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Using a cell phone booster at the cottage

  • 19 June 2022
  • 8 replies
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Userlevel 1

Hi,

At the cottage - the cell signal is pretty weak.  We’re surrounded by

I currently have a cell phone signal booster made for cars/trucks.  It works sometimes and other times it doesn’t.  It seems to be a random thing or if I’m lucky. 

Without the booster - there is no service at all.  With the booster - I can (sometimes) get “two bars” and make calls and send text messages.   The calls do sometimes get dropped - and other times we can talk for 30min and more.  

This car/truck booster uses a “omni-directional” antennae.

I’m considering getting another cell signal booster that’s made for home/cottage use.  It comes with a Yagi antennae.

I read that Yagi (directional) antennae are better at picking up weak signals - BUT it has to be aimed directly at the cell tower. 

Does anyone have experience with cell phone signal boosters?  - using a directional “Yagi” antennae?

Thanks.

mjl

 

 

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Best answer by BobTheElectrician 21 June 2022, 12:19

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8 replies

Userlevel 1

A follow question:  I know Koodo picks up it’s singal from Telus towers.  Will it also gt its cell signal from Bell towers? 

This is what a map of the area around the cottage, in Quebec:

https://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/cancellsites.html?lat=46.240193&lng=-75.058250&zoom=11&type=Roadmap&layers=bt&pid=0

I guess I have 5 choice of directions to aim my exterior booster antennae.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Some experience. You have to aim it steadily is all I can say. You want unobstructed line of sight and to point it as best you can. You can adjust to see what gets you the best signal. I guess make sure the stand or pole is securely attached so it doesn’t move over time. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Use this site to get terrain and elevation info. Hills, etc can effectively cut off your signal even if the tower is relatively close. If you can’t get a clean line-of-sight, you may be wasting your money on a booster.

 

https://www.scadacore.com/tools/rf-path/cell-tower-map-canada/

Userlevel 1

Thank you - BobTheElectrician!

This is by far the most useful resource for finding towers in Canada.  I’ve been using 3 others, and this site is the easiest to use and has the line of sight tool between tower and cottage/mobile phone.   Currently mapping out a few directions towards towers.

 

Do you have any suggestions for a useful app for Android phones?  

I found 2:  LTE Discovery and Network Cell Info Lite.   Just not sure they’re so useful….

Thanks again Bob.

 

Michael

Userlevel 1

I manage to locate a cell signal with the cell mapper website. 

Thanks a million - Bob!!

Michael

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

The android apps mostly suffer from the same problem: a strong competitor’s tower you can’t connect with will show many bars while the one you need may be drowned out.

For a vlid result, you actually have to minimally connect with your provider and then go to the About phone panel to read the actual dB strength of that connection.

Userlevel 1

Bob -

Is there a certain “minimal dbm” value that will give a good, solid connection?

As a quick preliminary test of whether the booster will be useful  - I was able to dial a call with about -107dbm.  

I will vary the position and direction of aim of the antennae to try to find the strongest signal, before permanently installing.  To do this - I’m thinking of moving the antennae slightly and then taking a reading of the actual signal strength on my phone.    I’ll repeat this trial-and-error process until I find something a position better than -107 dbm. 

Is this what you would suggest?

Michael

 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

-107 is not a good start. You want a number like -95 to -97 (lower absolute value is better). My rural location gives me slightly better values than yours (-103 on Koodo, -107 on Rogers [identical second phone, different tower]), and the signal drifts in and out, probably due to trees between both towers and here. Spending $$$ on a booster will not solve that problem.

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