Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Even More Antennae

This is on the roof of the BARC (Barrow Arctic Research Center) with my latest antenna at the very top of this mast. It is an omni-directional antenna for cell phones. The building itself is clad in metal with metal-coated glass panels to help hold in the heat. So, as you can imagine, cell reception inside the building is poor and there have been many complaints over the years.

BTW, if you have an iPhone, you can quantitatively measure cell phone signal strength by entering *3001#12345#* and pressing the "Call" button within the phone app. The signal is shown on the upper left of the screen in place of the bars or dots. This feature was very useful when setting up the cellular repeater. Outside of the building, signal was a very good -67db, inside of the building, a horrible -97db. After the installation of the repeater, it was -69db (inside). On Android, I installed an app called "Network Signal Info" from the Google Play Store. It has a really nice graphical interface and a lot easier than dialing the weird code.

Inside of the building, I have two small antennae mounted to ceiling tiles in the hallways. Between the inside and outside antennae, is an amplifier that allows you to adjust the gain of each cellular band. Hopefully, this will eliminate some of the complaints. The low loss coax antenna cables were a real pain to work as they are pretty stiff and it was still only 11°F outside with a 10mph wind. There has been snow flurries most of the time I've been up here on this trip.

There is starting to be some open water and the spring whaling crews are out. The Barrow Sea Ice Radar images seems to be popular at this time of year. The science support staff has started installing the new Ubiquity radios on the huts so there is a chance that this part of the project may actually be completed. 

8 comments:

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

I looked up Ubiquity, read through the section twice and my knowledge is still limited to spelling the word only. I hear the word radio and I get curious.

Are those 3 things on the pole to the right cameras? Watching what?

RichardM said...

Sorry about that. Ubiquity is the brand of radios that I'm using for the metro area network, i.e. interconnecting buildings to support phones, internet, etc.

There are actually 4 camera on the pole one looking in each direction. They are not looking at anything in particular just showing the view in each direction. If you want to take a look http://199.165.76.254 but you need to allow Java.

Bluekat said...

So I typed the *3001...and got a -95. :)
Wifi is bad here too.

RichardM said...

-95 is pretty poor but it'll still work as a phone. The more positive the number the better.

Bluekat said...

Now, I'll be checking at every motel. :)

Trobairitz said...

Very cool hack Richard. While I don't have an I phone the other attorney's assistant does. She just tried it and we have a -103 in the office. Must be the brick building.

PS - the weather in Barrow sounds too darn chilly. We are forecast for 72 today.

RichardM said...

Enjoy! There must be a way to measure Wi-Fi signal levels...

RichardM said...

Today, the sun is shining, no snow or wind and it has warmed up to 12°F. Without the wind it doesn't feel too bad.