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  • Cell phone booster ?

    I have a cabin out at Flathorn Lake about 35 air miles from Anchorage. As an emergency measure, I would like to set up a base station for a cell phone at the cabin. At present, I get no reception at all. I have had people suggest using a "trucker's antenna" and/or a "booster" to assure a clear signal. Does anyone out there have experience with setting up this type system ?

  • #2
    I have one at my cabin, but it's harder than you think. I have a 32dB directional yagi antenna on top of a 40' pole. In the cabin, I have a Wilson repeater. It gives coverage of about 100 sq feet within my cabin.

    I got the antenna from a phone company that was getting rid of it, and used a spectrum analyzer to direct it toward the signal (you need the carrier signal frequency from the cell company). (I got about -100 dB) Then, into the repeater inside where there is another small antenna. The whole setup cost me about $1000, not including the outdoor antenna which was free.
    Keep in mind that you can't boost nothing. You MUST have some sort of signal, before it can be repeated. I get no service on the phone, but was barely able to pick out a signal with the spectrum analyzer.
    I'm about 12 air miles from the cell tower.


    A better option would probably be a sat phone. My friend bought a used phone on ebay for $400, and has a $40 per month unlimited usage on Globalstar- i guess they have a degrading network, so rates are cheap... it usually takes 2-3 tries to link up, and calls drop after a couple minutes, but for the price, it can't be beat.


    If for emergency only, you may want to consider VHF. I also have a marine VHF with a 12' whip on top of the 40' pole, and can talk with no issues to my brother's house 25 miles away. I'm sure that someone within radio range of a marine VHF would be monitoring channel 16, and would be able to get help for you.
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    • #3
      external cell phone antenna

      The old owner of our place used to have a analog bag phone with the old rg 59 coax connector.
      Its one of those directional cell phone antennas nailed to a spuce pole and tacked to the facia on the gable end. (got to be less than 100.00)
      I have alltel and never pay for an upgraded phone, some of the phones still have ports for external antennas.(those fancy cell phones are all about features and do not usually have the external antenna jack)
      I had to spend 5 bucks on an adapter to go from cell phone plug to female coax but it works fine.
      Its a little hilly where we are and I suspect it is flatter where you are located. I don't know how far cell phone signals typically carry,but in the "canyon" we are about 10 miles from Talkeetna, I have no idea where the cell is located for that area but the phone dang sure won't work without the external antenna.
      Many people have wondered why I don't go with the sat phone. On top of being just to dang tight, I wonder how often I would carry the thing with me any how. As long as it works at the cabin it remindes me all to well why I'm in the woods in the first place.

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      • #4
        It isn't hard. In fact it's pretty simple. My cabin is further out and more obstructed than Flathorn. I use a very small LG flip phone attached to a cell phone amplifier. The amp is connected to a yagi with large diameter coax cable. The yagi is attached to the rooftop TV antenna pole, nothing fancy. My phone works as well as in town 99% of the time, and that includes receiving and sending the signal. The same system would work even better at Flathorn. Go visit Frigid North. They have everything you need. When you buy an amp get a direct plug-in for the antenna output jack on your phone. Direct plug-ins work better than induction patches. Unfortunately not all phones have output antenna jacks.

        This setup works better than my old 3a bag phone ever worked, and considerably better than the new digital bag phone.

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        • #5
          I'll second Frigid North! They are very helpful!
          When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
          '08 24' HCM Granite HD "River Dog"
          2018 12' Moto Jet "River Pup"

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          • #6
            Flathorn

            Look up Kirk Grotte/ Jim Spickler. they would have some imput, since they are right there on the lake with you. See what they have been using all these yr,s
            Remember, Mother nature has no forgiveness for stupidity.
            If you don't care where you are, your not lost

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            • #7
              Is what you are talking about what they call a " fixed cell " system?

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              • #8
                Flathorn cell booster

                Thanks for all the input. Looks like I'll have to head off to the wilds of Spenard and see what the guys at Frigid North have to say.

                SusitnaAK : I think I have heard of this Kirk fellow, he has something to do with Susitna Energy Systems, so no doubt he'll try and sell me something. Who is this Jim Spickler character, and how do I get a hold of him?

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                • #9
                  Kirk,Yes he is the owner of Susitna energy,Still wouldn,t hurt a thing to pick his brain. I know he had a way to monitor the cabin from PC at the house,His system was the most advanced that i know.He also knows the guys at frigid north. Mr Spickler is just down Mid lake from him 600-700yrds, These guys been there for yr,s and the experince to go with it. Just a thought to go and get to know your neighbors, And see what they use, or tried, could save some time and $ buying something that might end up not working.
                  Last edited by SusitnaAk; 03-26-2009, 20:32. Reason: more
                  Remember, Mother nature has no forgiveness for stupidity.
                  If you don't care where you are, your not lost

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                  • #10
                    what service provider do you have I had acs and it wouldnt work at all at my cabin up on upper fish lake by lake creek. I changed to mta and it works good i have used it from figure 8 lake with no problem.
                    Lance
                    http://www.tcguideservice.com/index.html

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                    • #11
                      http://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Exten...MTA0W92KJ9P40J

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                      • #12
                        Bringing this back to the top.

                        Looking at getting a signal booster for the cabin. In particular, Iím looking at the weBoost (Wilson) kits. They have a few different setups and I was wondering if anyone here has one and what they thought about it.

                        My wife has an iPhone through AT&T and I have an ACS (now GCI) dumb phone. She can make calls pretty easily from our cabin but has difficulty getting on and staying on the web. I have to stand on top of the ATV parked out front of the cabin to make a voice call. So, Iím looking for a booster that works with different carriers and both voice and data.

                        The weBoost kits claim to do that but I was hoping to hear first hand experience in AK. The cabin is in the Susitna valley west of Talkeetna.

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                        • #13
                          I have no personal experience in your area, what I can do is help you educate yourself by picking the best carrier.
                          I would start by talking to both carrier. Find out that services are available and where the tower are located. If they both provide the same service that is compatible with the iphone and cell phone. If not
                          pick the tower that is closer or has fewer hills in the way. You will also find looking at there service area map will be very helpful.

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                          • #14
                            Talk with the guys at Fridge North in Anchorage they carry Wilson brand.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the replies. I'm going to stick with my phone and service for 2 reasons. 1, its $20 a month. 2, it works in McCarthy where we also have property, whereas AT&T does not. I'm pretty sure no carrier has a tower closer to our cabin. I believe AT&T is hanging on a tower near Scotty Lake south of our cabin and ACS service is coming from a tower in Talkeetna, ESE of us.

                              I'll plan to stop in at Fridge North, but was still hoping to hear 1st hand experience.

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