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Old 22-12-2023, 16:57   #1
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Mobile phone router?

Starlink kind of solves this problem, but does anyone use an outdoor mobile phone router with a good antenna? Mounted on a spreader, I would think this could considerably increase range of mobile phone connections. Thinking again about this.
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Old 22-12-2023, 16:59   #2
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Re: Mobile phone router?

Something like this maybe: https://www.peplink.com/products/ent...-hd1-dome-pro/
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Old 22-12-2023, 17:03   #3
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Re: Mobile phone router?

When in some of the uninhabited islands in the Bahamas we have been known to run our hotspot enabled cellphones up the mast in a bag to get a connection to the cell network With a 67 foot mast we get connections to islands 50 miles away with just the phone antenna. Works a treat.

Height is more important than signal amplification or antenna gain.
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Old 22-12-2023, 19:03   #4
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Re: Mobile phone router?

The dome you show is pretty expensive to deploy as you want to use a sim injector as well to be able to change sims without going up the mast.

It is a good piece of kit, and I'd love to have one. I just can't justify the price. I use another Peplink router (MAX BR1 5G) with an antenna above the headliner. This coupled with a Starlink works fine for now. The combination works great at filling the small outages from Starlink.
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Old 23-12-2023, 03:13   #5
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Re: Mobile phone router?

Yes, I have an old Wilson (now WeBoost) booster aboard with an external pig tail antenna that I hoist in the rigging. It then attaches to a router which uses a celluar modem that will take a local SIM chip. Helps significantly in areas of weak signal. However sometimes the signal is just too crappy to use and you are just boosting noise.

Ive seen some cruisers put their cell phone in a plastic jar and hoist it into the rigging.
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Old 23-12-2023, 03:31   #6
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Re: Mobile phone router?

Not a router, but I had a 12 volt booster on a previous boat, also a dedicated cell phone whip antenna mounted on the bimini arch
The booster/antenna doubled the cell phone range from 8 miles offshore to 16 miles.
It was somewhat useful in the Bahamas but we used the SSB for phone patches when anchored at more remote islands.
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Old 23-12-2023, 05:11   #7
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Re: Mobile phone router?

I'd suggest having a chat with Doug Miller at Onboard Wireless.

Doug was the founder/owner of Milltech Marine and had a great reputation for recommending & retailing AIS systems. He's now sold that business and established this new venture.

Disclaimer, I have no commercial relationship with Doug.
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Old 23-12-2023, 06:37   #8
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Re: Mobile phone router?

There is a misconception when it come to elevating your boatside antenna - we all KNOW that raising your antenna increases range - our masthead VHF clearly outperforms a deck-level antenna, for example, when talking to someone else in the dinghy or another boat.

But when it comes to connecting with a distant antenna that is NOT at a fairly low level, the improvement is not nearly so noticeable, because the "radio range" of the two antennas is the SUM of the elevations of both antennas, plus radio range does not vary linearly with height, but rather more slowly with greater heights.

So if we're trying to connect to a shoreside cell antenna at 100' AGL, increasing our antenna height from say 5 feet (in the cockpit) to 40 feet (at the spreaders) makes only a small difference in radio range - from 23.3 km in the cockpit to 26.9 km at the spreaders. This effect means that the losses (and inconveniences) of elevating our cell antenna up the rig doesn't really help all that much - perhaps not even enough to overcome the losses.

Check out the radio range calculator at: https://www.everythingrf.com/rf-calc...ght-calculator . You can select either meters or feet for elevation - I use feet because I'm old and spent my life climbing towers measured in feet



Even raising your antenna to airplane heights only gets you so far


FWIW, I just installed an LTE (4G) router on Atsa, with the antenna mounted at the solar panel height, about 13 feet off the water. (Peplink BR1 Mini HW(3) with a 22G antenna). It seems to work well so far.



Hartley
S/V Atsa


p.s. We also have a Wilson "Cellfone booster" installed, with the outside antenna at the radar mount about 35' up. It definitely helps, and also means that the salon works better than the cockpit, which is nice when its windy & cold! But it is NOT a panacea.
HJ
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Old 23-12-2023, 12:08   #9
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Re: Mobile phone router?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Starlink kind of solves this problem, but does anyone use an outdoor mobile phone router with a good antenna? Mounted on a spreader, I would think this could considerably increase range of mobile phone connections. Thinking again about this.
Hi DH,

Why would you have the router up on the spreader rather than keep the router below and have your choice of antenna on the spreader (or inverted on the spreader)? And also choice of router below?

I was thinking of this router below: https://www.peplink.com/products/mob...ax-br1-pro-5g/

And an antenna like this on the spreader: https://poynting.tech/antennas/omni-414/?v=7516fd43adaa
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Old 26-12-2023, 14:35   #10
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Re: Mobile phone router?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartleyg View Post
There is a misconception when it come to elevating your boatside antenna - we all KNOW that raising your antenna increases range - our masthead VHF clearly outperforms a deck-level antenna, for example, when talking to someone else in the dinghy or another boat.

But when it comes to connecting with a distant antenna that is NOT at a fairly low level, the improvement is not nearly so noticeable, because the "radio range" of the two antennas is the SUM of the elevations of both antennas, plus radio range does not vary linearly with height, but rather more slowly with greater heights.

So if we're trying to connect to a shoreside cell antenna at 100' AGL, increasing our antenna height from say 5 feet (in the cockpit) to 40 feet (at the spreaders) makes only a small difference in radio range - from 23.3 km in the cockpit to 26.9 km at the spreaders. This effect means that the losses (and inconveniences) of elevating our cell antenna up the rig doesn't really help all that much - perhaps not even enough to overcome the losses.

Check out the radio range calculator at: https://www.everythingrf.com/rf-calc...ght-calculator . You can select either meters or feet for elevation - I use feet because I'm old and spent my life climbing towers measured in feet



Even raising your antenna to airplane heights only gets you so far


FWIW, I just installed an LTE (4G) router on Atsa, with the antenna mounted at the solar panel height, about 13 feet off the water. (Peplink BR1 Mini HW(3) with a 22G antenna). It seems to work well so far.

Hartley
S/V Atsa

p.s. We also have a Wilson "Cellfone booster" installed, with the outside antenna at the radar mount about 35' up. It definitely helps, and also means that the salon works better than the cockpit, which is nice when its windy & cold! But it is NOT a panacea.
HJ

Thanks. This makes a lot of sense and is very valuable advice.
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"You sea! I resign myself to you also . . . . I guess what you mean,
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers,
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me;
We must have a turn together . . . . I undress . . . . hurry me out of sight of the land,
Cushion me soft . . . . rock me in billowy drowse,
Dash me with amorous wet . . . . I can repay you."
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Old 26-12-2023, 14:37   #11
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Re: Mobile phone router?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mal Reynolds View Post
Hi DH,

Why would you have the router up on the spreader rather than keep the router below and have your choice of antenna on the spreader (or inverted on the spreader)? And also choice of router below?

I was thinking of this router below: https://www.peplink.com/products/mob...ax-br1-pro-5g/

And an antenna like this on the spreader: https://poynting.tech/antennas/omni-414/?v=7516fd43adaa

IF I wanted the antenna on the spreader, then the router would have to be there too -- because there are about 10 coax cables coming out of a multiband mobile data antenna with antenna diversity. And also because the attenuation is huge at those frequencies. It would not be practical to run cables between an antenna up there and a router belowdecks.
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"You sea! I resign myself to you also . . . . I guess what you mean,
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers,
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me;
We must have a turn together . . . . I undress . . . . hurry me out of sight of the land,
Cushion me soft . . . . rock me in billowy drowse,
Dash me with amorous wet . . . . I can repay you."
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Old 27-12-2023, 10:50   #12
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Re: Mobile phone router?

HD1 Dome Pro (Peplink) solves all these issues (for a price).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
IF I wanted the antenna on the spreader, then the router would have to be there too -- because there are about 10 coax cables coming out of a multiband mobile data antenna with antenna diversity. And also because the attenuation is huge at those frequencies. It would not be practical to run cables between an antenna up there and a router belowdecks.
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Old 27-12-2023, 10:56   #13
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Re: Mobile phone router?

All of the below is true, however there are situations where you are anchored in a protected harbor, and the cellular towers are both distance and located opposite the land masses that provide the wind protection. In this case the extra 20-50ft of antenna height can make a big difference, but the signal loss involved matters as well. So in an ideal world, you'd have the cellular electronics and antennas located together at the top of the mast, with just a data cable going down the mast.

Note that 4G somewhat, and 5G definitely, relies on multiple antennas for performance and signal strength. For 5G, putting one antenna up high and the rest below decks doesn't really work as well as you would think. So you do really need the multi-element antenna with multiple coax cables unfortunately.

In any case, height matters, but of course the real world difference depends on your usage conditions, location, etc. Cable length matters. # of antennas matters too.

For a customer for home budget was a primary concern I'd probably stick with a deck/bimini level MIMO 2x2 or 4x4 antenna wired to a 5G router that is as close to that antenna as possible.

For a customer looking to get the best range in all possible scenarios, I'd go with Peplink's HD1 Dome Pro at the top of the mast, with a router and SIM injector below decks. There is no better solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartleyg View Post
There is a misconception when it come to
elevating your boatside antenna - we all KNOW that raising your antenna increases range - our masthead VHF clearly outperforms a deck-level antenna, for example, when talking to someone else in the dinghy or another boat.

But when it comes to connecting with a distant antenna that is NOT at a fairly low level, the improvement is not nearly so noticeable, because the "radio range" of the two antennas is the SUM of the elevations of both antennas, plus radio range does not vary linearly with height, but rather more slowly with greater heights.

So if we're trying to connect to a shoreside cell antenna at 100' AGL, increasing our antenna height from say 5 feet (in the cockpit) to 40 feet (at the spreaders) makes only a small difference in radio range - from 23.3 km in the cockpit to 26.9 km at the spreaders. This effect means that the losses (and inconveniences) of elevating our cell antenna up the rig doesn't really help all that much - perhaps not even enough to overcome the losses.

Check out the radio range calculator at: https://www.everythingrf.com/rf-calc...ght-calculator . You can select either meters or feet for elevation - I use feet because I'm old and spent my life climbing towers measured in feet



Even raising your antenna to airplane heights only gets you so far


FWIW, I just installed an LTE (4G) router on Atsa, with the antenna mounted at the solar panel height, about 13 feet off the water. (Peplink BR1 Mini HW(3) with a 22G antenna). It seems to work well so far.



Hartley
S/V Atsa


p.s. We also have a Wilson "Cellfone booster" installed, with the outside antenna at the radar mount about 35' up. It definitely helps, and also means that the salon works better than the cockpit, which is nice when its windy & cold! But it is NOT a panacea.
HJ
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Old 27-12-2023, 17:02   #14
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Re: Mobile phone router?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea-TechSystems View Post
All of the below is true, however there are situations where you are anchored in a protected harbor, and the cellular towers are both distance and located opposite the land masses that provide the wind protection. In this case the extra 20-50ft of antenna height can make a big difference, but the signal loss involved matters as well. So in an ideal world, you'd have the cellular electronics and antennas located together at the top of the mast, with just a data cable going down the mast.

Note that 4G somewhat, and 5G definitely, relies on multiple antennas for performance and signal strength. For 5G, putting one antenna up high and the rest below decks doesn't really work as well as you would think. So you do really need the multi-element antenna with multiple coax cables unfortunately.

In any case, height matters, but of course the real world difference depends on your usage conditions, location, etc. Cable length matters. # of antennas matters too.

For a customer for home budget was a primary concern I'd probably stick with a deck/bimini level MIMO 2x2 or 4x4 antenna wired to a 5G router that is as close to that antenna as possible.

For a customer looking to get the best range in all possible scenarios, I'd go with Peplink's HD1 Dome Pro at the top of the mast, with a router and SIM injector below decks. There is no better solution.
Good post Rich. Thanks.
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Old 27-12-2023, 23:58   #15
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Re: Mobile phone router?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Starlink kind of solves this problem, but does anyone use an outdoor mobile phone router with a good antenna? Mounted on a spreader, I would think this could considerably increase range of mobile phone connections. Thinking again about this.
You answered your own question. Install Starlink, use local sims in your phone off the boat. We’ve got a masthead antenna and multi-sim router and all that’s been gathering dust since getting Starlink. Wifi calling means you can still make and receive calls with just a data connection
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