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Solving an RV Resort Problem

  One of our problems which need solutions is cell phone reception. I have tried three different cell phone antennas and finally believe I've found one that solves the problem. This is a Wilson antenna with a magnetic base. It is designed for a vehicle with a ferrous metal roof for the magnet. Since we have a rubber roof I put a piece of primed, galvanized steel on the roof. Before buying The Wilson Cell Phone Antenna
Click to see What's New at RVeCafe File the edges the steel I called Wilson to learn what size was needed. When I attended the communication seminar at the Great North American RV Rally, I learn an antenna of this type needs a metal "plain" to direct the signals. Wilson Tech department told me I needed at least 8 inches
of sheet metal. I purchased about 15 inches. I carefully filed off the pointed corners and sharp edges to be sure there would be no damage to my rubber roof. When I decide I've found the perfect spot, I will use Dicor Use Dicor for glue
Bring the wire through a window

to glue the metal to the roof.

You will get about 10 feet of antenna wire with the antenna. This wire is brought in a window. I may notch or drill the the rubber molding so as not pinch the cable but I haven't decided about that yet.

  You will need an adaptor cable to connect the antenna cable with your phone. The adaptor cable must run down the back of your phone so is equipped with Velcro to hold the cable in place. Since we have two phones, we purchased additional Velcro for the second phone and Inside Hanger
  Attach with Velcro

intend to use this Velcro to attach the antenna cable to the side of the fifth wheel.

This partially solves the problem. Partially because the phone batteries lose power quickly in analog which is what we have at the lake. When that happens the reception becomes poor again. We would need to buy a different style power

  charger to connect to AC and the antenna at the same time. We are delaying that purchase since our cell phone contracts will expire soon and we may want to upgrade these two year old phones. We'll still need the external antenna with new phones however. We've been using this new antenna for about five days now (it's August 18, 2005) and are still happy with our solution. If that changes, I'll let you know as I did with the thermometer.

  August 23, 2005: Update ... Ron, an RVeCafe reader has emailed me to suggest another solution to my cell phone problem. I will say that I have spent about $35 to solve this problem and so far, although not perfect, my solution seems to be working. You will see that Ron's suggestion is considerably more expensive. Ron has provided some very valuable links with his solution. So here you go:
  The repeater is the big deal in Arch's case.  It doesn't matter which
phone you have, because it isn't directly connected to the repeater.  An
amplifier is cheaper, but requires a direct connection.

Cell Phone Repeater
It is a Wilson Dual Band RV/Trucker antenna. I also got the 800 MHz in
vechicle Amp. I got all of this from Alternative Total
price $497.35 including shipping.        ----------  The pics show his
installation and some comments.
There is now a company that makes a dual band repeater:
<Hi, I recall some messaging a while back where we were talking the
limitations of most extenders at the time being limited to the 1900 Mhz
bandwith. Well I've seen my first that actually reports to handle the 800
Mhz and 1900 Mhz bands. Sigma Automotive offers portable and built-in
automotive amplifiers that, according to their web site, offers users
10-times more signal strength. Their signal boosters work with most
carrier protocols (Analog/AMPS, CDMA, TDMA and GSM) at 800 & 1900 MHz -- and, is compatable with Bluetooth technology. It provides gain in both transmit and receive paths. Best yet, for the carpool lane, the units
work with up to three phones simultaneously. The pointer is:
Also, you can also visit,
enter your zip code and locate your service provider to verify that your
service is in the 1900 band. (Note: PCS systems run at 1900 MHz; many
Cellular systems runs at 800 MHz.)>
  As it turns out, I use US Cellular which runs at 800 MHz. Thanks Ron.
Bob at the Escapade May 4, 2006: While attending the Escapade last week we were able to visit with many vendors. One of those vendors was Bob who sold Wilson cell phone antennas along with accessories to make the antennas work better. The description above showing the "solution" to our cell phone problem just barely works and I have wondered if installing a "trucker's" antenna might work better. Bob says the trucker's antenna has twice the power of the magnetic antenna ... I think it is more powerful, but probably not twice as good.
I chose to purchase the trucker's antenna from Bob along with a special PVC mounting system that Bob made himself. The antenna comes with 12 feet of antenna wire to get from the antenna into the trailer then connects to an adaptor to fit our phones. Bob took our old antenna as a "trade-in" and gave an additional discount because we already own the adaptor. Gear bought from Bob
Mounted to the trailer slide The PVC mount is attached to the trailer slide using industrial strength velcro. Bob has figured everything out because the antenna wire passes through pre-drilled holes in the PVC then into the trailer through the rubber slide seal.

Bob gave me an extension which puts the antenna about 5 feet above the roof of the trailer. There is still plenty of antenna wire inside the trailer to be able to sit at the couch and talk while connected to the antenna. Of course this is all removed and stored before traveling but Bob has provided bungie ties to hold everything together during travel.

Gwen and I have both used the new antenna which works better than the old system. It's still not perfect but very usable. I know there is a mountain between us and the cell tower so I'm not sure how it works at all, just glad to be able to use our cell phones at the lake.

The antenna towers above the trailer
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