New Cellular Booster

By , May 14, 2018

I finally installed the new cellular booster I’ve mentioned before. We haven’t seen the dramatic improvement I’d hoped for, but I feel like we’re in better shape than before.

To briefly recap: the cord of our old booster malfunctioned and melted down, so the company traded us a newer, more robust version of the unit for the old one, so they could analyze it to see what happened.

They included a bigger antenna than originally purchased, which led to a bit of delay, while we ordered a coupler for the cable, which we couldn’t get in town. Unfortunately, I read the specs wrong on the unit, and, knowing nothing about coaxial wiring, ordered the wrong connector the first time.

The delay allowed me ample time to figure out where we should put the antenna.

Cellular booster

The new cellular booster (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

I placed our old external antenna on a flat place on the log joins of the cabin, almost as high as I could reach with our extension ladder. The new antenna, designed for pole mounting, could go somewhere higher and farther from the cabin.

I used the coaxial cable from our old satellite Internet set up. That gave us about 100 feet of wire. At first, I intended to put it up in the tree next to the house, where the whisker pole of our largely idle CB radio is installed. I even ran the wire up into the tree before deciding to try something different.

I then ran it up the wall of the porch, strung it across the door yard, over the smokehouse and up to a tree on the edge of our Power Point, the rocky promontory where our wind generator and solar array are located.

I figured that by doing this, I’d get it to the edge of the last open area on our property, and maybe—just maybe—get a bit closer to the cell tower.

Booster antenna

The new external booster antenna (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Everything I’ve read indicates that we want line-of-sight to the cell tower, but we’re not getting that here. We have Mount Riley in the way, which is difficult to overcome. Even so, a bigger antenna, a bit closer to the tower, with a few less trees in between, should at least match, if not improve on, the old antenna.

We worked to make sure the wire wouldn’t be in the way. We’ve enjoyed not having the old satellite arrangement, where the wire crossed the yard in the way of ladders, long boards, or other things we moved back and forth, often snagging the wire as we went. The new arrangement runs far above even our tallest loads, and should be fine.

Antenna wire

The newly strung antenna wire runs diagonally across this photo, over the more vertically crossing guy line that holds a tree away from the cabin (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Aly and I worked to “aim” the antenna for best signal, but I couldn’t improve, or even worsen, the connectivity within the narrow adjustment scope our set up allowed. We ought to do fine, regardless.

Finally, we’ll need to figure out how to stow the new booster. The old one had loops for screws, and we attached it to the cabin wall. The new one lacks attachment points. We’ve made velcro strap loops for other units that hang on the wall, so we’ll likely do the same for this one.

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