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Old 14-04-2020, 05:53   #1
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4G/5G mobile router solution

Hi!

I am being recommended this combo:

ANTENNA:
https://www.lohelectronics.se/kommun...-lte-mimo-6dbi

ROUTER
https://www.lohelectronics.se/kommun...ubbla-sim-kort

SMA / WIFI EXTENSION CABLE
https://www.lohelectronics.se/kommun...195-twin-kabel
(LMR195)
20 m (66 feet)

Am being told by a dude in a Swedish forum that no way you can have 20 m SMA cable, to much dampening in dB of signal he says.

Is he right? Firm thinks it should work.

I would like to replace (in the order) the Teltronic with this cheaper option though:
https://www.lohelectronics.se/kommun...uter-olast-vit

It is cheaper and it has wifi access point built in so no need for more equipment. Would buying the Huawei router instead of the Teltronic make any difference for the connection quality? Perhaps the only difference is that the Teltronic is tougher against humidity etc?


I am being recommended McGyver solutions by forum guys, to put Tiny routers on top of mast, have long USB cables/ethernet cables etc. Very sceptical.

Minor side-issue:
On the topic of coaxial cables - my VHF cable has had its outer protection with shielding worn of in a place due to wire in the mast rubbing against it - you can see the inner white plastic tube there. I guess all relevant cables are inside the white tube? There seems to be evidence of copper strands outside the white tube, along with the black protection?

The problem with the wire is fixed and I've taped it up. VHF seems to work ok. Should I replace the cable anyway? AIS transponder is happy, diagnostics software in PC has good values (was terrible before I replaced the antenna + VHF in the first place).

What is funny though, when I have the mast top lantern (LED) on, there is some disturbance. Eventhough I bought an expensive replacement LED light bulb (normally halogen in the tricolor lantern).
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Old 14-04-2020, 07:22   #2
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

I have no knowledge of the routers you are looking at so no comment there.

On the SMA antenna cable, LMR195 is considered a low loss cable. Spec's for the particular cable being recommended were not apparent but in general a well-made LMR195/SMA cable of 20' should be OK. The best option would be to buy a pre-made cable with a specification for the insertion loss that is tested at the manufacturer. In this regard I would much rather the cable be assembled by a well-known RF component supplier than a marine supplier. Proper installation of the connectors is critical to the overall cable performance.

On your VHF cable you are incorrect that "all relevant cables are inside the white tube". The metal outside layers (jacket) are what keep spurious signals from getting in. If there was a section of jacket worn away you may still pass your VHF and AIS signals well enough but pick up excessive interference. LED bulbs are a well known source of interference. However assuming your masthead light is in proximity to your VHF antenna the cable may not be at fault. It may just be noise from the LED bulb being picked up by the antenna itself.
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Old 14-04-2020, 07:50   #3
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

I would not put an antenna at the top of the mast for mobile data. First of all, you need two of them. Second, you don't achieve all that much raising the antenna so high.



What are you trying to achieve, exactly? You will lose mobile signal pretty soon after land is under the horizon, no matter what kind of equipment you have. Better equipment and better antennas just delays this point, and not by all that much. And conversely, in the Baltic Sea region, with excellent coverage, anytime you can see land, you will have a strong signal on any ordinary mobile phone.



I use a normal mobile phone and tether to it. I have a Huawei router and a good indoor antenna but rarely use it, because it doesn't make that much difference. I have a battery for it and can haul it to the top of the mast on a halyard, and connect to it by wifi. This only adds a few miles to the possible range so I haven't bothered with this tactic in a couple of years.


The best solution would be an outdoor router with antennas connected directly to it, one of those powered by POE. Run an ethernet cable down the mast and put the router maybe on a spreader. That would give you best possible results, but is it worth the cost and trouble? You're still not going to get a signal more than say 20 miles offshore. If you need comms far offshore, then you would be better off spending your money on an Iridium Go.
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Old 14-04-2020, 09:10   #4
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

Hi Bob666
I am saling the baltic north, south and to our neighbours on the other side of the pond,
since 7 years i have had a Net 1 router (working on the 450mhz band) a couple of years ago they upgraded that to 4G/LTE and it has worked ok, the antenna is placed at the top of the mast 18m, however it disturbeds my vhf and tv reception. So I decided to try a Teltonica 4G router placed at my nav station working only with its own antennas.
I seldom use the Net 1 router because the Teltonica works as good.
If you sail from Landsort to Visby you are only out of coverage for 10to 15 nm (in the middle) so as DH suggested in reality you don´t need the extra antenna unless you anchor behind very high islands.
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Old 15-04-2020, 00:07   #5
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by dougweibel View Post
On the SMA antenna cable, LMR195 is considered a low loss cable. Spec's for the particular cable being recommended were not apparent but in general a well-made LMR195/SMA cable of 20' should be OK.
Thanks, do you mean 20 feet or meters with ‘ ?
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Old 15-04-2020, 01:20   #6
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

I have also the option of putting it on the arch at the aft end of the boat, 3 m above the water, possibly obscuring the solar panel a bit (why we didn’t get a wind generator). That would mean max 10 m of cable. Cable run would be closer to misc electronics, engine etc, and a bit cumbersome installation.

Much rather put the antenna cable in the mast. I’ve opened up the top and bottom of the mast (it’s not mounted on the boat) and see a big white plastic tube I could run it through.

Am sometimes behind a cliff in the outer archipelago and need high speed Internet for working.

VHF works fine with 20 m cable? Even more, it is connected to another 3 m cable inside the boat.
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Old 15-04-2020, 06:35   #7
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob666 View Post
Thanks, do you mean 20 feet or meters with ‘ ?
Ah, sorry. I wasn't paying attention and was thinking about feet. 20 meters is possible with a high quality cable but Dockhead's suggestion about diminishing returns at the mast top is sensible. The loss in the cable will be attributable to the cable itself and the connectors. Whatever portion of that loss is due to the cable will be proportional to its length. Even though you gain some line of sight distance with the antenna at mast top you will loose signal strength due to the additional loss.

You don't need all that much height above waterline to have line of sight to the cell towers at a fairly long distance - they are after all "towers". The signal strength propagating to/from the towers drops off with the square of distance, so, for example, to go from 20nm to 30 nm range takes a 225% improvement in the "power/loss budget". When trying to increase range the need to have the antenna high to maintain line of sight works against the need to minimize loss.

This is all to say you can go to a lot of trouble and expense but with only modest gains in range performance. As Dockhead put it "Better equipment and better (and higher) antennas just delays this point, and not by all that much."
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Old 15-04-2020, 09:17   #8
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

Wanted to weigh in here a bit since this is literally what I do. First, all LMR cable (Times Microwave) is considered low-loss cable, but that really means it's low loss at higher frequencies than other cables at the same or similar diameter. VHF operates at much higher power AND lower frequency compared with Cellular and WiFi. VHF frequencies (~150mhz) suffer far lower losses through cable compared with higher frequencies.

Examples:

RG8X @ 150Mhz at 20m = 3.0db loss
RG213 @ 150Mhz at 20m = 1.6db loss
RG213 @ 2000Mhz at 20m = >7db loss
LMR400 @ 2000Mhz at 20m = 4.0db loss

LMR-195 has higher loss than LMR-240 which has higher loss than LMR-400, etc. While an LMR-195 cable at 20ft will "work" it introduces ~4db signal loss. Unless you compensate for that with a high gain antenna you are likely reducing the overall signal strength to the router/modem vs a direct attached near zero gain whip antenna..

Let's assume you have a masthead antenna with a 20m cable (~60ft). Typical cellular frequencies run from 700-2500mhz. Higher frequencies suffer higher losses though.. So I usually make calculations for 2000Mhz.

At 20m, 2Ghz (2000Mhz) you end up with cable loss approx..

LMR-195 = 11.2dB
LMR-240 = 7.7dB
LMR-400 = 4.0dB

Now, assume you put a medium/high gain wide-band cellular antenna on the masthead that nets around 7db of gain. With LMR-195, your net gain is negative 4dB. But with LMR-400 you have a positive gain of 3db at the antenna, after accounting for cable losses, plus you have the height.

Compare that to a black paddle/whip antenna that comes on a typical cellular router which has 1-2db gain. On average you have more gain at the masthead (plus altitude) using LMR-400 than the router's included antenna.

Now let's compare 3m arch vs masthead.. Assuming you also make the cable smaller..

Rear Arch (10m LMR-240 and 7db gain antenna)
LMR-240 @ 10m = 3db gain

Masthead (20m LMR-400 and 7db gain antenna)
LMR-400 @ 20m = 3db gain

So if you upsize the cable for the masthead install, you have the same net gain AND you have the height, and you lose the interference from the vessels superstructure (mast, rigging, etc.) however minor it may be.

This assumes of course you are willing to buy the $240 high gain antenna, and the $70 of LMR-400 cable. You can also add boosters. For example the WilsonPro Connect 4G has 15db gain and is installed inline.. So it compensates for the cable loss and adds additional gain on top of that for about $250.

All in you'd spend about $500-600 for a really good masthead high-gain antenna setup (not counting the router itself). Yes it's costly, but you'd net out far more connectivity than cheaper options. That may not matter to some, but for others that really need to be able to stay connected while cruising, it could be the difference between staying at the dock and actually being out on the water.

Antenna height does matter, not just for distance from the coast (ie: 20 vs 30nm offshore in the ocean) but also for challenging terrain. If you can get the antenna up high enough, you can compensate for cliffs and hills that would otherwise block the cellular signal (actually attenuate the signal) too much to be usable.

Just some things to thing about.

Now, regarding the components that were recommended...

Poynting is great.. But the 600 isn't not built for marine use.. If you want a similar high-gain Omni MIMO antenna, you should use the OMNI 402 instead.

Second. MIMO antenna has 2 elements and two cables. If you put on at the masthead, you will need to run TWO cables up the mast. You may not be able to stuff 2 x LMR-400 cables up the mast. You'd be better off with a non-MIMO antenna and a single cable (OMNI 400). If you really want to use MIMO, run 2 x LMR-240 cables up the mast instead and add inline cellular boosters at the bottom to compensate for the loss. Since you are in Europe you will need to source some appropriate boosters for your area. The WilsonPro Connect 4G units I mention above are for Americas.. You need an EU booster, ideally a 5-band unit to cover 3G, 4G, LTE.

Technically any cellular router will work. It comes down to the LTE modem (which the one you not has Cat6 LTEA, that's good) As long as it supports the frequencies and SIM card you carriers use, then you should be fine. Secondarily the user experience (ie: ease of use) is wildy variable across cellular routers. Some are infinitely better than others when it comes to ease of use.

The extension cable you reference, being LMR-195 is fine for short distance but you really should consider larger cable for a long run (as I have mentioned above). And as mentioned by others, a professionally pre-made cable of the correct length would be a great idea. The Poynting OMNI 402 and 600 antennas have 6ft of LMR-195 cable preattached. If you extended that to 20m with the same size cable you'd have a cable loss of 11db, with just a 6.5db gain antenna, 4.5db net loss.

Another note.. When it comes to signal power/gain.. a 3db gain is ~ double the power.

Overall recommendation.. If you really care about being connected in remote places, and have the money, don't skimp on the cable. But you need to figure out how much room you have in the mast for additional cables.. You are likely to be limited there. One low loss cable is better than two high loss cables.
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Old 15-04-2020, 12:37   #9
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea-TechSystems View Post
Second. MIMO antenna has 2 elements and two cables. If you put on at the masthead, you will need to run TWO cables up the mast. You may not be able to stuff 2 x LMR-400 cables up the mast. You'd be better off with a non-MIMO antenna and a single cable (OMNI 400). If you really want to use MIMO, run 2 x LMR-240 cables up the mast instead and add inline cellular boosters at the bottom to compensate for the loss. Since you are in Europe you will need to source some appropriate boosters for your area. The WilsonPro Connect 4G units I mention above are for Americas.. You need an EU booster, ideally a 5-band unit to cover 3G, 4G, LTE.
Couldn't you put one on the mast and one on the arch?
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Old 15-04-2020, 12:56   #10
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

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Couldn't you put one on the mast and one on the arch?
Yes you certainly could. In which case you'd definitely NOT want a MIMO antenna. Two OMNI 400's, one on arch and one on masthead. The masthead one should be the "main" and the arch connected to "aux". If the cable lengths were actually 20m and 10m, then if you used LMR-240 for arch and LMR-400 for mast you'd have nearly equal gain on both antennas. If you used LMR-400 for the arch then the aux would potentially have a stronger signal in some situations.

Just keep note with cell modems.. the "main" antenna port MUST Have a signal, the "aux" is optional. If there is a good signal on "aux" and NO signal on "main" it won't work properly.
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Old 21-05-2020, 07:42   #11
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

looking for a Cellphone booster that is the most global/universal. Does such a thing exist?

I keep finding examples that are for US markets. Some for EU markets. But im not really catching what bands they CAN use ie no use telling me it supports ATT, Sprint, Vodaphone if the bands its supports are not provided.

Is there a 1 stop unit ? or a unit that covers the most overlapping/common bands ?
Then my next need is for a unit that doesnt break the bank

Thanks !
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Old 21-05-2020, 07:50   #12
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

There is not a global booster on the market today. There is North America, and EU/Asia generally. You can build a system that has cables and antennas for global use, where only the amplifier portion needs to be changed, but that's about the best you can do with boosters currently. There are 5-Band boosters for North America, which support all the major carriers, and there are 5-band boosters for EU which support all the major carriers there. The bands are different for NA vs EU.

The only "Global" cellular devices would be routers, which get their own SIM card. Some cellular router/extender devices are regional like boosters, but some are global as well, accepting any SIM card and working around the world. But they don't "boost" your cell phone, etc, the routers connect to the cell network directly and then share an Internet connection with your laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc via WiFi.

https://www.sea-tech.com/2018/12/30/...e-for-my-boat/



Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewA2 View Post
looking for a Cellphone booster that is the most global/universal. Does such a thing exist?

I keep finding examples that are for US markets. Some for EU markets. But im not really catching what bands they CAN use ie no use telling me it supports ATT, Sprint, Vodaphone if the bands its supports are not provided.

Is there a 1 stop unit ? or a unit that covers the most overlapping/common bands ?
Then my next need is for a unit that doesnt break the bank

Thanks !
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Old 05-06-2020, 06:06   #13
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

I've been thinking about this kind of thing from time to time. I know that the RF coax runs need to be as short as possible, particularly in high frequencies.

So it seems the the ideal solution would be something *like* this unit, at the masthead, running ethernet ideally with PoE down the mast.

https://www.gl-inet.com/products/gl-x750/

It's a very handy unit, running openwrt OS which makes it very flexible. For example it can switch to using one of its wifi units as a client, saving on your mobile bill when you have wifi coverage.

However, while in theory this solution would technically work well, practically of course you'd need to climb the mast to change the SIM card every time you get to a new country. Unless you have one of those exorbitant contracts.

What I'd really like to see is a unit like this, but with a remote sim authentication module down below. I haven't found anything like this. It seems that sim modules are always tightly integrated with the GSM radio.
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Old 05-06-2020, 06:18   #14
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

That looks like a good unit and much cheaper than the similarly featured Pepwave Max BR1 MK2 I was looking at. Add something like the Mikrotik Groove with a decent wifi antenna and configure for failover and you'd have a pretty solid solution. If I can confirm that unit you linked works with Sprint, I'll be buying one. Ability to use marina wifi plus the $60/month 100gb Sprint plan should be a solid setup, especially for ability to work from the boat when away from my home marina.
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Old 05-06-2020, 06:45   #15
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Re: 4G/5G mobile router solution

Yes I use that unit myself, at deck level, and I particularly like the rock solid OpenVPN integration.

I notice now that their more expensive industrial version supports PoE dual SIM and eSIM. It's pretty big though.

eSIM in theory would be a solution to the remote SIM card provisioning problem, but of course will only be implemented when the incumbents find a way to extort all their customers to the maximum extent possible.

https://www.gl-inet.com/products/gl-x1200/

There is another problem however that we may never get around. In some countries, they actually block "foreign" IMEIs from all networks. In Turkey for example they would need to pay a tax, about 250 euro, to register the device. You get a few months of access before it kicks in but still, the option is always there for governments to do this.

So of course the workaround then if you don't have good wifi, is to have a local wifi dongle, and connect that router to it as a wifi client. Of course this negates the advantages of having GSM radio up the mast.

In the end, StarLink will probably be affordable before we find a way around the telco policies.
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