This article explains how to install Cel-Fi GO in a car, different setups and what performance you can expect.
The recommended setup is a donor antenna on the roof of the vehicle, the Cel-Fi GO mounted under the seat and the service antenna on the dashboard facing the passengers.
How to Maximise the Setup:
- isolating the donor and service antenna from each other as much as possible is the most important key to a good setup. This could be by using the metal roof as a barrier between the antennas, maximising the distance between and positioning the antennas at different levels. The separation is represented by the ‘BOOST’ number found in the WAVE App, with 7 to 9 being optimal in a car. Positioning the indoor and outdoor antennas in different positions will help achieve this.
- having the donor antenna as high as possible on the outside of the car
- Tinted windows can also assist with isolating the antennas
- The greater the isolation between antennas, the higher the boosted signal will be within different areas of the car.
- It is important to remember that each installation will be different, and it’s not a case of one indoor or outdoor antenna position suits all vehicles.
Outdoor Antenna Setup
The position of the outdoor antenna ideally needs to be high up on the car, so signal can be received in a 360 degree radius and not obstructed by parts of the car.
GO will offer the best performance when the outdoor antenna is isolated as much as possible from the indoor antenna. This is by distance and having a metal panel in between.
From our testing the roof seems to be the optimal position to assist with isolation and height.
Example mounting positions:
Running the Cable
To get the cable into the car interior, find a gap between the doors or boot and the car body. Ensure the gap is large enough not to squash the cable and you can freely wiggle the cable when the door is shut. The rubber door seals can be pulled out and the cable placed under the rubber.
The interior plastics or carpet can be then used to hide the cable, until you reach under the seat or centre console where the GO is mounted.
It is important not the run the cable in front of any airbags or airbag panels. Also not in areas where the cable could be crushed or punctured by moving doors or seats.
If you have to drill any holes or puncture the door rubbers, be sure that you use sealant to ensure it will not result in water entering the cabin.
Mounting the GO
The most common place to mount the GO is either under a seat or under the centre console. The mounting spot should ideally have some airflow, be safe from bumps and within range of a 12v power source.
Screws are included with the GO, but the easiest way to mount is with industrial adhesive Velcro.
If you do not plan on using the WAVE App with GO, then you will need to maintain access to the band selection button on the front of the casing. Alternately those techy people will be happy to use the App to switch between bands and can hide the GO away.
Remember not to permanently mount GO until you find the optimal antenna positions.
Connecting to Power
GO comes with a 12v power lead with a cigarette lighter socket fitted, this is the easiest way to mount GO. If you want the power hidden away, then a licensed auto electrician can hard wire to your vehicles 12V system.
Some vehicles include a hidden cigarette lighter socket, such as in the centre console box where you can drill a hole through the bottom to run the power cable for a cleaner install.
Mounting the Indoor Antenna
The small panel antenna will radiate the mobile signal out in a bubble pattern, so ideally needs to point towards the passengers. It has an adhesive backing for attaching to a flat surface.
Secondly the signal output of the indoor antenna needs to be isolated as much as possible from the external antenna.
Common places to mount the antenna include the dashboard, front windscreen pillars, sun visors, rear vision mirror or centre console.
TESTING – Outdoor Antenna Positions
Now we come to the fun bit, lets see how different outdoor antenna positions affect the GO’s performance.
With the indoor antenna mounted on the dashboard pointing towards the passengers, we secured a phone to the drivers headrest and obtained signal strength readings from the phone.
The WAVE App provided the Boost and the input signal measurement from the external antenna.
TESTING – Indoor Antenna Positions
In this test we have the external antenna in the centre of the roof and move around the internal antenna to see how this affects performance to a phone attached to the drivers headrest.
Signal RSSI was measured from the phone, with the GO turned off the signal in the cabin was -100dB.
Input signal from the external antenna was -81dB measured in the WAVE App.
TESTING – Distance from Antenna Test
From our testing the GO performs well, taking the signal from extremely poor where a call would break up, to good where the call was clear.
The main two factors that determined how good the phone signal will be on your phone, is the Boost applied by the GO and the input signal level from the external antenna. This Boost was archeived by isolating the indoor antenna from the outdoor antenna. The Boost measurement can be obtained in the WAVE App with 6 and over being optimal.
Maximising the input signal was achieved by the height of the antenna on the vehicle. In remote areas the gain of the antenna is also going to come into consideration.
The big thing we learnt from our testing is that optimal antenna positions for different vehicles is going to be different. It is important to test the input signal and the boost in the WAVE App before permanently mounting the antennas.