Reception Worse with External Antenna?

HI All,

I tried mounting an external antenna on top of my RV and the signal quality reported by the connect screen went from about 22-26 (fair-excellent) down to 10-14 (fair). The new antenna has the same 3 connections: main, aux, and gps. I was hoping to improve reception to 30+ (excellent), but I guess it is not to be. The stock antennas seem better, as small as they are.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?
Thanks,
Lauren

Sorry, please move this to the Antennas forum area.

Here is the antenna I’m running (that isn’t working):

Bingfu 4G LTE MIMO Cellular GPS Adhesive Magnetic Mount Antenna for 4G LTE GPS Cradlepoint IBR900 IBR1700 Sierra Wireless Airlink MG90 MP70 GX450 RV50 RV50X Industrial Gateway Modem Mobile Router Amazon link

Just to update:
I had a cable problem which is why the reception was initially so bad. However, the signal quality is still only between 19 and 21 after fixing the cable issue, which is comparable to or just not quite as good as the original tiny antennas that came with the unit. I will probably unhook the big external antenna and go back to the tiny Sixfab ones, since they work better.

Hello @ensar,

I would like to experiment with different antennas to see how I can get the best reception. With the new software update, the reception is now only reported as a graph with 4 bars, where 4 is “excellent.” How can I access the decibels or some other quantitative measure of signal strength? I am happy to run some code in terminal if you let me know what command to run. Thanks!

Hi,

AT+CSQ AT command returns the signal strength of the module.

Run the atcom AT+CSQ command on the remote terminal. It will help.

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Hi howardlf,
I’m experimenting with antennas as well, and trying a Weboost omni for my van. I’m curious what software you are referring to in your post? Everything I’m doing is in the shell, and there’s no gui, but that would be nice.

thanks!
Jason

Hi Jason,
I was referring to Sixfab’s firmware update. Before the time I wrote that post, the firmware would report a number for the reception strength on the connect.sixfab.com page, but afterwards, it was only a graphical representation and did not show the exact number for signal strength.

I am able to get to the exact number using this command when logged into the Raspberry Pi using SSH:

atcom at+csq

This command will give you two numbers in response (signal strength and signal quality), which together let you know how well your antenna is doing:

4G Networks

In general the lower the absolute value of dBM (decibels), the stronger the signal. For the signal strength, the reported number is better when closer to 31, which is -51 dBm or greater. For the signal quality, the reported number is better when closer to 0, which is -4 to -3 dBm.

I did some research on the Weboost antenna too. I don’t have one yet, but my understanding is that it can increase the reception on one particular frequency, which is useful when out in the boonies and no signal is strong enough to get reception. Since our Sixfab modems have more than one antenna, and can pick up multiple frequencies simultaneously, having one stronger frequency signal may not necessarily result in faster download speeds. You can run a speedtest using a device connected to wifi and see what happens!

I also wanted to follow up to report that the external antenna I linked above did not increase my Sixfab modem’s reception compared to the two smaller antennas that came with the kit, and actually made reception a little worse. I have since removed the external antenna and gone back to the Sixfab ones. I like the aesthetics better anyways, because there is no evidence on the outside that my trailer has any electronics. If someone were to steal my trailer, they would have no idea it’s connected, and I could track it using the Sixfab GPS.