Story and photography by Capt. Vincent Daniello
We mounted the booster and its 6-volt power supply and connected it to 12-volt DC power through a 5-amp fuse. An N connector crimped to the RG-8X coax from the tuna tower was hooked to the booster with an adapter from Wilson. We connected the internal antenna using Wilson-supplied RG-58 coax, mounting it temporarily with double-sided tape to find the best, gain-maximizing orientation.
How well did our booster work? Initially, a red LED indicator showed the device was picking up feedback between the boat’s external and internal antennas. Repositioning the internal antenna and/or lowering the gain until the LED turned green put us into normal operation. A yellow warning LED then showed the booster was sensing a nearby cellular tower and shutting down to prevent interference. We lowered the gain a bit more for testing at the dock, then readjusted it once we were offshore and away from the cell tower.
Generally speaking, results were positive. I’d say that with careful attention to coax cable losses, a cellular booster’s range is limited mostly by the height of the antennas involved. Ours worked nicely, for example, as long as the distance between the 18-foot antenna on our boat and the 100-foot-tall cellular tower ashore was 13 miles or less. Not bad.