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To minimize confusion, I will just add this for clarification:  This is a CELL SIGNAL BOOSTER and if you get your DATA that way, it can be a WIFI Booster.  The title of the post really should have been CELL SIGNAL Booster…

It was just about a year ago that I had finally settled into the solution for our WIFI booster set up.  I was just looking over some of the old posts and wow what a mess it was trying to get good help from Wilson and some of the retailers.  Boy was it frustrating.  Talked with three different companies that were all supposed to be experts and knew about the RV lifestyle and the challenges of moving around from place to place as we do.  Still all three were a huge disappointment when it came to helping me.  The ONLY resource that came through was a fellow named Mick, a friend of RV Sue’s and he sure did help a bunch. Here is what I ended up with and hopefully this will be a bit easier to follow than all those previous false starts from the various retailers a year ago.  At the end of this post I have included a detailed list of the parts n pieces to do this project.

Starting outside

From the beginning I had every intention of connecting to the SAT connection outside and inside of the trailer.  Doing that would eliminate the need for cutting any holes, cracking a window to run wire through or any other unattractive solution for getting the connection from outside to inside. That could have been the largest contributor to all the bad communication all along.  It was not a conventional way of thinking for those guys and like the big box store, the retailers have people who are trained from ‘the manual’ and if it is not ‘in the manual’ you are out of luck.  Shame it is that way, I remember going into a hardware store and actually learning something from time to time, now a days I can go in and teach some stuff if the ‘student’ is even capable of learning….  Wow I can get distracted easily… back to the point.  Oh yea, outside> image image Since TV is just not that important to us and access to the internet is, dedicating the satellite connection to WIFI was no big deal.  For movies we get NETFLIX or Stream from Amazon on our Prime membership or we rent Red Box.  With WIFI we can stay current on news etc.. image The one on the left is the satellite connection behind the TV.  (one on right is from the Jack Antenna)  Those were the connections we were going to use or we were not do the booster at all.  As things progressed there were a number of false starts and I almost threw in the towel on the whole mess.  Can’t remember what caused me to ask RV Sue for help getting in touch with Mick for an opinion but I did and the project was soon on track for the solution that worked.

Back outside

image.pngimage The next ‘problem’ was how to hang the pole mounted antenna in an attractive and easy to manage way.  Roaming the isles of the Home Depot in Cottonwood, AZ it came to me, a fiberglass painters pole.  Get an adjustable flag pole mount and it will be perfect.  See the picture above. With those two problems solved the fun begins:  Connecting the antenna to the pole and running a 20’ (much more than needed) coax to the outside connection completed the work outside.  Hanging the antenna and strapping the pole to the ladder is a 5 minute job when are getting set up at a new site, EASY.  Note the bungee cords holding the mast tight to the ladder.

There is an app called ‘OPEN SIGNAL‘ you can use which tells you what direction the tower is and where to point the antenna, it works great.

Inside

imageimage The cradle is a Wilson Universal Sleek.  Universal meaning it will handle all of the various frequencies and the various carriers out there.  So at the time we purchased it, we were with Sprint, changing to Verizon was going to be no problem.  With some of the other options you need to identify your service provider in order for the booster to do any good.  These systems work best (I am told) in a 50 ohm configuration.  The Coax for TV and satellite is 75 ohm which meant we could have some loss in signal strength.  (I have not seen a problem with that)  The little gizmo on the right is the 75 ohm to 50 ohm converter.  This item was NEVER mentioned by any of the retailers including Wilson.  Mick added it to a list of stuff I would need to make this work.  As I say, Mick is a very knowledgeable guy on this stuff and helped me a bunch. So up to the 75 ohm to 50 ohm converter it is pretty straight forward.  On the 50 ohm side of the converter to the cradle you need one of these pigtails:

50 ohm, N male to SMA male pigtail

image

One end connects to the converter, the other to the cradle.  Of course a short 75 ohm coax is required from the wall outlet behind the TV, (shown above) to the converter.

The Cradle comes with a 120 volt power supply and you can get a version that includes a car adapter and antenna for your car.  That kit has a 12 volt plug and we can use that when we are boondocking.  All the bases are covered!

A picture of what goes where

image

How well does it work?

We were in the final steps of getting this set up when we left Patagonia and had the converter and pigtail yet to purchase.  When we arrived at Riverbend Hot Springs we ordered those items.  At Riverbend our Sprint signal was quite good so it really precluded any real analysis of this booster for the time being while we were there.  In February we lifted the jacks and went to Patagonia Lake.  The sprint signal was very poor.  We made the decision that the time had come to order the Millenicom Hot Spot which was serviced by Verizon.

Patagonia Lake was a remote spot about 20 miles north of Nogales, AZ/Mexico.  The value of the booster was undeniable.  We had useable signal for calls but not data with Sprint using the cradle.  When the Millenicom Hot Spot arrived we had one bar of signal strength when the hot spot was not in the cradle and four to five bars when  it was in the cradle.  I am happy with the results we have gotten.  Here at Agua Caliente, nada we are so remote here that if it were not for the WIFI provided by the park we would not be connected.  Phones are on a temporary suspension till we leave here, there is just no signal from Verizon.  I am told the same applies to all the carriers here. Again, I can say that we are pleased and confident that this set up will allow us to get a signal at times that we otherwise would not be able to use.  It becomes one of those things you have for those times that you need it.  It’s kind of like the fridge, we can run it on propane when we need to!

So here is that list of stuff, all available from Amazon. (copy and paste) urls and item numbers included)

wilson stuff 2

And the list without pictures.  Links are active

Description                                                                    Item #

  1. Antenna, Wilson wide band directional, 75 ohm               304475
  1. Painters pole: Fiberglass for antenna mount                  (use link)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000C0144E

3. Pkg (45) 6″ Long Heavy Duty Elastic Bungee Cord with Ball Ends
(use link)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004AS8YQ0

  1. Adjustable flag pole bracket                                         (use link)
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0014SKUN4
  1. RG6 coax with F male connectors, both ends, 20 feet      950620
  2. 75 to 50 ohm converter, Wilson,  N fm – F fm                  859955
  1. coax, 50 ohm, N male to SMA male,  Amazon                (use link)
    http://www.amazon.com/Gino-Connector-RP-SMA-Antenna-Pigtail/dp/B006Z8MJ6Y/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1379100923&sr=8-5&keywords=n+to+sma+cable
  2. Cradle,  Wilson,  sleek 4G                                             813425

Till next time, remember TurnWhenTheRoadDoes.com