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Get that Cellular Antenna Up in the Air!

Wilson Trucker's antenna over 20 ft in the air

Wilson Trucker's antenna over 20 ft in the air

Here north of Newton,TX I am definitely outside even the fringe reception area. Without the Wilson amplifier and external Wilson Trucker’s antenna, I get 0 bars on my Motorola Razr phone and a reading of -105 dBm on my aircard. If I flip the Wilson amp on, the readings improve. I get 1 bar on the phone and about -91 to -95 dBM on the aircard. Usable but not great and I am  not complaining. However, the last few days the signal has degraded quite a bit at night and I am at a loss to figure out why. The aircard would suddenly lose signal and then take quite a while to find the network again. It really is a crappy area for reception. Not the worse I have ever been in but it definitely makes the Top 10.

I am planning on upgrading the entire system and I am writing about it step by step — See the Ultimate Internet Access Project. I had some time today and I figured why not dismantle the old system a little and see if I could improve that lousy reception. The closest tower is about 9 miles away but it towers 400ft over the landscape. I reasoned if I could get the Truckers Antenna up higher, I might improve that marginal signal. I took the antenna off the luggage rail on the rear roof of my motor home and removed the RG58u cable from the storage compartments where I had run it toward the dinette area.

I normally have a 20 ft collapsible fiberglass flag pole up that is mounted on the rear ladder. I like to fly the Texas State Flag and the Air Force flag since I have two kids on active duty with the Air Force right now. I also have awnings over every window that I usually extend to keep the heat out. I also have one of those BIG awnings that runs the length of the right side of the Fish Bus. Texas weather and big awnings don’t go together real well and I seldom use the big awning. I took the Wilson Trucker’s antenna and used 3 cable ties to attach it to the upper end of the flag pole. I extended the flag pole and used 3 bungee cords to attach it to the arm of the awning that was folded up against the side of the Old Girl. Finally, a use for that awning!

Reception was much improved. I checked it at Speedtest.com and my upload and download speeds had improved by almost 25%. I showed a -81 to -87dBm which is getting in to the medium good range. Now be advised, I would only recommend elevating the omni directional antenna if you are in a fringe area. If you are in a moderately good area, I think it will be more trouble than it is worth.

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