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Indoor phone reception

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Indoor phone reception

Postby Steve_R » 30 Jun 2018, 11:16

My indoor phone signal is flakey. My phone is now using the Vodaphone network but Optus was similar and Telstra has the same heat map for the area. The signal sometimes drops out when working at the PC or, for example, if I wander into the kitchen to make sure things aren't burning. While I don't normally mind calling someone back, a service call about internet drop-out resulting in drop-outs and the PC then when inspecting the modem to give feedback became the straw that broke the camel's back. Every call, someone different! All the basic identification and troubleshooting questions again and the phone drops out!

There are phone signal repeaters available on eBay that locate an aerial outside and another inside to boost the signal. Unfortunately, my research indicates the less expensive units may be illegal and the legal varieties are prohibitively expensive (and possibly network specific) Does anyone have an inexpensive legal method to amplify phone signals indoors they would like to share?

fiddling with settings, switching from 'WCDMA (preferred) GSM' to 'GSM' seems to boost the signal significantly (one bar to three bar). Does anyone know the disadvantages of making that change permanently?
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby bunyip » 30 Jun 2018, 11:57

If you do a google search you can find plans for a passive repeater, I made one for my daughter in her unit and it worked well, just two small antennas (tuned, wire length is critical) and reflectors connected with some quad shield coax.
One outside and one inside.
I also made one for 24ghz for wifi, was OK but lacked gain due to distance.
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby Digger » 30 Jun 2018, 14:46

The measurements you are shown may be for different frequencies and it’s imperative that the antenna is sized to the frequencies you are using.

I’ve seen clips that show a simple extension of the antenna in the handset can have significant gains.

Performance is all about antenna folks!
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby Steve_R » 30 Jun 2018, 15:20

Under no circumstances mistake me for somebody who understands aerials, wave length, etc and is capable of soldering a join. I don't know my Yagi from my elbow! However, innate doggedness may overcome the tendency of eyes glazing over when reading about the technical aspects of aerials, signals, etc.

I was thinking about hanging the hand-made indoor antenna in the ceiling void. Our roof sheets are metal, which would be a significant part of the problem. Presumably the signal will shoot through Gyprock without too much bother but any framing in the building is metal, rather than wood. Does metal framing interfere with a signal? In other words, do I need to hang an incredibly ugly piece of hand-made indoor aerial and fixings somewhere inside? If so, there's no point starting.
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby peatop » 30 Jun 2018, 19:23

First off Steve you should understand wave length! This is what you look out for when you surf launch :up: .

I wonder if someone might have an idea about adding a signal booster like the ones used for tv? I had mobile issues everytime there were holidays or some kind of carnival/festival when i lived in Portarlington, after going through what you did with complaints (dropping out during telstra complaint ) i would ask to be past on to the highest level, anyway i finally got to the highest level and they sent a techy out, he said that the issues i was facing was overloading of the tower and it was in the pipeline to be upgraded in 18 months pfft, i changed to optus as i thought that hopefully they wouldn't be used by the terrorists (tourists) influx over these periods, this actually worked.

I wonder if your issue could be similar? Might be worth getting it escalated to get a techy to visit :) then you can milk him for information on how to fix the issue at a reasonable cost, you will find most of them have no issues with you doing stuff yourself not through your telco ;)
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby Digger » 30 Jun 2018, 21:06

Metal blocks and reflects radio signals for sure! However these aerials suggested are reasonably small and could be discreet if placed under the eaves or somewhere they are in the clear.
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby bunyip » 01 Jul 2018, 14:24

Just to complicate things a little bit more you can alter antenna lengths be it lineal or wound, there are many configurations such as 1/2 wave, 1/4 wave 5/8 etc etc, all will work with varying degrees of success, two friends of mine used to design antennas and regale us with their tales of woe about how it 'should' have worked, one has a Phd in the black arts and his brother is a UYA member.
I recall a large log periodic in NW WA, was a massive array and designed to fire LF transmissions at the ground which would then reflect the signal and increase its distance, all very well except it didn't work and to get the bugger to work they had to lay a 5 acre 'runway' of concrete embedded with copper pellets in its path so it would reflect.
Cost a fortune but finally got the desired result and shortly after was abandoned in favour of satellite transmissions.
Back in the bad old days like when the Titanic sunk it was believed that the longer the antenna the better and standing wave ratios and reflection, deflection had not been discovered.
Another example, radar will not negotiate a right angle bend, it will fly off the end of a straight run, we got a lesson in that when I was training in the RAAF and we couldn't figure out why we had no signal when there were no obvious breaks in the boards and cables, instructors were looking very smug for a while while we were all perplexed.
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby Digger » 01 Jul 2018, 21:49

I did a course in atmospheric radio wave propagation with a couple of the boffins from the JIndalee over the horizon radar once. They told me they could see the planes on the runway at Jakarta on a good day!!
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby Steve_R » 02 Jul 2018, 09:47

What I'm reading so far is that there is no point starting until I can work out the wave length of the phone signal. GSM, WCDMA and LTE? Are they not standard wave lengths?

Even if I do the maths right and do a precision job people with pieces of paper saying they are well trained. Very encouraging, Iain!

Surely there's an easier way.

Ngaaah! This morning I see no signal strength bars when connected to GSM (exactly the same location showed 3 bars yesterday). So the network setting was change to 'LTE (preferred)/WCDMA/GSM'. This seems to be picking up identical signal strength to WCDMA, so there is a possibility of no LTE signal and the phone decided WCDMA? Why do these ridiculous devices not have a display that tells you what it is using and the bandwidth :x

This is all adding to the phone-specific technophobia. Surely something is commercially available for people who couldn't be bothered chasing permission for an amplified repeater.
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Re: Indoor phone reception

Postby bunyip » 02 Jul 2018, 10:41

Steve_R wrote:What I'm reading so far is that there is no point starting until I can work out the wave length of the phone signal. GSM, WCDMA and LTE? Are they not standard wave lengths.

Yes and minute.
I saw an instructor who was showing how speed cameras worked and he was saying that military radar and speed camera radar were very close, I made myself extremely unpopular by pointing out the actual wavelength of the radar in question and separating the two which effectively put them about 1,000,000 km apart, I have forgotten the frequencies and not looking them up but this bloke was just a goose.
aT THE END OF THE DAY, antennas can be like women, somewhat rather fickle and unpredictable, there are other factors to consider too such as extraneous signal coming in from another source and swamping what you have so a reflector may be necessary or at least a very directional antenna that will concentrate the signal to a narrow beam.
With our wifi I ran a CAT5 cable to daughters unit, much cheaper and no headaches.
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