We see people posting in rural internet and RV living forums and groups daily about slow and inconsistent speeds through their cellular-connected devices. Sometimes the complaints are around video streaming quality and others around simple webpage loading times. My first question to these users is always, "what's your signal strength?" Nine times out of ten, I have to walk people through finding the diagnostic pages in their modem/router, and typically, we find that signal strength is the culprit to their poor experiences!
Many devices like the Nighthawk, Cradlepoint, etc. allow for external antennas to be connected. I can't think of a situation where the use of an external antenna would ever be worse than using the weaker internal antennas. There are several different types of external antennas and connectors. An omnidirectional antenna will allow you to connect the antenna to your device and get a better signal without aiming the antenna. This usually helps improve signal and is suitable for an RV or other moving vehicle. If you want to improve your signal strength, you want to focus on directional Yagi antennas.
Directional antennas are reasonably simple to install but require some research to get them aimed correctly. Using a website or app like Cell Mapper, you can choose your carrier and location to find the closest cell sites. This will let you point the antennas in the right direction. There are also a bunch of websites that explain how to aim the antennas for optimal usage accurately. It's suggested that if your device supports it, you should use 2 Yagi antennas, as shown in the images below. Setting them at a 45-degree angle is essential. I typically refer people to this link when learning to aim antennas:
As for my personal gear selection, I use a Cradlepoint CBA850 with 2 Wilson Yagi antennas. Take note! I also use lighting arrestors on my ethernet AND antenna cables. This will prevent damage to equipment inside my house in the event of a lightning strike! Your equipment might have different connectors for the antennas from my Cradlepoint, so be sure to do a bit of research when selecting the antenna cables for your specific device.
All that said, here's what I'm using!
1. Antennas (2 of these) - https://amzn.to/2DgiUzQ
2. Cables (you'll need two, and you want to keep these AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE to limit signal loss. Also, your connectors on the modem/router side might be different, so double check these are the right cables for your setup!) - https://amzn.to/3jO3qnI
3. Lightning Arrestors for antenna cables (you'll need 2 AND AGAIN, be sure these are the right connector for your setup!) - https://amzn.to/3f8WZIb
4. Lightning arrestors for CAT5/6 cables (you'll need one to protect any routers/switches/ethernet gear you have connected to your cellular modem/router/device.) - https://amzn.to/39BwHgA
5. Here's a link to the modem I am using from Cradlepoint. You can find these used (like I did) for much cheaper than new ones. - https://ebay.to/3f7QANz
As a person who likes to refit everything, I approve of your choice. I am sure it will be useful to many people, especially since you have provided links to all the necessary products. However, I am not sure that this information will be understandable to ordinary people. I have a technical education, so I can imagine what it is about. I wish everyone a successful antenna installation and high Internet speed!
Wow, this sounds difficult! It’s amazing that you share your personal selection with your readers! Though to tell the truth, that doesn’t seem cheap at all. On the other hand, one has to pay for it only once and this will positively influence one’s internet speed. Overall, the article discusses the important topic of improving internet connection and gives the necessary information on how exactly one can do it.
Seriously? We pay you $150 for a router which we don’t even own and cannot add external antennas??
Nomad Internet replied:
Terri you are welcome to use accessories like an antenna or a cell booster! While Nomad does not sell these, we can certainly work to replace your Nomad router with a model that can accept these and even provide suggestions for antenna or boosters if you need. Our tech support team would be happy to discuss with you!
Yes, I would like to use my Nomad cellular router with an external antenna but it appears that the router does not allow it. How do I get a Strong Pink router that is compatible with an external antenna?
Nomad Internet replied:
Hello Jerold! We might be able to find a router that can work for your needs if you’d be kind enough to reach out to our support team for assistance. Thank you for your trust!
since you know what system we have can you supply the correct antenna for us to use?