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Cellular Antenna

Old 11-28-2003, 07:58 AM
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Default Cellular Antenna

I need recommendations on installing a cellular antenna on a T-top, such as antenna height. I will be fishing offshore as far as 40-50 miles. Will an antenna really help with cell phone reception?
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Old 11-28-2003, 09:35 AM
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Yes, The height of the antenna will matter.

I have experienced cell coverage 8-10 miles off shore at best with the antenna includes with the phone.

Check this site for both cell antennas and amplifiers.

http://www.digitalantenna.com/index.html

I have no experience with their cell equipment but I'm very happy with their 529 VHF antenna.

Dave
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Old 11-28-2003, 10:01 AM
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I have Digital Antenna's 4' cell model on our boat, it replaced a 4' version by Shakespeare that I used to use with a bag phone. The antenna I have now is used with a Motorola C-60 phone.

With the old bag phone, and its higher power, I was consistantly able to have cell service 35 miles off shore. With the digital phone I have now 10~12 miles is about our limit even with the 4' antenna.

If you mount on a T-Top your antenna will probably be about 4' higher up than ours is (the antenna mount for ours is roughly 5 feet above the water). I don't know that it will make any difference at the frequencys that cell phone operate at, but it can't hurt a bit to put it up as high as possible. I would not bother with one of the 8-foot cell antennas though because I don't think the additional antenna height of 4' will gain you any range but it will cost you more for the antenna.

I'm sure you are aware that the good folks at Digital Antenna make a power amplifier you can pick up for (I think) about $350. I've seen people post that they work well but I haven't tried one myself, nor have I been on a boat that used on, but if anyone has first hand experience with one of the I am VERY interested in your experience with one.

Thom
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Old 11-28-2003, 10:15 AM
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Thom --

I was on a boat with an 8 foot Digital combi cell/VHF antenna hooked up to one of their boosters. Probably 15-18 feet tip height above water. I made a call from 50 miles (!) offshore, no kidding, using my little Nokia phone. The land tower was probably one on a hill near the shore, perhaps 300+ feet elevation.
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Old 11-29-2003, 10:44 AM
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I have a 2 foot Shakespeare on my T-Top and rarely run into no service. But I am rarely more than 30 miles out.
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Old 11-29-2003, 07:04 PM
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I have a digital 8 foot cellular antenna and the DMS 4000 digital booster connected to it.I can get great reception 50 miles out using AT&T service.This is how the tuna fisherman in Nor Cal communicate without putting numbers on the radio,That booster really works!

JOHN
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Old 11-30-2003, 08:08 AM
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I've got the Digital Antenna booster with 8' antenna. The range is amazing. I put velcro on it and place it inside my equipment cabinet. Hook the antenna and have it connected to external connector in dash. Looks great and works great. Back at the dock pull it out, and plug it in my car for travel. Back home, pull it out and hook it up in my house with 120V converter. Now I get great reception in my home, where before it was practically non existant. The folks at Digital hooked me up with all the connectors. antennas, etc. Great folks, great product.
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Old 11-30-2003, 09:11 AM
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How much does the amp/antenna combo cost? Can't find a price on the net.

SN
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Old 11-30-2003, 10:06 AM
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John and SeaHawg,

That is exactly the information I was looking for. I'd like to improve service on the water of course but I'm a lot more interested in its use here at the house.

Our cell phones do not work at our house, one of he drawbacks to living way to hell and gone out in the country. I can sometimes get just one signal strength bar and an indication that it has recpetion, but never enough that we can make or receive a call. This has been the case with our current phones and every digital one we've had in the past. We can, however, just walk outside away from the house and up the hill a couple of hundred feet and get reception. There are some places on our place where recpetion is actually very good. So I suspect we could really use one of these things at home as well as in the boat. So you can immagine how happy I am to hear about 50 mile recpetion and easy connect/disconnect set ups for the home and vehicles.

Thom
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Old 11-30-2003, 11:28 AM
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Cabosn

Go to Digitals web site for online suppliers
http://www.digitalantenna.com/dealers/online.html
I bought from Consumers Marine
http://www.consumersmarine.com/newse...tenna&x=15&y=6

The Amplifier was $250, the 8' dual cellular and AM/FM antenna was $150. The cellphone adapter for my phone was about $20. The dash connector was $15. The car antenna was $25.

Hope this helps.
Seahawg
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Old 11-30-2003, 11:33 AM
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Thom,
Get it. You will ne glad you did. Our house sits in a cellular hole with almost no service. I drifted from 1 to no bars on the strength meter. Got this with little stick on glass car antenna for my home office. Now I usually have three to six bars. Fluctuation I am sure is due to number of people hitting that cell tower at any given time. I'm contemplating getting a 4' boat antenna and putting that on the roof. I'm guessing that would push me up to a full seven bars.
Seahawg
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Old 11-30-2003, 01:20 PM
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Thom:
I can't tell you about home use because I have hard wired the booster into my boat.But on the water 50 miles is no problem at all.That is with AT&T service,it works the best offshore on the west coast.The booster is a bit pricey but if it will improve your service at home you can't go wrong.I got mine at bethel marine for around 280 bucks.You do need a cellphone that has a external antenna connector,a lot of the new ones don't.

JOHN
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Old 11-30-2003, 01:29 PM
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Yep, my phone (my wife uses the same model) has the external connector and in fact I'm using it now with one of Digital's adaptors and hooked directly into one of their 4' antennas on the boat. I was thinking of making the amplifier itself mobile with quick disconnects both in the boat and house. I am convinced now to do it. I don't care much about the cost. I would allow me to get rid of one of the three phone lines into the house now as well as finally be able to actually take advantage of the free long distance of the cell phone. The amplifier will pay for itself in short order. Thanks for your comments.

Thom
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Old 11-30-2003, 04:50 PM
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Has anyone compared performance with the external antenna but without the amp? I suspect the amp really doesn't improve performance unless there is a long cable run. Cell phones are capable of putting out 2 to 3 watts which is the same as the amp. They probably use identical rf modules - why would they be different? I can see some advantage with a long cable run where you place the amp near the antenna and the amp gain makes up for the cable loss. Otherwise, where's the beef?

SN
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Old 11-30-2003, 06:55 PM
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Cabo, I was under the impression that only the old analog bag fones put out 3 watts. I think the digital handhelds are limited to 600 mv's. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

Al

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Old 11-30-2003, 07:23 PM
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Lobsta1,
You are right. The handheld digital cellphones of today are 0.6 watts. The old bag phones were 3 watts. The booster takes you to 3watts.
Seahawg
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Old 12-01-2003, 05:18 AM
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Seahawg,

Good to know. We have all been burned on the boasts of audio equip manufacturers as to audio output power. I am being cautious about this one as well. Funny that you can buy more power than the next guy just because it is not a handset. I wonder if the manufacturers are bowing to the cancer scare. Anyway, not having to deal with the cable loss to the antenna is also a big deal - assuming you can get the box close to it.

SN

SN
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Old 12-01-2003, 05:41 AM
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My understanding is that it has to do with radiation too close to the brain. The handheld jobs have all the guts right up against your head, whereas the old bag phones and the new amplifiers are moving the radiation away from the handset. If you are concerned about the distance from the antenna, give the folks at Digital a call. I found them to be very upfront and knowledgable.
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Old 12-01-2003, 06:36 AM
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i have a qualcomm tri-mode cdma phone with verizon service out of south jersey. i max out at about 12 miles offshore. i have an 8' digital antenna with the booster. i originally installed just the antenna without the booster and hardly saw any improvement in service. the booster helped just slightly.

i definitely believe what there is in the way of shore towers makes all the difference. i get better reception down off of atlantic city where i know there are towers on top of some of the casinos than off of long beach island.

interestingly enough, i can't even hardly use my phone in the marina when it is hooked up to the external antenna. when i take it off the external antenna, it works ok. i suspect this has something to do with all the other antennas and wires in the marina must somehow interfere. maybe thom has a better electrical explanation.

honestly, i'm not real happy with what i've got for the $400+ i've spent on the antenna and booster. i think you have to talk to people specifically in your area to get any reasonable idea how well it works. this winter i'm getting a sat phone and will have that on the boat next year.

------------
Capt. Adam
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Old 12-01-2003, 07:09 AM
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Captadamnj'

Sorry to hear that. I'm a little mystyfied how these external antenna connections work. My phone doesn't seem to have a connector although maybe the little antenna pulls off? I seem to recall my last phone had one but how do you switch off the internal antenna? Is it software contolled or does the plug somehow effect the switchover?

SN
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