trailer from the outside where the antenna is located we had already purchased and installed a Furrion TV cable inlet box which Bruce had mounted just above the matching electrical box. I removed the male-to-male F connector from the center and replaced it in male-to-male SME connector. (Note: I had first tried a F connector to SME adapter, but when I tested it, there was way too much loss of signal across that connection. I might as well have not even had an antenna.)

PHOTO: Furrion cable inlet removed

PHOTO: Furrion cable inlet with standard male-to-male F connector

Because the diameter of the SME connector is a bit smaller, I got a grommet from Lowes which filled the space perfectly. Bruce mounted the female SME connectors on each end of RG-58 cable going inside the trailer and both ends of the RG-58 cable going up to the antenna. YouTube was a great resource to see the proper way to attach the connectors. I ordered the higher quality gold plated SME connectors online.

PHOTOS: SME male-to-male; installed in the Furrion cable inlet with a grommet.

Everything was hooked up. Now the big test! We live out in the country where we get 1 to 2 bars of LTE that drops to 4G off and on. Today we were getting about 2 bars in the trailer by the window. To test, I created my Wi-Fi hotspot on my iPhone 6s. I then connected my iPad to my hotspot and ran a quick speed test using speedtest.com. The first test came out 4.97 Mbps down and 0.31 up (without the antenna). I then placed my phone on the WeBoost where it started getting 4 bars of LTE. The speed test on the iPad was 11.0 mbps down and 5.58 down. Wow this was great! I thought I had better run a second test just to make sure. The second test placing the phone back by the window without the antenna came out 7.0 Mbps down and 0.31 up. Putting back again on the WeBoost it read 14.4 Mbps down and 6.87 up. It worked! And very well at that! Our only limitation now will be in those areas where cell service is non-existent.

PHOTO: Antenna base and extensions

PHOTO: Antenna hooked up to trailer
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