- They cost a lot more! A minimum of an extra $200 and probably much more than that.
- Many of them are 3g only. For some reason amplifiers are lagging behind the industry and many of them won’t work with 4g. That’s unacceptable to me because I usually get a 4g signal in my travels and I need to be able to boost it.
- They are much more complicated. I considered them and was willing to pay the money for a few but putting them together was really hard and if they came as kits the prices were outrageously high.
My suggestion to all of you is to start with a Sleek because it’s very simple, works with 4g and only costs about $115 right now. They are so easy to set up I’m certain everybody here can do it and you will be very pleased with the results. If you use it for awhile and you are frequently running into locations where it’s not enough, then you can add the directional antenna. To me that has the advantage of breaking up the cost so you aren’t paying a large amount all at once, plus it smooth’s the learning curve into two parts so you don’t get all the parts in the mail at once and get overwhelmed trying to put it together.
Another complication that is going on right now is that Wilson Electronics is changing their name to weBoost, so all their new products are coming out with that name. Here is the new weBoost site where they explain that they are Wilson Electronics but have changed their name: https://www.weboost.com/us/.
In itself that’s no big deal, but it looks to me like they are raising their prices as well. For example the Wilson 4g Sleek is $114 on Amazon, and the new weBoost model, the Drive 4gs is $200–its $85 more! I could tell from the specifications it was the same thing but to be sure I contacted weBoost and asked and they confirmed the differences are only cosmetic, inside they are the exact same thing. I asked her if they would be making any more Sleeks, and she said no.
So, if you think you might ever want a Wilson Sleek amplifier, now is the time to buy it! When they are gone, they are gone and the price will be $85 more! Buy it RIGHT NOW by clicking on this link from Amazon: Wilson Electronics Sleek 4g
Installing the Sleek is very simple because it is literally plug-and-play, there is no software to install or learn or anything to do except screw in the antenna and plug in the USB power cord. It comes with a 4 inch magnetic mount antenna that goes on the roof and I found it to work very well. I bought a larger trucker cell phone antenna, and it wasn’t enough of an improvement over the 4 inch antenna. It doesn’t work nearly as well as the directional antenna so I no longer recommend it.
Now let’s talk about the directional antenna. In my last post I told you how pleased I am with its performance and in this one I’ll tell you what to buy and how to install it.
The good news is it’s all available from Amazon and isn’t too expensive; the bad news is it’s not at all clear what you need to buy to make the antenna work with the Sleek; in fact it was so complicated I couldn’t figure it out. First I went to the Wilson website and tried to find the information I needed but their website was not helpful for someone like me who knew nothing about electronics. I finally gave up and had to write Wilson’s customer service to get it right. They told me what to buy and I got it all from Amazon. Fortunately for you, I’ve done the leg-work and here is a list of what you need from Amazon:
- The antenna: Wilson Directional Antenna
- A cable for the antenna: Wilson Electronics 20-Foot Ultra Low Loss Coax Cable with N Male Connectors
- An adapter from the cable: Wilson Electronics 971107 N Female to FME Female Connector
- And another adapter to make the cable work with the Sleek: WILSON ELECTRONICS 971119 Fme Male to Sma Male Connector
Putting all that together is easy you just screw the pieces into each other and into the Sleek. Again, there is no software or learning, they just start working with each other. But you still have to attach the antenna to a mast and get it up in the air. I like to do things as easily as possible so here is the very simple system I put together:
A Painter’s Pole as a Mast For the Antenna:
I wanted to be able to get the antenna as high in the air as I reasonably could to pick up very weak and distant signals but the mast had to be short enough to carry inside the van and light enough it was easy to handle. A painters pole was the perfect solution because:
- It was made of fiberglass and aluminum so it was very light and also very strong.
- It extended out a long way and then collapsed down to a smaller size. The one I bought is 6 foot at its shortest and 12 foot at its longest. That’s high enough for me and yet still short enough to be easy to carry in the van. Mr. Long Arm Painter’s Extension Pole, 6-to-12-Feet. If you are tight on space you might consider the 4 to 8 foot model. Mr. Long Arm Painter’s Extension Pole, 4-to-8-Feet
If you want to get as far up in the air as possible, you might want to get the 6 to 12 to 18 foot model. MR LONGARM 6-Feet to 18-Feet Painter’s Pole
- They are reasonably priced, you can get them for either $17, $25 or $55 depending on length.
- I’d prefer a non-conductive material so I would be at less risk from lightning, the painter’s pole is half fiberglass so that helps. It’s a fallacy that the pole would attract lighting, it doesn’t attract lightning. But, if lightning was going to strike at or very near to the van anyway, it would strike the highest point of the van which was the pole.
Mounting the Pole to the Van:
Next I needed to find a way to mount the painter’s pole to the van. If you have an RV it’s easy to attach it to the ladder on the back or if you have a truck camper with jacks you can mount it to one of the jacks. You can use hose clamps or even tarp bungees with the little balls on the end to mount it to anything long enough. Many RVs have a 4” x 4” rear bumper and if you do then I recommend you follow RV Sue’s mounting method—you can find it on this page of her blog: http://rvsueandcrew.net/8014-2/
None of those things would work for me with a van so I had to create my own method. Whatever I did it had to do three things: 1) hold the mast securely upright, 2) keep the antenna from being blown in a circle by the wind and, 3) be fast and easy to set-up and take-down because I’d have to do that on every trip to and from camp.
Of course whenever you drill into the side of the van you have to be worried about rain getting in so I used self-tapping sheet metal screws that come with a little rubber gasket that forms a seal around the hole—any hardware store sells them. If you’ve ever installed a metal roof, you know these rubber gasketed screws are the only thing keeping it from leaking. I believe they will work just as well here.
You can see in the pictures the painter’s pole slides down in the four wall hangers and I clamp each one down with a spring clamp. It’s simplicity itself, but works extremely well! It’s very simple to clamp and unclamp it and it’s low enough to just slip it in and out of the hangers. The clamps grab it tight and I can’t imagine a wind that would turn the antenna.
So far I am extremely happy with the whole setup:
- I get great data reception even when the cell tower is 20 miles away
- Setting the antenna up and down is extremely fast and easy. I just slide it into the pipe hangers and clamp them down.
- With or without the Smartphone App finding the tower is simple and takes me about 5 minutes.
- Mounting the mast to the van was cheap, simple and easy—all I had to do was drive 8 screws.
So there you have it a reasonably priced way to dramatically improve you cell and data reception that is easy enough for just about anybody. If you are going to give it a try, I strongly suggest you do it now because the price of all of it is going to skyrocket once the current supply of Wilson-branded gear is sold-out.
- Wilson Electronics Sleek 4g
- Wilson Electronics 20-Foot Ultra Low Loss Coax Cable
- Wilson Electronics Directional Antenna
Wilson Electronics 971107 N Female to FME Female Connector
WILSON ELECTRONICS 971119 Fme Male to Sma Male Connector
MR LONGARM 6-Feet to 18-Feet Painter’s Pole
Mr. Long Arm Painnter’s Extension Pole, 4-to-8-Feet
Mr. Long Arm Painter’s Extension Pole, 6-to-12-Feet