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 Post subject: No Increase in Reception with External Cell Data Antenna
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:47 pm
Posts: 94
Hi Scott,

I live out of my van and I am considering using a Sprint cellular data device to connect to the internet. The device I am considering using is the Overdrive Pro. It transmits a WiFi signal that you can use to connect to a computer.

The Sprint network transmits on four frequencies: 1700, 1900, 2100 and 2500MHz. My thinking is that I could carry four high gain antennas and use them to get a signal if I'm not in an area where the internal antenna works. I've talked with various people at Sprint about this problem and no one seems to have any experience with external antennas.

I have already purchased an Overdrive Pro. I have also already purchased an account for the service with Sprint. The terms of the contract are for two years but there is a trial period of two weeks that you can back out on the deal. I have until next Monday to call Sprint and avoid a two year contract.

I've already purchased an omnidirectional antenna for the device.

My experience with the device leads me to believe some things for the frequencies that Sprint's network transmits. Namely, that you have to have a line of sight distance separating antennas for them to work. Right now, at my campsite I can't get any signal whatsoever. But if I climb up a nearby mountain, the device shows I have a signal of four bars. This is right at the top of the mountain. If I go down from the top just a few feet, I lose the signal entirely.

My main concern is that the external antenna doesn't seem to affect reception at all. When I connect the external antenna in an area where I have some bars, I never get any extra bars. I have driven to areas where I go from one bar to no reception at all. Then I stop in the area of no reception and I hook up the external antenna and I still have no reception. I have tried restarting the device under these conditions and I still get no reception. Because there are so many trees and things around, I can't tell if these "border areas of reception" are because I am out the range of distance or if something like a mountain is blocking line of sight transmission.

I have another option to solving my connectivity problem. I have am building a WiFi repeater and a high gain parabolic reflective antenna for it. I can get a little solar charger for the device and leave it on top of a mountain. I can figure out coordinates using the longitude and latitude coordinates from my GPS navigation system. Then I ought to be able to aim the repeater at the device on the mountain and get connectivity.

In the future I'd like to camp out in more remote sites, so I'd like to be able to know if I'd be able to expect if I can get a signal in those areas. Some of the areas I plan on going to are areas where I know there is no coverage, but there is coverage nearby.

You can get Yagi antennas that are very directional, but have gains as high as 25dBi. The external antenna I have used is rated at 5dBi, which is a pretty high gain. Still, it doesn't seem to have any effect.

Do you know what the typical gain of the internal antenna on a device like this or a cell phone is? It would be helpful for comparison.

I can't understand why this antenna seems to have absolutely no effect at all on the reception of this device.

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 Post subject: Re: No Increase in Reception with External Cell Data Antenna
 Post Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:24 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:44 am
Posts: 6174
Have you investigated other carriers such as AT&T or Verizon as far as coverage in your area? If not that is the first thing I would do. Other than that your plan for using a directional antenna pointed at the cellular hotspot might work, but I think it will be very unstable. The best option would be to use a mobile satellite connection, however that will also be much more expensive. Scott.

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