Custom LTE Antennas

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dajmanjt
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Custom LTE Antennas

Post by dajmanjt » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:25 pm

I was trying to figure out what I could contribute to this forum as a first time poster. There is already a wealth of knowledge being shared here from what I have read so far. I do LTE network installations in my free time and have had to do some digging to find appropriate antennas for multiple different types of installations. I though I would share a couple of those solutions with the forum, with the hopes that it might help someone else out there.



Band 2 Installation

One of the installs I completed was about 4.6 miles from the nearest tower (AT&T). No line of sight, mapped it out and collected the data to figure out the best install option. Found band 2 & band 12 on the tower, drove to the tower, band 2 pulled in 60 mbps and band 12 pulled in 30 mbps. At the house (outside elevated location) I could not get band 2 at all with the testing equipment, only band 12, and the speeds were about 5-10 mbps. The only hope of pulling in consistent speeds was going to be a high gain antenna. I initially installed two traditional multi band yagi LTE antennas (plastic shroud), tops out at 11 dbi on the 2700 mhz frequency. I installed these, off axis at opposite 45 degree angles, on a pole approximately 40 feet in height. Ran LMR400 from the antennas to the router (Sierra Wireless MC7455) and ran some tests. Speeds were all over the place. Band 2 was weak (-110 to -115) while band 12 was ok (-95 to -100), using CA (carrier aggregation) resulted in average speeds of 20 mbps, but was not consistent at all. At times the speed would be lower than 10 mbps and other times as high as 30 mbps. I noticed that band 2 was being rejected in favor for band 12 due to the weak signal. So I started exploring and ended up finding a company that builds high gain band specific yagi antennas, and I ordered two 1850-1990 MHz Yagi antennas with 17 dBi of gain. The downside to having band specific antennas is that you cannot use CA, they are tuned to a specific band/range of frequencies. I installed these antennas (one vertical & one horizontal) and disabled CA, locking the router to band 2. The difference was immediately noticeable, band 2 was averaging -93 to -95, average speeds were steady around 60 mbps down and 20 mbps up. The variation of speeds were minor, high 60's during the morning and high 50's during the evenings.

I have included a picture of the yagi's mounted and a speed test (please excuse the messy zip ties, I had not cleaned up the install yet). That plastic multi band antenna you see below the band 2 yagis is a secondary installation I completed, that antenna is running to a Cellphone-Mate SureCall Fusion-5 booster, providing phone service for all the mobile devices in the house.

Band 2 yagi installation
Band 2 yagi installation
Band 2 Speed Test
Band 2 Speed Test


Band 30 Installation

I had two installs to do at the same general location, two different houses on the same street. The closest AT&T tower (that had decent speeds and bands) was only 3.8 miles away, but no line of sight from the houses. The houses were on the fringe of that towers range, because the the panels on the tower were placed in such a way to provide service for the nearby highway, not the residential area which was several miles behind the tower. From the roof I was picking up 4 towers, all of them with terrible speeds (2 to 4 mbps), all band 12 & band 4. However, on that same street that the houses were on if I drove to where the street connected to the highway I was getting 90 mbps on band 30, from the tower that was 3.8 miles away. So I decided to experiment and see if I could pull band 30 from the tower with custom antennas. I started off by creating a baseline using small 10 dbi multi band yagi antennas. I was getting -112 to -118 dbi strengths on band 30, but that gave me hope because that means I was not outside of the band 30 service area for that tower. I then contacted the company that made the custom band 2 antennas. They said they could create custom band 30 antennas, but they had to develop it and test it before they could release it to me. I agreed and ordered 4 of them. While I was waiting I found an alternative solution, so i developed that solution for one of the homes while waiting on the antennas for the other home. The alternative solution was to install a 20dBi 45degree 2.3-2.7GHz VP Sector antenna (usually used for WiFi installations) as the primary antenna, with an 11 dbi multi band antenna as the secondary antenna. It was my first time experimenting with sector antennas, and I was pleasantly surprised at how great they function as LTE antennas. The pros are as follows: great boost, really low noise, almost no db bouncing when you get it locked in, pivot arm to get the perfect angle on the tower, super solid construction. The cons: the antenna is almost 3 feet long, can be expensive. I mounted the panel about 40 feet above the ground and mounted the yagi slightly below it. For this job I used LMR600 cable for the run into the house. Using the router (Sierra Wireless MC7455) I made some adjustments and tested a couple of different settings. The results were really great, the panel was pulling in band 30 at -93 and the yagi was pulling in band 12 at -105 to -108. I was able to leave CA on and the modem sat on band 30 because it was the stronger band, supplementing it with band 12 when loaded. The result was a consistent average of 30 mbps down and 22 mbps up. Meanwhile the antenna company notified me that the custom 2300-2400MHz, 17 dbi Yagi antennas were ready to be shipped. Once those arrived I used them on the other homes install. That homes installation had limited elevation because of placement issues, the owner did not want to spend money to correct that problem. So the antennas were only approx. 20 feet vertical, with a metal roof being less than 6 feet from the antennas. Once the antennas were installed I band locked the router to band 30 (no CA), since both antennas only operated in the band 30 frequency range. The results were decent, band 30 was -99 to -105, resulting in a steady speed of 19 mbps down and 12 mbps up.

I've included pictures of the panel antenna and also the band 30 custom antennas below for size comparisons. I have blacked out the manufacturer of the antennas, out of respect for LTE Hacks. I know that they sell antennas and I don't want to promote other antennas in their forum. If they say its OK I will post the name of the manufacturers in this post or through PM.

Band 30 Panel Antenna
Band 30 Panel Antenna
Band 30 Yagi Antenna
Band 30 Yagi Antenna
Band 30 Yagi Antenna
Band 30 Yagi Antenna




The goal of this story is to promote experimentation. The cases I stated above are homes in the middle of nowhere, where I had to find creative solutions to get decent internet for folks who literally had no internet options or were using a phone line for internet, 1 mbps down and .3 mbps up. I did those installs from scratch, with the knowledge I've gained through years of experimentation/trial & error. Trying everything under the sun until I found the right solution that worked. The other point I'm making here is that sometimes custom antennas tuned to the exact frequency you need is the ticket to getting the consistent speeds you are trying to acquire, giving you higher dbi and more stable connections.

But here is some good news.... this website (ltehacks.com) has almost all the tools you need in one place to get the job done. Plus it has admins that are knowledgeable and willing to help you figure everything out. I'm glad this site exists and will be a frequent visitor.

My name is Jared, and I am willing to offer my help any way I can to the community here. Feel free to reach out and contact me through PM. I will be posting more in depth pictures from my future installations, in the hopes it can be a help to the community with their installations.

Thanks!
These users thanked the author dajmanjt for the post (total 2):
JimHelms (Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:34 pm) • danielewood (Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:04 pm)
LTE solutions & research is my favorite past-time and hobby

cherub05
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:29 pm
Location: Ohio

Re: Custom LTE Antennas

Post by cherub05 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:30 pm

With a 25' RG58 Reverse polarity cable connection to an Altelix AL0727G10-NF antenna from a WG3526 how much db am I going to loose? Exactly how do I boost it without screaming at the tower if I need to. Do you recommend 2 of these antennas and how can I share the same 25' run. I'm not doing POE because I did that for 15 years "Orthogonal Systems" bought by Motorola later I've tried Umbiquity Bullets and I have found weather is too harsh on cabling and equipment. I'm getting 33 down and 1 up with latency all over the place Band 4 AT&T I know for a fact Band 30 is reachable that is authorized for mobility NOT "Fixed Wireless". Currently have antenna velcroed to window, moving to roof before foilage falls of trees so I know signal will only get better
There should be no "Last Mile" but here we are......

ph34rful
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:15 pm

Re: Custom LTE Antennas

Post by ph34rful » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:05 pm

cherub05 wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:30 pm
With a 25' RG58 Reverse polarity cable connection to an Altelix AL0727G10-NF antenna from a WG3526 how much db am I going to loose? Exactly how do I boost it without screaming at the tower if I need to. Do you recommend 2 of these antennas and how can I share the same 25' run. I'm not doing POE because I did that for 15 years "Orthogonal Systems" bought by Motorola later I've tried Umbiquity Bullets and I have found weather is too harsh on cabling and equipment. I'm getting 33 down and 1 up with latency all over the place Band 4 AT&T I know for a fact Band 30 is reachable that is authorized for mobility NOT "Fixed Wireless". Currently have antenna velcroed to window, moving to roof before foilage falls of trees so I know signal will only get better
Depending on the frequency of the band you connect to (higher frequencies experience greater loss), you may lose as much as 10db with a 25' run. Which dependent on a lot of variables may wipe out the benefit of having an antenna in the first place.

See this signal attenuation chart: https://www.universal-radio.com/catalog ... xperf.html

I've recently been looking into these issues myself and POE seems like it's probably the best option to preserve signal quality when dealing with longer cable runs, although I understand your desire to avoid going that route. Unfortunately, you also can't share the 25' run. Each antenna connection requires its own run. So you'd need 2x25' for a second antenna, or one that has MIMO. It doesn't look like the Altelix antenna you mentioned has MIMO built-in so you may want to get one more and configure it for MIMO so as to not be missing that functionality. I'd look at getting LMR-400 or an equivalent low loss cable to preserve signal quality, but compared with RG58 they're relatively pricey. However, compared with RG58 where you may see close to a 10db loss at 2400mhz, a low loss cable like LMR-400 would only lose around 1.7db at 25'. There's definitely no perfect solution.

cherub05
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:29 pm
Location: Ohio

Re: Custom LTE Antennas

Post by cherub05 » Tue Oct 02, 2018 12:15 pm

I achieved B12 ag B30 at 100%. I was able to point antenna directly at tower 4 miles away. I didn't think I had LOS until low light and I could see the strobe! A tip for anyone wait until dusk to search for towers. My next barrage of questions, since AT&T uses Double Hell NAT, is getting a good VPN provider. I will open for discussion in proper place in forum. Thank you for taking the time for assessing my situation!
There should be no "Last Mile" but here we are......

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