Extreme range BR1

Thought some of you might be interested in this busman’s holiday science project in way northern Maine last summer.

When there’s no cell data and limited voice where you are going then sometimes you need to plan ahead and take extreme measures. Dual phased array log periodic antennas plus a BR1 mounted on a tripod for accurate aiming with an old BMW motorcycle battery and a solar panel! 

This little creation provided solid data (6Mbps down, 3Mbps up) to a cell site 20 miles away. That ridge in the background of the 1st photo is >5 miles away so we had to have enough gain to compensate for getting over and past that plus another 15 miles! Verizon worked better because I assume they were higher on the tower than ATT though we did use both carriers with dual SIM’s. We could sit around the campsite 100’ back up the hill in the woods and connect to the BR1 via Wi-Fi with multiple devices simultaneously!

We’ve been testing cell hardware there every summer for the last four years since it is such a fringe area. This arrangement was the most successful but I have something even bigger and better planned for this summer!



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Excellent :up::up:

Good Sharing for the real life implementation.

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Thanks! The previous year I used one of these antennas with a Wilson Quint 70db cell amp/repeater then another “inside” panel antenna 50’ up the hill towards the camp site. It worked pretty well for voice and data, but no where near as dependable or fast as just the BR1 with the dual antennas, even with less overall gain. One key thing was locating the exact cell site we were connecting to then using Google Earth to plot the distance, direction and terrain. If you use the ruler tool then name and save the route, you can right click to show elevation. Sliding along the plot with your mouse gives exact elevation and it is easy to see the ridge on the attached route. The cell tower location (on a mountain) is on the left and the camp site on the right. Factor in the height of the tower and you can see how we were able to get past the ridge. With straight line of sight and no obstructions I’m sure we could have gone a lot further:


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Cool stuff, thanks for sharing!
:up:

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Can you please provide some specs on the antenna?

Rich

Really cool setup! Great trick with Google Earth as well. What is the RSSI you see on the BR1 for cellular?

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That antenna is available from numerous sources, see the links for spec’s:

http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?p=314411&d=Wilson-Electronics-700-MHz-2500-MHz-Wide-Band-Log-Periodic-Directional-Antenna-(314411)&sku=811815023548&q=cell yagi

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Wish I had recorded the RSSI, I only used it for aiming purposes and checking between Verizon and ATT. We were so excited that it performed so well I never looked at it again once it was aimed and we stayed on Verizon. That does bring up a good point and feature request I made. It would be very helpful to have the RSSI in real-time either as a number or graphically instead of going in and out of details to get the number to update…

Hi,

Please find the screenshot below. Actually the listed values will be refresh every 5 seconds if you leave it there.


Hope this help.

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Five seconds might be OK for a casual check of RSSI but it is not ideal when aiming a high gain antenna(s). There are normal variations in RSSI due to path attenuation and atmospherics (plus other factors) so it is hard to determine whether a change in aiming moved the RSSI or if it was due to something else. In practice, you move the antenna then watch it for a period of time to see if it increased or decreased the RSSI then repeat over and over which adds up. The longer the delay in update requires a longer time to monitor the change. There was another thread where there was talk of increasing the update to 1 sec and that would be better though .5 sec would be great. I’m sure it will use more CPU, but this wouldn’t be used that frequently.

The way I found this particular cell site was by using the GSM monitor App from www.signalmonitoring.com (which does update at 1 sec plus graph) when I was testing with the Wilson repeater. That would have been impossible with just the BR1 unless I was very lucky…

One thing not obvious is that I was also experimenting with phasing distance and polarization. The board the antennas are mounted to has multiple positions so I was moving the antennas closer together plus also rotating polarization, both individually and together. The position you see them mounted to (and the widest) was what I calculated as the optimum maximum, but I wanted flexibility. All of this takes time the longer you need to wait to get results and it quickly add up, especially when you are supposed to be on vacation!

Hi Rexy,

Engineering team still looking at the RSSI display interval request. Please stay tuned :o

Than You

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Any update on this to decrease the interval?

Quick update on this, greater and more uniform gain can be achieved by angling the antennas in and thereby maintaining .5 wavelength over all bands

Miss out this forum thread …

We had enhanced this for sometimes. The refresh rate had been changed to 1 second.

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OK, thanks!

I know this is an old thread, but if you connect 2 antennas to a modem like this, do the antennas need to match? I have one 1900 mhz antenna and one of the wilson wide band yagi antennas. Currently, I only have 1 antenna connected to my modem (the 1900 mhz one). I’m thinking of running another cable and antenna and connecting both to the modem to take advantage of the mimo capabilities and also carrier aggregation to other bands. So, can one antenna be 1900 mhz only and the other be a wide band or should I order another wideband yagi to match?

You could use the 1900mhz, but not sure what you are trying to achieve. If you just want to use what you have then sure, have it. If you want maximum RX/TX gain for maximum range then use identical antennas with a proper combiner/splitter. Additionally, the antennas should be mounted 1/2 wavelength apart and that means closer at the front. Do you know for a fact you are only connecting on 1900mhz? If not then the wideband Yagi’s make more sense. MIMO is only in play when you use the Aux connector and in that situation the antenna should be more than 1 wavelength away from the primary antenna. If you want carrier aggregation then you’ll need an LTE-A version modem

I live in a rural area and have been using a Netgear modem (LB1120) with a 20 dB inline booster connected to a 1900 mHz antenna on AT&T. Band 2 has most of the bandwidth here and is much faster than the other LTE bands at my house (bands 5 and 12). So, before carrier aggregation, I focused only on band 2. I can get about 30 mbps with only band 2. However, I also have a Netgear nighthawk mobile router that does CA and I noticed that it will do 50 mbps at my house with no external antennas or booster. I think the extra speed is because of carrier aggregation combining the other bands with band 2. So, I am thinking of upgrading everything. I was thinking about a Pepwave router with LTE-A modem and also running 2 cables / antennas from outside to the new router. I also thought I would try it without any boosters. My signal is weak, but manageable I think. I just wasn’t sure if the antennas need to match for CA? My current 1900 mHz antenna has 17 dBi gain and the wide band antenna is about 10 dBi. I don’t mind ordering new antennas if there is a better option/combo.

Or maybe a better way to ask my question would be:

If i was starting over with equipment, what would give me the best speed reliably? My conditions are: 4 miles from AT&T tower in rural area and bands from tower are BAnd 2 - 20mHz wide, Band 5 - 5 mHz wide, Band 12 - 10 mHz wide. The signal strength outside of my house using app on my phone is: Band 2 RSRP is about -110 dB and BAnd 12 RSRP is about -100 dB. I don’t remember the strength from Band 5. All of those bands come from the same tower.

The setup i am thinking of is: Pepwave Max BR1 MK2 with LTE-A modem and running 2 LMR400 cables (50’ long) from the Pepwave to 2 outside antennas. Not sure which antennas yet.

You’re working off of one cell site so I would stick with one cable and one antenna once you upgrade to an LTE-A Peplink unit. 4 miles is easy, K.I.S.S. and leave the booster out. LMR400 coax if you’re going any distance.

How about one of these?

The primary benefit of MIMO is to compensate for multipath in urban settings and that Aux port is receive only so don’t waste your time, it won’t help in your situation.