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  • set up my antennas, but having problems

    I have the series H USB devise from Clear. I'm within Clears coverage area, but apparently because of trees and being sort of low, I get marginal outdoor coverage and zero ability to connect indoors without antennas where we are. ( didn't used to be this way, originally I could connect indoors with the USB devise only, Clear's service changed! )

    Anyway, I decided to try antennas since when I got on the roof using Clear's external antenna, I could connect .

    I purchased the omni antenna #RFWAT2P5OMNNF
    I also purchased the grid antenna # RFWAT2P5GDNF

    I have fifty foot cables.

    I attached a steel pole to the side of the house with about 6 feet sticking up above the apex of the roof.I then grounded the pole to the ground with copper cable and a pipe in the ground.

    I attached the omni antenna to the top of the pole. I then attached the grid antenna below the omni antenna on the pole with about 14 inches separating them. I subsequently experimented with pointing the grid antenna in different directions to find the best direction.

    OK, so the first time I tried using the system, it worked brilliantly. It connected right up to Clear and had descent speed. Download was about what we average at our other place in a better location and upload is typically slow for these USB devises it seems.

    But then it rained the next day. After that I still had all the indicator lights in the connection manager lit up but it would not connect.

    After fiddling with disconnecting a few things, I found that with the grid antenna disconnected but with the pigtail still connected to the #1 antenna port , and then the omni antenna fully connected to antenna port #2 it would connect. In this configuration it is a lot slower but oddly it readily connects and does so automatically. It also appears that the pigtail is acting like an external antenna on it's own because when it is disconnected, the system doesn't work-will not connect etc.

    What has seemed to help to solve this problem has been that if I take apart the cable connection connecting the grid antenna to the cable and dry it out and then put it back together, the system will work. It will connect OK and has reasonable speeds.

    I have tried both silicone and electrical tape to keep the cable joint dry. The tape seems to have been keeping it dry yesterday, but today again after a lot of rain, the system again does not connect with my grid antenna connected. Connected it will show all green indicator lights in the Connection Manager, but it simply won't connect. Then once again, I disconnect the grid antenna at the pigtail and just like that, the USB will connect to Clear.

    So, what do I do to solve this? Do I have to build some sort of little dry box or something to make sure water doesn't get into that Grid antenna to cable joint? Looking at the joint, it appears that simply tightening it well should seal out moisture and I have tightened it. But that doesn't seem to be enough.

    Alternately, could there be some sort of flaw with the grid antenna or the cable joint that is causing this problem in the rain?

    Anything you guys have for suggestions will be appreciated.

    Neil
    Last edited by Clearman; 01-22-2011, 11:04 AM.

  • #2
    Hi ... this is quite strange ....

    ... just to get the basics out of the way first hope you have a properly grounded lightning suppression to protect not just your modem which is cheap but your house ...u cant imagine how many people ignore this strong recommendation then mount omni antennas high up on their roof -pretty much a lightning arrestor straight into their house ....

    Let me try and dissect this bit-by-bit:

    I attached a steel pole to the side of the house with about 6 feet sticking up above the apex of the roof.I then grounded the pole to the ground with copper cable and a pipe in the ground.
    sounds good. Good that you grounded the mast but you also need a lightning discharge device to protect the path through the coaxial cable into the house. Need one for every coax line that goes into the house.

    After fiddling with disconnecting a few things, I found that with the grid antenna disconnected but with the pigtail still connected to the #1 antenna port , and then the omni antenna fully connected to antenna port #2 it would connect. In this configuration it is a lot slower but oddly it readily connects and does so automatically. It also appears that the pigtail is acting like an external antenna on it's own because when it is disconnected, the system doesn't work-will not connect etc.
    Wondering if the act of disconnecting the grid is causing connection or is it disconnecting it from USB port which in effect is power-cycling it? Have you tried simply to disconnect the reconnect it from the USB port while leaving grid connected. Also is there any errors reported on the comm mgr?

    This is quite strange. Typically you would expect to have full lights but not connection in situations where you have feedback (e.g in cellular repeaters where you have a donor and receptor antenna) or if you are getting input limiting because the gain is too much (or distortions). But when it rains, rain-fading causes the RSS to be even lower so if you didn't have input limiting due to too much antenna gain before the rain i don't see how you could have it after.

    The only explanations would be either that:
    1) Grid radiation properties are being severely disturbed by rain -- (frankly haven't seen this reported before but we cant rule it out yet)
    2) Due to rain-fading the multipath environment is changing to where in-building signal is more reliable than outdoor -- (would expect the RSSI indicator to reflect that though and in any case this is quite unlikely). I would tell you to play with orientation but this would be EXTREMELY dangerous to do when raining so not quite sure how we can rule this out yet. let me think about this some.

    What has seemed to help to solve this problem has been that if I take apart the cable connection connecting the grid antenna to the cable and dry it out and then put it back together, the system will work. It will connect OK and has reasonable speeds.
    So are you saying that even after the rain it still doesn't connect until you dry it out? This would clearly point to moisture intrusion as the culprit. Was the grid very wet or did you just have to dry the connectors. Actually i have really not seen a need to weatherize the connectors and most people in-fact don't and provided the connectors are tight you should be fine.

    but today again after a lot of rain, the system again does not connect with my grid antenna connected. Connected it will show all green indicator lights in the Connection Manager, but it simply won't connect. Then once again, I disconnect the grid antenna at the pigtail and just like that, the USB will connect to Clear.
    When this happens again please take note of the base-station it's trying to connect to when it can't connect (or the one it was previously connected to before the rain) and then when you disconnect the grid note down the base-station it connects to (just look at the base-station ID field and see if the field changes). My guess it that it connects to a different BTS. This could suggest problems with the BTS that primarily provides your connection during rain i.e it's still transmitting ok which is why you see all green lights in your RSSI and because the RSS is strong it persistently tries to connect to it but if they have issues with connectivity at the BTS it doesn't work. when you disconnect the grid due to the poor RSS in the building the modem searches for any signal and connects to a different BTS. Just a theory though

    So, what do I do to solve this? Do I have to build some sort of little dry box or something to make sure water doesn't get into that Grid antenna to cable joint?
    No this doesn't make much sense that you would need to do this for an outdoor antenna.

    Alternately, could there be some sort of flaw with the grid antenna or the cable joint that is causing this problem in the rain?
    Could be. Unlikely though since i would think we should have seen this already. Also since these are pretty much mechanical devices they typically are rarely defective. You can try our 18dBi panel antenna: http://www.rfwel.com/shop/2.5-2.7GHz...l-Antenna.html if you want to rule out the grid as the culprit.

    Have you tried to swap out the primary and secondary antenans and see what happens in the rain. i.e make the omni primary and grid secondary?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by NickDBLG View Post
      Hi ... this is quite strange ....

      No this doesn't make much sense that you would need to do this for an outdoor antenna.

      Could be. Unlikely though since i would think we should have seen this already. Also since these are pretty much mechanical devices they typically are rarely defective. You can try our 18dBi panel antenna: http://www.rfwel.com/shop/2.5-2.7GHz...l-Antenna.html if you want to rule out the grid as the culprit.

      Have you tried to swap out the primary and secondary antenans and see what happens in the rain. i.e make the omni primary and grid secondary?
      Since I managed to connect this evening, I thought I'd write a bit more about my experience with it today.

      I had a much different experience with this today. I did go up and dry out the outdoor connection I spoke about before . But this time, doing so did not solve the problem. Our rainy day here continued on, but my previous experience of being able to disconnect my grid antenna from the pigtail and being able to connect with it that way did not work. So, for several hours this afternoon, I could not connect to Clear. Then at about 6 PM I was able to connect. I had simply kept hitting the connect button in the connection manager until it finally worked.

      So, it appears that since it stopped raining this evening, that my location is just marginal enough that rain can stop me from being able to connect.

      I think I need to start understanding those numbers I see being used here and where to find them.

      But, It looks to me like when viewing the devise info in connection manager, it lists the base station it is using. Then when viewing the base station information page and the info related to that tower, one can get info about that. In this case tonight , I see that my base station readings are: Ho RSSI - ranges between -71 and -74 . CINR numbers range between 19 and 22.

      One thing that seems odd to me is the idea that I could have all green indicator lights lit up in connection manager and not be able to connect like it was all afternoon for me today.

      Good to hear you think it's probably not the antenna being defective. When I got it I didn't see installation or assembly instructions, so I did the best I could. I put the little sheet of aluminum for reflecting what the grid collects on so that it is separated from the main mast by the little plastic cylinder spacer. I hope that was correct.

      And I'll get lightening protection into this system at some point soon.

      I have not tried swapping the antennas except that when I felt that the grid antenna was acting up , I attached the omni antenna to the #1 antenna port on the USB devise and that didn't work for me.

      Neil
      Last edited by Clearman; 01-21-2011, 11:24 PM.

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