Cell Signal Strength Meter

   / Cell Signal Strength Meter #1  

downsizingnow48

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I use a Wilson directional antenna and amplifier to pick up a Verizon cell phone signal. It works pretty well. Without the antenna and amp, I have zero signal at ground level (ranging from "no service" to -110 db). With it, I get -80 to -90 db according to the iPhone internal signal strength meter. We use a USB727 modem plugged into a wireless router for internet.

I oriented the antenna using the OpenSignal cell phone app, which shows you an arrow that points in the direction the signal is coming from.

We recently had very heavy winds that rotated the antenna about 35 degrees from where I had it aimed. The signal is noticeably improved.

What I want to do now is get a real signal strength meter, that plugs into the coax from the antenna, and then rotate the antenna while checking the signal strength. I figure this will be a more accurate way to orient the antenna than the cell phone app.

I found a signal strength meter but it costs $330:
Amazon.com: WilsonPro 46118 RF Cellular Signal Meter: Cell Phones & Accessories

So this is my question. Is there a generic and cheap signal strength meter I can use instead of the Wilson meter? I don't know enough about radio frequency electronics to figure this out on my own.

Thanks for any help!
 
   / Cell Signal Strength Meter #2  
I use a Wilson directional antenna and amplifier to pick up a Verizon cell phone signal. It works pretty well. Without the antenna and amp, I have zero signal at ground level (ranging from "no service" to -110 db). With it, I get -80 to -90 db according to the iPhone internal signal strength meter. We use a USB727 modem plugged into a wireless router for internet.

I oriented the antenna using the OpenSignal cell phone app, which shows you an arrow that points in the direction the signal is coming from.

We recently had very heavy winds that rotated the antenna about 35 degrees from where I had it aimed. The signal is noticeably improved.

What I want to do now is get a real signal strength meter, that plugs into the coax from the antenna, and then rotate the antenna while checking the signal strength. I figure this will be a more accurate way to orient the antenna than the cell phone app.

I found a signal strength meter but it costs $330:
Amazon.com: WilsonPro 46118 RF Cellular Signal Meter: Cell Phones & Accessories

So this is my question. Is there a generic and cheap signal strength meter I can use instead of the Wilson meter? I don't know enough about radio frequency electronics to figure this out on my own.

Thanks for any help!

I doubt you are going to find a cheap accurate signal strength meter at these frequency's, But why don't you trust the app? I would. I have only been involved in this type of activity for about 50 years. For what that is worth. :) 73 de K0UA
 
   / Cell Signal Strength Meter #3  
This is really interesting to me. We don’t have any cell signal where we live but we use WiFi calling over high speed internet provided through fiber optic.

I’d like to add a cell phone signal amplifier and see how much signal I could pick up.

Could you post a link to your antenna and amplifier? I’d lie to learn a bit more about how this is done, how much it would be, and what the best options are.
Thank you.
 
   / Cell Signal Strength Meter
  • Thread Starter
#4  
This is really interesting to me. We don’t have any cell signal where we live but we use WiFi calling over high speed internet provided through fiber optic.

I’d like to add a cell phone signal amplifier and see how much signal I could pick up.

Could you post a link to your antenna and amplifier? I’d lie to learn a bit more about how this is done, how much it would be, and what the best options are.
Thank you.

Here is a link to the current model of what I got some years back. The Wilson website gives good info on whether a booster kit will help and how to figure out if it will help in your circumstances.

weBoost Connect 4G Directional Cell Phone Signal Booster | 47:)3
 
   / Cell Signal Strength Meter
  • Thread Starter
#5  
I doubt you are going to find a cheap accurate signal strength meter at these frequency's, But why don't you trust the app? I would. I have only been involved in this type of activity for about 50 years. For what that is worth. :) 73 de K0UA

The reason I wanted to double check the cell phone app is that the best signal seems to be coming from another direction than what it shows. The cell phone app points roughly northwest up the coast, which makes sense, the closest town is about 5 miles that way. And that is where I pointed the antenna. But the wind storm rotated the antenna so it points toward the Pacific Ocean, where the nearest tower is probably Japan. And yet the signal is better.
 
   / Cell Signal Strength Meter #6  
The reason I wanted to double check the cell phone app is that the best signal seems to be coming from another direction than what it shows. The cell phone app points roughly northwest up the coast, which makes sense, the closest town is about 5 miles that way. And that is where I pointed the antenna. But the wind storm rotated the antenna so it points toward the Pacific Ocean, where the nearest tower is probably Japan. And yet the signal is better.

What do you have for an antenna, feedline, support structure, and terrain. Are you sure where that nearest tower is? Pictures might help. Your antenna pattern may easily be skewed by many factors including feedline dress or mounting structure. I would go with the biggest signal as show on the app.
 
   / Cell Signal Strength Meter #7  
You best be careful, when you start to learn about antennas, feedlines, and signal propagation, you will discover the more knowledge you gain the less you know. Then it can become an obsession, and you want to know more. Pretty soon you wind up like me, a guy with 50 years of experience with this and soon you realize you know next to nothing.

In other words, you can spend a lifetime of learning about this subject and still have a lot to learn. I have finally "bit the bullet" and started in with downloading EZNEC the antenna modelling software. I have avoided it for years, because I knew so much already, and I knew that if I went down this road, I would "know" even less. But I did it anyway, and it is an eye opener for sure. With it you can model your antennas, and look a 3d and 2d plots of their radiation patterns, elevation and azimuth plots and current distribution on them and much much more. Pretty exciting stuff for a nerdy engineer type like me.

And it was all so simple when I started out and "knew" all that needed to be known. :) Good luck on your journey
 
   / Cell Signal Strength Meter
  • Thread Starter
#8  
Well yes that is a daunting prospect to be sure. And when I explained what happened to my wife, she said, is it working? I said yes. She said, then forget about it. And it is true, I have plenty of other things closer to the top of my to-do list!
 
   / Cell Signal Strength Meter #9  
they're adding and adjusting towers all the time.......could be they added a new tower that has a stronger signal in the new direction.......when we first moved here there was a very strong cell signal from our carrier......then suddenly one day it disappeared........had to walk around outside to get even one bar......when I asked around found out that the carrier had its tower cranked up high and once new towers were installed by other carriers they were forced to dial it down.....hence no more signal where I was......needless to say I switched carriers..........Jack
 
 
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