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Rocket HUB external antenna

BeerHunter125
I'm a Trusted Enthusiast

I'm wondering if Rogers will ever introduce a Rocket HUB with external antenna capabilities again. My trusty old NetComm is getting aged and limited to 3G.

 

***Edited Labels***

 

96 REPLIES 96

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

mmax
I'm Here A Lot

Weather permitting, I'm going to install mine (275 + Amazon kit) this weekend.  Any idea which of the 2 cables on the antenna are H vs V?  Or just keep trying?.....

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

mjl4111
I've Been Here Awhile

@mmax wrote:

Weather permitting, I'm going to install mine (275 + Amazon kit) this weekend.  Any idea which of the 2 cables on the antenna are H vs V?  Or just keep trying?.....


When I installed mine, I didn't worry about H or V.  I figured that if the first connection order didn't work, flipping the two cables at the ZTE would fix it.  I either got lucky all the time, or it didn't matter.

I started in the house with connecting the hub to the cables so that when I was on the roof, I could use a smartphone to test signal strength and speed before tightening everything down.  I also used this site (http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/cancellsites.html) to help me aim the panel antenna in the general direction of the closest Rogers tower.

 

Luckily I have an almost ideal roof setup, so installation of this antenna, and removing all the old gear was relatively easy.

 

IMG_20151202_162103 (1).jpg 

 

I did, however, have to pull power, and the battery to reset the ZTE MF275 at one point, as it had a wireless signal, but no internet access.  That seemed to correct the communications issue.

 

Hope that helps...

 

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

ManicMechanic
I Plan to Stick Around

In looking at that panel antenna from amazon, I think that the internal elements are actually at 45 degrees and 90 degrees to each other.  That is they are in an "X" rather than "+" arrangement.

 

This would mean the H and V don't matter very much.

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

So with nice weather today I got the antenna up on the mast. 

 

Signal strength is -102 to -104 db (4 bars LTE) - roughly unchanged from the rabbit ears. But speeds seem to be stronger and more consistent - speed test shows 37 ping / 45-46 down / 5-6 up. Download speed is about +10 from the rabbit ears.  

 

I tried switching the cables without any significant change - which supports ManicMechanic's hypothesis. 

 

All in all, I'm very satisfied with this setup. 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

kco
I Plan to Stick Around

I was using a Huawei B890-66 router because the MF275 with external antenna connections was not available when I first connected with Rogers.

 

This thread made me aware of the MF275 and gave a good start for my external antenna research. I have ordered a YagiRef2-QLP from BestCellDist.com as shown here:

 

http://bestcelldist.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=119&products_id=119883

 

It is actually two YagiRef-QLP antennas made by WirEng:

 

http://www.wireng.com/yagiref-qlp/

 

The WirEng site has several other models such as the Giant, YagiMax and YagiRef-Plus that also should work. There are good specification pages on the WirEng.Com site.

 

I chose the YagiRef2-QLP because I am 30 km from the tower. I anticipate a 20 dB gain. I also considered two Wilson 314411 antennas mounted at + and - 45 degrees to replace the single Wilson 304411 I have now. It is rated at 7.3 gain @ 700 MHz and 10.4 dB at 2100 MHz is similar to this from amazon.ca:

 

http://www.amazon.ca/MF275R-external-Periodic-antenna-highest/dp/B0182IV13G/ref=pd_sbs_107_1?ie=UTF8...

 

The confusing aspect about this item is it does not mention using two antennas.

 

Two antennas at +/- 45 degrees are important for LTE because the signal is polarized at those angles. At least that is what I gather from articles, the antenna supplier, a Rogers 2nd-level support person, and this YouTube video:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB1v_YDqjOk

 

.... explaining why you need two antennas. It is one of six videos that contributor posted on YouTube.

 

I will add a second 50' cable. I went with another LMR400 from InfiniteCables.com:

 

http://www.infinitecables.com/antenna-cables-and-accessories/

 

with N male and SMA male connectors. The YagiRef2-QLP has FME connectors and N adapters. I will use a 12" LMR195 SMA female to SMA male connector to make it easier to connect to the MF275R.

 

My antenna shipped from Texas January 28, and finally left Toronto February 11. I hope it will arrive this week. I'll install it as soon as possible--weather and snow and ice on the roof permitting. I already have the new cable and drilled the second hole through the house.

 

It is important to consider low loss cables for longer runs. Using a low gain antenna with a long cable could end up making things worse. The InfiniteCables link above has a chart. Another article said to estimate 1/4 db loss for each connector.

 

My antenna research started when our service became unusable for long periods in late December. Until then the LTE service with the non-Rogers Huawei B890-66 was reliable--consistently giving 20-30 mbps download speeds. I had to prove my site was not a fault. The non-Rogers router was a concern so I purchased an MF275R. Although promised a 2nd-level callback five times it did not happen until the fifth call. Even then, the 2nd-level support person almost closed the call without contacting me because everything looked fine on his end. I'm glad he called. We discussed the sudden deterioration in service, trouble-shooting on my end, and patterns I saw in the down time. He looked further on his radio and mentioned some receive signal value looked suspicious. It looked like an intermittent equipment problem or outside interference. He must have found something--our service has been reliable since.

 

The MF275R manages just 9 to 12 mbps instead of the Huawei B890's 20 to 30 Mbps. That is fine because it is reliable. However, the MF275R did get 30-40 mbps for short period one day. I think it managed to switch to a better LTE frequency and get true MIMO service.

 

The Rogers support person was helpful. He was able to see my place(using Google Earth?) with a good idea of the distance, terrain and vegetation. He recommended an antenna. He said lower frequencies are better for my location's 30 km distance and intervening trees. Lower frequencies have more range and are less affected by trees. Also, the lower frequencies should be less susceptible to signal deterioration from many users. He said it is best if my router connects at 700 MHz because it is only used for LTE and less crowded. Other frequencies share multiple protocols, some of which actually reduce signal strength as they become busier. LTE signal strength does not diminish with more users. At least I think that is what he said!

 

My existing single Wilson 304411 is rated 850-2100 MHz and expected to boost about 7.3 to 10.4 dBi. That agrees with what I see at my router. I had around -110 dB with the rabbit ear antenna and -100 with the Wilson. There is no way to tell what frequency it is using.

 

The YagiRef2-QLP is rated for a 22 db gain or more over the entire frequency range. I'm hopeful it will improve speed and maintain reliability if signal conditions deteriorate again.

 

I'll report the results here when I get it running.

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

kco
I Plan to Stick Around

I installed the YagiRef2-QLP antennas today. They are connected with 50' LMR low-loss cables. I am 30 km from the cell tower.

 

YagiRef2_Antenna.jpg

 

Before installation the MF275R rabbit ears were reading -106 dBm with an average download speed of 10.4 Mbps over six tests.  The old single Wilson 304411 antenna consistently showed signal readings of -100 dBm and download speeds the same as the rabbit ears.

 

With the YagiRef2-QLP the signal was -92 dBm with an average download of 21.9 Mbps over 18 tests.  The YagiRef2-QLP doubled the download speed and signficantly improved the signal.  The MF275R management pages show an LTE connection with 5 out of 5 bars. I think the download speed is mainly due to the 2nd antenna.  I may have seen the same improvement using cheaper WirEng antennas or other manufacturers' antennas such as the Wilson model 314411.

 

That said, I'm happy with the more capable YagiRef2-QLP.  It should provide more consistent service.

 

 EDIT: Adding photo showing path to cell tower.  The tower is behind the trees at the bottom of the ridge heading down from the left side.  The cell tower is directly in line with the left edge of the left close fir tree.  The large poplar tree and other deciduous trees may affect the signal a bit when they leaf-out.

 

20160224_Antenna2 (1024x576).jpg

 

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

cousinjerry
I've Been Here Awhile

I have a MF275 running now with an outdoor panel MIMO antenna set up.  After installing the antenna I didn't see much of an improvment in the speeds.

 

I'm still at 3 bars and about -106dbm speeds around 7 down/5 up and only about 4km from the tower.

 

I'm going to try to get the antenna higher but also need some additonal cable.  What are people using?  I have the standard 30' of LMR200 currently but since I need to extend, I'm thinking about going to LMR400.

 

Any cable suggestions?

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

kco
I Plan to Stick Around

usinJerry, some questions:
- do you have two antenna cables to the router?
- what make and model is your antenna?
- do you have a clear line of site to the tower?
- does the MF275 show as connecting on LTE?
- do you know the frequencies for the tower to which you are connected?
- is your antenna mounted outside or inside?

 

If you are just 4km from the tower it seems like your signal should be much better than what you are getting.

Google "LMR400 vs LMR200" to see the possible improvement for different cables. This chart:

 

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/cable/coaxperf.html

 

gives an idea. For 2400 MHz LMR-200 is 16.5 dB vs 6.6 dB for LMR-400.

 

So for 30' you likely have somewhere around 5.5 dB loss for your LMR-200. LMR-400 would have about 2.2 dB loss. If your antenna is not rated for more than 5.5 dBm at 2400 Mhz it could actually make things worse.

 

If you do need additional cable it would be best to install a new LMR-400 for the complete length. However, you may need a more effective antenna. One article I read suggested a 1/4 dB loss for each connector.

 

Take a look at the links I posted above for more information on antennas. The + & - 45 degree is important for LTE service. Also, the WirEng site I mentioned has good antenna information to help determine which will help for your situation.

 

Your signal seems weak for being only 4 km from the tower. However, other factors such as heavy traffic or congestion on other parts of the non-cellular network can affect your speed. My download speeds vary between 10 Mbps and 22 Mbps although the signal quality stays the same. Before adding the polarized antenna I was getting 3 to 10 Mbps. Also, my previous non-Rogers Huawei B890-66 router seemed much more capable than the MF275.

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

ManicMechanic
I Plan to Stick Around

Hi cousinjerry,

 

kco has the right information in his post above.

 

To verify the tower you are pointing at is indeed Rogers' and LTE you can use this map:

http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/cancellsites.html

 

If the panel antenna you have is the one like this:

https://www.amazon.ca/Indoor-Outdoor-Antenna-MF275R-Rocket/dp/B0182ISUX0/

 

The gain on this antenna is only 4-7db, so as kco points out, the cable loss with LMR200 can almost negate the gain of the antenna.  Thus explaining your observation of no real improvement in signal strength and speeds.

 

I did a quick calculation and the comparative losses of the two cable types over the 30 foot run you currently have is:

LMR200
Loss: 5.7db (includes connector losses)
Loss per 100 feet: 16.9db

 

LMR400
Loss: 2.3db (includes connector losses)
Loss per 100 feet: 6.8db

 

If you verify that you are pointed at a "good" tower, I would think that just switching to LMR400 coax might get you improved signal without raising the antenna height.  If it's easy to raise the antenna to give it a clearer line of sight to the tower, then I would do both the height change and the LMR400 cable.

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

Thanks for the info everyone!

 

I am connecting at LTE from what the router page says.  Its at 3/5 bars usually and -108dBm now.

 

There are 2 towers about 4km from me.  They are:

 

Tower 1 - 850/1900

Tower 2 - 850/1900/2100/2600

 

Neither are really in the line of sight but ther aren't any large hills between me and them.

 

I'm assuming that its the 2600 tower is the one I'm connecting at LTE to.

 

That is the antenna I have.  

 

Any suggestions where to find some LMR400 cable that is preterminated with the correct connectors?

 

Thanks again!

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

kco
I Plan to Stick Around

I got my 50' LMR400 cable at infinitecables.com:

 

http://www.infinitecables.com/

 

Connectors were N-male and SMA-male for $96.95. I also got a 1' RG174 SMA male to SMA female jumper to connect from the large cable to the router--cost was $11.20.  Total cost with taxes ($6.72) and shipping (to BC-$26.11) was $140.98.  It looks like you will need SMA connectors (male and female) on both ends of your LMR 400 cable if you want to stick with your existing panel antenna.

 

I already had one 50' cable. You will need two for LTE.  They can put whatever end connectors you desire on the cable.  I went with the small SMA on one end so I could drill a smaller hole through the house wall.

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

kco
I Plan to Stick Around

It looks like I was mistaken about the cable ends you will need when I replied yesterday. Reading more about the antenna it looks like it may has FME male connections rather than SMA connectors as I stated.

 

I have very limited understanding (close to none) of antennas. My comments are just from my research and experience with my installation.  It seems -108 dBm is weak for being just 4 km from the tower.  Before spending significant money on cables it may be wise to do more research.

 

One thing to check on the cell tower map is the antennas' directions.  You can see them by clicking on the different frequencies. It shows the antennas and azimuth (direction from true north) for each frequency, but it does not give the aperature (angle for coverage of the signal).  As stated in earlier posts, my service is fed from a tower 31 km away and behind trees.  Luckily the line of trees is not too close to my location.  I was surprised to discover which Rogers installation was serving me.  I had assumed it was a tower visible on a high ridge. However, the tower I was seeing was a microWave tower with no cell services.  I had mistaken it for one on the cell tower map which is on another ridge behind the one where I see the microWave tower.  There IS one other Rogers cell tower I can see on the closer ridge, but it only feeds the Silver Star ski hill which is the opposite direction from me.  It has no antenna feeding my direction.

 

I do have another Rogers tower about 4 km directly to the east of me. But I am behind a huge hill and get no signal.  I can get a great signal if I walk 1/4 mile south so it is not so badly obscured by the hill.

 

It took five calls; but Rogers was a great help when I finally got a contact with 2nd-level support.  That person was able to quickly find the which tower was serving me by checking the telephone number assigned to my HUB.  He was well prepared.  He had checked my address and told me that the tower I thought was serving me was behind the intervening ridge.  It was after our discussion that I discovered Google Earth Pro(which is free) actually has a function that lets you see the ground profile for a path between two points, and I could see it for myself.  The contact with the Rogers 2nd-level support person also revealed that the cell tower map is not completely up todate.  He says Rogers has 700 MHz in my area in addition to the ones shown on the cell tower map.  He also told me of 2016 upgrades in my area (North Okanagan), none of which will help me.  He suggested an external directional antenna would help improve service--and it did.

 

Your best bet might be to try to get a conversation with 2nd-level support.  Before calling, give them your address, equipment you are using, your Rogers hub account number and phone number associated phone number, and signal levels you are seeing with the MF275 rabbit ears.  Hopefully they will help.

 

Your antenna is an omni-directional one which is good if you have multiple possibilities for cell signal sources. But if you have just one possibility, a directional antenna would be more effective.  (my choice is obvious--I'm surrounded by hills on three sides).  The person may also know if the speeds you are seeing are reasonable considering congestion, etc.

 

Before spending a lot of effort and money, it may be best to try to get some help from Rogers.  I found it a bit of a struggle but it paid off in the long run.

 

One other thought about download speeds.  If possible, check them through a wired ethernet connection with only one computer connected to the hub so as to rule out WIFI problems, etc.

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

ManicMechanic
I Plan to Stick Around

Another Canadian source of the LMR400 cables would be:

 

Gap Wireless

http://www.gapwirelessonline.com/cable-tools-and-accessories/cable-assemblies/n-male-to-sma-male-400...

 

They have the pre-made cables at the link above and you would need 2 of the adapters below at the antenna end to convert N male on the coax to the FME male end that it needs to connect to the antenna:

http://www.gapwirelessonline.com/adapter-type-n-female-to-fme-male.html

 

A couple of notes for you:

- Gap Wireless can make you the correct cable so you don't need the adapter.  Just call them.

- I'm not sure the above adapter is the correct one.  The Amazon page for your antenna says that the coax with the antenna has SMA Male and FME Male as the ends, but the picture (it's pretty blurry) looks like it's SMA Male to FME Female.  Please double check this before ordering.

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

I am feeling very fortunate that with the stock mf 275 right out of the box , I get 32 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up.

My previous ZTE mf 271 could only muster 5-7 down and 1-2 up!

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

cousinjerry
I've Been Here Awhile
What connection details do you have? dbm from the information page of the router? How far from the tower are you?

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

I can't seem to login to the rocket hub router. I thought it was http://192.168.1.1

my iPad Safari does seem to recognize it.

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

kco
I Plan to Stick Around

The MF275R is set to 192.168.0.1.  The default password is admin.  Here is a link to the manual:

 

http://ztedevices.ca/media/wysiwyg/Rogers%20MF275R%20UG%20English-final.pdf

 

see page 28.

 

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

kco
I Plan to Stick Around

cousinjerry, message 48 in this thread will give you readings I had for 30 km from the tower and the improvement when adding a high gain yagi antenna.  Message 47 has links to some videos about antennas and to some antenna suppliers' sites.

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

Signal strength 111dB

LTE 2 bars

3km to cell tower through a few trees

Wilson signal booster....

 

Is there a newer firmware for this router....MF275R  ??

Mine has the 1.0.7

 

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

My wilson says dB pro

Re: Rocket HUB external antenna

kco
I Plan to Stick Around

My MF275R is at the same version, opticalmike(2.0.7).  You can check it under Settings-->Device Settings-->Update Management.  Mine is set to check every 15 days but I have run it manually a few times and it has always been up todate.  I don't know what my original version was so I don't know if it has ever updated.

 

That signal seems week for being so close to the tower.  My signal with the MF275 rabbit ears indoors was about -110 dBm--through trees and 30 km from the tower. However, my path is clear line of sight (other than a line of trees about 150 meters from the house) over a deep valley.  I am 700' or 800' higher than the tower.  Using my old single Wilson 304411 antenna on one antenna input improved the signal to -100 dBm.  My YagiRef2-QLP antenna has it at -92 to -94.   My speed immediately doubled with the dual antennas.  I think the improvement was mainly due to the dual antennas properly aligned at + and - 45 degrees.

 

I just have antennas with no booster.  

 

Is there a way you can make sure your booster is working properly?

 

Have you checked to see if the Rogers tower has an antenna in your direction?

 

 Some other thoughts on your booster... 

 

It look as if it just uses one antenna input. For true LTE it is my understanding you need two antennas at +/- 45 degrees.  See the videos mentioned in message 47 of this thread.  Being just 3km from the tower I am surprised you need a booster.

 

Also, it looks like the db Pro covers only 824-894 and 1850-1990 MHz. It looks like it may not support the frequencies needed for Rogers LTE.  Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me(i.e. almost anyone 🙂 ) will give more advice.