Turning the corner

Finally, about a month after moving does life seem to be settling back into a groove.  Some key projects around the house are making it much more livable from a technological sense – plus we got the house cleaned up a bit this weekend (which my two year old immediately started to undo).  From a work sense, even in the lull that is usually July and August, my customers have actually been keeping me busy chasing down a few issues, some of which I plan to cover here in the near future.

I am amazed I have so many reader given the only advertising of this blog I’ve done is putting it in my email sig – I’m guessing the rest (i.e. most) of the readership came from the fact this gets aggregated onto blogs.msdn.com and asp.net.  Since more than a few of you have asked, I finally have the Digital Antenna PowerMax DA4000SBR repeater up and running in the house.  One of my biggest dilemmas was placement of the exterior antenna.  Our house has a hipped roof, meaning there are no gable ends I could easily mount the antenna on.  I thought about mounting it on the chimney with some lead anchors driven into the brick, but our chimney is on the side of the house and probably rises 30 ft from the ground.  I’m not generally afraid of heights, but an interesting statistic my wife brought home from her med school rotation in trauma surgery is that about 50% of falls from over 25 feet result in death kept ringing in my head.  Plus I’d still have the challenge of routing the cable.

Meanwhile I performed a few tests using some temporary mount points (rain gutter, camera tripod, etc.) , just to see if the whole thing was going to work.  As I noted in the comments of a previous post, I got a really strong signal with my phone right by the inside antenna, but that fell off quite rapidly.  Someone left a comment that they purchase one of these units and due to home owners association restrictions, they mounted the antenna in their attic and got semi-decent results, so I decide to give that a try.  I mounted the “outside” antenna high up in the rafter in the attic (an area of the house I’ve become intimately familiar with in the past few weeks – more on this later) and ran the cable down into the closet of the bedroom serving as my office with the amplifier and inside antenna sitting on the floor.  Gauging from the ceiling joists and the height differences, I’d put the separation of the two antennas at around 25 feet.  When I fired it up initially, I’d only get a Verizon signal if I forced the phone to “home only” mode, other wise I’d get a really strong (four bars - showing around -75db on the receive side) signal from US Cellular (I know the carrier only after doing so troubleshooting with Verizon tech support who noted at the time I was on the US Cellular network).

Sitting at my desk right now, with the antenna about 8 feet away inside the closet, I’m getting a -106db signal from Verizon and the phone seems to be happy with it.  For one thing, the battery lasted a few days without being plugged in.  Typically before, if I came home, set the phone on my desk, when I went to grab it the next morning it would either be dead or in flight mode (to conserve battery I presume).  No dropped calls (knocking on wood).  it does switch over to what I assume is US Cellular where it enjoys a -80db signal every once in a while.  All in all I am happy.  I’m not ecstatic, but the whole thing provides a acceptable solution.   I surveyed out the rest of the house, but I was mainly concerned about my office, which is happily bathed in cellular RF spectrum again – which means I can work from home again and folks at my customers can get a hold of me!