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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Cellular boosters
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skootamattaschmidty
Member
# Posted: 2 Sep 2020 19:46
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I know this has been talked about before on this forum. We have spotty service at best at our cabin which is in eastern Ontario. My wife has been working from home since the highlight of the pandemic in March. She has been told she probably wont be going back to the office anytime soon. I have considerably more vacation time than she does so we thought wouldn't it be nice if she could work from the cabin. I also work a compressed shift of 12 hour days and then get 4-5 days off after each block. So we did some research into a cell booster and decided on the Uniden u65. It is meant for Canadian providers. When researching, they had a live chat assistant who answered every question I could think of. They seem to think this unit will help me. I did teal testing and was getting -116- -125 db service, so a very week signal. They assured me this unit would help and it was essentially plug and play. They claimed no real science to lining up the antenna to the tower...just turn until green light is lit up down below on the booster unit. This is a pricier unit, $737 Canadian but they offer up a 60 day 100% money back guarantee, including return shipping if I'm not completely satisfied. I decided to go for it thinking if it works, then great the money is worth it to be able to spend more time at the cabin with my wife. And if it doesnt work, I'll return it and get my money back. It ships from Montresl and arrived within a week. It looks plug and play easy enough. Im going back up to the cabin the 11th of september for a week and I will install it then. I will post an update after with my results. I am off grid with a small solar system. It apparently has a 3 amp draw which is somewhat significant but my intentions would be to power it down at night. I could care less about internet at my happy place, but hey if it works and my wife can work from the cabin, then it's a no brained for me. Here's to keeping my fingers crossed!!

qbodsyt
Member
# Posted: 2 Sep 2020 22:13
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I'd definitely like to hear an update on how well it works, our family cottage is in Muskoka and my wife also works from home and could benefit from better cell service at the cottage.

hueyjazz
Member
# Posted: 3 Sep 2020 12:00
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If the Uniden doesn't work for you consider Wilson. They make nice stuff. You will get your best performance from a direction Yagi antenna pointed at the nearest cell tower with your carrier.

Not sure I agree with them on the green light as a directional finder for tower. I would say you would have better luck with going on https://www.cellmapper.net/map or something similar and use a compass to point your antenna.

Data takes the most bandwidth, then voice. Texting takes the least.

skootamattaschmidty
Member
# Posted: 3 Sep 2020 20:59
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It is a yagi directional antenna with an 80 degree field? Not sure I totally understand that. But I have researched the nearest cell towers and have GPS coordinates. Hopefully all works out and if not I'll go get my money back!! They do offer lots of support if any issues..

Absolutely
Member
# Posted: 4 Sep 2020 17:26
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We are in Eastern Ontario too, and also had sketchy cell service. My wife bought a WeBoost multiroom booster from Amazon. We needed extra cable to put the receiving antenna in a favourable location. This was a 14 awg 75 ohm cable from Tri-Shield. That gave good separation between the receiving antenna and the indoor boost antenna. We used an Android app called Network Cell Info Lite to align the antenna.

Before the booster we had one or two bars of 3G. After, we get 4-5 bars of LTE. We went from ~ -120 dBm to around - 95 dBm. Date and photo texting is now near-instantaneous. I did not want to spend $800 on a cell booster but it's been well worth it.

skootamattaschmidty
Member
# Posted: 12 Sep 2020 15:39
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I just thought I would update people on the cell signal booster. I got it installed today. The yagi antenna is on the roof. It is connected to another antenna at ground level and then into the booster. I have both ground antenna and booster installed outside on my front porch for now, which is covered from the elements. I did this to maximize the signal strength outside as my wife wants to be able to work from the picnic table.

Initial results....fantastic!! At this point i have 5 bars LTE, so not as fast as 4g. However that is a gain of zero signal to 1 or 2 bars. In actual signal strength, I went from the -124 db to -85db so a considerable gain. My wife was able to set up her hotspot and easily log into her work email. That's really all she needs. She wont be downloading big files. I further tested it inside my cabin and in the loft I can actually watch a netflix movie or stream satellite music etc. I have never ever had service inside before unless standing right against a window. And then I had to stand on 1 leg and rub my belly.

The booster is powered by my solar system. It is 12 volt so can be hooked that way, but comes with an adapter to plug into a wall outlet. So I have it plugged into my pure since inverter. I will monitor to see the overnight power draw and if it is too much, I will just turn off at night.

Installation was quite simple, it really is plug and play. The only criticism is there were no instructions so I downloaded some from the site.

So all in all I'm very happy so far....again this has been just after a couple hours of use.

rpe
Member
# Posted: 12 Sep 2020 17:36
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Thanks for sharing. We have a similar issue with weak cell signal. We are planning to re-roof the cottage in steel, and rumour has it that will drop the inside signal strength considerably, so I'm planning ahead for that eventuality.
One added complication for our location seems to be the actual bandwidth capability of the local cell tower. There is a noticable drop in data transfer rates on busy weekends, and the corresponding improvement the following day. Those issues, I think, are likely to remain the same for me regardless of signal strength, as there are just too many kiddies on the lake using bandwidth.

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