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Old 04-01-2018, 09:43 AM   #81
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I'm less familiar with this section of Air Forums and not sure which is the best thread for dropping this information and this request. I figured I'd place it here, and see what happens next.

The OP's original question was, is it worth it to buy a directional antenna?

The answer to that will always be "it depends", BUT, for individual scenarios, it should be possible to answer it more definitively using public data. Before we even get into discussions regarding signal limitations and tower technologies, it is useful to look at basic geometry. However, what I've found to date is that the references known to me are in conflict, to the point where the resulting uncertainties swamp the analysis.

Here is a blog post where I go step-by-step through this example evaluation, and what you see below is a "money shot" depiction of the problem, which can be stated simply as follows: Although the geometric analysis suggests that I should have been line of sight to a large tower which was not that far away, I was in fact cell-bogged and without a signal at all. One of the source sites I've used in this analysis is Antennasearch, which someone in the thread above also recommended (it may have been Bold). Your comments and suggestions on how this kind of assessment might be improved would be welcome.

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Old 04-01-2018, 05:22 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Zybane View Post
Ya I use my Yagi directly connected to my Jetpack hotspot and it has the best results from what I've seen.

My WeBoost is pretty much just there when I go more remote.
I have the 49 model and it is working great inside the trailer. It is for surf/email but no streaming. Generally in A Rv Park, No Boondocking.

The direct connection caught my attention....not sure where to connect on the JP. I only have the battery charger port.e

Bob
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Old 04-02-2018, 08:51 AM   #83
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Since the site is in a hole- you may be better aiming a different direction and get a bounce. (I have no clue of the other topography)
I’ve had a fair amount of experience in getting sites with no usable signal (for data) to be completely usable- even for multiple users.
But these were much, much further from the cell site, not a quite close one like in this instance.
Cell is not really designed to go a long distance, it should cover it’s ‘cell’ and not overlap a huge amount to the next ‘cell’. (Well, VERY basically). Of course if there is only one site in a huge area, I’m sure they will make it a large footprint to get what they can.

Personally, for long distances I’ve found the only way to achieve decent throughput (especially upload speeds) is with a Yagi (gain, directional) and an amp (to get a good signal back to the site).
It often is pretty easy to get decent download, but getting uploads is more challenging.

Every time we didn’t really bother too much with aiming via maps- but swept the area to get the most reliable signal with best through put. A bounce may achieve this due to something in the way of a line of site. Plus incredibly dense canopy and very wet fir needles (one site is in the Hoh Rain Forest) can affect certain frequencies more than others.

Most of my experiences (some 25 years) was in public safety 2-way (VHF) and most certainly the higher freq of Cell (which can vary a lot depending on company etc) is a lot different. Plus the digital signals and bandwidth forced on us are quite crude compared to modern cell (think early 90s cell digital). Analog in general (especially wide band) would have noticeably more range. (Capture effect in FM is much more pronounce with wider bandwidth, which was 50kHz in the old days,then went to 25kHz- now mostly 12.5kHz).


I’m not use how much gain the Yagi you are using has- in general, the more gain the narrower ‘beam’ of the antenna (both ways). In this instance (since you are so close) and lower gain and wider (less directional) antenna may work better.

I’ve found the most accurate maps to be USGS Quads- just find the spot and see the elevation. We used to have a quite expensive ‘coverage prediction software’ and even then it was just an estimate. Nothing like feet on the ground.

All that to say, try sweeping for best signal next time. Take your time. Some units can read out directly, some require computer interface.

Mark
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Old 04-02-2018, 10:19 AM   #84
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We use our directional Yagi when the going gets tough, and it definitely helps. We start with the Open Signal app which tells us where it thinks our nearby towers are. Then we aim the Yagi at what appears to be the closest one. If we get a good signal, we're done. If not, we rotate the Yagi by roughly 30 degrees at a time, looking and waiting to see which signal seems strongest. This is made easier by the fact that we feed that signal into a Cradlepoint router, which gives us a detailed signal report - much more than you'll see with a cell phone or hotspot that simply shows bars. This would be more challenging if we had to do with with nothing more than a count of signal bars to guide us. Not sure whether there's an app that can provide more detail than the usual display on a phone or hotspot, but it might be worth looking around for something like that.
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Old 04-02-2018, 11:23 AM   #85
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...
All that to say, try sweeping for best signal next time. Take your time. Some units can read out directly, some require computer interface.

Mark
FWIW, we *did* sweep. LB_3 physically moved the directional incrementally, with me inside the van reading the resulting gunk that the Netgear was spitting out in real time. The exercise was a complete goat fornication. It only confused the matter.

Here is what we are pursuing at the moment - whether a small repeater would be feasible and economical (both being important points). Not to hijack this thread with user-specific info, but this is an idea that certain directional antenna owners (particularly private landowners) should know about if they are not getting good results with their existing equipment. Our boondocking site is perched on a ledge about 22 feet above the lake frontage. The lake is within 1 to 2 feet of sea level because there is a drainage nexus from the lake complex directly to the ocean. The lake shore elevation is what is giving us fits, but before we proceed down to the boondocking pad, our private road passes across a knoll which is probably 70 to 90 feet high depending on the geographic reference we use. If we could put a small repeater up there, it might alleviate the need to think about antenna masts, balloons, and other ideas for gaining directional line-of-sight.

The construct looks like this image from Wiki:

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Old 04-02-2018, 01:01 PM   #86
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that tower may be OK now, but if its gets overloaded then the signal from the next best tower will be to weak and you wont hop over. That why the ant needs to be Omni directional.
I agree. Especially if the tower you see is not your carrier. You may be on it, but you'll be kicked to the next if a real customer makes a call.
I saw this all the time at NASCAR. When Sprint was the main sponsor, they'd bring six or seven portable cell towers built in semi's. They wanted Sprint customers to have service. So my Verizon phone would be fine until just before the race, then I'd see 5 bars, but if I attempted a call I'd get "No service".
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Old 04-03-2018, 05:32 AM   #87
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I agree. Especially if the tower you see is not your carrier. You may be on it, but you'll be kicked to the next if a real customer makes a call.
...
Reportedly, deprioritization was more true in the past than it is now. For example, when I go to Canada, I'm at the mercy of the local carriers (Bell and Telus most prominently) which have a reciprocity agreement with my carrier Verizon. Part of my troubleshooting last summer involved going to visit a Telus store to speak with Customer Service rep in person about potentially "buying up" Canadian access - the theory being, OK, Verizon's reciprocity gives me Service X, but I really want your superior Service Y and I'm willing to pay for it, so how do I arrange that with you? If I need a sim card, whatever, let's talk about it.

It turns out that I was already being given better access than the CSR whose own personal phone contract was with Telus directly. We put our phones side by side and compared the access and performance. My foreign phone was clearly given priority. Verizon is so huge that it maybe the small cellular fish want to keep it happy - I don't know.

That anecdote represents one of many uncontrollable variables in the cell phone game. Not only is it complicated, but conditions change so fast that, even if we start to constrain what is wrong with any given situation, by the time we figure out how to deal with it, it's different all over again.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:51 AM   #88
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When I was still working, I read a notice that Cell repeaters were supposed to be registered. I don’t recall the details at this time- even mobile ones were under the rule if I remember correctly (always suspect).
I have no idea of Industry Canada and rules they may have implemented for this.

Of course, it may never cause any issues and likely not to in your location. But it may not hurt to know what the rules are (and the penalties).

We used ‘passive repeaters’ from time to time. It can be as simple as two directional antennas (could have a Yagi toward the cell tower, a dish toward your location) and a low loss cable between. It is actually a lot more effective than you may think.
Of course, it is critical to have the proper frequency-the higher gain antennas typically have a narrower frequency acceptance to get that gain.

Something at the rear of each antenna may be a good idea (metal sheet or even foil covered sheet)- although a higher gain antenna usually has a null at the rear.

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Old 04-04-2018, 03:33 PM   #89
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Yagi antenna has its own null, if I remember correctly. Meanwhile our empirical use of a Yagi on our rotatable TV antenna worked again last night like gangbusters when we fed that un-amplified signal straight into our Cradlepoint router. Can't say enough good things about this setup.
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Old 04-05-2018, 08:13 AM   #90
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When I was still working, I read a notice that Cell repeaters were supposed to be registered. ...
Hopefully I will be able to comment on that soon. I'm emailing inquiries to vendors who sell this kind of equipment, to see if they have anything that might fit applications similar to mine.
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