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Old 15-01-2018, 10:37   #1
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Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

Seeking advice: Cellular booster (data), LTE support. Iím seeking a cellular booster primarily to use in Lake Michigan while on our Chicago>Mackinac race. Iíve been told that I can get an antennae that can be utilized for VHF and the cellular booster. I do not want to run a new wire in my mast and wish to utilize a combined purpose antennae and then split the signal at the base of the mast where the booster would be located to propagate a boosted cell signal around the boat.
Has anyone experience with these, suggestions, no of the combo antennae info, etc.? Iíve visited Shakespeareís web site and the do not specifically call out such an antennae.
Hereís a booster Iíve been looking at on Amazon.
SureCall Fusion4Home Omni/Whip, Cell Phone Signal Booster Kit for All Carriers 3G/4G LTE up to 2,000 Sq Ft https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AWGY4TE..._lqpxAb1Z0YQFR
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Old 15-01-2018, 11:05   #2
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

I doubt it. I can't see that working well. cell phone is a totally different freq. and requires it's own antenna and cable.

also don't believe any of those claims. my experience is the phone needs to be 6-12" away from the inside antenna for any noticable boosting. so you'll end up with a single spot in the boat where the phone can work.
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Old 15-01-2018, 14:48   #3
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

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Originally Posted by Capt Ben View Post
...Iíve been told that I can get an antennae...
Radios use antennas.

Insects have antennae.
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Old 15-01-2018, 16:04   #4
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

Ben, you've got totally wrong ideas about the technology.

First of all, ALL cell phones, all calls, the whole nine yards in most of the world these days, is data. The GSM and CDMA2000 and other systems convert everything to data, so all calls are data calls all the time. (Except for a few legacy analog systems, and you won't see those in Chicagoland.)

Second, cell phone systems all pretty much are microwave frequencies. Not VHF. That means if you had a fifty foot cable for a cell phone antenna, it would have so much signal loss that you'd do better by throwing it away. And it would look like irrigation pipe, an inch thick and not very flexible. Very different from VHF radios, where 50-100 feet of cable can have acceptable losses.

Also, in the US, "LTE" is not the same as 4GLTE in the rest of the world. Beware of anything from overseas without a US distributor. In the US, "4G" means 3G with a faster backbone connection, and "LTE" is an entirely different service. We don't really have 4G-LTE here. 5G is not expected to deploy until 2020 now, so that's not an issue. "LTE" is pretty much the same no matter which carrier you have--but some carriers in some places use different frequencies (bands) so check that the equipment will match the carrier.

So what you need is a "whole house" cell phone booster. Try Wilsonamplifiers.com (now called "weboost".) You will need to install a cellular antenna AND the booster box both up the mast, and then the booster acts as a miniature cell site. Your phone connects to the booster instead of the real cell tower, and the booster relays calls, the same way another tower would.

You're probably looking at $400-500, sometimes carrier-specific.

It used to be possible to literally just plug a better antenna into most cell phones. But you can thank your carrier for cutting that out. Like user-changeable batteries, they just don't see the need to bother the customers with anything that might be, you know, technical. Or not small and shinier.
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Old 16-01-2018, 08:31   #5
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

Use the antenna/booster Neptulink NeptuLink by MVG | 4G | MVG. It does everyth No they say it does. We have had it for two years. We live in Mexico and it has not failed once in these tough conditions. Been through one hurricane and a few wind storms too. Great product.
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Old 16-01-2018, 10:19   #6
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

I am using Wilson 4G-S cradle booster with Digital Antenna 1273 on Georgian Bay with mixed results. Many of our anchorages have weak to no signal, apparently due to terrain. In some places the booster actually made it possible to connect and have decent service, where it did not work before. In other places you can see more bars but no connection. The signal gain is about 25db as measured by the app.
On the open lake you can get better signal with the booster but the network will still drop you as soon as you get far enough from the tower.
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Old 16-01-2018, 11:06   #7
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Ben View Post
Seeking advice: Cellular booster (data), LTE support. Iím seeking a cellular booster primarily to use in Lake Michigan while on our Chicago>Mackinac race. Iíve been told that I can get an antennae that can be utilized for VHF and the cellular booster. I do not want to run a new wire in my mast and wish to utilize a combined purpose antennae and then split the signal at the base of the mast where the booster would be located to propagate a boosted cell signal around the boat.
Has anyone experience with these, suggestions, no of the combo antennae info, etc.? Iíve visited Shakespeareís web site and the do not specifically call out such an antennae.
Hereís a booster Iíve been looking at on Amazon.
SureCall Fusion4Home Omni/Whip, Cell Phone Signal Booster Kit for All Carriers 3G/4G LTE up to 2,000 Sq Ft https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AWGY4TE..._lqpxAb1Z0YQFR
On Lake Huron/Georgian Bay I use a WiMax box from Rogers (CANADA), and hoist it up the burgee halyard with a battery.

Not only gives me Wi-Fi internet access on the boat, I make/receive all my phone's calls using my Skype account. Works great and I've never been out of range. It's cheap but don't push it by downloading movies, etc...that gets pricey.
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Old 16-01-2018, 13:29   #8
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

There are a number of cellular booster systems on the market and some of them work quite well. The primary issues seen are a result of installation issues. Separation between the outside and inside antenna's are KEY to a good installation. As noted by hellosailor, the frequencies of Cellular and VHF are generally too different to get a single antenna that will cover both. Cellular is generally 700MHz to >2Ghz while VHF is in the 150MHz range. In addition, using a single cable will require a splitter/combiner of some kind which introduces signal loss to the system.

If you absolutely want to have a single antenna mount for both services you can purchase a combo antenna (Cellular + VHF) which is available from Digital Antenna. You will still have to run two completely independent cables however so some or all of the advantage of the single antenna (depending on what problem you are trying to solve) is lost. While hellosailor makes a good point about long cable length introducing loss for the cellular booster, this can be mitigated by choosing lower loss cable, which is possible, but generally more costly of course.

In the long run it is likely easier and more cost effective to keep the cellular booster isolated from your VHF, especially since a DSC capable Marine VHF (with properly configured GPS and MMSI, which you have right? Because you should) is a life-safety device that you want to work when you need it.

The WeBoost is a capable system (properly installed) as is the Digital Antenna PowerMax booster. With all of the parts you need for a proper installation on a boat the Digital Antenna kit will cost less than a WeBoost, since WeBoost Marine kits are all sold by third parties that ADD to (not modify) the car kits WeBoost sells.

If you have any other questions about this feel free to ask. Full disclosure, I am in the business of selling marine navigation and communications systems to recreational boaters. I am more than willing to answer questions any time, and I can also help you get you set up with something if that's what you need.

Richard Anderson
s/v Mobert



Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Ben View Post
Seeking advice: Cellular booster (data), LTE support. Iím seeking a cellular booster primarily to use in Lake Michigan while on our Chicago>Mackinac race. Iíve been told that I can get an antennae that can be utilized for VHF and the cellular booster. I do not want to run a new wire in my mast and wish to utilize a combined purpose antennae and then split the signal at the base of the mast where the booster would be located to propagate a boosted cell signal around the boat.
Has anyone experience with these, suggestions, no of the combo antennae info, etc.? Iíve visited Shakespeareís web site and the do not specifically call out such an antennae.
Hereís a booster Iíve been looking at on Amazon.
SureCall Fusion4Home Omni/Whip, Cell Phone Signal Booster Kit for All Carriers 3G/4G LTE up to 2,000 Sq Ft https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AWGY4TE..._lqpxAb1Z0YQFR
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Old 16-01-2018, 13:45   #9
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

Put tinfoil on the cell phone rabbit ears. Sounds like you are trying to mix apples and oranges on one antenna.
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Old 16-01-2018, 14:01   #10
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

These guys on Emerald Steel - nice report on how they get free wifi using a booster.

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Old 16-01-2018, 16:27   #11
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Re: Cellular Booster / VHF Antennae advice sought

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These guys on Emerald Steel - nice report on how they get free wifi using a booster.



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