For many of us our cell phones are our primary form of communication. In the age of smart phones they also double as mobile computers allowing us to check everything from social media to email. They also make very handy navigation devices with built-in navigation applications as well as specialized navigation apps like Gaia GPS.
Sadly a cell phone is only as good as the network it’s on. The further into remote territory you travel cell phone towers become few and far between. In some ways this is good because it allows us to get “off grid” and get away from the never ended demands that 24-7 access to phones and internet place on us. For some, however, going 100% off grid is not an option.
If you work for yourself, or are required for whatever reason to be reachable at all times, optimizing your connection to the outside world is a must. This is where a cell phone booster comes in.
What’s in the box?
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box for the WeBoost Drive X RV was how well labeled everything was. Things are grouped and labeled in a systematic step-by-step process mirroring the instruction manual. This makes the kit very easy to install even for those of you that are not technophiles.
The other thing that’s nice about the kit from WeBoost is that it includes everything you need to install the product. They even go so far as to include the drill-bit necessary to install the cable pass-through bulkhead and a host of zip-ties and retainer plates to make cable management a breeze.
The first thing I did was skip ahead a little bit and pre-assemble the antenna mast. I did this for two reasons. First, it was easy enough to do inside where it was warm and dry and I could do it while watching some TV. It also gave me an idea of the size of the external antenna and got me thinking where best to mount it.
If you do pre-assemble the antenna like I did I would highly recommend against using the included blue LocTite right away. I’m glad I didn’t because during installation I ended up removing the included spring. Once you finalize placement and orientation of the external antenna you can loose things up and dab in the LocTite before tightening things down once and for all.
There are two main internal parts to the WeBoost Drive X RV. The first is the brain of the system. This is the box where the magic happens.
Powering the control box is made possible with one of two power wires. Included in the kit are both a 120v AC option and a 12v DC option. Being this is an RV kit the 120v connection is nice for those campers wired for 120v shore power or those with an onboard inverter. Since my trailer lacks both shore power (for now) and an AC inverter the 12v DC power cable is my go-to choice for this install.
The other internal component is the internal antenna. This is what the phone connects to. Included with the antenna is a 25′ coaxial antenna cable. While this is wwwaaayyy overkill for my small 8′ trailer (especially since the extrenal antenna also comes with 25′ of antenna cable), in a longer RV or motorhome this would give you plenty of cable to mount the internal antenna in an optimal place.
Mounting the Antennas
Before mounting the antennas consider their placement. First, the two antennas need to be some distance apart so that they don’t interfere with each other. The last thing you want is your cell booster latching on to it’s own signal and creating a feedback look.
Placement for my antennas was pretty easy considering my trailer is a giant metal box which acts like a Faraday Cage. Without getting to sciencey on you, a Faraday Cage basically blocks electrical-magnetic fields. As such it blocks radio waves. When inside my trailer with the doors closed my cell signal drops to zero. This means I can pretty much place my internal antenna anywhere I want without it interfering with the external antenna. However, in a camper with a fiberglass roof or a vehicle with multiple openings like windows and doors placement of the two antennas needs to be a little more strategic.
Mounting the Control Box
The main control box is the last thing that needs a home. Since I plan on completely rewiring the trailer in a few months (before my trip out west) I didn’t worry too much about finding it a permanent home just yet. Luckily there is a small cavity above the batteries in the rear driver-side corner of the trailer. I can place the control box there out of the way and with enough space around it to keep it well ventilated. The length of the external and internal antennas wires along with the length of the power wires means I could mount the control box anywhere I wanted inside the trailer.
Conclusion and Initial Impressions
As I said, this kit is comprehensive. It has everything you need to install a WeBoost Drive X RV kit into your camper or vehicle. From talking to other WeBoost owners this is the norm for their kits. Everything you need is there.
The components themselves are also well made. There is a lot of attention to detail in this kit. I’ve worked with electronics of one form or another pretty much my entire life. In my younger days I did a lot of car stereo installations. I can say this kit by WeBoost rivals any premium brand electronics I’ve ever worked with.
As far as the operation of the booster itself, testing has been rather limited for now. A quick test in my driveway saw a one bar boost in signal strength and a small but noticeable bump in speed. Since I live in rural suburbia the booster won’t provide me too much over my phones 2×2 MIMO connection. This is why is better to leave the booster off when not in use.
Where the booster really shines is in the mountains. There are a few spots in the nearby state forests where cellular coverage is spotty at best. In each of these locations the booster bumped me to full signal with relative ease. In the future I will do a followup review with some real world numbers from the field. So far I’m very impressed with what the WeBoost Drive X RV has to offer.
Disclaimer: This installation article is the result of an equipment partnership with WeBoost for the 2020 season. ECOA is grateful for WeBoost’s support this year. I am very picky when it comes to the partners I work with and the quality of this kit really shows how patience and being picky pays off. No financial compensation for this article or for any sales was received.