Cell Phone / Air Card Booster Antenna

I have had a Verizon Wireless Kyocera KPC650 Air Card for about 9 months, and while the card works well in metropolitan areas, it does not work well in remote areas where we tend to do a lot of RV camping.  I had always assumed that the KPC650 was not compatible with external antennas because I did not see any antenna connectors on the card.  To my amazement, I found out that the KPC650 has two antenna connectors (use the once closest to  the antenna hinge) under the rubber flap on the edge of the card, and is compatible with external antennas. 

After a tip on rv.net about antennas from booster-antenna.com, I ordered the KPC650 Omni External Antenna w/cables and Mount ($79.99) and installed it on my 5th wheel trailer.  The antenna is made by Wilson Electronics (not the same company as Wilson Antennas) under part number 301101Wilson claims that the  antenna has 5-6 db gain, so I expected to see at least that much improvement by using the antenna installed outside the RV.

A numeric readout of signal  strength can be seen using the VZAccess Manager by hovering the mouse over the signal strength  icon (antenna bars) at the bottom of the program as shown below.

Installation:  I selected the "mirror-mount" antenna instead of the roof-mount style because I use my laptop computer at the dinette table, which is located in the aft part of the slide-out.  Mounting the roof-mount antenna would have required a long and ugly coax cable to get to the dinette table since the antenna could not be mounted on the slide-out roof.  I mounted the mirror-mount antenna to outside edge of the slide-out as shown and drilled a hole through the back side of the slide to route the coax into the cabinet above the dinette.  The coax should easily fit between the weather stripping attached to the slide and the trailer.  I also ordered an antenna adapter cable that fits my cell phone so that we can use the antenna for voice  communications in poor signal areas.  Now I just need to try to keep the antenna out of the trees and everything will be just fine.

Performance:  After installing the antenna, much to my amazement, I observed virtually no signal strength improvement compared to the built-in antenna.  I was wondering if the antenna might be defective as there was a rattle in the plastic enclosure when the antenna was shaken.  I continued to test the antenna and was amazed at the difference in the air card's performance.  As I write this page, we are camping at Patagonia Lake State Park about 14 miles north of Nogales AZ.  We are literally out in the middle of nowhere,  surrounded by mountains.  With the air card internal antenna, I was lucky to even get the card to connect to the Verizon system using the 1X express network, and would loose the connection on a regular basis.  With the booster antenna connected, I can reliably connect to the EVDO Broadband, and stay connected for hours at a time.  What is really interesting is that there is no noticeable increase in  signal strength with the antenna, but the performance went from virtually no connection to a solid broadband connection with response times  similar to what I get using high-speed DSL at home.

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