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Few bars.. :(

Discussion in 'iPad General Discussions' started by Wetstuff, May 11, 2010.

  1. Wetstuff
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    Wetstuff iPF Novice

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    I live about 6 miles from a cell tower. AT&T is pretty secretive about exactly where they placed their towers; which is nuts, because it is as if Verizon does not know where they are located?! ...only paying customers.

    I can get all five bars about half the way up my driveway .. but 1-2-Nada bars at my house .. standing outside.

    [​IMG]

    I knew in advance that reception may be sketchy, so I ordered the Wi-Ex zBoost YX510-PCS/CEL Dual Band Wireless Extender from solidsignal.com ... and to back that up, I got an extra directional antenna; Wilson Electronics 301155 Dual Band Panel Antenna. It's the later device that needs to be pointed toward the tower. I got up on my roof and made a pole that extended over the ridge pointing the antenna in a variety of directions. Going back inside, with the zBoost fired up, I get maybe 2..sometimes 3 bars. (the omni directional, stick antenna included with the zBoost package gets no bars...)

    I added another 100 feet of coax and moved the antenna to a more clear section, with the hope that cell signals, like rain, may fall in an open area versus close to the trees around the house. ...to little effect.

    My next move is another 500 feet of coax so I can move the antenna closer to the area with the green arrow. It should get me about half way. I did that rather than 1,000 feet because when I walk the iPad up the property line, I get a good signal about 500 feet from the house.

    My concern is that the antenna and extender do not naturally capture better signal strength than the iPad itself, so using the iPad as a base signal seaker may be misleading... D'no?!

    .... I'll keep adding to this post in case someone has a similar situation. My goal it to delete the Verizion (no love for them...) landline at both my house and business with an iPhone. I'm a Mac loyalist. I run four Mac and have done so since the late 80's.
  2. CaptKirk
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    CaptKirk iPad Junkie

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    I can say one thing,, you have a beautiful drive way... Hope your idea works,, sounds like your going in the right directions
  3. figmo10
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    figmo10 iPad Junkie

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    Isn't there appreciable signal loss through all that cable? I know you have to try everything to solve the problem.
  4. iphone_user88
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    iphone_user88 iPF Noob

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    Hey Wetstuff,
    I just came across your post today, and thought that maybe I could help you out. I work for Wilson Electronics, and we have a great technical support team that would be willing to give you advice for your unique situation. If you want to give them a call, their number is 1-866-294-1660. Or you can email them at tech@wilsonelectronics.com
    And by the way...CaptKirk is right! You live in such a beautiful area, it makes the terrible reception worth it right? :)
  5. Wetstuff
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    Wetstuff iPF Novice

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    CK: Thanks. Having come back from a couple of days in L.A., I can tell you Peace & Quiet and very little traffic is quite precious. The downsides are limited retail resources and cultural divides.

    fig: Ya, there's a concern. I've had to learn the word Attenuation. (line loss) It appears that it may not be bad and I'm not exposed to a lot of RF. The real fear is that the supplemental antenna does not have the capture rate (my words) of Mother iPad's.

    88: The invitation on your site is clear and welcoming, but I'm a 'What happens if I take this apart?' type and will certainly call if I cannot stumble into decent results.

    Cheers.
  6. geo
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    geo iPF Novice

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    I purchased the YX 510 as well and have been pretty disappointed. It only works if I place the indoor unit near my desk where I keep my iPad most of the time. There is absolutely no increase in signal in other parts of the house (it claims a radius of 2500 square feet). I do get 5 bars much of the time but only when the iPad and YX 510 are about 2 feet from each other. Seriously considering returning the unit and just using wi-fi around the house.
  7. Wetstuff
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    Wetstuff iPF Novice

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    Geo: Did you ever call Wilson? They seem like pretty good folks...

    I was thinking about putting the repeater in the floor joists .. in the basement* .. under the living/dining room area. It would still be close but not some cheezie, plastic crapus sitting out in the open. My wife would not tolerate that...

    * Crawl space actually; I'm in a flood plain. A basement would become an indoor pool 3X a year.
  8. Wetstuff
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    Wetstuff iPF Novice

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    .... I'm about to run 500' of coax out to an area where I get 5 bars on the pad.

    Jim
  9. gentlefury
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    gentlefury iPad Guru

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    If your problem is using it at home...why not just use WiFi? I'm sure its 50x faster and more reliable.
  10. figmo10
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    figmo10 iPad Junkie

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    I did my first two years of college at (then) Salisbury State College back in 1975 after I got out of the Army and still remember the culture shock...
  11. Wetstuff
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    Wetstuff iPF Novice

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    Gentle: The signal has to originate from AT&T .. it has to get to me, one of the Other 3% before I can use it in any way. The only AT&T WiFi in my area is a single Barnes & Noble bookstore about 14miles away. Oddly, the two AT&T stores are not hotspots?

    Verizon does not provide DSL, Comcast - no cable, so the only alternative to dialup is Hughes Satellite. I had hoped that the Pad would not only allow us access to the outside, but compared to Satellite internet, be portable at a dramatically lesser cost. Every few months you hear WideFi is just on the horizon, but I am afraid there are simply too few of us to support the infrastructure.
  12. Wetstuff
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    Wetstuff iPF Novice

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    MOMENT of TRUTH...

    Using a marine compass headed off NE with 500' of RG6. I have the tools from a marine project to apply the compression fittings.. Found a perfect tree that points directly to the opening at front pasture about 300' ahead. And, confirmed, I was getting 5-bars of 3G on the iPad.

    [​IMG]


    I figured if I got a good signal at waist level, I would get a perfect signal about 15' up - which is about as high as I wanted to work on a ladder.

    To eliminate any junction problems, I first tried connecting the repeater to the end of the single 500' coax .. fired it up ... and got AT&T E. Which is about 70% slower than dialup. Useless...

    Thinking, it had to me me, I replace the fitting at the antenna in case I did not leave a long enough male end. Same result.

    [​IMG]

    Just in case the optional directional antenna was faulty, I rigged up the stick antenna that comes with the repeater. (It's the white 'stick' at the upper LH of the ladder.) Same results.

    .... I was so deflated. I thought I had a slight grasp of the subject; I was able to rig an FM antenna that gets decent signals from Wash DC .. 100+ miles away..

    It's a pisser. I can get 2-3 bars of 3G standing in my driveway, but am seemingly unable to bring 3G service in the house...
  13. NumbLock
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    NumbLock iPad Ninja

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    Were you using an antenna of the right wavelength? You know, an easy multiple of the 3g frequency?
  14. dwagner88
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    dwagner88 iPF Novice

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    Not to poo poo your project, but by this point would it not have been cheaper and easier to get a Verizon MiFi and service with a wifi-only iPad? Or do other providers not offer any better coverage in your area?
  15. CaptKirk
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    CaptKirk iPad Junkie

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    All this reminds me of the days living and growing up in a small southern calif desert town. I remember all the neighbors and friends doing every little trick they could to get a TV signal into the house.. Now,, it's the same darn thing but it's WIFI signal. Kind of funny to think back and then relate this to it....
  16. Brad Groux
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    Brad Groux iPad Fan

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    Have you looked into seeing if other cellular providers offer a better signal in your house? For example, the Sprint Overdrive or the Verizon MiFi might get a better signal and it would allow connectivity to other devices as well. There has to be a better 3G option for you than running tons of coax all over your property.
  17. Wetstuff
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    Wetstuff iPF Novice

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    Numb: A call to Wilson finds out the repeater base and the panel antenna are in fact - not compatible. Wilson and Wi-Ex are not friends and do not play well with one/another. The reseller, Solid Signal, does not make mention of this in their ordering system but they are good about returns. I will order the Wi-Ex antenna that should at least match the repeater.

    .... length of RG6 has come back to bite me. Both Wilson and SS say don't expect much at that long length. Limit it to about 100'. At least RG6 is dead cheap - about $50 for 500'.

    DW & BG: That's the essence of the problem; almost nothing reaches us. Comcast comes nowhere near me and Verizon has our land lines on a very old substation so we cannot even get DSL.

    I have Verizon, Net10 .. and had Tracfone cellular (all prepaid because didn't want one of those 24mo contracts for something that did not work) The Verizon tower is closer by 2mi than the AT&T, but their signal is still too weak to get in the house. ..and having dealt with Verizon for a lot of years; I cannot wait for an option.

    I had hopes to simply cut the Verizon land line from both my home and business and replace them with iPhones. The iPad would have given me that bonus of internet service at home and where-ever.

    My next best hope is AT&T has a new tower nearly ready to light up. It is about equidistant from their other tower but there is hope that the signal overlap will perhaps provide some signal boost.

    More soon...
  18. geo
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    geo iPF Novice

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    I have finally accepted the fact that my AT&T tower is not very near and just installed my Wi-Ex base station very near my desk and the primary place where I use my iPad. I get a consistent 4-5 bars and at least as good as dial-up speed using just cellular. It is good enough to allow me constant use of Pandora via AT&T and I can surf the web, although slowly. When I need faster speed I just crank up the wi-fi and can use the iPad anywhere in the house. I used just the cable included and put the outdoor unit on the roof.

    One thing I have learned is that Wi-Ex does not play well with anything metallic nearby, even metal blinds.

    Good luck Wetstuff.
  19. rowan
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    rowan iPad Fan

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    I think you must be doing this because you also don't have good Internet speeds, just given how rural your picture appears. But if your Internet speeds are decent, and you're on AT&T, then the AT&T 3G MicroCell seems like a good solution for $150, no additional charges.
  20. rowan
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    rowan iPad Fan

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    Also, you should get the Mark the Spot app to let AT&T know about your spotty coverage. The link is an optimistic note that your feedback doesn't go into some black hole.

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