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In testing and evaluating booster antennas and to help us select the best bang for the buck I put myself through a lot of tedious work and data gathering.

Without a lot of numbers and charts I will boil it down here and it is interesting.

Camera used: Ridgetec Lookout Dual. Latest firmware.
Video Mode: file size of the video clip is 7.48Mb +/- 20kb.

I can monitor server "business" or "Load". I waited for periods of minimum load and avoided ##:00 and ##:30 as these are the times when cameras report in for my upload batches.

All testing was done between 9:00am and 11:00am.

Keep in mind that upload duration includes all the overhead of HTTPS and server handshaking and CRC checking by the camera and is not a true upload speed for LTE and the module.

In all tests an average was used from 6 video uploads occurring back to back to maximize both network and server loads for consistency.

Also, there were no errors encountered during uploads and no retries by the camera.

TEST #1:

Verizon SIM
Stock Antenna (shipping antennas)
Reported signal 68%
Average video clip upload duration: 73 seconds

TEST #2:
Verizon SIM
18dbi gain booster antenna on Left antenna port (primary)
reported signal: 70%
Average upload time decreased by 3 seconds.

TEST #3:
Stock Antenna (shipping antennas)
Reported signal 62.50%
Average video clip upload duration: 141 seconds

TEST #4:
18dbi gain booster antenna on Left antenna port (primary)
reported signal: 71%
Average upload times remained the same.

Another interesting thing was that on each upload batch the first video clip upload on AT&T was approx. 20 seconds longer and sometimes would negotiate 3G then switch to 4G. This phenomenon did not happe on Verizon and first and last upload in a batch was consistently the same. I can only attribute this to an AT&T network "feature".


For me, at this location:

1. A booster antenna does not help me at all. I am going to tell buyers that a signal of 60% or more on LTE will not necessarily improve upload speed significantly using a Booster antenna but it won't hurt.

However keep in mind that in a lot of rural locations for both carriers we have seen and documented a diurnal pattern of lower signal at night and signal boost in the day. It is a fact that carriers will adjust tower strengths to maximize "customer satisfaction". 8) If a camera has these signal swings then a booster antenna might just be what the doctor ordered.

2. Verizon throughput was double on average than AT&T and that AT&T does some throughput manipulation such that continued upload streaming improves the speed but that the initial speed is somewhat slower on a connection/upload event batch (no disconnections during the uploading). My interpretation on this may be incorrect as it may just take 10 to 20 seconds to negotiate the best speeds for prolonged uploads on AT&T.

Now, there are so many variables here. My inital goal was to select the "best" booster antenna but My results showed other issues. one is that when your signal is 4G LTE and 60+% a booster antenna just doesn't do you much good.

However in other locations, I have compared AT&T with and without booster and seen my camera go from 3G 50% signal to 4G LTE 62.50% signal. I did not perfom the above testing but I will get around to it. In this case my hunch is that the booster antenna will make an enormous improvement on upload speed, which we all know directly relates to improved battery life.

I am getting ready for SHOT show but will pick this up with more testing after I return.

I hope this helps someone. It is all very interesting. also keep in mind we use a block mode transfer with CRC32 error correction during uploading to maximize delivery potential. thus it is unfair to try and compare theoretical LTE upload speeds to what I am reporting here.

I would also, not makee the conclusion that all areas in the country would have these same relative results. It could be completely backwards in other locations. This would require a controlled long term study over all parts of the country etc (which I do not have time to do) :D

I use a cheap external antenna mainly because location of camera doesnt allow for good signal, if I can move the antenna on the other side of the tree of 5 feet higher it makes a huge difference in terms of signal strength. Usually takes a minute or less to get picture, sometimes a few minutes for a video. I'm satisfied with the speed I'm getting considering my area.
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