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blizztry400

join:2012-03-10

Using an antenna to make a LTE connection - half a mile out

I was wondering if you guys think I could make a connection to LTE about a 1/2 a mile from my house(maybe less). It ends right at a "hill" as you enter a valley to my house.

LTE apparently just popped up in my neighborhood, and it seems to be very close to my house. The coverage map doesn't show me or the areas that my phone gets really good LTE signal in, under the extended area, but alas, we get LTE.

I've seen a couple people post here about making a connection. I was just wondering if it was fairly common. Was thinking a parabolic grid. I live in a valley, surrounded by tall trees.

Thanks!



Jim_in_VA

join:2004-07-11
Cobbs Creek, VA
kudos:4

Do you have a phone/device you can check signal with?
--
... need help? »evdo-tips.com/


blizztry400

join:2012-03-10

Sorry, should have mentioned it in original post. My phone is Verizon and 4g capable.

I found out about LTE coverage by my house by it popping up on my phone a couple weeks ago. It also started to show up at my work(about 15 miles from house), where it was only 3g before. So, I'm thinking they are expanding near my location.

I get no LTE coverage at my house. It ends about a quarter of a mile from my house and where the valley begins.

My next step would be to get the cables and antenna and use the external antenna port on my phone, as shown on your blog, and test signal.



Jim_in_VA

join:2004-07-11
Cobbs Creek, VA
kudos:4

rarely do the current phones have an external antenna port ... does yours?
--
... need help? »evdo-tips.com/


blizztry400

join:2012-03-10

»forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-re···=1556958

Apparently, it's a port used by techs during manufacturing. My phone has one behind the case, next to the sim card.

Other people have reported the internal antenna not turning back on after using the port.

My other option would be testing the connection during the trial
period Verizon provides, and then returning.


Max Signal
Premium
join:2008-03-07
Buffalo, NY
kudos:1

That is a factory test port . Do not use it !!! It is not made for repeated insertions .


blizztry400

join:2012-03-10

Here's the coverage map for reference. The dark red is the extended 4g. The blue circle is about half a mile from my house(pin). There I get around -80 connection, with good speeds. The green circle is where there is excellent signal and excellent speed(20mb down, 15 up). Tree coverage begins right behind the green circle, and all the way down to my house.



Jim_in_VA

join:2004-07-11
Cobbs Creek, VA
kudos:4

Max has a LTE amplifier he'll be offering soon. I'd check that out.
--
... need help? »evdo-tips.com/


blizztry400

join:2012-03-10
reply to blizztry400

This is the updated coverage map for my area. I think they updated what I was already noticing through my smartphone. My phone still receives 3g over LTE even though I am now listed in the "extended" area.

I noticed LTE popped up when I walked out of my house and down my driveway, but it then switched back over to 3g. I am uncertain if they are complete with their expansion of LTE in my area, but it seems this newest map is similar to what all coverage maps look like for my area. The "valley" we live in is always a pocket of extended service.

Tomorrow, I will inquire about Fusion for my location, since I believe a map like this is all the sales drone at Verizon use to determine availability of their service.


i want fios

join:2012-06-07
Charlotte, TN
reply to blizztry400

im in a extended coverage area been with lte since day one i have purchased different 4g lte amplifiers and buy far the best one is from wireless coverage solutions you buy a kit rather exspenive 495.00 so i bought the kit used the cable and panel antenna on the inside of my house i bought a 6 foot yagi from zda comm im 6 miles from the nearest tower and my speeds are from 15 to 23 down sometimes you hit 30 and once in a blue moon 40mb download upload 9 to 12 mb i use a htc rezound unlimited grandfathered in i normally use 200 to 300 gbs a month so if your that close i would actually use a wilson 4g lte booster from solid signal 219.99 and a 4foot yagi from zda comm 70.00 call solid signal they can help you if your that close to the tower it can work you just need a lte amplifier good luck


blizztry400

join:2012-03-10

1 edit
reply to blizztry400

Click for full size
Don't worry, I got rid of the shanty shelf, and used a nice tripod stand.

Just wanted to share my experience with my attempts using an external antenna.

Modem : UML290

Modem adapter cable from MaximumSignal.com

ZDAGP750 -15 -17 from ZDA Communications

I bought the ZDAGP750 from ZDA communications. My first concern was whether I had the feed horn orientated properly(assembled in pic above) . They give no instructions with the antenna and when you contact them they give you instructions from L-com website. I was unsure because the feed horn didn't look like any I've seen on other parabolic grid antennas. So, I just winged it and assumed it followed the same rules and followed the direction of the "ribs" of the antenna.

Anyways.... something in the connection from the antenna to the modem is not working.

Long story short, I spent hours aiming the antenna with no discernable difference in signal strength or SINR. Anytime I thought I had something it would jump back to -80, or the SINR would go negative. The kicker is once when I disconnected the external antenna the signal strength still remained at around -75 to -80 and jumpy SINR & same range of speeds.....so that is when I assumed it wasn't me pointing the antenna, but the antenna was doing zilch.

I even tried pointing the antenna at a hill, or opposite direction of the tower, and it still was in the same range of signal strength.

The speeds from the modem itself is still a respectable 5 to 9 down and .5 to 3 up. But obviously I was looking for maximum output with the antenna, specifically in regards to consistency in signal.

Maybe the pigtail is the problem, or the antenna itself, or the feedhorn(haven't tried switching it yet). Anyways, I'm in about 200 deep already, and not very enthusiastic about spending more money to try and trouble shoot this.

Thanks for reading.


mc1lean

join:2007-11-18
Lincolnton, NC
reply to blizztry400

You sure that thing is looking at the right frequency for VZW? I think they use 1900 for LTE (since I've had sprint, LTE, and AT&T I forget). I'm 7miles away with a yagi (start of a valley) and I get mid/upper 70's RSSI, low/mid teens SINR, low double digits down, and sometimes double digits up. I have wild swings in signal though at times.


dmc271

join:2008-09-02
Stillwater, OK
reply to blizztry400

Your antenna itself looks OK. The feed appears to be mounted correctly for vertical polarization. The feed looks a dipole (shorter element) with a reflector (longer element) to reflect most of the signal back to the grid.

What was your elevation during testing? I've only used a grid for WiFi, but my experience with LTE yagis is that it helps tremendously to get as high as possible. Ideally, line-of-sight to the tower, though I shoot through trees OK. If you're testing from the ground, I don't think it will work unless you happen to live on a hill.


dmc271

join:2008-09-02
Stillwater, OK
reply to mc1lean

mc1lean: AFAIK, Verizon currently deploys LTE over two 10 Mhz bands in the 700 Mhz C Block: 746-756 and 777-787 Mhz.

blizztry400: What's the length of your feed's shorter element? I would assume its close to 5616/f in inches, where f is somewhere between 746 and 787. Somewhere around 7-7.5 inches?


bcltoys

join:2008-07-21
Lost today
reply to blizztry400

Getting higher did nothing for me my grid has done the best on the ground pointed down about a degree lower that level.12 to 13MB down 3 to 4MB up I pay no attention to signal strength for the most part. That's using a zda750 grid and a cellphone mate lte direct connect amp and a mis-matched dual band wilson craddle.And I am at leasted 7.5 mile's from any lte tower.


blizztry400

join:2012-03-10
reply to dmc271

@ dmc271
You are correct.

The problems I had in my last post were from testing on the ground, but the following test was done on the roof and had better results. On the roof I was able to get as low as -73 signal and really good SINR in the high teens. Without the antenna the SINR would drop off significantly, but the signal strength would still stay around -75 to -80. So, the antenna is doing a very good job with the SINR, but not as great with signal as some others have reported, but I could just need better aiming. Speeds on the roof were around 12-18 down and 5 up performed on a Saturday evening.

I am also pointing directly at trees, and almost "winging" my neighbor's house.

I will be mounting the antenna 30' from ground level(hopefully this weekend)....on a tree, no less. That will probably get me around 5' -10' higher than I had on my roof.

I am still questioning using an amp, but I will have to see how everything works once when the antenna is up. Also, are there any tools I can use to get the best aim at the tower as possible? I just winged it on the roof, with a basic sense of direction using google maps.

I will measure the elements when I get home.

Thanks for the replies. I will keep updating the thread with my results.



xrayman

join:2008-12-09
Kansas City
kudos:1

Higher is better, a 100% clear line of sight to the tower is best.


dmc271

join:2008-09-02
Stillwater, OK
reply to blizztry400

Glad to hear you got it working!

I've experienced the same as you. The SINR is more affected by the antenna than the signal strength. But, SINR also seems to be a better indicator of speed than RSSI. A SINR in the upper teens is good.

Regarding aiming, I use Google maps and a compass to get the general direction (actually a compass app on my phone), and then fine-tune from there with small rotations and checking the signal levels. I also run speed tests occasionally as a sanity check. The aiming process is a bit frustrating due to inevitable small fluctuations, but eventually you should be able to find a sweet spot direction-wise.

I've also found diminishing returns after a certain height. I use an extendable 10' mast mounted on a tripod stand on my roof. During my last tests, I didn't see any gains by going 10' vs. 5'. I'm interested in hearing your results of mounting on a tree. I'm tempted to try and go higher again.


blizztry400

join:2012-03-10
reply to blizztry400

I thought I would post my overdue update on where I am at currently....with pics!

I decided against mounting the antenna to a tree. The signal was just not consistent enough. The tree was in a spot that was more facing my neighbor's house, which could have been the problem, or something completely different. The SINR would jump from positive to negative, and overall speed was just not decent compared to a basic tripod setup, with a short mast on my roof.

So, the antenna ended up on the roof, with the spot being determined by the signal and easiest wire running into my house. The mast is 8' chain link fence pole from Lowes. With added brown spray paint for camo!




What the antenna is pointing towards:



Ground shot:



The last signal test before running the cable was around 16 sinr, and low 70's for signal. The speed tests were getting to about 17-19 down and 10+ up. However, once when everything was said and done, the speeds dropped to around the test below, and have consistently been here since mounting.




I'm sure a small adjustment will get it back to the 19-20 down, but to be honest, that little extra bump hasn't motivated me get the ladder back out and re-aim. The speeds are more than enough for my modest needs.

The only problem that stands out to me is the spikiness of lag during Xbox live. Not that I play that much to overly care, but it would be nice to have the spikiness reduced during the few times I do play. I know its inherent in this type of connection, but some days/times it is really golden, and others the connection can be real finicky.

As far as the connection consistency during normal internet browsing.... it has been fantastic. I don't think I've had to reset the router once(MBR95). I find myself on the internet less now because I don't have to deal with connection hiccups, and I can just check my few sites with really fast speeds. It is also nice to watch a few HD youtube videos and not wait for buffering.

I am extremely happy with the results, and wanted to say a big thank you to all the members here who have aided others in their pursuit to a better internet connection. Also, an extra big thank you to Jim in Va for his fantastic site and contributions to this community.


Jim_in_VA

join:2004-07-11
Cobbs Creek, VA
kudos:4

2 edits

Great speeds, solid signal. Thank you for the acknowledgement.


spkay

join:2005-11-10
Princeton, MA
reply to blizztry400

Thanks for the post and the pics of your setup Blizztry400, now you've got me motivated to post some pics and details of my system
I like the parabolic dish antenna, right now I am using the Wilson YAGI with good results but imagine the dish would add 5 or more DB to my signal strength.