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Old 02-12-2016, 06:17 PM   #1
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Default Cell Phone Booster Mod - 189FBS

I know I should not be connected as often as I am, but my work often relies on me being available. There are quite a few State Parks here in Michigan where connectivity to cell service can be a bit sketchy. In order to combat that, I installed a cell signal amplifier.

I was fortunate enough to have a have a firm that designs and installs indoor cell distribution systems for Fortune 50 company facilities as well as signal boosting for fleet vehicles. This firm has done a ton of installs nationally and they were more than happy to help me with my project. In fact, they let me road test two different units to see which would be best for me before I bought one: a Wilson Electronics weBoost and a SolidRF Mobile Force. The SolidRF unit seemed to work better for me in my trouble spots so I bought that one. Don't get me wrong - the Wilson unit was pretty good too, but the SolidRF edged it out for my tests. You can get more details here:

MobileForce 4G

First, I installed this antenna on my roof above the microwave:

Wilson Electronics Dual Band - 800-1900 MHz Roof Mount RV Trucker Antenna with Spring



I ran the antenna line through the refrigerator vent and back into the compartment under the bed above the hot water heater where I mounted it.



I pulled power in from the fuse box, through the chase behind the toilet, under the shower pan, behind the sink, behind the sofa bed and into the storage unit. I remote mounted a power switch by running a line from the unit, behind the refrigerator vent, behind the microwave and into the shelf above the sink (I wish I had taken more pictures but I got lazy). There I mounted a rocker switch on the side panel of the upper cupboard (Booster switch on top and Camera switch on bottom):



I then fished the install of the internal repeating antenna by running the wire under the sofa and back up on the wall by the bed. I used masking tape to move it around to find the best spot for coverage You have to be within 4 feet of the internal antenna to get the boosted signal, but you have to be careful that you are not too close to your external antenna so your don't get cross talk. After messing with it I placed it where you can get best service in the bed, the bunk, or on the sofa and not get signal errors as indicated by red LEDs on the amplifier unit.



I found that it hid nicely behind the drape for the queen bed and I could run the wire down behind the gasket for the slide out where it would not be seen.



In my driveway, I get significantly higher speeds out of either my Verizon phone or my wife's AT&T phone. In fringe areas, I am able to get 2 to 3 bars where I would have none otherwise. There are still some places in the UP where this doesn't really help, but these are few and far between.

Ed
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Old 02-13-2016, 05:13 AM   #2
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Thanks Ed. I was just watching a video on booster comparisons yesterday. One problem with one model was that the antennas had to be 20 feet (not your 4 feet) apart. Not workable for a small RV. We don't need one because we rarely need our phone.
What part of Michigan are you in?
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2008 Fun Finder 189 FBR, (replaced by) 1996 Shasta 265DBFW April 2017.
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Old 02-13-2016, 08:43 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michigantraveler View Post
Thanks Ed. I was just watching a video on booster comparisons yesterday. One problem with one model was that the antennas had to be 20 feet (not your 4 feet) apart. Not workable for a small RV. We don't need one because we rarely need our phone.
What part of Michigan are you in?
Yes - the distance between the antennas is VERY important when making these things work. They make a variety of interior antennas that help shorten the transmission distance so as not to cause interference. This one does a pretty good job of keeping the signal in 3'-4' radius which doesn't stretch far enough to cause a problem. For tight spots, they even make a cradle antenna so that your phone has to be in the cradle to get the boosted signal:

Cradle Plus Antenna Kit w/ FME Female Connector

I was really pleased that I had a local firm that let me experiment with a couple of boosters before I committed. I'm not so sure I would have done it otherwise.

I am down here in Midland, MI! I see you are between Manistee and Cadillac.

Ed
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Old 02-13-2016, 08:56 AM   #4
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Default Speed Test Data

I just remembered that I took some speed test data this past summer. I don't remember where we were when I took it, but we did have signal without the booster, but we got much better throughput when we turned it on.

Here is capture of the test I pulled from my phone:



The test was 7 minutes apart. One with the booster off, and the other with the boost on.

Ed
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Old 02-13-2016, 09:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ed Venture View Post
I just remembered that I took some speed test data this past summer. I don't remember where we were when I took it, but we did have signal without the booster, but we got much better throughput when we turned it on.

Here is capture of the test I pulled from my phone:



The test was 7 minutes apart. One with the booster off, and the other with the boost on.

Ed
Big difference!!!
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2008 Fun Finder 189 FBR, (replaced by) 1996 Shasta 265DBFW April 2017.
2006 Jeep Liberty 3.7 (replaced by.....)
2006 Chevy 2500HD, Duramax, crew cab
It's a big world...explore it!!!
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Old 02-13-2016, 09:48 AM   #6
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We bought our used Fun Finder in Midland. What a coincidence. Saw it on Craig's list. Probably not a good idea to buy an RV in January; especially a used one for a variety of reasons but small used ones are in demand.
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2008 Fun Finder 189 FBR, (replaced by) 1996 Shasta 265DBFW April 2017.
2006 Jeep Liberty 3.7 (replaced by.....)
2006 Chevy 2500HD, Duramax, crew cab
It's a big world...explore it!!!
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Old 02-13-2016, 10:24 AM   #7
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We bought our used Fun Finder in Midland. What a coincidence. Saw it on Craig's list. Probably not a good idea to buy an RV in January; especially a used one for a variety of reasons but small used ones are in demand.
No kidding! We did the EXACT same thing in the EXACT same town in 2013!

We were looking for a year or two and narrowed it down to two models that would meet our size and weight requirements so that we could tow it with our Ford Flex (4,500 lb towing capacity). The Fun Finder 189 was our fist choice because at only 3,100 lbs. it had a slide, and the other model did not. Over the winter, we started searching dealers, private sales, Craig's List, and eBay to start pricing used models about 4-5 years old when one pops up right here in Midland.

As it turns out, a guy about 5 miles from us was having a massive sale because he was being transferred overseas, so he was highly motivated to sell his 2008 189 FBS in January - a buyers dream. The unit was in mint condition (hardly used and stored in a pole barn its entire life) and he had it up for a starting bid of $10K on eBay when going prices for used units at dealers were about $11K.

I offered him $9K to take it right then and there. He said that he had a couple of people on eBay who were interested, but I was the only one to come and actually see it. He felt that other offers would come in higher and encouraged me to bid. I bid in $100 increments until I met his minimum of $8K and waited. No one else bid and I got it for $1000 less than my first offer. When I went to pick it up he was cordial, but admitted he should have taken the $9K.

Anyway, that great deal allowed me some extra cash to start the mods. I suspect if I wanted to sell it straight up now, I could probably get the $9K I offered to but it for 3 years ago, but you never know. All that matters is that my wife and I are happy with it.

Ed
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