Remote Setup - Yagi Antennae

Hey All,
I am looking to add openWRT to my camper van. We are usually at the edge of cell reception, so I will likely need to incorporate a signal booster. The need for a directional antennae keeps getting me tripped up. My goal is to take a cell signal -> maybe boost it -> turn it into wifi

  • Is there an all-in-one piece of hardware that supports a directional or yagi antennae?
  • Should I use a booster then a lesser cell gateway with openWRT on it?
  • Can you please suggest a hardware mix to get my searching started?
  • Are there cell gateways that support Verison and Sprint equally well?

Thank you!

You are about to enter a rabbit hole the likes of which would make Alice's seem tame. Head over to ltehacks.com and be prepared to drink from a firehose for several days.

This rabbit hole has been a blast so far. I have ordered the RUT955V and am currently looking for the right sim cards to put in it. Once all that is working I plan to circle back and do boosting if need be. Thanks for the link.

Heh... as an electronics hardware professional, and as a Amateur Radio (Ham) hobbyist for decades, I can appriciate the chunk of learning curve there!

Couple of questions, comments...

"A booster" is this a amplifier/unit that recieves cell signal and rebroadcasts it as cell? Or whats known as a LNA, that goes between an antennna and a radio? Usually the latter is built in. Id think you would want to avoid the former, altogether.

Best practices would probably be... a decent gain antenna (probably directional) on a good cell signal reciever, with little to no coax between radio and antenna. Output of cell RX, hopefully ethernet, down to your classic, standard OpenWrt router/AP, just like you'd have for home, providing your campsite wireless AP. Tada, done!

Now, I have no idea of the market, what kind of gear is out there, but thats the shape of what you want to do.

Practical tips.. dont get TOO directional of an antenna... that awesome 27 dB gain might sound nice, but it will have a very tight beam, and could be a real pain to aim easily... lower gain will have a wider pattern.

And setup for that aiming, you might think about some kind of pole mounting, so you can point it easily and reliably in the best direction from your campsite, once you arrive. Lastly, most campers are aluminum lined boxes (not all), you might want to think about how to window mount your wifi unit or otherwise provide outside setup.

Sounds like a fun project!

Sounds like I am on the right track! Thank you for all the info. I would love to be a ham radio operator as well.

Thus far I have (int the mail) a router, 12db gain omnidirectional antenna and two sim cards (one for Verizon and the other for ATT). As for the minimal wires, I think my longest run will be 3' of coax. I am unsure if a directional setup would be worth all the aiming effort. Each time I set up camp or leave for the day, I would have to readjust a directional antenna. Though there is nothing keeping me from moving to that in the future.

Sound like youre on the right track. Mount the cell antennna high and in the clear as possible... top of van, vertical as possible. Imagine a flattened donught around the vertical axis of the antenna, and that you want that clear and flat with the horizon.

Coax is pretty lossy at these high frequencies, 3' is kinda long. Getting it shorter and buying higher quality would improve on that. See if you can get dependible specs on loss, if you shop for better. Lots of no name no specs stuff out there, and the wrong type could be shorter AND worse.

But hey, try it as is and see how it works.

@JonP
Most of the antennas are shipping with 50-100' of cable. If 3' is lossy, what kind of drop would those longer runs expect? My 3' run is thick with type N connectors. Will that be okay?

Sorry I haven't been back... things got busy...

I'm kinda shocked at that much cable on an antenna for cell phones? Guess it depends on type of phone and country, for which frequency the cell service is on. I'm pretty sure (here in the US) most is above 1ghz, and you need very large, special, expensive coax to not have a lot of loss.

You probably want to determine what kind it is, there hopefully would be an identifiying number on there. Coax comes in standard "types" the old RG-XX system, and others. A type will have certain qualities. Look up a table of coax types, one of the parameters will be how many dB of loss per length, at different frequencies. You'll see how the loss goes up with frequency, and be able to compare them.

Some better coax for HF communications will be maybe -2-3dB per 100', but that's at 30mhz, while you are talking 1000mhz, it would be -15 or -20db which is a huge loss. You'd be looking at 1.5-2db loss a foot. You might end up with your +15dB gain antenna attached with a cable having -15dB loss... and you've got no gain at all...

There are better ones to be had, and hopefully they shipped it with such. Bothering with a N connector is encouraging, maybe thats a sign of a better product.

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