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Old 08-25-2016, 11:16 AM   #1
Damien
 
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How I installed my weBoost Drive 4G-X OTR on International 27FB

I installed the weBoost Drive 4G-X OTR on my International 27FB before we headed out to our trip to Yellowstone. I wanted to share my method since this would have helped me when I was researching installation options.

I was able to do this without removing the fridge vent cover or pulling out the fridge. I didn’t have to drill any holes in the roof of the Airstream either.

The Drive 4G-X OTR comes with an external omni-directional antenna meant to be attached to trucker's sideview mirrors:

https://www.wilsonamplifiers.com/web...dition-470210/


Attached to the Winguard crank antenna, it is mounted higher than the magnetic style and Surecall antennas I’ve seen online.
  1. I used only the front half of the supplied mounting bracket that comes in the box and drilled two holes in one of the Winguard masts. I only attached to one of the two masts to allow for articulation when cranking up and down. I then used the supplied bolts, locking washers, and nuts to mount the bracket.
  2. I fed the antenna wire through the bracket and attached the antenna to the bracket with the supplied loctite.
  3. Next was feeding through the fridge vent. To my surprise, the antenna’s cable is thin enough that I was able to feed it through the fridge vent without removing the cover! I have to say this gave me the most anxiety since I didn’t want to drill out the cover and redo the olympic-style rivets. I was able to feel my way under the cover and lift the mesh grill with my finger tips enough to feed the cable through.
  4. When I fed all of the cable down through the vent, I went inside to see how I could retrieve it without removing the fridge. The cabinet above my fridge has a very thin back wall so I drilled a 2” grommet hole knowing I could put on one of those desktop cable management covers after I was done. Through the hole I could see the cable was sitting on top of the fridge and simply grabbed it with a coat hanger. I then mounted the weBoost and and a cigarette lighter / usb hub with velcro to the back wall.
  5. The most tedious part was getting the power cable for the hub and the internal candybar antenna through and installed behind the TV. I have a 12v cigarette lighter outlet behind the TV which is where I wanted to get the power for the hub. This required drilling a hole to the right of the outlets so I could feed the power and the candy bar antenna up and out to the cabinet. It took a few tries, but I got both of these cable to drop down to where the fridge access panel opens up on the side of the Airstream. I also dropped a spared piece of electrical wire through the 2” hole in the cabinet above the fridge. Once I collected all 3 cables in the fridge access panel, I taped all of them together and pulled them up and out through the top cabinet and connected everything. This was the most time consuming part of the install as there is a narrow space to the side of the fridge (TV side) to feed all these cables. It took quite a few tries to feed those down all the way to the side access panel.



So how did it work?

Through my travels in Wyoming (Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons), I was able to boost my signal 2-3 bars on both Verizon and AT&T. This gave me indispensable access to making phone calls and get some slow data speeds to keep connected at the office.

I’m fairly satisfied. One day I hope to have Solar professionally installed and will make some decisions about upgrading antennas while the Airstream is being re-wired. Until then, this DIY install kept me connected.
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Old 08-25-2016, 11:39 AM   #2
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Very nice! I did it the hard way by pulling the fridge!
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Old 08-25-2016, 11:52 AM   #3
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Thanks for sharing. I have a Classic 25fb and there is no cabinet above the fridge so I guess I'd be stuck pulling the fridge unless I mounted the WeBoost on the TV wall behind the TV. Reading how you were able to pull the outside antenna wire through from the vent chamber sounds like there is a bunch of empty space above the fridge that is open to the vent which allows heat to collect above the fridge vs going up to the roof vent. Might be worth pulling the fridge to baffle the chimney better and add insolation around the fridge, maybe add an exhaust fan too.

When sitting in the bedroom area or outside under the awning do you notice better signal strength or is confined just to the living area? Its nice this device supports both VZ and AT&T.

Kelvin
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Old 08-25-2016, 12:06 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post

When sitting in the bedroom area or outside under the awning do you notice better signal strength or is confined just to the living area? Its nice this device supports both VZ and AT&T.

Kelvin
In the bedroom, yes a little bit of an improvement. I find to use the full boosting potential I need to be within a few feet of the candybar antenna. Since boosting my Verizon MiFi was important during this trip, I would set the MiFi right next to the antenna to get the best data speed I could. Outside, I was completely out of range. However I could pick up the wifi signal of the boosted MiFi inside.
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Old 08-25-2016, 12:13 PM   #5
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So for voice service to get the best signal you would need to stand close to the candy bar antenna, vs sitting at the rear dinette. The candy bar is pretty much unidirectional to the face of the antenna?

Kelvin
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Old 08-25-2016, 01:50 PM   #6
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Nice work and thanks for the write-up. I just got a weboost 4G-X a couple days ago and was testing it out in my car. I found an almost 40db improvement in signal when on, but had to lay my phone directly on top of the Hershey bar antenna for that to happen. If I held the phone more than 12" away from the antenna there was no measurable improvement in signal.

I have a 27FB too and by coincidence am considering a similar installation. I have a couple questions too:

1. The weBoost unit gets really hot. The installation guide stresses the need to install it in a place with adequate ventilation. Do you keep the little cabinet door open while in use?

2. Do you find the amplifier uses a lot of battery power. Seems like it must to get so hot.

3. Did you consider any other external antennas by other manufactures?

4. Will you be swapping out the Hershey bar antenna for something with more range?
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Old 08-25-2016, 02:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
So for voice service to get the best signal you would need to stand close to the candy bar antenna, vs sitting at the rear dinette. The candy bar is pretty much unidirectional to the face of the antenna?

Kelvin
According to Wilson Electronics, it's an Omnidirectional Antenna.
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Old 08-25-2016, 02:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by kscherzi View Post
1. The weBoost unit gets really hot. The installation guide stresses the need to install it in a place with adequate ventilation. Do you keep the little cabinet door open while in use?

2. Do you find the amplifier uses a lot of battery power. Seems like it must to get so hot.

3. Did you consider any other external antennas by other manufactures?

4. Will you be swapping out the Hershey bar antenna for something with more range?
1. Yes, to be safe, I just leave the cabinet door open partially for ventilation. I didn't think it ever got that hot though.

2. It must, but I would mostly use the amplifier during the day when I had my solar suitcase open generating around 5amps

3. I only looked at weboost since it's a popular choice amongst the community.

4. I'll have to do more research to see if other antennas would improve the situation. I would love to get more range out of this system.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:33 AM   #9
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I have mostly copied your installation, at least running the antenna cable through the fridge vent. A concern I have, after drilling a hole through the thin rear panel of the upper cabinet, is carbon monoxide gas. Maybe somebody who knows more about how the fridge exhaust is plumbed can address this. From what I can tell the rear of the cabinet is part of the flue wall. It may be prudent to seal up the penetration with some silicon or other airtight sealer. I think I'm going to run 12 volts from the closet light instead.
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Old 09-11-2016, 12:41 PM   #10
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Thanks. I have a better idea about how to install in my 2017 25FB.
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Old 09-11-2016, 01:53 PM   #11
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Very clean install but what is the advantage if you have to be right on top of the unit to get any improvement?
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Old 09-11-2016, 02:14 PM   #12
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The interior antenna comes on an 8 foot cord. I move mine around the dinette/lounge area as needed. I lay the Verizon WiFi Jetpack next to the candy bar antenna for optimum results especially in challenging reception areas.

The boost in signal strength can be significant and offsets the minor inconvenience of moving the interior antenna around. Just make sure that you maintain the separation between the interior and exterior antenna that WeBoost suggests.
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