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  1.    #41  
    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    That external antenna would work, the problem is they don't come in FME flavor.
    Are adapters out of the question? I'm not understanding the differences between regular SMA and FME connections. The antenna I linked was RP (reverse polarity) SMA, if I could use a FME to RP-SMA connector I'd be golden. I emailed them but they didn't reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    I checked the antenna connection and the frame sides, they don't seem to make electrical contact, so it goes back to either making an end-fed dipole and running the whole thing some 3" tall, or making a "T" dipole with 1.5" sticking up an the other side running flat on the back of the phone.
    Thanks a ton for that! Good to know! Now if my cable would just arrive I'd be all set! (well, I prolly won't start the build until I know that I cannot use connectors to somehow rig up that pre-built rubber ducky 1.9ghz)


    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    Never heard back from the cable guy, did you get your cables from them?
    Not yet. The kid who helped me when I called in (yup, their email address is an auto reply thing, that instructs you to call directly) wasn't very helpful, I'd even say he was rude. He said he'd email me later in the day (this was last monday) to let me know what was going on. His email was a word or two, something like 'it's shipped' or 'already shipped'. Now, they're shipping from NY, and I'm in FL, so not arriving by saturday was weird. Hopefully it'll be here today.

    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    The earphone in the antenna very clever, I like it! I wouldn't have to carry my phone upside down any more. I won't touch one until or unless I see an FCC SAR compliance test though, because running the earphone wires right up inside the antenna stub means the earphone will become a parasitic antenna--and the phone will be transmitting extra radiation into your ear.

    Very much NOT A GOOD THING, and without RF field measurements to confirm it, I wouldn't want to do it that way.
    On that note, you just reminded me of something that I was pondering - would having a larger antenna cause increased RF at my head? I mean I am aiming for stronger reception, but will I be needlessly increasing radiation? Just a thought I had, remember I know nothign about radiation lol, or what kinds / levels would be bad.
  2. #42  
    jd-
    "Are adapters out of the question? "
    In theory, an adapter is fine. In reality? Dunno, but I don't think you will find one. SMA is used in radio communications industry. Reverse-SMA is used pretty much only in the "consumer market WiFi" industry, in order to meet the FCC "requirement" that the antennas on consumer equipment CAN NOT be readily updated. (That's intentional, because consumers are not allowed to boost WiFi power beyond certain limits, so they will not interfere with each other in urban areas.) And FME, as far as I know, is used by the cell phone industry because it is both cheap and non-standard, keeping you a captive customer while it keeps their costs down.

    They may have other reasons, those are typical. There are other connectors you'll see on WiFi cards, some of those (MMCX, MCX) are really nice but they are really designed for limited use, and "un"plugging one a mere hundred times can wear it out, resulting in poor fit. Case in point, the big Centronics Printer cable--the parallel printer cable used for the entire PC industry--was only designed for 300 cycles. Unplug it once every day, plug it in the next morning, and in six months you are supposed to throw it out because it won't make reliable contacts.

    "Thanks a ton for that! Good to know!" I'm still less than certain about some things. The frame *may* be active at radio frequencies--I just tested with a DC meter. The two are not always the same, "oops" is possible, so remember you will be experimenting.

    "Now, they're shipping from NY, and I'm in FL, "
    I'm familiar with that run.<G> It is probably a 3-day guaranteed ground service from UPS (www.ups.com and you can check with the zip codes) and typically a 4-5 business day turnaround for first class mail. Parcel post might take longer, my understanding is that parcel post goes on a "space available" basis and if there's too much stuff in the truck or plane--the parcel post gets thrown in the corner to wait.

    "would having a larger antenna cause increased RF at my head? " Nope. If anything it should mean less radiation in your head--because the antenna is spreading it over a larger area (less density per square inch of head) and the longer antenna is also now further away from your head, assuming you hold the phone at some angle and your head is curving away from it. You can also install your antenna so it sits at an angle that keeps it further from your skull, which will increase safety AND give you better connections.<G>

    That's another reason for using an external antenna in the car. The signal quality goes UP dramatically, and the radiation bouncing around IN the car goes DOWN. A really good car adapter just lets you "clip in" your phone. I had one for my Startac (Cingular is cutting TDMA service, bye-bye) and BMW (kaching! not my car<G>) makes them integrated into the console for a dozen phone models, but I'm not getting a Beemer.<G>
  3.    #43  
    Well, just received it, apparently it shipped from NJ, not that that would've made much difference. It was shipped USPS first class, the printout shows march second, so it seems they had already mailed it before last monday, and it was just usps being slow.

    As for the cable, see the pics. I'm not too happy on how it arrived, it was not even bagged, it was wrapped up with the receipt, inside an envelope. No plastic bag or anythign, there was 1 little foam block to prevent it from being completely crushed, though the block couldn't have provided full protection. I wonder if the cable's good...

    Also, the end (male) coax is slightly bent, but I guess that doesn't matter as it won't be what I'm using, since I'll be cutting it. Of course, I have no way of knowing if it's all bent up inside, besides finding out the hard way.

    Oh, I attached pics of the way it was shipped, the bent coax tip, and my treo in its shell (it's an aluminum shell, ripped in half so it only covers the back, with a custom drilled reset hole. I'm thinking of just hacking it up so I can integrate my FME plug, rubber ducky, etc onto the phone and still keep my shell)

    Hello Sailor, does it matter how much cable is between the FME's elbow and the copper braiding's lowest point?

    (update - just plugged it in, gotta say it doesn't seat nearly as snug/deep as I would've hoped, but when it is plugged in, it does kill service as expected)
    Attached Images Attached Images
  4. #44  
    jd-
    "It was shipped USPS first class, the printout shows march second, so it seems they had already mailed it before last monday, and it was just usps being slow." If they print their own bar-coded labels using the USPS home/business software, that only means they printed the label on Friday and it might not have gone into a post box until Monday, and here you've gotten it on the fifth business day after it was posted. Pretty much what USPS promises.<G> We're just all spoiled by Fedex.

    Pics: I see. Looks like bulk packaged product, not the Wilson retail baggie that I thought I saw on their auction page. (Or did I imagine that?) Cables go through the mail pretty well.

    "Also, the end (male) coax is slightly bent, " Yeah, that shouldn't happen. Unbending it is normal but they rarely get bent unless someone has tried jamming them into something, or they are from a really rough source.

    "does it matter how much cable is between the FME's elbow and the copper braiding's lowest point?" Hard to say without experimenting. In theory, if you want to turn that cable into a standard "T" dipole, you can strip right down. But if you want an end-fed dipole, you want "some" of the coax to extend between the active antenna and the right angle turn. How much is some...I can't tell you, I'd probably go with an inch in this case, which is probably 3/4" more than you really need.<G>

    "but when it is plugged in, it does kill service as expected" Ah, good. That probably means the center pin is physically disconnecting the other antenna.

    Is there anything marked on the cable or the fittings? Any branding or lettering?

    I wish I could see one side-by-side with one from a retail package because these guys certainly *sound* like they'd be supplying Chinese knockoffs of dubious quality. Still, at that price...you can't lose much and it's worth trying!

    If you keep the full run of cable, you have enough so that you can strip it back (and make an end-fed dipole) and then pull that apart to make a "T", and compare performance both ways. And, still have enough cable left to cut it down for your final design afterwards.<G>

    What do you use to read signal strength on your Treo? I've got something-or-other installed and it shows 12-16 indoors, 20-30 outdoors, and apparently the "ah, screw the rubes" display that Palm provides shows "all four bars" when there's anything more than 16-19, so we'll all think we're getting perfect coverage most of the time.<G>

    The old Motorola phones allowed you to actually reaed signal strength, in decibels, if you put them in "test mode". Anything like that on the Treos? A secret diagnostic mode that shows actual channels and signal strength?
  5.    #45  
    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    Pics: I see. Looks like bulk packaged product, not the Wilson retail baggie that I thought I saw on their auction page. (Or did I imagine that?) Cables go through the mail pretty well.
    Yeah, it wasn't bagged at all, but I don't think they pictured a bag on the auction, although I forget details like that..

    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    "does it matter how much cable is between the FME's elbow and the copper braiding's lowest point?" Hard to say without experimenting. In theory, if you want to turn that cable into a standard "T" dipole, you can strip right down. But if you want an end-fed dipole, you want "some" of the coax to extend between the active antenna and the right angle turn. How much is some...I can't tell you, I'd probably go with an inch in this case, which is probably 3/4" more than you really need.
    When you say 1'', do you mean from the 90degree right angle to where the braiding begins? If so, that's pretty much what my design had in the first place, since there's a small stretch between the port and the OEM antenna, and I doubt I'll be skilled enough to have the copper braiding end too low inside the hollowed out OEM antenna (which, again, was the base of my rubber ducky, as they'll become one with epoxy).




    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    Is there anything marked on the cable or the fittings? Any branding or lettering?

    I wish I could see one side-by-side with one from a retail package because these guys certainly *sound* like they'd be supplying Chinese knockoffs of dubious quality. Still, at that price...you can't lose much and it's worth trying!
    The cable is devoid of markings, but the coax end has 'FME' stamped in the rubber.
    It came with a little paper insert, see the attached picture. This little insert looks legit, and the part number matches the wilson site (358502):
    http://www.wilsonelectronics.com/Adapters.php?ID=5
    (although, if you're making knockoff cables, I doubt making knockoff labels is very hard)
    ***EDIT - found a marking on the cable: "AD-CABLES". Sounds knock off to me...


    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    If you keep the full run of cable, you have enough so that you can strip it back (and make an end-fed dipole) and then pull that apart to make a "T", and compare performance both ways. And, still have enough cable left to cut it down for your final design afterwards.
    I see, so you're saying I would:

    remove the FME /coax end, leaving just cable leading to the treo's plug

    make an end fed/bazooka dipole (leaving a lot of lag cable between treo and bazooka (gauge RSSI levels)

    Pull apart that end fed, and make it into a "T" dipole (re-gauge RSSI levels)

    Based on which is better, make my fabricated antenna on that, only starting over (to keep slack cable short as possible, down to 1'' on an end fed, and zero feed needed on a "T", right?)

    Quote Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
    What do you use to read signal strength on your Treo? I've got something-or-other installed and it shows 12-16 indoors, 20-30 outdoors, and apparently the "ah, screw the rubes" display that Palm provides shows "all four bars" when there's anything more than 16-19, so we'll all think we're getting perfect coverage most of the time.
    The old Motorola phones allowed you to actually reaed signal strength, in decibels, if you put them in "test mode". Anything like that on the Treos? A secret diagnostic mode that shows actual channels and signal strength?
    There's some '##debug' (note - that probably isn't the actual code) that is supposed to show you your RSSI, although I've never gotten that to work on my phone (my phone also doesn't take lock codes properly most of the time).
    However, I use two separate programs to track RSSI, and both are accurate with each other at least. They aren't 'real time' per se, but they update maybe every 20-30 seconds. The first is treohelper
    http://mytreo.net/downloads/details-29.html
    That free program I use for RSSI (and to send messages to my treo that make it lockdown if I ever lost it). I also use another free program, keyguardtime +:
    http://mytreo.net/downloads/details-640.html
    That also shows RSSI, only that one has a scale that ends at '99', while the treohelper goes higher. The keyguardtime's RSSI levels will say '99' even if it's truly at 105, but anything under 99 it matches with treohelper.

    The figures you gave for signal don't make sense to me, which probably means everything I just told you about signals may not work for you. I think they're measured differently if they're CDMA or GSM, something about how GSM numbers you need two figures for or something, I dunno.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by jdeity; 03/12/2007 at 05:16 PM.
  6.    #46  
    Oh btw, I have a little logistical question about this project - is it a good idea for me to just use a razor blade when working my way through the cabling, or when stripping the shielding? Do I need to be grounded for any of this? This is my first time ever attempting anything like this on a cell phone, in fact i've never even soldered before, so I'd hate to make a dumb mistake.
  7.    #47  
    (1 more quick question, I just found a problem while playing with 'condom rolling' the braiding back. I tried doing so, and unfortunately, it doesn't really stay nearly as nicely braided as I would have hoped. Is that a technique thing? If the braiding doesn't stay perfect, will it cause significant problems? Could those wires that compose the braiding be straightened out, and pulled down along the cable just running parallel to it? I imagine that's a 'no', since it needs to totally shield it, but what if I ran the copper straight down/parallel, and then kind of 'twisted' it around the cable?)

    also, I don't even have a rubber ducky yet, but really want to try this out - I think I'll be modifying a sharpie marker instead of my rubber ducky. It's the right size, available right now, and could be painted and look just fine.
    Last edited by jdeity; 03/12/2007 at 05:16 PM.
  8. #48  
    jd-
    "just use a razor blade ?"
    If you can use a very sharp one and JUST slice through the plastic without scoring the wires beneath it. That's an art that takes a little practice. Or patience and tranquilizers.<G>

    "Do I need to be grounded for any of this?"
    Not to work on a cable that's not attached to anything. You only need to worry about static when you're connected to sensitive circuits.

    " I'd hate to make a dumb mistake." Familiar feeling.<G>

    "'condom rolling' the braiding ...doesn't really stay nearly as nicely braided as I would have hoped." Could be technique (important not to cut the wires when you slice off the jacket) could be cheap braiding. Braiding "should" be 100% thick, often is way less, down to 30-50% and that stuff gets sparse. Do your best with it, an if necessary take some braid from some other coax, or take a piece of thin copper/brass tubing (hobby store or plumbing supply) and just slip that over the braid, solder to the top and bottom of it, so you'll have a good metal jacket. (Aluminum foil is no good--can't solder to it.<G>) Self-adhesive copper tape available at www.allelectronics.com would also work.
    Whichever you do...to make an end-fed dipole work, you need a solid outer skin, or a substantially solid braid layer. If it isn't solid, the RF gets back into the center conductor and creates problems.
  9.    #49  
    Okay, some testing results, not too promising

    I first plugged in the wire, before connecting anything, which effectively shut out signal (gave me 'no service' message)

    I then made a end-fed dipole, plugged it in while in my bedroom, and it didn't make any noticable change. If I didn't know any better, I would've thought it was ignoring the plug that was in it. My RSSI normally fluctuates through the 90's w/o the antenna, and it did the same with the end fed dipole.

    Next I made a "T" dipole, plugged it in, and again, there was no discernable impact on my RSSI levels.


    At that point I started wondering whether or not it was recognizing the cable (thinking maybe I ruined the port or something). I went outside in the driveway, where my RSSI level was about 85. I cut off the "T" dipole, so now I was just standing there with a black cable. I attached it to my treo, and the RSSI level stayed high 80's/low 90's. That's w/o even making any dipole, just the black cable sitting there!

    I don't know what to make of that. In fact, I first cut off the "T" dipole, leaving just black cord connected to my treo. My brother and I were shocked to see that the RSSI level was the same whether my phone was receiving signal from the black cable (with no dipole made, just a black cord hanging from the phone), or from the OEM antenna.

    Hellosailor, I don't know what to make of this. It definitely isn't a broken port, as outside I confirmed it was still working - I plugged it in, it didn't make any real difference in RSSI, but then I curled up the cord and blocked it in the palm of my hand, and wouldn't ya know that the RSSI jumped up to high 90's!!!! So it's still taking the cord, but it's also giving me similar RSSI levels for both my OEM antenna and for when I just have a black cord hanging off the phone. So confused.. I'm hoping that the problem isn't that it's a knockoff cable and that it's not shielded, which is why it can still pick up signal when it's completely insulated/not made into a dipole (although why would I have gotten no service when I originally plugged it in, when it still had the coax tip on it? This is really annoying..)
  10. #50  
    jd-
    "If I didn't know any better, I would've thought it was ignoring the plug that was in it." It IS possible to get a DOA plug or cable but let's explore other options. Are you sure it was snapped firmly in and seated well?

    "My RSSI normally fluctuates through the 90's w/o the antenna, and it did the same with the end fed dipole." OK, how do you display received signal strength? What tool or applet?

    "I don't know what to make of this. " You and me both. It certainly sounds like the new cable simply is not making a good contact. Do you hav a multimeter? Can you do a resistance check on the inner pin (to the inner conductor) and the outer contact (to the braid) to be sure the cable is properly connected to the contact, internally?

    (Do this with the whole cable disconnected from the phone, of course.)
  11.    #51  
    I'm using 2 separate programs to gauge my RSSI levels, both of which are real-time enough (maybe 20 seconds between changes), and agree with each other on RSSI values.

    If it wasn't seated properly, wouldn't it be 'no service' though? Also, how would it work just as well as the OEM if it's not seated and completely insulated.

    I just used the ole trial/error approach to verify it was connected. When I went outside, I went out there with just a black cable (I just cut off the "T" dipole) hanging from my phone, meaning that just a 0.5mm amount of wire was exposed. I plugged that into the phone, and my RSSI didn't make any difference. I figured it wasn't even recognizing the cable plugged into its external antenna port, but then I curled that cable up inside my palm, and made a fist over it. Sure enough, it hurt signal/raised my RSSI right up. So it's definitely making a connection, although I can't attest to how solid. But it's really weird that, whether it's made into a dipole or just left inside the outer insulation, that cable doesn't change RSSI levels. It works, because if I cover it with my hand, it hurts signal, just like the OEM reacts to a hand over it.
    Last edited by jdeity; 03/12/2007 at 08:45 PM.
  12.    #52  
    update - my fiance is gonna hook up your suggestion of multimeters and what not. I'll have more info on that tomorrow, I'm just going to cut/paste what you said about htat and give her that + the cable to check out at her work (electronics).
  13.    #53  
    would your description
    "Do you hav a multimeter? Can you do a resistance check on the inner pin (to the inner conductor) and the outer contact (to the braid) to be sure the cable is properly connected to the contact, internally?

    (Do this with the whole cable disconnected from the phone, of course.)"
    be all that I need to tell her? If there's anything else she could test at an electronics store, let me know and I'll see if she can do it.
  14. #54  
    Handy to have a fiance in the electronics field.<G> I think she'll know how to check the cable/connection.

    "I'm using 2 separate programs to gauge my RSSI levels, both of which are real-time enough (maybe 20 seconds between changes)" I got an RSSI display up last night, noticed it was very reluctant to change. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be a snapshot or real-time because, like you, I only sometimes got a strength change when covering the original antenna. Which HAS TO change strength.

    "If it wasn't seated properly, wouldn't it be 'no service' though? " If it works by disconnecting the OEM antenna, and it isn't disconnecting it because it isn't fully seated, you'd still be using the stubby and getting readings from that. Remember, it is a cell phone, so it works for a cell phone company and we can assume everything it says is a lie.<G>

    This is probably going to be one of those "DOH!" Homer Simpson Moments once we figure out what's really wrong.

    And for no particular reason...the forum isn't sending me email notifications, so I'll be a little slow to catch up.
  15. #55  
    I wish there is a VolumeCare like util to over-drive the radio...
  16.    #56  
    Hellosailor, my fiance asks:
    "What should a multimeter be reading for resistance in ohms when testing the braided shielding and the inner pin of the adapter? What # would be optimal?"

    Quote Originally Posted by CL Lo View Post
    I wish there is a VolumeCare like util to over-drive the radio...
    ? Do you mean turning up signal? I'm pretty sure it's maximizing the OEM antenna's capabilities
  17. #57  
    1) Remove telephone, discard.
    2) Test THE CABLE ONLY.
    You are testing to make sure that the end fitting is electrically connected to the cable that is coming out of it. The center conductor pin, to the opposite end of the cable's center wire, should be zero ohms.
    The outer ring of the connector, to the cable braid, should be zero ohms.
    And measuring from the center to the outer (at either end) should be infinite ohms.

    You do not want to perform a resistance test on the phone itself, there's no telling what that might do.

    "I wish there is a VolumeCare like util to over-drive the radio..."
    YnGlitch translation?? "Overdrive" sounds like someone has seen too many anime, or likes to blow things up before their time. Which can be fun, but not on my phone, thank you.

    Cheating whores at Cingular did it to me again...first bill, "Gee, we're sorry, no one applied the bonus minutes to your account." Yeah, right, the plan is only offered WITH them as a package. AT&T Cingular customers beware, they're screwing around again this month. Bogus roaming charges, bogus call forwarding charges, four line items on my bill for calls my phone never made.

    (And my apologies to the world's oldest profession, for comparing Cingular to them.<G>)
  18.    #58  
    don't worry, those sluts will get what's coming to them.
    lol

    She's testing it out, I'll get back in a bit with results
  19.    #59  
    well, they test perfect, there's 0 resistance between ends of either conductor, and there's infinite between teh copper and center conductor....
  20.    #60  
    this is weird, I wonder what this coudl possibly be?
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