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Demystifying Cellular Connectivity for Mobile RV Workers – PT2: The Uni-Directional Antenna

Let’s start with a Use Case.

We’re in the desert, far from any towns, highways, paved roads, creature comforts and cellular towers. We are here to have fun, BUT we also have to get a bit of work done. It’s Boondocking at the fringe, and for those of us who work remotely and live this Full-Time RV lifestyle, it’s a common reality.

We have a Cellular Booster, we have an Omnidirectional antenna, but we are either getting a very weak 3G signal or a moderate 1x signal, and even those are not stable or reliable. How can we solve this problem? What if we have a Skype call and don’t want to drive for an hour just to get into 4G range?

Enter the Uni-Directional Cellular Antenna!

We purchased a “YAGI”, the vertical “shark fin” looking antennas that point like arrows towards your signal. There are many, many different types, covering many frequency ranges. You will need to research what you need and how you plan on using it before purchasing! This is important! It’s very easy to miss a crucial frequency, and not all Cellular providers use the same frequencies…so do your research!

The Mast

Once again, we went with the Custom route. Our idea here follows the Use Case.

  • Since this is a Unidirectional antenna, it must be aimed at the source of the signal.
  • It also needs to be raised higher than any other point on the roof, but collapse to not be the highest point while we travel.
  • Durability – it’s bolted to the side of the Fifth-wheel, so I wanted it to be strong…very strong. VERY, very strong!
  • Not an eyesore (though this is kind of relative…my wife accepts it as “my domain”, but I don’t believe she would call it “pretty”!).

We still have not installed the Rotor (not enough time yet, but it’s going in soon), so all of the aiming is done by hand, so the final point:

  • Safe to aim with one hand! I don’t want to fall off the ladder while I’m aiming this thing!

All goals are achieved with this simple design. You can buy similar designs off the shelf, so no worries. Hell, you can buy really slick solutions for a price as an “all-in-one” package.

How Does This “Demystify” Cellular Connectivity?

Simplicity.

You see a lot of technical descriptions and explanations when all many people want is “Just show me what works!!”. This works. Period.

We were in said desert environment, aimed the antenna and voila! I had a 4G LTE signal that was solid and reliable. Even better? There were 1,500 people crowded into the area all fighting over scraps of a weak signal that I wasn’t touching. So while their bandwidth was getting clobbered, I simply floated above it all, unmolested. Skype calls, video, etc. were all perfect. I even had an ER  Trauma Surgeon use our network to scan MRIs for an emergency, so I guess it helped save a life!

Next: Cables-probably the most overlooked and most important part of your setup!

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