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Old 19-12-2015, 05:51   #1
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Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

We're going to be in the US for a week during the holidays, and I want to pick up a good WiFi signal booster kit to take back to the boat with us. (IF we take it back in our luggage we don't have to pay the 30% import duty I'd have to pay if I had it shipped in.)

Did a search on here, and promptly got confused, so did a Google on "Best WiFi amp for marine use" and found this recommendation/review:

Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit

I'm familiar with Wilson amps and have bought a couple for use in a vehicle and RV in the US. Now I need something for the boat, which will always be on this side of the Atlantic, usually in the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos Islands. I don't want to limit my thinking to Wilson, but note this setup uses a couple of Wilson antenna.

Can one of you more intelligent/experienced WiFi hotspot guys tell me if this is a good system, or if there is something better out there?

Application is boosting WiFi mobile hotspot signals for internet access on the boat.

We're not trying to pinch pennies, we want the best system we can get.
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Old 19-12-2015, 07:34   #2
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

The Drive 4G-x (and all Wilson products) are cellular boosters, not WiFi. Based on your previous posts, I think that you probably do want a cellular booster, in which case I believe the Drive 4G-X is the best one. You would want to install it with their marine omnidirectional antenna. I have ordered such a system for myself.

For WiFi, your best bet is a system from Island Time PC.

Marine WiFi Systems
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Old 19-12-2015, 08:04   #3
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

yes, thanks, a cellular booster is what we need. (I TOLD you I was confused) I do basically understand the diff. If it was WiFi I would be trying to extend my range to someone elses signals, like an Internet Cafe or library with WiFi.

We have mobile hotspots for Verizon, etc. but lately she's been using her iPhone for all of that.

I need to order something pretty quickly so it'll interesect me in the US next week. I've had good luck with Wilson products before, so will roll the dice on this one. Big dice.

Thanks
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Old 19-12-2015, 20:41   #4
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

We use the wilson - it was great in the Bahamas. A basic antenna on a 20 foot or so wire comes with it but I would recommend getting a more robust external antenna.

An alternative is simply putting hauling your phone up on a halyard and using it as a wifi hotspot.
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Old 20-12-2015, 06:43   #5
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

Thanks for the feedback. I ordered that setup in the link. Checked the individual item pricing and these guys sell it same price as Amazon, but package all the bits together.

Should have it next week in colorado and will bring it back down to TCI with us in luggage.

I just love buying my own Christmas presents.
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Old 20-12-2015, 12:55   #6
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

Let us know how it works out. I'm thinking of getting the same or a similar package.
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Old 24-12-2015, 17:12   #7
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

received it today. Noticed the marine antenna comes with 20 ft. of RG58, and instructions say to mount it high as possible, in vertical position, but not alongside a mast. The only place high up I can reach with 20 ft. of cable is maybe the spreaders. A little bit confusing. Can't follow the instructions with the parts they ship. Might just try hauling it up on a temporary basis with a flag halyard.
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Old 24-12-2015, 20:14   #8
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
received it today. Noticed the marine antenna comes with 20 ft. of RG58, and instructions say to mount it high as possible, in vertical position, but not alongside a mast. The only place high up I can reach with 20 ft. of cable is maybe the spreaders. A little bit confusing. Can't follow the instructions with the parts they ship. Might just try hauling it up on a temporary basis with a flag halyard.
Shakespeare makes several antennas that work with VHF/AIS/Cellular bands.

I've been contemplating replacing our masthead antenna with one of these and then putting in a manual splitter in the cabin next to the AIS/VHF for when we want to use the booster.

Indeed, we have been thinking about installing a secondary backup antenna on the davits with a switch box. We could have the booster switch with the VHF/AIS when required.

Long term, that might be a consideration.
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Old 26-12-2015, 08:15   #9
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
received it today. Noticed the marine antenna comes with 20 ft. of RG58, and instructions say to mount it high as possible, in vertical position, but not alongside a mast. The only place high up I can reach with 20 ft. of cable is maybe the spreaders. A little bit confusing. Can't follow the instructions with the parts they ship. Might just try hauling it up on a temporary basis with a flag halyard.
Height is important for vertical separation between the indoor and outdoor antennas. Otherwise it may get feedback/oscillation and have to turn the power down, which defeats the purpose. The inexpensive one-size-fits-all cable in your kit isn't likely to give an ideal installation.

Probably too late to suggest this, but I would decide where the outdoor antenna should go and order a better cable based on that. If you can handle the size & stiffness, you should consider LMR400 to limit your signal loss. I bought mine from Jefa Tech. They can put SMA connectors on it.

JEFA Tech: Low Loss 400 Cable Assembly
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Old 26-12-2015, 08:56   #10
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

i'll be back at the boat Monday and get started on this installation. I'm a bit annoyed at the Uber signal people, since this is sold as a complete marine system. I would expect sailors to want to put this antenna at the top of a mast. supplying 20 ft. of rg-58 doesn't really help in any regard, and if I have to now order another cable it sort of negates their whole system concept. Next time I'll just order the parts I need from Amazon.
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Old 26-12-2015, 09:42   #11
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

We use the DigitalAntenna brand of cell amplifier, picked up about a 20 mile range in Baja Mx., Sea of Cortez, where the cell towers are few and far between. Probably could have been farther except they don't aim the cell tower antennas out toward the sea. We have been happy with it for 8yrs.
Antennae is at the top of my 50ft mast , when I had it mounted on my mizzen at 35ft it still worked the same. Antenna and cable are rugged and both are exposed on the outside of the mast.
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Old 26-12-2015, 10:51   #12
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

Thanks, but I bought the Wilson system. No longer shopping for an amp.
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Old 31-12-2015, 07:23   #13
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayH View Post
Height is important for vertical separation between the indoor and outdoor antennas. Otherwise it may get feedback/oscillation and have to turn the power down, which defeats the purpose. The inexpensive one-size-fits-all cable in your kit isn't likely to give an ideal installation.

Probably too late to suggest this, but I would decide where the outdoor antenna should go and order a better cable based on that. If you can handle the size & stiffness, you should consider LMR400 to limit your signal loss. I bought mine from Jefa Tech. They can put SMA connectors on it.

JEFA Tech: Low Loss 400 Cable Assembly
Okay I'm back on the boat now and after several other mini-crisis to deal with after just a one week absence........I'm ready to get started on this one. You're right. I basically just wasted $ 40 by accepting this company's 20 ft. cable as part of the package. And for the inside antenna, I only need about five feet of cable so that's another wasted 20 footer. Sigh.

A 60 ft. cable would get me from the top of the mast to where I want to install the amplifier. But it's a waste to buy a cable with terminations as I'd have to cut one off to feed it down the mast and into the cabin. Now I'm trying to sort through all the cable termination possibilities.

I long for the days when BNC was all I needed to remember.
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Old 31-12-2015, 08:18   #14
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

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Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
Okay I'm back on the boat now and after several other mini-crisis to deal with after just a one week absence........I'm ready to get started on this one. You're right. I basically just wasted $ 40 by accepting this company's 20 ft. cable as part of the package. And for the inside antenna, I only need about five feet of cable so that's another wasted 20 footer. Sigh.

A 60 ft. cable would get me from the top of the mast to where I want to install the amplifier. But it's a waste to buy a cable with terminations as I'd have to cut one off to feed it down the mast and into the cabin. Now I'm trying to sort through all the cable termination possibilities.

I long for the days when BNC was all I needed to remember.
Are you sure you'd have to cut the terminators off? The SMA connectors are really small. You shouldn't have any problem routing them anywhere you intend the cable to go. I measure my LMR400 at 0.4" (Gee, I wonder what the 400 stands for?) and the SMA connector at 0.52" (including heat shrink).
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Old 31-12-2015, 08:51   #15
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Re: Drive 4G-X Extreme Marine Signal Booster Kit?

You may be right about that. I'm probably going to have to increase the size of an existing set of holes for an old Magnavox sat nav antenna I am removing from the top of the mast (!!). Yeah, it's been up there for about 20 obsolete years. I also have a lightning fried radar to remove, a loudhailer speaker and LED deck light to install, a new VHF antenna and cable to install, etc. I expect to be up there a lot in the next few days.

Running cables in the mast question: I was planning to attach the cut end of the new coax to the cut end of the old coax at the top and feed it down through the mast from the top, with my helper at the base of the mast pulling the cable through from the bottom. I also have been wondering about using the old cables to run a small line through, and then use that line to pull the new cable down. I assume I need to put the new stuff in from the top to keep the factory connectors up there exposed, and my own attached connectors inside the cabin where watertight integrity isn't so difficult. Any tips from anyone who's experienced at this?
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