Old Tech And New Tech

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Mar 182012

The weatherman said it was going to be windy yesterday, and one news report predicted wind gusts as high as 55 mph. Not a good day to be out on the highway in a high profile RV! And still, we saw several rigs pulling out of the fairgrounds RV park. Where do they have to go to make them get out on the highway in these kind of conditions?

Fortunately, those high gusts didn’t happen here, and while it was pretty windy out at the fairgrounds, when we drove into Tucson to my cousin Beverly’s apartment it wasn’t too bad at all. That same weatherman is predicting more wind and rain, and decidedly colder temperatures for the next couple of days. I’m hoping he misses the mark again.

I’ve always considered myself lucky to have grown up in the age of the muscle car, when gas was cheap and horsepower was plentiful. When I was a teenager, just by the sound of it starting up, I could tell you if a car was a Ford, Chevy, or Mopar product. They may not have had all the high-tech features of modern cars, but in those days automobiles had character and they didn’t all look the same, like today’s cars. Before we hit the road fulltime, I had a garage full of classic cars, including a couple of old Mustangs, a vintage 1969 Corvette, and a customized 1958 Chevrolet pickup truck that brought home more than a few trophies from car shows.

1969 Corvette

1958 Chevy pickup

Of course, as fulltime RVers, it is not all that easy to keep a stable of old cars. But I still can’t help looking and lusting. So yesterday when we were wandering around town and Miss Terry spotted a place called Southwest Collector Cars I did an immediate U-turn to go back and check it out. The owner, Rick Klank, had a very nice 1965 Corvette Stingray convertible in the showroom, along with the 1968 Dodge Charger that appeared in the old Steve McQueen movie Bullitt. I asked Rick if he had documentation to prove this was really the Bullitt car, and he said he did. Anybody want to buy a famous movie automobile?

I don’t have a place to store one, and I don’t really have a need for one, but if I were to stumble upon a nice 1966 Mustang Fastback, I might be trying to figure out some way to take it home with me. So I guess it’s just as well that Rick didn’t have one in his showroom.

A while back, when we were in Rockport, Texas, I was bemoaning the fact that the Verizon cell service was almost nonexistent. My friend Phil May from TechnoRV said he thought he had a couple of ideas to help us in poor signal areas. We had a Wilson Trucker antenna mounted on the outside of our motorhome, feeding a Wilson signal amplifier, and while it helped in some areas, there are others where it just wasn’t doing the job.

Phil sent me a Wilson AG SOHO 60 Cell Phone Signal Booster and a Wilson wall mount panel antenna and told me to try them and see what I thought. Here at the Pima County Fairgrounds RV Park, on the outskirts of Tucson, the Verizon signal is pretty flaky, both on our cell phones, our 3G air card, and our Verizon MiFi device. Signal strength was showing 1 to 3 bars, with constant fluctuations, and quite often the signal just disappeared.

Wilson SOHP booster 

Wilson flat panel

After I replaced our old signal amplifier with the new unit and connected to the flat-panel antenna and sat it on our dashboard, then tuned in the new amplifier, everything jumped right up to 5 bars and stayed there. I had to tune the amplifier to such an extreme that even in the back of the motorhome my cell phone drops down to one bar, but in the front of the coach we have a much stronger and more reliable signal. According to the paperwork that comes with it, the less you have to tune the signal booster the greater range it will have inside a home or RV.

Of course, no matter how strong a signal you have, your data speed can still be really slow in some areas, and we’re seeing that here at the fairgrounds. But given Verizon’s poor service in this area, we might not be able to get out at all without the upgraded equipment. The AG SOHO 60 supports multiple cell phones and data cards simultaneously, and works with all major North American cell phone carriers, which include both Cellular (824-894 MHz) and PCS (1850-1990 MHz) carrier frequency bands.

We know a lot of RVers who are working as gate guards at oil and gas wells around the country, sometimes out in the boondocks. I think this equipment would be great for that kind of situation, or anyplace else where you have to reach out and pull in a weak signal. These new goodies are going to serve us well in our travels. Thanks Phil!

Thought For The Day – Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  10 Responses to “Old Tech And New Tech”

  1. Nick,

    How was the signal 20 feet away? If the antenna panel was mounted mid-ship in your RV would you have a decent signal at both ends?


  2. Thanks Nick and Phil. Looking into this product. I have one place in my home where I get marginal cell signal if I stand on one leg with my hand in the air and don’t move!

  3. One problem I see with this setup is that it doesn’t support 4G/LTE according to Wilson specs

  4. Nick, you’re in luck!! Volo Cars, Volo, Illinois, have 2 1966 Mustang fastbacks ++convt…. If you’ve never been there, you’ll have to swing by on your way to fall Gypsy Journal rally. Probably best muscle car selection year-in/year-out. Enjoy.


  5. We just purchased the Wilson booster at Nicks rally, we hooked it up and our reception improved from 1 bar to 3 which we are very happy to have. The big test will be when we get back to Hondo TX where our reception at our park is nil. The answer to the question of it being 20 ft if it works or not, the answer is yes it does, this is the way we have it set up now in the motor home. We had a slight problem that worked itself out was having the signal going over each other for pointing it at the satellite. It took a bit of time but we now have steady green lights and three and a half bars now. Nick my favorite vintage car is a 1958 Chevy that has been tucked and rolled. A friend of my sister had one. take care

  6. Bob D – That’s not an issue for us. It does make the signal stronger on our Verizon LTE MiFi when on 3G, and most fringe areas where we realy need it won’t have 4G service anyway.

  7. The mifi has a little short USB cord to connect to a laptop, router etc…. is there a USB port in the wilson? or what plugs into what ?

    Thanks Nick !

  8. Andy from myoldrv.com is an oil field gate guard. He has a multi-part series on his blog on his effort to build the best cellular system. http://www.myoldrv.com/?p=279

  9. Kelly, it’s all wireless

  10. I have a different Wilson amp with a “Trucker” external antenna, and though it didn’t work with my Droit phone because the “bars” stayed the same when using the amp. If I have one bar and used the amp it stayed at one bar. So I called Wilson and the tech I talked to said for some reason the Bar’s on some Droit’s don’t go up, BUT it dose increase the siginal. Here is how to check the siginal. Go to settings on you phone, click on it and go to about phone. Click on that then go to status, click on that. Then look for signal strenght. A minus -52dBm is like being next to a cell tower. So go there and see the signal strenght, them us with the Wilson amp and see how far down the signals changes. Where I am now without the amp it rums between -90 to -93, with the amp it comes down to -70 to -74. Thats how to check the change in signal strenght, as told to me by a Wilson tech. The Wilson amp can’t create a signal, but can boost it. You have to at least have a weak signal for it to work. Some time the signal only changes a few numbers. This my help with the placement of the antenna. Help this help’s.

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