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Wilson Marine SOHO 60 Cellular Booster

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I already am pleased with the Wilson amp I installed on Gizmo, my Duffy 37, last September. The company may have just decided to pay attention to the boat world, but I was more than ready to test the box of Wilson gear that recently showed up at Panbo HQ in Camden, Maine.

Wilson Marine SOHO 60 Cellular Booster

What’s installed on Gizmo now, and really helped me stay in touch while travelling south, is a 30-inch Digital Antenna 561 cell stick cabled to a Wilson 801201 amp and then to their cradle antenna. So I don’t have to worry about a feedback loop, but then again my phone only gets boosted when in the cradle. I don’t mind that much—especially as I am usually using my “old-guy Bluetooth headset”—but my guests and crew would probably appreciate an inside antenna with more range.

That’s where the special features of the AG SOHO 60 come in. You can not only adjust the amount of gain used for the two major cell bands to avoid oscillation between the inside and outside antennas—also useful for saving power when you’re only using one band—but on startup the unit tests for problems, uses its LEDs to show what’s going on, and will even shut down a band if needed. Though I set up the Marine Antenna on a 10-foot pole outside the lab and pointed the panel away from it, apparently the signals got mixed up until I moved the panel farther into the basement or turned the gain down more. Cellular repeating is tricky, especially when the outside antenna covers 360 degrees of horizon as a boat antenna must.

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This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.