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Old 07-23-2010, 03:10 PM   #1
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Cell Phone Repeater and Improved External Antenna Installation

As a relatively new Airstream owner (purchased my trailer January 2009), I welcome any and all advice on installing a mobile phone repeater in my 28' 2007 International.

As we've enjoyed outings in our Airstream, I've noticed that Verizon service at some of the sites has been good and at some of the sites not so good (many of the sites being in national parks). When my wife, kids and one or more of my grandkids are in the Airstream, it is regularly my office away from the office so keeping connected using Verizon is very important to me. I even stayed connected at last year's Burning Man with the help of some generous techs (when Verizon failed to come through on the playa). Thus, I'm hoping to improve the service provided by Verizon (both voice and data) using the repeater and antenna combination described at the following links:


Digital Antenna PowerMax 4KSBR-50M 70dB Gain Wireless Cellular Repeater System - 4,000 Sq Ft Cell Booster

Replacing the eternal antenna which comes with the repeater with:
Cell Phone Antennas and Cell Phone Boosters at Wilson Electronics

 
However, since the exterior antenna and the interior antenna of the repeater should be separated by 25 feet, I'm not sure if installation will even be possible in my 28 foot trailer. I am also particularly concerned about stringing the coax the 25 foot distance between the external/internal antennas and if it is a job for a do-it-yourselfer or even the local dealer and if there are physical wiring diagrams available which might help stringing the coax. I note that I had installed a roof top satellite radio antenna (Sirius XM) without a problem but that only required attaching the satellite radio antenna to the Winegard antenna mount and threading the coax along the path of the Winegard coax inside the trailer. The satellite radio antenna seems to have no problem staying upright during travel (it is about a foot high) but I have concerns about having a strong enough mount on the roof of the trailer to hold the Wilson Electronics antenna during travel. It might be that removing it before travel and installing it when making camp, which will be a hassle, perhaps cannot be avoided. FYI - I regularly have people ask me what the satellite radio antenna is.

I welcome all advice and help anyone has to offer. While I have used the forum many times to learn about various issues with my Airstream, I'll admit that this is my first post to the forum. Thanks in advance for your help.


Grant R. Clayton
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Old 10-03-2010, 01:12 PM   #2
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Hello, Grant, I found your post when I was looking for a similar solution for my vintage Airstream Trade Wind. I wonder if anyone contacted you privately to answer your question?

I wonder if I could use a wireless router/internet gateway for this purpose? I have moved a few times and each time have been given a new gateway by the new provider. I am not afraid to tinker, but don't know enough about this kind of networking.

Thanks,
Anne
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:20 PM   #3
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hi anne

many threads on this topic, some with much detail.

here are 5 to start with, but easy searching will find many more...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/sear...archid=2004067

look in the OTHER subforums in "electronics & connectivity"

not the cb/phone section...

cheers
2air'
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:22 PM   #4
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Hi Grant.

I have a similar repeater in my stick house, which has aluminum siding and is in a fringe area.

While I am able to make calls and was not before, the system does not perform as well as I would like, with calls being dropped unpredictably and useful coverage only being present in one small room. I found that the directional antenna was a necessity for separation reasons even with supposedly adequate vertical separation.

So, while I was able to ditch my land line, and am grateful for that, all is not happiness and love.

I would encourage you to adjust your expectations accordingly. You may determine, as I have, that the expense and setup hassle aren't worth it in the traylah. I have taken a strategy of picking up the phone and computer and taking them in the truck to a high elevation or other location where coverage is good, when necessary.

If you have a favorite campsite where there is fringe coverage available it might be worth considering.
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Old 10-04-2010, 01:10 PM   #5
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I just bought a booster from Wilson Electronics I hooked up the Mirror antenea to a flag pole rod and raise it up on the front. I tested it out this weekend. My sprint PCS card went from 0 reception to 80%, verizon phone from 0 bars to 100% and increased my AT&T phone to 100%. I was very happy. Total cost from everything was $399 through rocksignal.com

The only down side is the inside antenea that I received is very weak so the phone has to be within 1 foot. but it is wireless.
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:00 PM   #6
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Wilson Electronics 801201 Amp looks like a very good solution

Nick,

Thanks for your post! Looking over the rocksignal.com web site, and considering your report, I'm going to get the Wilson 801201 amp (after learning if you can help further on the details of your installation). Are you willing to help me further by giving me the details of, and perhaps even photos of (if you have them), your installation? Your experience will be very helpful. Rocksignal.com gives so many choices on the hardware that I would welcome getting a list (just copied from your email invoice would be fine) of the hardware which you used to get such good results (including the miscellaneous hardware which you ordered and used). I'd even welcome advice on where to obtain a flag pole and which one to order since I do not yet have a flag pole for my Airstream.

Your advice is just in time. Next Wednesday I'm leaving with my family for five days at the Madison Campground in Yellowstone National Park (the date was selected by a five day school holiday in most of Utah for the local teachers' union convention) and the Verizon coverage map shows the campground about a mile out of good coverage. Two weeks ago I spent four days in the Dead Horse Point State Park campground near Moab, Utah and got zero bars in the Airstream except when I hung the phone in one particular widow inside of the Airstream (which was fine since I did voice and data via bluetooth connection) and then got three bars and reliable voice and data.

I hope that you can help me further. I'll look forward to hearing from you.

Grant R. Clayton
Registered Patent Attorney
Clayton, Howarth & Cannon, P.C.
Adjunct Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of Utah
Email: gclayton@chcpat.com
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:56 PM   #7
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I have had the best personal experience with the Wilson products. The Wilson 801245 dual-band amp has performed superbly in several installations.

Keep in mind, each major carrier now has spectrum in both the 800 mhz “cellular” bands, and the 1900 mhz “PCS” band. Most phones, and air cards, from the major carriers are multiple bands; a single band amplifier can limit your choices. Buy dual band amps and antennas.

The key to a successful installation is the separation of the indoor and outdoor antennas.
Any cell call or data connection involves two separate radio channels, one coming from the tower and one headed back to the tower from your device. Most all amplifiers now have an automatic gain adjustment circuit that will limit the boost of the signal when it senses interference. This interference is created when the amp “hears” itself on the other antenna. The key to obtaining the most gain is to separate the two antennas by as much VERTICAL distance as possible. The antennas used in this application are designed to radiate signal in a horizontal plane, theoretically at the tower site, so vertical distance yields isolation between the two antennas.

The idea of the flagpole is a great suggestion to accomplish the separation. A directional (yagi) antenna used as the outdoor antenna gain offers more gain to catch the tower, but has to be pointed in the general direction of a tower which has your carrier on it. Finding the correct tower may be difficult, with at lot of trial and error. An omni-directional would be more convenient to use.

Best regards,
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Old 10-06-2010, 09:16 AM   #8
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Wilson Mobile Wireless Amplifier Dual Band 40dB 801201
Dual-Band Cellular/PCS 40 dB Wireless Mobile Amplifier. 3 Watts of output power without a physical connection to the cell phone enhancing multiple cell phones or cellular data cards simultaneously (Wilson 801201).
<LI style="VERTICAL-ALIGN: middle; LIST-STYLE-TYPE: none"> Wilson Mobile External Mirror Mount Antenna Dual Band 5.12 dB 308433
Mirror Mount dual band Cellular/PCS Antenna works great on Trucks, RV's, Campers and boats. <LI style="VERTICAL-ALIGN: middle; LIST-STYLE-TYPE: none"> Wilson Direct Connect Interior Antenna Dual Band 2 dB 301143
Ultra thin low profile interior antenna with FME Female Connector ideal for use with 811210 and 801201 Cellular Amplifiers <LI style="VERTICAL-ALIGN: middle; LIST-STYLE-TYPE: none"> Wilson 15' RG58U Coax Cable FME+/- 951103
Wilson 951103 15' RG58U Coax Cable (FME Male to FME Female)
Not sure if it will post like this. just in case it does not I will retype it. I bought the Wilson Mobile Wireless Amp Dual Band 801201; External Mirror Mount Ant. 308433; Direct connect interior ant. 301143; and 15' extra coax cable 951103. (my kit came with a 12v plug but you can buy a plug for 120v)

I used a paint pole from a box store as my flag poles and have a flog pole holder on the front jack that I bought from robandzoe here on the forums.

set up is plug and play; just attach the 2 antenea cables and plug it in and presto you have service. You can run it as a temp unit or permanant. I chose to use it as a temp unit. I colapse the flag pole and store it behind the gaucho. When in use I just run it out the door. In my Argosy i have a 12v plug close to the gaucho as well. The amp, I have in a small case (that you can buy from them) and have it so i can use it in the car with a small magnetic rooftop antenea which came in my box with the amp.

The amp has lights on it to show if the ant is too close. however, I had the antenea about 2' away and it was fine when i was testing. So you do not need a great distance apart.

If you search the internet there are coupon codes that I found for 10% off and free shipping over $200. I only ordered from them because the that showed me this setup bought it from them. If you have any questions use can just call them.

I hope I answered all you questions.

Good luck and let me know how you made out.
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:41 AM   #9
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I use AT&T and been happy with a Wilson 801212 kit. To mount the magnetic antenna, I used double side stick tape to attach a 3" square piece of painted steel to the roof. I ran the antenna wire out the street side window, past the side awning rail and stuck the antenna to the steel. The amp is under the sofa arm with the "interior antenna" flopping loose beside the sofa. I get the best results when my phone or aircard is VERY close. Typically I hold the phone and antenna in the same hand for conversations and similary have it touching the aircard when using the router. I probably wouldnt be happy if I had the need to walk around using the phone but then again, where can I walk too inside of a 'stream?
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:53 AM   #10
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My problem is in the hills of Ohio,down in the valley there is only 1 place my cell phone will work,and that is like 10'x10'.Now if I ride my atv to the top of the hill I have good service.
Do they make a repeater or what ever you would call it,that I could mount on the hill,and have cell service down in the valley,with a walk around phone,if so how much $ ?
Thanks,Dave
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