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Old 02-07-2017, 09:32 PM   #21
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I understand the separation issue. I have a cradle I can hook up or use the pad. Why not use one of those and forgo the inside antenna? I can probably achieve some pretty good separation (30-40 feet)
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Old 02-07-2017, 09:33 PM   #22
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What about just an external antenna without any amp? I noticed that both of my USB modems have mini jacks for an external antenna. Obviously it will only help the USB modem get a better signal and not any cell phones, but depending on what you are trying to accomplish, it seems like an option.
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Old 02-07-2017, 09:38 PM   #23
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What about just an external antenna without any amp? I noticed that both of my USB modems have mini jacks for an external antenna. Obviously it will only help the USB modem get a better signal and not any cell phones, but depending on what you are trying to accomplish, it seems like an option.


Unfortunately both my wife and I need voice, data and text. We've run our various businesses when cruising in remote areas and have gotten used to where a signal can be achieved. One of us is Verizon and one ATT. It's a good price to pay for the hobby. Now our kids are fighting us for strong signal as well
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Old 02-07-2017, 09:42 PM   #24
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Two things:

1. The previous 15 year old Digital Antenna amp that you had was pre-LTE. Both the antenna and especially the amp are not handling the new frequencies used with LTE. That's why you noticed it stopped working - it's still working fine but not on the new frequencies. Always, always get a cellular amp that handles 4G/LTE native frequencies. Some lie about it. weBoost doesn't. I don't know if cel fi is good for LTE or not - didn't look into it because it's the wrong things from the get-go because it's wireless.

2. An antenna without an amp will pretty much do nothing (except, perhaps, on a sailboat). Every connector reduces gain by 0.5 dB. The typical system will have a connector at the phone, a connector at the pigtail (small) cable, a connector to a larger, low loss cable, and a connector at the antenna. That's 2 dB loss. Then the cable itself will have significant loss at LTE frequencies - about another 1-3 dB depending on length. The antenna is most often a 4 dB antenna. So the antenna is just making up for the losses experiences from the system itself. Instead, put a 34 dB - 50 dB amp in-between (the typical amplificatins) and the amp blows away the system loss. An antenna by itself will often provide a signal output higher off the water which does have some benefit since cellular is line-of-sight. But to go to the effort of putting it up, why not have an amp too?
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Old 02-07-2017, 09:47 PM   #25
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Two things:

1. The previous 15 year old Digital Antenna amp that you had was pre-LTE. Both the antenna and especially the amp are not handling the new frequencies used with LTE. That's why you noticed it stopped working - it's still working fine but not on the new frequencies. Always, always get a cellular amp that handles 4G/LTE native frequencies. Some lie about it. weBoost doesn't. I don't know if cel fi is good for LTE or not - didn't look into it because it's the wrong things from the get-go because it's wireless.

2. An antenna without an amp will pretty much do nothing (except, perhaps, on a sailboat). Every connector reduces gain by 0.5 dB. The typical system will have a connector at the phone, a connector at the pigtail (small) cable, a connector to a larger, low loss cable, and a connector at the antenna. That's 2 dB loss. Then the cable itself will have significant loss at LTE frequencies - about another 1-3 dB depending on length. The antenna is most often a 4 dB antenna. So the antenna is just making up for the losses experiences from the system itself. Instead, put a 34 dB - 50 dB amp in-between (the typical amplificatins) and the amp blows away the system loss. An antenna by itself will often provide a signal output higher off the water which does have some benefit since cellular is line-of-sight. But to go to the effort of putting it up, why not have an amp too?


Appreciate the thought process. I've discussed this with a friend and we came to the same conclusions about LTE, etc. we're figuring the towers were hitting have been upgraded. I've also mentioned to him the spacing of his external to internal antenna. I know of two people with new systems that haven seen a difference. I figure that's the problem. Makes sense and none of their installation instructions mentioned it.
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:00 AM   #26
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In my earlier post I used the term "wired". I should have written "cabled".
I also recommend those members considering LTE have a read of the cel-fi GO smart signal repeater (stationary) material . My understanding is the signal received at the external antenna gets to the internal antenna via cables (and the repeater). Not via wireless. How well it works in known poor signal areas I will let you know in about a week.
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:55 AM   #27
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Boat - Cell booster

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Jeffrey S as I have had poor luck with these as well, But I did not try as many as others have. The advertising is so tempting & such that I get sucked in.

I have tried three of the different manufacturer cell boosters in the last 5 years & they were all wireless with an inside antenna & outside antenna on a big long stick 10 feet up off the fly bridge & I had no luck with any of them.

My boat is 46 foot overall length & is made of fiberglass & wood, so I can't say anything about any other material. They did not deliver performance as advertised.

I even put a big metal cooking pan around the inside antenna & a big round & flat metal pan like a Pizza pan under the outside antenna & still it did not work as advertised. Just could not get separation.

Maybe if my boat was steel it would have worked, but it did not work for me. A Hard wired internal connection to the cell phone would probably be the only solution for a small boat like mine. Maybe technology will Improve with time.

Over a decade or longer ago, before the forced changeover to digital, I had a old style analogue 3 watt phone in a bag that I hard wired in to my boat & used coax to hook to an outside tall cell antenna & it worked awesomely !

I wish they still allowed those to still be used. Fantastic operation.

It worked excellent. But that was back then & this is now. If any one here on TF gets one that will work at 100% efficiency & delivers the dB's, lets us know which one & what you had to do to get it to work properly.

Good luck.

Thanks.

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Old 02-08-2017, 08:23 AM   #28
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My understanding is the signal received at the external antenna gets to the internal antenna via cables (and the repeater). Not via wireless.
I've been involved in a few hundred installations of cellular amps. You're not following what the problem is. Forget what you think is happening. Consider this...

The inside antenna is close to your phone. It picks up the normal cellular signals from your cellular equipment inside that room. There's no change to your phone - it works like normal.

The amp then amplifies that signal and sends it out the outside antenna. And you're right, those antennas are wired or cabled or whatever you want to use to describe it. That is all how it is supposed to work.

Now think about this...

If the inside antenna and the outside antenna are too "close," then the radio frequencies being sent out the outside antenna to the towers are also received by the inside antenna. It's just radio and unless that inside antenna is isolated in some way, it will "hear" the amplified frequencies being sent out the outside antenna. Isolation happens by materials (steel) or distance.

Since anything received by the inside antenna is amplified again, it creates like radio-amplification-loop which within a couple of milliseconds would blow out the amp because the signal gets amplified over and over greatly increasing the signal amplitude through each loop. This is no different than the screech heard when you put a microphone in front of a large speaker. The slightest sound is amplified over-and-over and the result is an incredible overdrive.

Cellular amps are made to detect this overdrive - it's easy because the signal strength gets above a threshold. When that happens, the amp automatically turns down the gain. That's just like the microphone example where turning down the volume will make the screech go away (or moving the mic further from the speaker).

On a fiberglass boat with the two antennas within about 45 feet of each other, the gain is reduced so much that there is no amplification being made. At about 45 feet of separation (tough to do on a trawler) there will be some amplification. At 90 feet of separation, the amplification will work pretty well. Otherwise, it's better to just go outside with the phone and stand higher. This is the reason why people installing wireless amps on boats find that they don't work. The cel fi go is a wireless amp.

Now consider a cradle used instead of the inside antenna. That cradle is designed to have a few inches of range. In needs the phone to be in direct contact. It can't "hear" the output from the outside antenna. The result is a system that actually works. The nice thing is that these wired/cradle amplifiers are significantly less expensive. Usually about $180 vs $500+.

So the key, like the microphone example, is getting separation between the inside antenna and the outside antenna. A steel boat will give that although even there, placement is important because boats have windows and other mechanisms that allow signals to slip inside. Cars have a full sheet metal roof, enough to provide good separation between the inside and outside antennas even when there is only a few feet of separation. Put one of these amps on a fiberglass Corvette, and it won't work either.

So there's nothing special about the cel fi or any reason to dislike their specific products. It's the entire class that won't work with most boats. You'll install it and convince yourself that you're seeing a couple of extra bars. But be honest with yourself and you'll see. There'll be no added amplification and you'll get no better range with the phone. Again, it's not the cel fi product. It's physics. They're happy to have unknowing people buy their $500 product because they won't really be able to tell if it's working or not. These manufacturers also have no understanding about boats and their material composition. If it works in a car, why not a boat, right?

Before it comes, carefully measure the real distance between where the inside and outside antennas will be on your boat. See if you can even get 45 feet - probably not. Call cel fi and ask for technical support and ask them specifically what will happen if the two antennas have the separation you measure without a steel roof. They'll probably tell you that you need 40 feet - and that's about the minimum for a 50 dB antenna to get some limited amplification (where the auto-gain reduction starts to allow 5% of the amplification to go through). They claim 100 dB which is a stretch that I don't actually believe although Australian laws might well be different than US laws.

Save the packaging or just reject the package when delivered and hope for a full refund. Or keep it all and hopefully learn the $500 lesson it will provide.
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Old 02-08-2017, 08:58 AM   #29
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Jeffrey s: what do you think of using the Digital Antenna Bullet through a Weboost 4Gm? Instead of using the interior antenna I was going to use the pad I have or a cradle I have?
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:12 AM   #30
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Jeffrey s: what do you think of using the Digital Antenna Bullet through a Weboost 4Gm? Instead of using the interior antenna I was going to use the pad I have or a cradle I have?
I have a weBoost 4Gx so I'm quite familiar with their product line.

The new Digital Antenna Bullet (not to be confused with the Ubiquiti Bullet WiFi modem) is a pretty nice looking product. It's expensive. I had to laugh at the pdf specification sheet. For gain they showed 4-9Bi which is an obvious typo. It most likely should be 4-dBi. Somehow the "d" got flipped around to a 9. That antenna is clearly a 4 dB antenna just like I described in a previous posting about most cellular antennas. The design looks good and it appears to be wicked rugged. I do like Digital Antenna antennas too.

That Bullet antenna would replace the outside antenna although I'd try the weBoost outside antenna first since it comes with the product. You'd still need some type of connectivity between the iPad and the amplifier. I don't know a way to do that other than with the weBoost inside antenna. There's no antenna jack on the iPad (which could be used to bypass the inside antenna). The whole thing just isn't going to work well again, because of inside/outside separation issues.

There's also no large cradle for iPads/tablets. The way we solved that on aCappella was to put a phone or MiFi (depending on the cellular network we're using) into the cradle and then use the iPad over WiFi to that amp'd device.
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:20 AM   #31
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I have a weBoost 4Gx so I'm quite familiar with their product line.

The new Digital Antenna Bullet (not to be confused with the Ubiquiti Bullet WiFi modem) is a pretty nice looking product. It's expensive. I had to laugh at the pdf specification sheet. For gain they showed 4-9Bi which is an obvious typo. It most likely should be 4-dBi. Somehow the "d" got flipped around to a 9. That antenna is clearly a 4 dB antenna just like I described in a previous posting about most cellular antennas. The design looks good and it appears to be wicked rugged. I do like Digital Antenna antennas too.

That Bullet antenna would replace the outside antenna although I'd try the weBoost outside antenna first since it comes with the product. You'd still need some type of connectivity between the iPad and the amplifier. I don't know a way to do that other than with the weBoost inside antenna. There's no antenna jack on the iPad (which could be used to bypass the inside antenna). The whole thing just isn't going to work well again, because of inside/outside separation issues.

There's also no large cradle for iPads/tablets. The way we solved that on aCappella was to put a phone or MiFi (depending on the cellular network we're using) into the cradle and then use the iPad over WiFi to that amp'd device.


I see the antenna with the booster is small. That's why I'm interested in the Bullet. I also am a fan of Digital Antenna.
Don't want a misunderstanding on the connection from phone to booster. I have a Velcro pad that attaches to the back of the phone. This way you can talk easily without using encumbrances of the cradle.
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:44 AM   #32
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Don't want a misunderstanding on the connection from phone to booster. I have a Velcro pad that attaches to the back of the phone. This way you can talk easily without using encumbrances of the cradle.
I don't understand what that means. You need to have some type of radio transmission between the phone and the amp. That happens wirelessly with an inside antenna (which won't work) or a cradle that the phone attaches into.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:41 AM   #33
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I have a weBoost 4Gx so I'm quite familiar with their product line.

The new Digital Antenna Bullet (not to be confused with the Ubiquiti Bullet WiFi modem) is a pretty nice looking product. It's expensive. I had to laugh at the pdf specification sheet. For gain they showed 4-9Bi which is an obvious typo. It most likely should be 4-dBi. Somehow the "d" got flipped around to a 9. That antenna is clearly a 4 dB antenna just like I described in a previous posting about most cellular antennas. The design looks good and it appears to be wicked rugged. I do like Digital Antenna antennas too.

That Bullet antenna would replace the outside antenna although I'd try the weBoost outside antenna first since it comes with the product. You'd still need some type of connectivity between the iPad and the amplifier. I don't know a way to do that other than with the weBoost inside antenna. There's no antenna jack on the iPad (which could be used to bypass the inside antenna). The whole thing just isn't going to work well again, because of inside/outside separation issues.

There's also no large cradle for iPads/tablets. The way we solved that on aCappella was to put a phone or MiFi (depending on the cellular network we're using) into the cradle and then use the iPad over WiFi to that amp'd device.
Would it be possible to put the verizon hotspot in the cradle, then connect your phones using the hotspot wifi? Then use voip for phone service
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:20 AM   #34
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Would it be possible to put the verizon hotspot in the cradle, then connect your phones using the hotspot wifi? Then use voip for phone service
Sure. We had a normal Verizon Jetpack MiFi that we put in the cradle and everything else connected over WiFi to it.

For the Bahamas, we kept an old unlocked AT&T iPhone. A BTC SIM in that lived in the cradle and then everything used that over WiFi. Skype worked fine. We used that for 16 weeks last winter and had high-speed internet throughout the Berry Islands and Exumas - we weren't a moment without connectivity. Every between Nassau and Highborne Cay (35 nm) we had high-speed connectivity - we weren't expecting that.
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Old 02-08-2017, 12:35 PM   #35
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Sure. We had a normal Verizon Jetpack MiFi that we put in the cradle and everything else connected over WiFi to it.

For the Bahamas, we kept an old unlocked AT&T iPhone. A BTC SIM in that lived in the cradle and then everything used that over WiFi. Skype worked fine. We used that for 16 weeks last winter and had high-speed internet throughout the Berry Islands and Exumas - we weren't a moment without connectivity. Every between Nassau and Highborne Cay (35 nm) we had high-speed connectivity - we weren't expecting that.

Great I've been struggling with the best way to go... seemed like a elegant solution just wanted to make sure Thanks
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:48 PM   #36
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Jeffery S: Do you think that there would be any problem using a cradle with the WeBoost 4GM instead of the inside antenna? I'm getting this dialed down for what direction I want to go. Looks like I'm replacing my older Digital Antenna (think its a 2-3 band antenna) with the Bullet and going with the WeBoost 4G-M. I'm trying to avoid the inside antenna separation issues with a cradle. Boat is 65 foot and wood
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Old 02-08-2017, 02:39 PM   #37
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Jeffery S: Do you think that there would be any problem using a cradle with the WeBoost 4GM instead of the inside antenna?
Yeah, that should work. I'm not sure if Wilson produces a compatible cradle though. That was exactly how I used their amp in the 2008 era. It was their normal amp and I used a cradle for the device connection.

Today, their weBoost cradle product has the cradle built in so most people go that way especially since it's $300 less expensive. You should check to see if Wilson has a compatible cradle though - that would actually help a lot of people who previously installed the wireless amp but found it didn't work.
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Old 02-08-2017, 04:40 PM   #38
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Yeah, that should work. I'm not sure if Wilson produces a compatible cradle though. That was exactly how I used their amp in the 2008 era. It was their normal amp and I used a cradle for the device connection.

Today, their weBoost cradle product has the cradle built in so most people go that way especially since it's $300 less expensive. You should check to see if Wilson has a compatible cradle though - that would actually help a lot of people who previously installed the wireless amp but found it didn't work.


I called Wilson and they said that my "pad" would work. They are $25 bucks on eBay so I bought another to have. They also said that the "Bullet" would work well with what I am considering.
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Old 02-08-2017, 05:42 PM   #39
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For anyone thinking of a new/upgraded phone amp I suggest you do your own research. CelFi is a USA company, with a number of products that have 100db performance that have been used in a range of environments. Talking to them and getting feedback from users or people who have actually tested their products ought to be possible.
Cel-Fi

According to the Cel-Fi Wave app I am currently able to pick up 5 bars (3G) of 1 bar (4G) from the service provider. The GO is showing boost of 5 (out of 10). An interesting aspect of the app is that it allows you to test various indoor antenna locations to help optimise your setup. I'll experiment with that later today. Two reasons why the GO appears to be working fine on my boat are:

1. Technology has moved on (directional antenna, smart signal processing etc) This happens all the time. Once upon a time people told the Wright Brothers their ideas would never fly (ok, bad pun...)
2. I have bunch of solar panels between the external and internal antennae. Not solid metal, but a bit of a grid of metal strips. Maybe that gives some kind of shielding?

I wont be anywhere remote for a number of months, so will not be able to report field results for a while. Hamo, if you get one and are in area where the amp is really needed please post about your experience. Meanwhile, there is a boat show here in 6 weeks where the Cel Fi distributor is likely to have a booth. If so I'll talk to them about issues raised in the thread. They sell a lot of systems for houses, which are not 90' long and not made out of steel either.
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Old 02-08-2017, 08:42 PM   #40
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CelFi is a USA company, with a number of products that have 100db performance that have been used in a range of environments.
You should have used the word "claim" in referring to their 100 dB specification since I seriously doubt you have the ability to measure it. Any claim like that for the US market is definitely a play on specifications and likely involves the use of a directional antenna to boost the output of the amp (which is probably 34 - 50 db). The FCC has a variety of regulations about cellular amplification and especially for LTE amplification.

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Technology has moved on (directional antenna, smart signal processing etc)
Technology moves on. Physics stays right where it is.

If you're using a directional antenna, you're doing something completely different from the needs of nearly every boater. It would change everything since the output from the antenna doesn't have the separation requirement because it's not radiating the signal all over. You didn't mention what type of antenna you had. And also the solar panels could easily provide a shield for some of the signal if you happen to be using an omni-directional antenna.

Not to pile on but it seems highly unlikely that you'd see 5 bars of 3G signal and only 1 bar of LTE. The only way that could happen is if you were in proximity of 2 towers. In general, it doesn't happen like that. Towers have radios for both 3G and LTE on the same tower. In that case, the LTE should always have more bars since the signal propagation is longer with LTE. I'd have to also say that it's some incredible app that can give a readout of 3G vs LTE performance - how about posting a screen shot of it?


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They sell a lot of systems for houses, which are not 90' long and not made out of steel either.
Who said 90' is needed for a house? I wrote that you needed it for a fiberglass boat.

90 feet is not needed in a house or office installation. There's a really great reason for that - houses and buildings don't move. They use a directional outside antenna pointed to the tower being hit. The signal isn't radiating everywhere so the inside antenna doesn't pick it up.

Boats are different. Unlike houses, they move and swing and change locations. So a directional antenna won't work. Instead, an omni-directional antenna is used, spewing the signal in all directions. That's when it gets into the path of the inside antenna.

Hey - I've given more than enough help here. I'm not selling anything nor have any interest in any type of amp product. Instead, go talk to the salesman at the next show for the company selling the product. I'm sure you'll get quality, accurate, and unbiased information straight from them. Salesmen are always the best source of decision making!
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