More Phone Testing for the Ranch


More Phone Testing for the Ranch

by rdpecken on Apr.23, 2010, under Communications

Because the Littlehouse is located far up in the valley that surrounds our ranch, we have had trouble getting cell phone service near the house.  We have tried 3 different Sprint phones (our home carrier), 3 different Nextel phones, 1 AT&T phone, 1 T-Mobile phone and even a GlobalStar Satellite Phone and an Iridium Satellite Phone.

Of course, the Iridium phone is the only one that worked flawlessly.  But at a cost of $1.00 per minute of talk time, it’s a little pricey.  The GlobalStar Satellite network has issues, and was not reliable when we were testing it.

All of the other phones pretty much work the same.  We can receive and make calls down near the road on the west end of the property, but once we head up toward the house by more than about 100 yards, we lose all reception, and cannot make calls.  The Nextel phones are the best of the lot, as they work on a lower frequency and have a little better coverage than the others.  But even then they only work 20% of the time near the house (usually if it has been raining).

We had heard that Verizon has the best coverage in the Ranch’s area, so we picked up a pay-as-you-go Verizon phone from Walmart.  It is the Nokia 2605, and unfortunately, behaves the same way as all the rest.

Verizon Pay-as-you-go phone from Walmart

We have also purchased a yagi antenna off the web for  the normal CDMA bands and the older analog phone bands.  It was very poorly constructed, with cheap RG-58 cable to connect to the phones.  We have never been able to get this antenna to work.  It makes no difference at all in signal strength levels.  Keep in mind that I have some experience in radio work, having done hundreds of commercial radio installs, as well as years of bench repair of radio systems.  This antenna needs to be rebuilt, but I think it would make no difference near the house anyway, as we are in such a blind spot.

Yagi Antenna

So here is my next plan:

Since we can get service at the west end of the property, I plan on purchasing a cell phone docking station that will let us connect our cell phone to a normal house-type cordless phone.  Then I will add an external antenna to the cordless phone (if necessary) and use that as the link to the cellphone through the docking station.

Cellphone Docking Station

This will require a lockbox near the road that RF can get through, as well as a battery and appropriate power supplies for the docking station and cell phone.  All of this will be charged by a small solar panel (maybe 15-watt) mounted on a pole.

If we still can’t talk after that, we may need to look into some long-range cordless phones to replace the consumer-grade ones I plan on trying first.  It can be done… Just takes time and money!

1 comment for this entry (from the old blog site...):

Wow, Just for a Cell phone. I do understand!!
Good Luck, John


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