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Mod #7: Cellular Antenna Signal Booster

Posted By Mark Corgan On June 11, 2008 @ 6:01 am In electrical, featured | 10 Comments

Ever had to use your cell phone while camping at a remote state park and you just don’t have enough signal to make the call? Have you tried climbing up on the roof of your RV to see if you could make those little signal bars go up even just one tick to no avail? Tired of driving in to town from the campground just to get a signal? The cellular antenna signal booster mod will let your Verizon crew camp along with you.

Mod Difficulty:

There are several ways you can install a booster antenna depending on whether you want a portable or permanent solution. There are basically three kinds: in-car, home/small office, and RV/trucker. Since we are modding the RV, let’s stick with the purpose-built solution. The RV/trucker booster can be had in a nice kit from Wilson Electronics that will be sure to serve your most demanding needs. Options in the kit include a booster amplifier, antenna, cabling, cell phone/AirCard adapter, and mounting hardware.

A very popular and economical kit is the SIGNALBOOST RV kit from PowerfulSignal. It is a semi-permanent solution that comes with a 3-watt dual-band booster amplifier that plugs in to any 12-volt receptacle. There are a variety of antenna mounting options such as magnetic base mount, glass mount, roof mount, and mirror/ladder mount. The 19″ antenna has a built-in ground plane which allows it to be mounted on any surface material, such as metal, glass, wood, etc. If the antenna doesn’t have this feature, it must be mounted on a metallic surface of a specific size in order for the antenna to work properly. With the mount options and ground plan antenna, you shouldn’t have any issues on where you will put the antenna. Just make sure it is as high on the RV as practical for best signal.

Other goodies in the kit include the universal cell phone adapter and extension cable. The adapter uses a Velcro patch to attach to the back of any cell phone, AirCard, or wireless cellular router, and provides the connection to the booster amplifier, which in turn is connected to the antenna. If you need more cable length, just use the cable extender. This makes the whole setup so simple that most anyone can do it in a very short amount of time.

Tests have shown that signal boost is usually around 2 bars on a cell phone. Using a booster with a 3G AirCard significantly increased throughput by as much as 40% in a low-signal area. When your surfing the ModMyRV ModTalk forums using your AirCard, you can read many more topics since you won’t be waiting around for a page to load! But remember, if there is no cell service in the area, the booster will do nothing for you.

ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
Wilson Electronics MobilePro Dual Band Wireless Cellular Amplifier Kit with 12-Inch Magnet Mount Antenna

General Reference
Wikipedia Cellular Network Reference Article


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