Wilson High Gain Antenna is a Dud

The coupler for my Sleek and high gain antenna arrived today. No exclamation point because there isn’t an iota of difference between the stubby antenna and the high gain one.

I’m trying to decide if I am going to live with this pretty much useless internet connection all summer or if I will try to get a partial refund and buy a different solution.

It is cloudy again today and very humid, which has definitely affected my signal since I got the Sleek, so I may give the bigger antenna a couple of days before I decide to return it or not.

14 thoughts on “Wilson High Gain Antenna is a Dud

  1. I know exactly how you feel Rae! Try to get some additional height with the new antenna, it might help. Also try moving it on the roof (back to front). Do you have some software that actually shows your signal strength? There might be some shareware out there. This way you can actually watch the difference moving the antenna makes in dB.

  2. I had the same thought about adding height. Next sunny day, I will cobble something together and try to add another few feet to it.

    As I said in an early post, I’m getting a good signal (two bars) but no service, as per the Mifi screen. I don’t know if there’s more precise software available. But where I have the antenna now is as close a line of sight as exists to both the towers in Willow Bunch and Assiniboia. I’m also limited by the length of the cable.

    I’m trying to determine if moving the rig to the back of the lot was what triggered the increasingly crappy connection or if that was just a coincidence since the weather has been so overcast and nasty since I moved.

    And there is a HUGE difference in signal quality between clear and sunny days versus rain and overcast, so the weather is definitely not helping.

  3. I would suggest looking into a Yagi antenna or a cantenna. Do an internet search to see what they are, both can be home built, and are directional which can be a big help when trying to amplify a signal.

  4. The water vapor in the air causes the signal to reflect and diffuse as it travels through the moist air. This degradation of signal is directly proportional to the distance you are from the transmitting antenna. A high gain antenna helps but really all it is doing is amplifying a signal that is degraded to start with.

    It is sort of like enlarging a grainy photo, hoping to get more detail. The place to add gain is at the transmitting end (the tower), but that is regulated by law and the people who think they are getting brain cancer from living too close to the tower.

    The best device is a directional (Yagi) antenna but it has to be pointed at the tower each time you set up.


    Not that this helps, it just helps explain what is happening.

  5. Andy talked me out of a Yagi for my needs. There are four towers around me and I’m like in the middle of the X, except the connection is way above me. I don’t need directionality, I need height and boosting. A Yagi would limit me to one tower. I think that once the weather calms down and I can add several feet to my setup, I may be much happier…

  6. Being in the middle of a bunch of marginal towers is a reason for directional antenna, not against. Focusing on a single antenna and building a good signal is going to give you more consistant quality package transfer, than a continuos round of transmission handshakes between various towers, jostling for position.

  7. I keep getting such conflicting information…

    Anyway, the signal has been decent today since the rain stopped. I’m not saying the high gain antenna is making that much of a difference, just that the weather change has.

  8. Judging by the -103 to -108 dB signal levels you reported, it’s evident that you’re in a VERY weak signal area. As a rule of thumb, anything beyond -95 is dicey.

    Here are a few suggestions, expanding on what Stuart, Croft and others have said. They’re ranked from cheap/easy to expensive/hard.

    1. Get the antenna as high as you possibly can. I know, common sense–but seriously, get a taller pole, tape two poles together, do whatever it takes. (But disconnect during thunderstorms!)

    2. If you know the direction of the tower you’re connecting to, you could switch from your present omnidirectional antenna to a high-gain directional one (e.g., Wilson #304411) and aim it for best results. That’s what I do in extreme low-signal situations. See details on Eureka’s cell phone page.

    I know I talked you out of buying a directional “Yagi” antenna before. I did that because most people don’t need it, and I didn’t want you to spend a pile of money unnecessarily. There was no way of knowing how bad your signal situation was until you tried an inexpensive omnidirectional antenna and booster. Now that you know, I agree with Croft and Stuart: in your situation, picking the best tower and aiming a high-gain directional antenna at it is probably your best bet.

    3. Trade in the Sleek for a more powerful amplifier (e.g., Wilson’s #801212). The Sleek is an inexpensive, convenient solution that works for most people in most places, but your situation seems to be extreme. You may need a bigger amp. The Sleek boosts the incoming signal by 25 dB; the 801212 boosts it by 40 dB. Decibels are logarithmic, so that’s an even bigger difference than it sounds. Again, the details and links are on the Eureka cell phones page:


    The drawback is that it’s a lot more expensive. But if that’s the cost of doing business, it’s money well spent. Try a better/higher antenna first.

  9. The problem here is that we are in a valley and below a really good signal. I checked my signal strength up the hill with just the Mifi and I was at -60, which I think is excellent?

    So to me the logical thing is not increase the equipment, but to get it higher up. I’m working at cobbling together something to which I can attach my ground plane and get it up. I really regret getting an antenna that needs a ground plane.

    I know that the longer the cable, the more signal loss I’ll get. So I want to get the antenna as far up as my cable will let me get it and see what the numbers are at that point.

    Neighbours have their antennas above the chimney of their two-story house. There’s no way I can go that high without getting more cable.

    Right now, the connection is good enough and is a really good weather barometer!

  10. “I really regret getting an antenna that needs a ground plane.”

    I’m sorry it turned out that way. Again, it was a cost-saving choice that works fine in most cases, but turned out not to be ideal for your present situation. But while your magnet-mount antenna needs a ground plane, it doesn’t have to be a sheet of metal or a cooking pot if you’re putting the antenna up in the air.

    Here’s something you can try: get a big steel washer that the antenna can cling to. Get some stiff wire–baling wire or coat hanger wire would be fine. Cut four straight pieces about eight inches (20 cm) long. If using coat hanger wire, clean off about an inch (2 cm) at one end of each piece down to the bare metal. Wrap that end around the washer and crimp it on, so that the “whiskers” stick out radially in four directions. Then stick the base of the antenna to the washer and then mount on a pole however you like. This will give you a built-in ground plane similar to what some of the Wilson antennas use. It won’t cost anything to do, so it’s worth a try.

    But there’s one other thing to keep in mind: a Yagi (directional) antenna needs no ground plane… so if you decide to go that route, the problem goes away.

  11. Thanks, I’ll try that!

    At this point, my internet budget is busted, so getting something else is going to have to wait. Anyway, when it works, it works well, and when it doesn’t, the field is 3.5km away.

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