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Old 04-29-2007, 08:36 PM   #15
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Thought I would revive this thread for those who may be interested in a brief, non-technical, report on the application of an external cellular antenna and a signal amplification system to improve the signal strength for both cell phones, and a broadband aircard.

Now that Verizon EV-DO broadband is available in a large part of the state, and is rumored to become more available in the near future, I am evaluating the aircards and related equipment for statewide law enforcement applications.

I recently upgraded from the Sierra 555D aircard (CDMA 1x only) to the Sierra 595 card (CDMA 1x and CDMA EV-DO Rev. A broadband). Overall, the 595 showed a slightly improved signal in most areas than the 555D, even without an external antenna. With an external antenna (Wilson: Model 301103-magnetic mount) to get outside the vehicle, the signal strength improved by one to two bars (I told you this was non-technical) in most areas. With the addition of a Direct Connection Cellular/PCS Dual-Band amplifier (Wilson: Model: 811201), the signal strength improved an additional 1-2 bars in all areas.

In a more practical application that relates to this forum, I took this setup to a boat race in New Jersey this weekend which was held in an area where cell phone reception was dismal, with about 50% of cell calls being dropped. The external antenna/amp setup increased the signal strength on my cell phone from 1 bar to 5 bars, and I was able to receive a dependable EV-DO broadband signal (2+ bars) all weekend. I had the amp inside the Bambi, ran the cord through the door, and placed the magnetic antenna on a small metal sheet, which served as a ground plane, and set it on top of my awning (It wasn't perfectly vertical).

I'm very encouraged by these results so far, and after testing some different brands, and larger, more powerful antennas, I will likely purchase these setups for most of our patrol vehicles.


Cell Phone Antennas and Cell Phone Boosters at Wilson Electronics

Cell Phone Antennas and Cell Phone Boosters at Wilson Electronics
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:37 PM   #16
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I have exactly this setup and have used it for some time now. In addition to the antenna, the dual band amp, and cable to connect to the Verizon aircard, I have a second cable that allows me to use the amp and antenna with my cell phone -- this brings it to a full 3 watts of power. I haven't tried the amplifier and antenna on the road yet, but use it in the mountains of Arizona where the broadband signal is too weak to work. With the amplifier and the antenna broadband through the aircard works great. Although the Verizon Broadband service is a little slower than DSL or Cable (it runs about 400-500 kbps) it is more than adequate. Also, it, or the slower "Nation wide access which runs at about 130kbps) and is available most places now.
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Old 04-30-2007, 03:24 PM   #17
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The three watts boost for CDMA 1x, and 2 watts for CDMA EV-DO seem to be a vast improvement. I have used it both stationary and mobile, and as long as there is a signal, it works fine either way. I did the same for my cell phone. They make adapters for just about every cell phone and aircard that is capable of accepting an external antanna. I had no idea there were so many different interfaces. I even got one that attaches by velcro to the exterior of the cell phone or the aircard. I haven't had time to try it yet. The manufacturer was up front by saying they aren't as effective as the direct connect cables. If it works, I'll report back.

I will also try some antennas that claim to have better gain than the ones that I currently have. Next I'm considering evaluating the wireless amps. They claim to be able to simultaneously amplify multiple cellular devices within a specific range, which may have applications for an event/incident occurring in a poor reception area. Again, the manufacturer states that nothing beats the direc connection cables, but if there's any improvement at all, it should be worthwhile.
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Old 04-30-2007, 03:53 PM   #18
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I just ordered a couple of new toys today. Neither of our laptops have a provison for an external antenna and buying new PCMCIA cars plus the antenna seemed more expensive than this:

Buffalo AirStation / WLI-TX4-G54HP / 54Mbps / 802.11g / 4-Port / Wireless Ethernet
Bridge with AOSS Technology


Since we're really not on the road very much I can't justify an AirCard or Clearwire. From what I've seen Clearwire seems to be the performance champ. The few times we've tried to get a wireless connection at campgrounds the signal strength inside the trailer has been too low. I'm hoping that the AirStation near a window will do the trick. If not then I'll try it outside. If that's what works then I'll go for the external antenna.

For TV I just ordered this gadget:

Kworld ATSC 315U HDTV TV Box

I mostly wanted this for home. The kicker being I needed something with QAM, the standard for HDTV over cable. We've had an HDTV set for a couple of years. Works great with DVDs and as a computer monitor. Wasn't really interested in over the air HDTV since the programming has been virtually non-existant until recently and where our house sits I doubt we'd even get a digital signal without extreme heroics. I'd hoped to get a QAM box that didn't require a computer but this was cheap, will let me know if it works and now that I've bought it what I really want will probably come on the market in the next week

I hope full hook-up campgrounds trend toward a coax connection for TV and Internet. I think that's much more robust than wireless. If there's 50 people all sharing a wireless connection it's going to be slow as molasses no matter how good the signal strength. Plus my 1978 triailer came stock with an external coax. Argosy sure was forward thinking, huh?

-Bernie

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Old 04-30-2007, 04:17 PM   #19
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I'm really interested in knowing how your Wi-Fi setup works out. My internal Wi-Fi card didn't get good reception on several occasions so I got a Buffalo card with an external antenna port (MC card adapter), but haven't hooked it up to an antenna yet. I was thinking about getting the Cantenna, or making one myself.

WiFi Antennas-Super Cantenna Wireless Booster Antenna
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Old 04-30-2007, 09:07 PM   #20
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COMPUTERS ... HOOKUPS... CARDS...
Now I know why I listen to my old collection of 45's ..
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Old 07-08-2007, 07:03 PM   #21
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Question Cell phone to pc internet service

I'm pretty good at hooking up color coded cables and such - It's what you have to do before and after the hookup that confuses me - Here is my question for you techies:
Att has a service called EDGE which is a data transfer something. If you hook a cellphone that has EDGE to you pc with a transfer cable, can you get the pc to connect to the internet?
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Old 07-09-2007, 06:54 PM   #22
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Wink Ok, I'll try again

Is there a cell phone on the market that can be used to provide a internet connection to a PC?
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:23 PM   #23
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I am also using the Wilson Elect. booster w/my Version Internet card and my cell phone. The card also allows us to use a Sling box to get our cable TV from home. It works fairly well depending on the signal strength. It is nice to get your own local news.
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:40 PM   #24
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We are using Alltel's Axcess Mobile Link. It interfaces my Motorola Razr cell phone to my notebook PC via a USB connrcting cord. The service is great all over the country. Anywhere you can get a cell signal, you can get on the internet. It's not as fast as cable broadband, but probably about equal to DSL. I am on it right now in Lucy in Jacksonville, Florida.
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:52 PM   #25
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by moosetags
We are using Alltel's Axcess Mobile Link. It interfaces my Motorola Razr cell phone to my notebook PC via a USB connrcting cord. The service is great all over the country. Anywhere you can get a cell signal, you can get on the internet. It's not as fast as cable broadband, but probably about equal to DSL. I am on it right now in Lucy in Jacksonville, Florida.
Do you have to pay for the link and cell phone service?. What I'm trying to find out is say if I have a dialup internet connection at home, can I connect to it via a cell phone and the usb data cable to the PC with no other services involved??
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Old 07-10-2007, 11:41 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Alan
Do you have to pay for the link and cell phone service?. What I'm trying to find out is say if I have a dialup internet connection at home, can I connect to it via a cell phone and the usb data cable to the PC with no other services involved??
I believe the answer to that is no. Maybe if you had an old analog phone the signal quality might be good enough to transmit and recieve the beeps and screaches that a modem sends over "voice" lines but in the drive to carry more calls over existing bandwidth all the digital phones loose so much through compression that a modem will not function. Remember, the network is designed to carry voice conversations so anything outside the range of normal conversation is considered extraneous or noise. Hence, the separate data connection feature for which you pay so dearly. -Bernie
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Old 12-22-2007, 10:47 PM   #27
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Alltel Air Card

I know this is an old thread, but thought it was worth posting on...and bumping, because I know there are others wonder what to do... After months of wondering what was the best solution for me to access the internet while on the road, I opted for an air card. I already have Alltel cell phone service, so that's the company I went with. Other carriers offer the same service. I am on a Mac, by the way, which Alltel supports, as does Verizon, I believe.

I researched air cards vs tethering a cell phone to the laptop via a USB connection, which is in effect using the cell phone as a modem. There are 2 differences I could determine from a lay standpoint (without being overwhelmed with the technical stuff)...speed and cost. The faster connection of the 2 is an aircard...that about $60 a month plus the cost of the air card, which varies depending on the card...mine was $170 with a $100 mail-in rebate. The less expensive method is using a cell phone with EVDO capbility at $25/mo. Both are unlimited time and data upload/downloads. My cell phone is pretty basic (the way I want it), so I would have to buy a new phone with the proper capbailities... I didn't want to do that, and the connection speed is important to me because I need to be able to conduct biz on it—and being a graphic designer, that means large file transfer sometimes.

Both depend on being able to get a cell signal...but my experience with Alltel is that I am able to get a cell signal most of the time...

Soooo...today I took the leap and bought the card and got my laptop all set up for an upcoming nearly 2-week trip. This will be great for my clients who always get just a tad nervous when I leave town. I should be able to stay in touch with clients by email, and with my studio phone forwared to my cell phone, most of them will not even know I am gone! (Hmmm...can anyone say "Gone Camping"...?) Each day at the end of work I do a complete backup of my desktop computer hard disk onto an external hard drive...that I can take with me on trip, connect to the laptop, and have access to virtually all my active business files... Violá! I'm in the mobile aluminum studio zone!

I will use this upcoming trip to figure out how connection is and if I need to get a booster antenna or whatever, but so far I am a very happy camper. I am sitting in the AS at the moment, connected to the internet via Alltel, and though I can notice a bit of a lag, I'm finding it totally accetable so far...and I'm used to a very fast cable connection in my studio. It doesn't seem to care that I am surrounded by aluminum...and in fact, I think it might just get a charge out of the fact that my laptop is a Mac PowerBook—with its brushed aluminum casing matching the AS!

I am just so pumped about this!
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Old 12-23-2007, 12:07 AM   #28
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I've been very happy with the VuCube for a satellite antenna, very light weight, just put it on the ground point it south, fine tune with the remote control, pricey but it works like a champ. - Carl

Vu Qube Portable Satellite TV Antenna - Camping World
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