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Thread: repeater contemplated on hilltop for remote cabin downhill

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    repeater contemplated on hilltop for remote cabin downhill

    I have a cabin located at the bottom of a ravine with no cell signal. To get a signal on a mobile phone you need to be near the top of the ridge, the closest point being about 800 ft up a steep hillside. I was wondering if it is possible to install two focused antennas on a pole up the hillside: one to catch the signal from the cell tower 13 miles away, and a second to transmit the signal down into the ravine pointed at the cabin. There would be a booster in between to amplify the signal, and the whole set up would have to be powered by solar panels... maybe 200 W. Has anyone done this? Some of the hillside is treeless due to a recent fire, but there are some big trees down around the cabin.
    Alternatively, if the signal could be picked up at some point on the hillside - i.e. not the full 800 ft away - then maybe I could run a coax cable from the first antenna to the cabin. transmitting the signal by antenna would be preferable. I have had a landline strung out to the cabin but falling branches and trees are constantly breaking the line so running a cable is not a reliable solution. Burying it is more work than I think I can manage.
    Key to designing a solution is figuring out how far away I can get a signal... use a pole to raise it up? And can the YAGI antenna actually pick up a signal even when a cell phone can't (referring to the tower 13 miles away that is blocked by nearby hills)... meaning if I could get a signal on the ground with a phone as close as 600 ft, could it be possible to get a signal with a YAGI on a pole located another 200 ft further down the hill? Or should I plan on placing the antenna at the closest place I can get a signal on the ground with a phone? Any help would be great. thanks.

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    Depending on how strong the signal is on the top of the hill, you might be able to set up a metal reflector to accomplish the same thing.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_repeater
    Last edited by DRNewcomb; 07-16-2020 at 03:19 PM. Reason: added link
    Donald Newcomb

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskaneric View Post
    I have a cabin located at the bottom of a ravine with no cell signal. To get a signal on a mobile phone you need to be near the top of the ridge, the closest point being about 800 ft up a steep hillside. I was wondering if it is possible to install two focused antennas on a pole up the hillside: one to catch the signal from the cell tower 13 miles away, and a second to transmit the signal down into the ravine pointed at the cabin. There would be a booster in between to amplify the signal, and the whole set up would have to be powered by solar panels... maybe 200 W. Has anyone done this? Some of the hillside is treeless due to a recent fire, but there are some big trees down around the cabin.
    Alternatively, if the signal could be picked up at some point on the hillside - i.e. not the full 800 ft away - then maybe I could run a coax cable from the first antenna to the cabin. transmitting the signal by antenna would be preferable. I have had a landline strung out to the cabin but falling branches and trees are constantly breaking the line so running a cable is not a reliable solution. Burying it is more work than I think I can manage.
    Key to designing a solution is figuring out how far away I can get a signal... use a pole to raise it up? And can the YAGI antenna actually pick up a signal even when a cell phone can't (referring to the tower 13 miles away that is blocked by nearby hills)... meaning if I could get a signal on the ground with a phone as close as 600 ft, could it be possible to get a signal with a YAGI on a pole located another 200 ft further down the hill? Or should I plan on placing the antenna at the closest place I can get a signal on the ground with a phone? Any help would be great. thanks.
    Sounds like an interesting project. Probably daunting and expensive too.

    Interesting read:
    https://www.ciena.com/insights/artic...tower-prx.html

    There is a lot of loss in long runs of coax cable at cell frequencies. Really expensive stuff may do somewhat better to be adequate.

    I would forget about guessing where there is signal and go out and survey it with at least a cellphone to start. You want to look at the signal power level in settings, not "bars". To get ok service you need about -110 dBm. High gain Yagi and parabolic antennas have gain in about the 20-30 dB range so they could take an about -130 dBm signal and boost it to -110 dBm. Bad weather will attenuate the signal between the cell and you. If you want service during snow and rain you will need about -95 dBm on a good day.

    Since you would be transmitting on cell frequencies you have to not cause interference and may have to register your equipment with the carrier and maybe the FCC.

    I would noodle around with web searches to see what others have done. I would also contact Wilson and some of the other cell repeater/extender firms to see what they say. I doubt it will be inexpensive.

    Another possibility I would consider is seeing if you can get a cell hotspot working at some location up the hill then beam the Wifi down to the house with a good high gain antenna. A Wifi repeater bridge in the house would get you Internet around the house. An outside antenna may be required. With good Internet you can do VOIP/Wifi calling and text.

    All that equipment up on the hill, probably at the peak, sounds dicey for exposure to wind, rain, sleet, ice, snow, and lightning.

    Good luck

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    Thanks. I read the post on ciena.com. There are many examples of putting up a tower/pole and antenna to capture a signal and then transmit it indoors. My challenge is that the cabin sits down in a shady ravine and obviously below the tree tops, so even a 30 pole won't overcome the trees. I called Wilson and had to wait for them to call me back, but they did call on Saturday. They said their systems are not designed for transmission outside of a building, and coax losses for even 100' would be prohibitive. I will start with measuring signal strength at different points up the hillside to see how close I can get a signal, and how strong. Still hoping someone has tried this and can relay their experience, whether it is discouraging or encouraging.

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    I didn't see that anybody already asked but do you have usable WiFi in the cabin ?? Assuming your carrier and phone supports it, you may be able to use WiFi calling at no extra cost instead of trying to install an expensive repeater that may or may not work.
    Just another day in paradise.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serial Port View Post
    I didn't see that anybody already asked but do you have usable WiFi in the cabin ?? Assuming your carrier and phone supports it, you may be able to use WiFi calling at no extra cost instead of trying to install an expensive repeater that may or may not work.
    Good question. A possible variation might be to buy a cellular WiFi hotspot with a directional WiFi antenna, which you would position at a place where there's good cellular reception and direct the WiFi signal to cover the cabin. There would be no licensing issues with the WiFi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    Good question. A possible variation might be to buy a cellular WiFi hotspot with a directional WiFi antenna, which you would position at a place where there's good cellular reception and direct the WiFi signal to cover the cabin. There would be no licensing issues with the WiFi.
    Thanks for the suggestion. I may try to see if a hotspot can pick up signal. There is no wifi. The cabin is tucked into a ravine with no signal, but there is signal a few hundred feet up the hillside, or a few miles back out the road closer to town where the hills don't interfere. Hence my belief that the closest access to signal will be up the hillside, but I just need to get it back downhill to the cabin.

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