26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

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xdavidx
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by xdavidx » Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:59 pm

That *is* a long way! lol

The online databases often have incorrect and missing information, so I wouldn't take too much stock in that. The locations, especially, are often very wrong. If you use google maps in satellite mode and find the tower there and get the coordinates from that, then you'll have the true location. Taking the router with smaller antennas to the tower is one way to really know what it can do. Parking a few blocks away is better than directly under.

What terrain is this in? Curious, since you can reach that far without too much attenuation from plants, apparently.

How did you manage to lock onto 2 different towers with those narrow beamwidth antennas. Did you change the aiming between or is one tower behind the other? I guess if you get far enough away from them, then that narrow beamwidth could still cover a wider physical area that encompasses towers to the side of each other.

Closer may not end up being better for speeds. The tower capabilities and congestion may play a bigger role, since you have the ability to get a good signal at a variety of distances. However, weather may lower the signal quality more at those longer distances, so you might want to test during rain before making any permanent mounting configurations. I'm guessing you can reaim at will, but just something to keep in mind.

Fun science experiment!

Need4Speed
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by Need4Speed » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:48 pm

Well I'm definitely making improvements. There's no information on the cell id I'm connected to on cellmapper but I believe it's definitely the same tower I'm aiming for since the first 4 numbers coincide, my first tweak on the mast jumped speeds way up...
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get the exact at!gstatus? On this first tweak to the mast of course i got a phone call so after climbing down was on the phone but did quick speed test and it was jaw dropping.
SmartSelect_20190819-201313_Speedtest.jpg
It had to have been band 2. That's the fastest bandwidth available in my area i believe(15mhz). Must have had 3CA to be able to pull that kind of dl. So after getting off the phone i was able to get back to business tweaking for the best signal. Dumb me should've left it alone after getting that kind of dl speed but the chase for best possible got the best of me. Speeds got better but imo the live network status is somewhat flawed. It'll tell you the best dbm but that's not necessarily the best for speeds as i tweaked my mast to the best possible dbm, the speed was worse. So I'll need to go up the tower to do some more testing based on just speed tests. Also I'm not able to grab b2, it keeps giving me b66 on the unknown cell id. I'm deathly afraid of tweaking the router to band locking in any way especially when things are just working at this point. After locking down the mast and calling it a night I've been monitoring the debugging info I'm noticing b2 occasionally pop up under 3CA from just 2CA(both b66). So i definitely have some more tweaking to get dialed in. Here's the final lock in stats for tonight... I did a speed test via my ethernet on pc then pulled stats via my phone to see 3CA stats.

Code: Select all

AT!GSTATUS?
!GSTATUS: 
Current Time:  10873		Temperature: 55
Reset Counter: 1		Mode:        ONLINE         
System mode:   LTE        	PS state:    Attached     
LTE band:      B12    		LTE bw:      5 MHz   
LTE Rx chan:   5145		LTE Tx chan: 23145
LTE SSC1 state:ACTIVE      	LTE SSC1 band: B2     
LTE SSC1 bw  : 15 MHz  		LTE SSC1 chan: 675
LTE SSC2 state:ACTIVE      	LTE SSC2 band: B4     
LTE SSC2 bw  : 10 MHz  		LTE SSC2 chan: 2200
LTE SSC3 state:NOT ASSIGNED
LTE SSC4 state:NOT ASSIGNED
EMM state:     Registered     	Normal Service 
RRC state:     RRC Connected  
IMS reg state: No Srv  		

PCC RxM RSSI:  -53		PCC RxM RSRP:  -69
PCC RxD RSSI:  -46		PCC RxD RSRP:  -67
SCC1 RxM RSSI: -53		SCC1 RxM RSRP: -84
SCC1 RxD RSSI: -40		SCC1 RxD RSRP: -75
SCC2 RxM RSSI: -54		SCC2 RxM RSRP: -85
SCC2 RxD RSSI: -42		SCC2 RxD RSRP: -80
Tx Power:      -1		TAC:         4004 (16388)
RSRQ (dB):     -11.1		Cell ID:     0349a411 (55157777)
SINR (dB):     12.6


OK
I can't pull up any information on that 55157777 cell. The one I'm trying to grab is 55157770 that has b2.

Here's the speed test ran on laptop via ethernet during stat capture. Still unsure how to lock in Chicago as favorable server as its never been available to favorite.
20190819_223844.jpg

Terrain in my area is pretty flat. Open corn fields all around with little foliage. Here's the Google earth comparison of the 2 towers. Definitely confirmed that the big old grid antennas are doing thier job.
Towers.jpg
A few pics from the top of my tv tower pointing toward lte tower.
20190819_194537.jpg
20190819_194547.jpg

xdavidx
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by xdavidx » Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:28 pm

HA! So you don't *know* which tower the 166 Mbps came from. :lol: That is damn fast, and at such a distance. But it does make me think of searching for Walter in On Golden Pond: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_h8C_rCbgU You know he's out there somewhere now! :lol:

Your uploads are suffering with only 5MHz available, but the downloads sure lover that tower. It must be a very underutilized tower. 6:36 PM isn't the hottest time of the night usually (at least around here), but it also isn't the slowest time.

As for a band coming and going, the towers can do that based on congestion, on purpose. Just didn't want you driving yourself crazy with aiming. It *is* possible aiming is the reason too, but your signal stats are very good, so good chance it is the tower doing it. And there isn't much you can do about that, other than block the other bands. One way to get a better idea if it is the tower doing this is to run the at!gstatus? command, during a speed test, between 3 and 4 AM. Or maybe in farm country, 2 and 3 AM would work better. The idea is to run it when most people are sleeping. If it consistently gives you the extra band then, but doesn't during waking hours, then it is probably the tower taking it away in an effort to share resources among consumers.

Not sure how your tower mast is set up, but if if you mark a line on whatever is clamping the mast, to use as your zero, and then draw a line on the mast each time you get a spot you want to keep (that lines up with the zero), then you can get back to it easy enough.

The speed can jump around based on congestion. The RSRP won't. So you *should* get the best average speed when you have it set to the best RSRP (for a given CID). What is theoretically possible is for your antennas to be hearing two towers and getting some interference from the one you aren't connected to. If so, then aiming to the side of your target tower that is on the other side from the interfering tower, could, in theory, lower your RSRP, but increase your speeds. I'd bet more on congestion, however.

You definitely don't want to go off just one speed test or even 10 in a short period of time. If you find multiple towers with good speeds, you could mark them off on the mast (at lowest RSRP) and then set it at one of them and use this tool to automate running the speed tests every N minutes for a day: https://testmy.net/auto Of course, if you are *using* the connection (phones, computers, etc. connected to it, especially if Windows is doing Windows Updates), that will skew the results. Best would be just a single computer with firewall set to not allow outbound connections except for the speedtest.net app. Or Linux, if you have that available.

Anyway, you'll get an idea of what times of day are best and how much the speed varies at certain times of day, what your top speed is, your minimum speed and your average. Then you can try one of the other towers too. However, to be 100% sure you know what the tests are testing, you'd want to run the at!gstatus? command periodically to make sure you aren't jumping CIDs. That would invalidate the tests somewhat. On the other hand, if you have two towers (or CIDS on the same tower) that close together and *if* they both get great speeds, then you have redundancy built into the system in case one tower goes dark.

Your primary and secondary antenna signal strengths for a given carrier are off by more than a little bit. Either the antennas aren't aimed in the same exact direction (which would be magnified at these distances and with that narrow beamwidth) or the lower one is hitting some obstacles or reflections off metal roofs are affecting it more than the top one. Moving it up closer to the top one may improve the situation.

**CORRECTION: I looked at the RSRP values wrong the first time. The primary antenna is worse than the secondary. So either they aren't in sync for aiming and the lower antenna is pointed better, or you have the top antenna plugged into the secondary antenna port on the router and the bottom antenna plugged into the primary antenna port on the router. More info in my next post on this.

Having said all that, I'm just talking about if you really want to eek out the last Mbps for fun. You are getting signal strengths and speeds that most people only dream about, especially at those distances.

Congrats on an awesome setup! And thanks for sharing the details and the pictures.
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Need4Speed (Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:05 am)

Need4Speed
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by Need4Speed » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:14 am

Grabbed a quick look before heading out the door this morning. It's finally giving me "walter" :lol: this is the cell id I've been trying for. So I'm guessing that it's only going to give it to me when there's no congestion.

Code: Select all

AT!GSTATUS?
!GSTATUS: 
Current Time:  42753		Temperature: 48
Reset Counter: 1		Mode:        ONLINE         
System mode:   LTE        	PS state:    Attached     
LTE band:      B2     		LTE bw:      15 MHz  
LTE Rx chan:   675		LTE Tx chan: 18675
LTE SSC1 state:INACTIVE    	LTE SSC1 band: B66    
LTE SSC1 bw  : 10 MHz  		LTE SSC1 chan: 0
LTE SSC2 state:INACTIVE    	LTE SSC2 band: B66    
LTE SSC2 bw  : 10 MHz  		LTE SSC2 chan: 0
LTE SSC3 state:NOT ASSIGNED
LTE SSC4 state:NOT ASSIGNED
EMM state:     Registered     	Normal Service 
RRC state:     RRC Connected  
IMS reg state: No Srv  		

PCC RxM RSSI:  -53		PCC RxM RSRP:  -76
PCC RxD RSSI:  -50		PCC RxD RSRP:  -75
SCC1 RxM RSSI: -104		SCC1 RxM RSRP: -126
SCC1 RxD RSSI: -66		SCC1 RxD RSRP: -111
SCC2 RxM RSSI: -102		SCC2 RxM RSRP: -125
SCC2 RxD RSSI: -59		SCC2 RxD RSRP: -103
Tx Power:      --		TAC:         4004 (16388)
RSRQ (dB):     -10.0		Cell ID:     0349a40a (55157770)
SINR (dB):     -3.4


OK
SmartSelect_20190820-080339_Speedtest.jpg
I'm definitely pleased with the results. Huge upgrade compared to the 6mbps/2 my old isp gave me at almost double the price. If it can produce consistent results switching between the two cells I think I'll just leave it be. Definitely don't want to over tweak and loose these results. I'll have to monitor over the next few days.

xdavidx
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by xdavidx » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:16 am

You caught Walter!!! :-)

Interesting that Walter's signal strength is worse than the other CID. The strengths of the primary CIDs may be close enough that it is a toss of the dice which one you get. It doesn't use secondaries for deciding that. It is also possible that it is taking away the other CID's primary to give it to other people. You would then be left with its secondary vs Walter's primary and Walter's primary has a stronger signal, so you get it. That does make perfect sense, since the other CID's primary is B12. I get B12 taken away here during peak times, although it is a secondary carrier for me. It is probably giving B12 to other users who it thinks are farther away. You are treated as if you are close to the tower, since your signal strength is so good. B12's lower frequency travels farther, so it reserves it for outlying users who can't get the higher frequencies.

It is interesting that you are able to get those speeds with the poor signal strengths of the two B66 carriers. They probably aren't operating optimally at that strength, but still give you a bit of a boost over the 15 MHz of the primary band.

Also, I realized that I looked at your RSRP values wrong in my previous post. Your primary antenna is worse than the secondary. So that most likely means either a poor connection in the cable, or the antennas aren't aimed in sync. That could be left to right aiming or up and down. If you are able to get them in sync (or fix the cable connection), your speeds should increase for Walter. It may not affect the other CID speeds as much, since they are super strong regardless.

It is possible that you have the top antenna plugged into the secondary antenna port on your router too. And the bottom antenna, if it is the primary, may be hitting some trees or roof reflections. Swapping the ports on the router should bump up your upload speeds a little bit, since only the primary is used for uploads.

At first glance, I'd think Walter and the other one are on different towers, due to signal strengths. However, given the CID numbers only vary by the last digit, they are probably on the same tower. You may be near the sector boundary, so you are able to get both CIDs. There is enough overlap for you to get Walter's primary carrier strong enough to make it switch to that CID, but the secondaries are pointing away more for Walter, hence the poorer strengths for those carriers. B66 (Walter secondaries) would normally be stronger than B2 (Walter primary and non-Walter primary when B12 is taken away), since B66 is a lower frequency. It makes sense in the case of Walter vs non-Walter, if Walter is pointing away from you more. It doesn't make a lot of sense for Walter primary vs Walter secondary carriers. Maybe they have the transmitters for B66 aimed down more than for B2 on Walter. Or there are some reflections going on and you are bouncing your antennas off the ground the way they are aimed (up/down aiming), which would introduce more variables.

If you take the router to the tower, or even a phone on AT&T to the tower, you'll find out if both CIDs are on the tower and which direction they point, by hitting it from different sides.

Yes, you have a good system, with 2 good CIDs. The only downside to the non-Walter CID is the weak upload from the 5MHz primary. The only downside to Walter is his poorer second and third carrier signal strengths. Those could become a problem in rain and snow. You would still have a solid 15MHz of bandwidth on Walter even if the B66 carriers drop off, however.

Also, regarding speedtest, I forgot to reply that you have to scroll way down in the list to find the speedtest server sometimes to mark it as a favorite.

You aren't using an amplifier with these, right? Just the antennas?
Attachments
towers_as_of_20190614.png

Need4Speed
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by Need4Speed » Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:59 pm

LoL! CID is officially dubbed Walter! :lol:

Yes just antennas, no amplifier. The way I synced the antennas on the mast was placing the mount brackets flat on the floor then clamp them down.
20190817_103211.jpg
I definitely have the top antenna hooked to primary on router. This was confirmed when I unhooked secondary to test MIMO. Guess I could try swapping them and see if there's any improvement. Can't hurt anything.

Before I put the knot on the mast clamps I used a level to make sure it was straight.

I have yet to test if decreasing the space between them will help. Atm they're 28" apart from the edges of the grids. Feed hornes are ~5.5' apart. I also have the feed horns adjusted all the way in(slot 4) which is supposed to be +1-2dbi gain on 1700-6500mhz.

I'm slowly getting more comfortable making adjustments... At first I was afraid to mess with anything but the more I tinker with it the better it gets. So far each adjustment has made speed improvements so I think I'm heading down the right path.

I sure hope there's no connection issues under my butyl rubber tape, that stuff was a major PIA to put on due to the mounting bracket u bolts.
20190817_174957.jpg
If there is a connection issue i should be able to swap primary and secondary to see it. I really cranked those n fittings down before taping. I'll have to double check my junction box fittings. It's possible after the install one came loose as I fed excess coax back into the attic. The Never-ending chase for more speed! :D

xdavidx
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by xdavidx » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:20 pm

Can you provide a mapping table of CID and distance to the tower and max speed achieved up and down? That would make it easier to see how far you are going for a given speed. With your ultra flat, and mostly clear, terrain, and these high gain antennas, the distance isn't as big of a factor as it is for most people. Seems like your biggest obstacle is the curvature of the earth! :lol:

Another tool that is helpful is on ubiquiti's website: https://link.ui.com

Using that tool, you can map things out like this and see the terrain for each link:

towers_as_of_20190614.png

In your case, that curve of the earth at the bottom of the screen may start intersecting with the fresnel zone of the radios. It is free to create an account and then you can save your maps and reload them later.

xdavidx
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by xdavidx » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:28 pm

I am guessing, at that distance, any minor variations in the mounts or the antennas themselves will be magnified and can result in RSRP differences. If you swap them at the router, then if the problem is aiming of the top antenna or anything in the cabling between the antennas and the router, you'll get better upload speeds. But swapping won't tell you if it is a cable issue or aiming issue between the antennas and the router. If the problem is the connector inside the router, to the modem, then it shouldn't change things *if* the antennas are *exactly* in sync (pointing-wise) and you swap the connectors on the outside of the router. So if the primary is still weaker than the secondary after swapping at the router, I'd check the connectors on the modem inside the router.

Another thing you can do is twist the mast a *tiny* bit to the left and then a tiny bit to the right. If you can get the primary antenna to have a stronger signal strength than the secondary, then you know it is pointing issues and not wiring issues.

You did a great job on the taping. It would be a shame to have to redo that!

I am trying to visualize that mount and how it is used to aim up and down. You put the bolt through other holes to adjust the up/down angle? Can you only adjust one way, since you are already at the last hole?

Need4Speed
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by Need4Speed » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:18 pm

20190820_214824.jpg
Here's what I got playing with that ubiquiti tool.

Very slick tool! Checked that tower thats 19.23mi away. Like how it shows curvature of the earth.
20190820_220703.jpg
I'll open up the router and check out the connections tomorrow. Shockingly I got better ping times(25ms) on the tower further away vs the one closer(45ms). I pulled up the tower heights off of antenna search.

The mounts are adjustable in 2 ways as far as angle. The single slotted holes or the open curved slot. Looking at these charts it almost looks like I may actually benefit from angling them up a few degrees.

swwifty
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Re: 26 dBi ultra wide-band parabolic grid antenna

Post by swwifty » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:25 am

FYI the EM7565 has a firmware bug that shows the main signal stats on B66 to be weaker than they really are. I noticed that in a couple of your screenshots. It's not an actual problem.
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