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Antennas Fequently Asked Questions
1 September 2017

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Antennas and Aerials

Does my magnetic-mount antenna need to be mounted vertically or can I mount it horizontally?

Cell tower antennas are mounted vertically, so the magnetic mount antenna and all of the other whip-type antennas will give the best performance when mounted vertically. When both antennas are in the same orientation, they are polarized. Polarized antennas transmit and receive signals with the most efficiency.

How do I tune a Yagi aerial?

Point the main centre beam of the Yagi aerial in the general direction of the cell tower. Make sure the radials are pointing up and down. Connect the aerial to a cell phone in test mode. Pan the Yagi left and right in 10 degree increments until you get the best signal strength reading from the phone. In most cases, you want a signal as strong as you can get.

Signal strength is measured in negative decibels so a signal strength of -85 is stronger than -99. When you are panning the aerial, be sure to let go of the aerial or it may give inaccurate readings. Lock the aerial down at the position where you get the best signal strength.

Can I paint an aerial?

Most aerials can be painted as long as the paint does not contain metal flakes (metallic paint). The metal particles would change and disrupt the aerial's signal transmission characteristics.

Can I use the signal strength bars on my cellphone to tune my Yagi aerial?

Yes, however, tuning accuracy will be limited and more difficult than with a cell phone in test mode. If your cell phone does not have a test mode, the signal strength bars may be the only way to tune your Yagi. Bear in mind that signal bars are more a marketing tool than a true signal-strength indicator.

On a glass-mount aerial, what is the temperature range the glass should be for installation?

The Very High Bond (VHB) tape used on the Glass-Mount aerial is produced by 3M Corportaion and will provide good adhesion to a clean, flat glass surface. When you attach the aerial, the glass should be about 70 degrees F. After the adhesive has set (about 24 hours), extreme temperatures will not affect it.

Can I use a low-profile aerial inside my car on the dash to obtain a better signal?

Low profile aerials would give you some signal increase on your dash compared to you cell phone alone inside your vehicle; however an antenna with a higher gain that mounts outside your vehicle would give you better performance.

Will my magnetic-mount aerial work if I place it on a non-metal surface?

A magnetic mount aerial must be placed on a ferrous metal (iron or steel) for it to work properly. If the magnet on the aerial base sticks to a surface, the surface is made of iron or steel and the aerial will work.

The cable on the aerial on my vehicle is not long enough. Can I add 30 feet of cable?

Most mobile aerials have a gain of about 5 dB. If you add 30 feet of a low-loss cable such as RG-58, the cable loss would be greater than the aerial gain resulting in a net loss of signal strength. If you must add more than 20 feet of cable, use a lower-loss cable such as RG-213.

Why do I have to install the outside and inside aerial so far apart?

Each aerial on a wireless amplifier system has a signal pattern. To achieve the greatest coverage area possbile, each signal pattern should not reach the other other aerial. This would cause the amplifier to oscillate (feedback) and reduce the performance of the amplifier. The aerial on a 50 dB amplifier must be separated by at least 40 feet. The aerials on a 60 dB amplifier must be separated by at least 75 feet. A roof or wall will help with separation. 

Does the Yagi aerial need to be grounded? 

The Yagi does not need to be grounded. However, we recommend a Lightening Surge Protector in all building installations. The Lightening Surge Protector will ground the aerial and prevent an electrical surge from damaging your amplifier. 

What is the range of an inside aerial? 

The range or distance you can be from an inside aerial depends on the strength of the signal coming from the cell towerand the output of the amplifier. The stronger your signal is, the greater the range will be. Range is not determined by the aerial.

Can I install an aerial upside down?

Yes, the signal pattern for an omni-directional aerial, whether they be low profile, magnetic mount or glass mount will work well as long as the aerial is vertical. However they lose much of their effectiveness if they are mounted sideways or at an angle.

Can I hold my Yagi aerial to point it in different directions while attempting to tune it to a cell tower?

When you hold or touch a Yagi or any directional aerial with exposed metal surfaces, your body alters and distorts the signal and changes the aerial's performance. With a Yagi, we recommend that you temporarily mount the aerial while tuning. It is important that you let go of the aerial when you are taking a signal strength reading or the reading will be inaccurate.

Can I use a Yagi aerial on my motorhome?

Yes, since the Yagi is directional, you would need to re-tune it at each new location.

Can I place my magnetic mount aerial on top of my refrigerator?

Yes, as long as the outside of the refrigerator is made of a metal to which the magnet will stick. The magnetic mount aerial should provide better performance than the cell phone aerial alone. However, placing the aerial outside will allow it to collect as much signal as possible.

Can I use an aerial used on a vehicle on my house?

Yes. Although designed for mobile use, as aerial used on a vehicle will provide the same signal improvement if mounted on a staionary structure. However, we recommend a Yagi aerial for all building installations. A Yagi aerial has more gain and can compensate for signal loss through the cable. 

The Yagi is a directional aerial and can reduce the chances of oscillation n(interference). It also has the ability to tune out interfering signals by pointing away from them.

Where should I place the inside aerial on an in-building wireless amplifier system?

Place the inside aerial in the area where you need service the most. Keep the inside aerial out of contact with metal objects and away from electronic wiring. Some situations may require more than one aerial. Remember to keep the minimum separation between the inside and outside aerial.

Will your aerials work with GSM?

Yes, we have aerials that will work with all the cell phone technologies including AMPS, CDMA, GSM, TDMA, iDEN, EDGE, 1xEVDO, GPRS and the latest 3G HSDPA systems.

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