DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review (Updated with comparisons)

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swwifty
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DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review (Updated with comparisons)

Post by swwifty » Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:58 pm

I recently purchased a pair of these antennas (https://ltefix.com/shop/antennas/700-27 ... l-antenna/) for my 4G project I've been working on. I couldn't find any good detailed reviews with these antennas, so I thought I'd share my experience with them. (I'll have a very detailed post coming with my entire setup, once I finish it, but that will probably be a least a month away. I've been doing this project in stages to test, and learn as much as I can). Below is a list of my current setup.

1. Raspberry PI 2 running latest version of GoldenOrb (2018 version).
2. External USB enclosure with a Sierra MC7455 modem, and 2, 3dbi Omni Antennas.

I've been doing extensive testing in a variety of locations with my setup to learn as much as I can. Additionally, to find out the optimum place to mount some external antennas. I don't have LOS to the tower, I would if it wasn't for trees, that being said I still opted for these antennas, cause I felt like they would make a big difference regardless. Anyways onto the results.

Speed test with the 3dbi Omnis (all these tests were done back to back).


Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 2.22.22 PM.png

Signal Quality/Info of 3dbi omnis

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 1.13.40 PM.png

Speed test with 15dbi directional antennas.

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 1.45.46 PM.png

Signal Quality/Info of 15dbi directionals

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 1.20.33 PM.png

A picture of my test setup:

6482487224723712409.jpg

A screenshot of my link (only the 700mhz link (band 12), and not my CA ,which is on band 2, is depicted here) to the tower (curiosity of towercoverage.com)

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 4.53.12 PM.png

I thought the results were pretty interesting. The RSPQ signal is up about 6-8db in band 12 (not much difference in band 2), but the biggest impact I think is the signal to noise ratio (SNR). I think that boosted me into higher modulation rates, which you can clearly see in my download speeds. One thing to note is I calculated the exact degree the tower is from my house and aimed it with a compass, additionally I aimed for tilt as well (which was only 1 degree, but still). I have lots of more info on this, etc, but will do a extensive write up later once my project is near complete. Please feel free to ask any questions if you have any, and I hope this helped!
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JimHelms (Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:55 pm) • ph34rful (Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:06 pm) • ira.kirby (Tue Oct 02, 2018 3:03 pm)

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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by JimHelms » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:35 pm

Wow, not bad considering the terrain.

How far away from the tower are you. I see a reference to "9 m" but uncertain what the number is.

swwifty
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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by swwifty » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:35 pm

JimHelms wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:35 pm
Wow, not bad considering the terrain.

How far away from the tower are you. I see a reference to "9 m" but uncertain what the number is.
I'm 5 miles from the tower. The tower height is 358ft AGL, and my UE is at about 30 feet AGL.

It is surprising given the terrain, the fresnel zone is cut off pretty good for 700mhz, and less for band 2 (1900mhz) but the signal strength in band 2 is much less due to the trees.

Interestingly, north of my property, it goes up to the top of a small mountain ( about 200 feet higher) I've tested my setup up there (only with the 3dbi omnis) and the signal strength is much better. I actually found a spot where theres literally 2 or 3 trees in the way, and then clear LOS. At that spot, band 2 is selected as the PCC and band 12 becomes the SCC. I was able to get 65mbps down there, and 30mbps up! I'm half way tempted to run a remote power setup up there, and put my antennas up there :lol:

Edit: attached a screenshot of my signal strength at the clear LOS location on my property.
Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 3.40.03 PM.png
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ph34rful
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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by ph34rful » Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:06 pm

Nice results! Thanks for sharing. Do you happen to know what the speeds are with just one of the directional antenna? Are two matching antenna needed to see such a large improvement? Or can you get significant benefit with just one? I don't really understand how MIMO works.

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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by swwifty » Sat Sep 29, 2018 6:28 pm

ph34rful wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 5:06 pm
Nice results! Thanks for sharing. Do you happen to know what the speeds are with just one of the directional antenna? Are two matching antenna needed to see such a large improvement? Or can you get significant benefit with just one? I don't really understand how MIMO works.
I have not done any tests with just one antenna (whether the small omni antennas, or the big directional antennas). LTE uses MIMO as a integral part to get high bandwith transfer rates, I'm not even sure it will work with just one antenna (probably will, but haven't tested that).

If I was going to go to the trouble of setting up external antennas, I would be sure to setup two, to support MIMO. That being said, you can get antennas with MIMO built all into one physical enclosure (if you are looking for a more compact and visually appealing solution).

The link below is really good at explaining MIMO in LTE, but basically MIMO allows two separate datastreams at the same time to double your bandwith. Don't confuse this was diversity (Which allows for better signal reception with multiple antennas). Anyways, check out the link below, and it explains this much better than I just did.

http://www.sharetechnote.com/html/Basic ... _MIMO.html

Let me know if you have any questions, or that doesn't clear things up.
These users thanked the author swwifty for the post (total 2):
ph34rful (Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:42 am) • JimHelms (Sun Sep 30, 2018 2:53 pm)

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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by ph34rful » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:40 am

Thanks for the link that helped even though most of it was over my head. I guess I'm just curious how a two antenna setup like yours would compare to one of these:

https://ltefix.com/shop/antennas/1700-2 ... l-antenna/

Does having two antenna double the gain compared to a single? I'm thinking it's probably not that straightforward.

The antenna cost alone isn't so bad but where I would need to mount them requires a fair length of cable to be run and low loss cable is surprisingly pricey, particularly with two runs! Also, which tier did you buy from towercoverage.com to get the info you needed? I've had no success finding any tower info for my rural relative and wonder if this site would be helpful. I look forward to your full write up!

swwifty
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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by swwifty » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:42 am

ph34rful wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:40 am
Thanks for the link that helped even though most of it was over my head. I guess I'm just curious how a two antenna setup like yours would compare to one of these:

https://ltefix.com/shop/antennas/1700-2 ... l-antenna/

Does having two antenna double the gain compared to a single? I'm thinking it's probably not that straightforward.

The antenna cost alone isn't so bad but where I would need to mount them requires a fair length of cable to be run and low loss cable is surprisingly pricey, particularly with two runs! Also, which tier did you buy from towercoverage.com to get the info you needed? I've had no success finding any tower info for my rural relative and wonder if this site would be helpful. I look forward to your full write up!
Check out this video on MIMO, it's pretty good at explaining it (sorry it has an annonying monotone computer voice, lol) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIl4ZQb-A70

The link you posted, is a MIMO antenna. Which means it actually has 2 antennas inside of that enclosure (which is what I was referring to earlier). My setup is also a MIMO setup, but I have to have two physically separate antennas, cause they aren't combined into one physical enclosure (hope that makes sense).

Selecting which antenna to get is highly dependent upon which provider (AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile, etc) you use. The reason for this is they use different frequencies (aka bands). The antenna you linked only works from 1700-2700mhz, the one I have works from 700-2700mhz (this covers all the possible bands for any carrier). You can look up what bands your carrier uses, but it's best to confirm what bands are coming in, in your area first before purchasing external antennas. I did this with my setup, because at first I only had some small omni-directional antennas (and I was able to look at my modem status and see, so I could pick the proper antenna).

I have the basic towercoverage plan, nothing fancy. Before you go and purchase that, I would first try Ubiquiti's calculator site. It's very easy to use, and very clear. That being said, it doesn't cover cell phone frequencies, but it will give you a pretty good idea on what terrain is in the way, etc. https://link.ubnt.com/

Yes, the cable runs are a problem for external setups like this. I've opted to actually mount my raspberry pi/modem outside very close to my antenna (in a water proof enclosure), so my cables will be very short. Then I'll have a ethernet connection coming back into the house (which can run up to 300feet, and is very cheap cable). I haven't gotten this far yet, but once I do I'll be posted a detailed summary and review of how I did it, to give others ideas, setups, etc.

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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by ph34rful » Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:18 pm

Oh good point! I somehow missed the differing frequencies between the two antennas. I definitely see the incentive now to keep the antenna cables as short as possible. I initially had no clue why people were mounting equipment outside if they didn't have to haha.

I'm fortunate enough to have fiber at my home, but I built a relatively simple LTE setup for a rural relative that is unfortunately three hours away. It works better than the satellite internet they were paying for previously, but the speed seems to be somewhat inconsistent. They have pretty poor cell signal, right on the fringe of service I'd say. 15mbps is achievable on speed tests, but my relative reports Netflix goes in and out of HD so it must not be consistent. I've read 5mbps should generally be enough for streaming HD Netflix. That's really my only goal. I'm just trying to find the cheapest and easiest route to get there.

I'm going back at Thanksgiving and that's really my only opportunity to take new equipment (antenna) and tweak things. If it were my own setup I'd have the opportunity for actual experimentation. Even though it's better than what they had before I'm frustrated that it seems to be right on the edge of working consistently for HD streaming. I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and buy an antenna and hope for the best.

Thanks for sharing your experience! The Ubiquiti site was helpful in demonstrating why their signal is so poor.

swwifty
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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by swwifty » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:44 pm

ph34rful wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:18 pm
Oh good point! I somehow missed the differing frequencies between the two antennas. I definitely see the incentive now to keep the antenna cables as short as possible. I initially had no clue why people were mounting equipment outside if they didn't have to haha.

I'm fortunate enough to have fiber at my home, but I built a relatively simple LTE setup for a rural relative that is unfortunately three hours away. It works better than the satellite internet they were paying for previously, but the speed seems to be somewhat inconsistent. They have pretty poor cell signal, right on the fringe of service I'd say. 15mbps is achievable on speed tests, but my relative reports Netflix goes in and out of HD so it must not be consistent. I've read 5mbps should generally be enough for streaming HD Netflix. That's really my only goal. I'm just trying to find the cheapest and easiest route to get there.

I'm going back at Thanksgiving and that's really my only opportunity to take new equipment (antenna) and tweak things. If it were my own setup I'd have the opportunity for actual experimentation. Even though it's better than what they had before I'm frustrated that it seems to be right on the edge of working consistently for HD streaming. I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and buy an antenna and hope for the best.

Thanks for sharing your experience! The Ubiquiti site was helpful in demonstrating why their signal is so poor.
hehe, yeah I didn't get it at first, then I realized what everyone was up to :)

They are probably at the outer edge of the cell for sure. IMO, buying antennas that covers all LTE frequencies makes sense, cause if there is more than one provider in that area, you can easily switch, without having to swap hardware.

What setup are you using for them? do you have any idea what carrier they are using and what bands? I would recommend setting up some kind of way to login remotely, (check this site out: https://www.remot3.it/web/index.html) after your trip to visit. That could be really helpful in the future.

You mind sharing the link to the ubiquiti calculator for their location? Maybe I could offer some insights with that, if I could see it? Feel free to send it in a PM, if you don't feel comfortable posting it here.

ph34rful
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Re: DP727L15 - 15dBi 4G LTE Directional Antenna Review

Post by ph34rful » Tue Oct 02, 2018 5:04 pm

swwifty wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:44 pm
hehe, yeah I didn't get it at first, then I realized what everyone was up to :)

They are probably at the outer edge of the cell for sure. IMO, buying antennas that covers all LTE frequencies makes sense, cause if there is more than one provider in that area, you can easily switch, without having to swap hardware.

What setup are you using for them? do you have any idea what carrier they are using and what bands? I would recommend setting up some kind of way to login remotely, (check this site out: https://www.remot3.it/web/index.html) after your trip to visit. That could be really helpful in the future.

You mind sharing the link to the ubiquiti calculator for their location? Maybe I could offer some insights with that, if I could see it? Feel free to send it in a PM, if you don't feel comfortable posting it here.
Ya I'll definitely go with a 700-2700mhz antenna. They're on AT&T. Although strangely enough when I was there band 30 seemed to be the only band that performed well at all. Which is counter intuitive since it's a higher frequency (2300mhz). Band 2,4,12 all performed at generally less than 3mbps where as band 30 seemed to be able to hit 15mbps on speedtests. Weird stuff. I was also troubleshooting signal dropouts at the time (I think they're resolved now) so I didn't have time to investigate optimizing cell signal etc. I'm going to try band locking to band 30 when I return and see if that helps things. I'd even consider buying a band 30 specific antenna if I could find one without a custom order. The house is kind of in a small valley up against woods so there is definitely no LOS and without actually knowing for sure I think the nearest tower is 3-4ish miles away.

The system is pretty basic although it took me a while to figure it all out at the time, ltehacks forum was not online then for some reason. I spent sooo many hours googling for answers. This forum would have made things so much easier! Anywho, it's the basic USB enclosure with a EM7455 in it and a TP-Link Archer router that I happened to already have laying around. Luckily, GoldenOrb 12-15 had just been released, so I was able to flash it. I bought the Netgear antenna not knowing any better because I was pretty sure the little ones that were included with the enclosure weren't going to be enough. https://www.amazon.com/Netgear-6000450- ... 00DN3J03O/

Unfortunately the Netgear antenna ended up not really being any better than those included with the enclosure and left me uninterested in further pursuing antennas at the time. My relative is a very basic PC user so it has worked well enough for their usage. I'd love to be able to get HD Netflix working consistently for them, but it may not happen with my inability to experiment due to the distance. I usually only see them a couple times a year, and they're not technologically adept, so whatever I do has to pretty much be set it and forget it. Certainly not ideal. Remote access would allow me to monitor signal conditions but I'm not sure how to set that up on the router without a static/public IP. We occasionally use TeamViewer if they need PC assistance. I'm only still thinking about how to make their connection better because I like making things work and it's gotten under my skin haha. I apologize for hijacking your thread!

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