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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Homemade antenna breakthrough on 3G/1x switching?

I should be doing work but signal strength issue bothering me. Down and dirty is that via:

>Settings > About > Signal strength

...my Droid gets funny numbers different places in the house. I also get 3G->1x. I decided to check some settings on battery drain and screen brightness, and had signal strength up. I noticed that when proped up against my PC's desktop speaker, my signal was pegged at -67dBm...highest I've seen in this part of the house. From here, speedtest.net never gets over 600kb dl speeds. My bedroom 20ft away gets 1.5Mb.

There was mention of an "Antenna port" so I made my own. Bottom line, my signal went form an between average -77dBm to -88dBm (not great from what I understand) to a solid -62dBm, resting in the same spot on my desk.

"Well what does that mean to me", you ask? Speedtest results stayed pretty consistent at 1.2Mb but YMMV.

Also, was able to get the battery door to hold in the "twist tie", but the cover is bent upwards to accomodate tie's casing. Its "ghetto" but fairly clean considering. FWIW, it seems that in the same spot, with the battery cover "off", I can get back 3-4 dBm.

Sorry for bad pics...taken on my AT&T phone.












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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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resizing some of those pics might help readability here

Is your screen missing something at the top?
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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Like I said..."I'm supposed to be working"...no time for editing. P



But interesting results nonetheless. Nothing "missing", just reflections from window, taking too much time to get good pics, hence my rush job.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Tell me more of this antenna port breakthrough, your pictures don't show nearly enough.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Take your battery cover off, you'll see the antenna port.it's in a cutout to the right of the silver stuff that holds the SD card.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I just added the tiny pic of a stripped, foot long twist tie...just like you use for bread bags. I basically stuck it in the tiny hole, not touching the outer parts, of the port behind the battery/USB connection. I needed to take a work call and was in a rush. I just wanted to get this info out to you guys.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syntrix View Post
resizing some of those pics might help readability here

Stupid WinMo phone.

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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:34 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hmm, I'll have to try this sometime. The area I work has a lot of metal and signals get bounced around a lot, so my reception is spotty at best.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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this:

Cell Phone Antennas and Cell Phone Boosters at Wilson Electronics

Plus the right plug for the back of the phone = super human cellular strength!
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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I really need to stop playing...with this thing. Just did another test holding phone in my hand, in a different part of the room...holding it in the same position in the air, and just taking the battery cover off was good for 3 to 5 -dBm. Might make a difference when signal is marginal.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 08:28 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Interesting..

This is an interesting thread..

I am in an area (home) where the signal is marginal on my Droid.
(it was fine with my past phone: a Centro)..

But, at home with the Droid I have to stand in a certain place and even then it's spotty sometimes..

Are you telling me, you actually stick a wire in that hole and it helps?

interesting..
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Old December 1st, 2009, 08:46 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireChief View Post
This is an interesting thread..

I am in an area (home) where the signal is marginal on my Droid.
(it was fine with my past phone: a Centro)..

But, at home with the Droid I have to stand in a certain place and even then it's spotty sometimes..

Are you telling me, you actually stick a wire in that hole and it helps?

interesting..
Careful with that, the antenna won't be matched, and the RF circuit could hog wild and overheat!

This was something I realized from my early RF days and matching antennae. It's just a general concept, but I have no idea how much protection is in a droid, if any.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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What's odd is you have to open the battery cover to get to it. Most cellphones I have seen with antenna access have a rubberized external way to connect it. Motorola definitely made an odd design choice regarding this. Would be a nice feature for a car to insure better navigation capability (assuming of course the gps antenna functions also through this same input).
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:15 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default i won't risk it..

I won't risk sticking a wire and melting down or frying something.. I did find it interesting though..

I am a little disappointed that I LOST signal strength by dumping my Centro for the Droid.. I love the Droid, but this is a bit of a problem for me..

For more background, I don't think my phone is faulty in any way.. I am just at the 'edge of service.' The Centro worked well, but the Treo I had before that didn't.. The Treo reception was much like my new Droid..

just looking for solutions for home.. .. as soon as I leave my house my reception is fine..
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:19 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syntrix View Post
Careful with that, the antenna won't be matched, and the RF circuit could hog wild and overheat!

This was something I realized from my early RF days and matching antennae. It's just a general concept, but I have no idea how much protection is in a droid, if any.
Yeah, I got over confident and put a few too many wires (upgraded to 12g speake wire, plus the twist tie ) and totally lost signal. (0) bars, and signal strength went to -115dBm. Slept on the problem and just went back to twist tie, stood near window, and all was well.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:24 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireChief View Post
This is an interesting thread..

I am in an area (home) where the signal is marginal on my Droid.
(it was fine with my past phone: a Centro)..

But, at home with the Droid I have to stand in a certain place and even then it's spotty sometimes..

Are you telling me, you actually stick a wire in that hole and it helps?

interesting..
Just looked at this thread again, and saw that my "battery cover off" pic was missing, so I re-added. But yes, there were significant, stable gains with the twist tie stuck in the center hole. I'm sure a heavier gauge and more solid connection would fair better.

Whether or not its an actual antenna port, or factory test pot, I don't know. I was able to get the battery cover back on, with the tie in place, but I don't know if the connection was good. You have to bend the bare wire section, in a 90 deg. angle, in order to get it to stay.

My whole test was just to confirm if the the spotty reception was due to the Droid or VZ's network. I still say its the DROID, be it hardware or software.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:27 PM   #17 (permalink)
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It's not an antenna port, it's a testing port for the factory. They use them to test the radio before shipping them out. If it was meant to be used as an external antenna port, it'd have an externally accessible hole for the port. Syntrix is also right about the wire length thing. Using just a wire for too long will cook out the radio.


So how far did you drop your phone to break the screen like that?
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:30 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiway View Post
What's odd is you have to open the battery cover to get to it. Most cellphones I have seen with antenna access have a rubberized external way to connect it. Motorola definitely made an odd design choice regarding this. Would be a nice feature for a car to insure better navigation capability (assuming of course the gps antenna functions also through this same input).

I'm not sure if its a dedicated antenna port or factory test pot. Either way, if an external antenna was installed, it would definately help. I'm in no way on the outskirts of service, just for whatever reason, I get inconsistent signal at my house, and mom's, not far from me. I think there is a VZ tower about 2.5 miles from me, at the intersection of (2) major highways. There is a bus stop where I drop off my girl and my signal goes to -52dBm.

As far as GPS, it works better than the phone's radios. Locks on in a few seconds, and per Google satellite view, is accurate within 10-15ft while I'm inside.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:36 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barry99705 View Post
It's not an antenna port, it's a testing port for the factory. They use them to test the radio before shipping them out. If it was meant to be used as an external antenna port, it'd have an externally accessible hole for the port. Syntrix is also right about the wire length thing. Using just a wire for too long will cook out the radio.


So how far did you drop your phone to break the screen like that?
You too? The screen is not broken...its near a window...lights, reflections, and shadows.

As far as cooking the radio, there was no increase in temps (i.e. wasn't battery not working any harder at increased levels). Conversely, at my mom's, where no apps were running, and at full charge, I barely get (1) bar of signal for a few seconds, and battery dropped to 20% charge, in just over 3 hours while idle. The battery was also "very warm". I'd be more concerned about those weak signal situations.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:36 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barry99705 View Post
It's not an antenna port, it's a testing port for the factory. They use them to test the radio before shipping them out. If it was meant to be used as an external antenna port, it'd have an externally accessible hole for the port. Syntrix is also right about the wire length thing. Using just a wire for too long will cook out the radio.


So how far did you drop your phone to break the screen like that?
I'll agree (again) on the wire length/matching/resistance.

But why put a port there that looks like a standard external antenna port? Not ALL cellphones had an easy hole, most cell phones cater to convenience, and most people don't now what an external antenna is.

HELLO MOTO: Can you tell us what this really is? I've seen the conjecture on stuff like a test port.... but why have a test port if you are testing a consumer device? Especially with a "standard looking" external jack? I'm not buying the "test port" idea until someone at moto says NO.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:39 PM   #21 (permalink)
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You too? The screen is not broken...its near a window...lights, reflections, and shadows.
You did say on another forum that you said here... but I didn't see the post here.

That area top left doesn't look like it could be anything else but missing glass.... the line on the glass could be your drawstring.

Sorry man, just gotta ask I do this stuff all day at work since I build stuff that is in other states. I request specific pictures, and if something looks off, I have to question it. Just part of being an engineer at my day job!!!
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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:40 PM   #22 (permalink)
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colnago, you have had plenty of time to resize those images, too! Get on it son!!!!!

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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:42 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Awww crap! I forgot I had an external cradle/antenna combo for my Motorola V60i. The back cover had a hole in it, and the connector built on the phone is male and looks like it could fit in the female port of the Droid. I'm sure I could have rigged something. Took the Droid back too early.

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Old December 1st, 2009, 09:46 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syntrix View Post
You did say on another forum that you said here... but I didn't see the post here.

That area top left doesn't look like it could be anything else but missing glass.... the line on the glass could be your drawstring.

Sorry man, just gotta ask I do this stuff all day at work since I build stuff that is in other states. I request specific pictures, and if something looks off, I have to question it. Just part of being an engineer at my day job!!!

Its the corner of one of my monitors that you see, reflecting off the glass...VZ wouldn't have taken it back with a hunk of glass missing. I'm on vacation now, and this thread isn't getting many views so I'll consider resizing at a later time.



...still debating on trying to get a Milestone/Canadian Droid...just to see if reception is better on GSM. Tax time can't come early enough.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 11:21 PM   #25 (permalink)
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This is an interesting idea. The "test" port looks exactly like the ports you would attach a u.fl antenna to on a wifi card.

In fact, I just ordered a Dell 1510 a/b/g/n card off eBay and they packaged two antennas in, so maybe I'll give it a try when it comes it.

If you guys wanna take a look, they look like this:

laptop mini pci wireless antenna antena u.fl short - eBay (item 390122736382 end time Dec-24-09 05:57:03 PST)

Looks like it would fit behind the battery door just fine.

-Now that I look at it some more, it probably won't fit, but if you shorten the cable and just kept the flat "receiver" part, I wonder if it would help any?
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Old December 2nd, 2009, 12:01 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
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...I wonder if it would help any?

The key is to be able to make contact with the metal part of the center hole. The rubber/plastic surround in the center is pretty hard, and only something very thin will be able to make it thru. Like I said, I used a common twist-tie, stripped at the end. Its half the diameter of a common thumbtack.
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Old December 2nd, 2009, 12:14 AM   #27 (permalink)
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I am very excited about the possibility of this being an external antenna port and not just some test port.... However, I (as did others) recommend caution at just plugging any ole wire or antenna into your Droid. Ham radio operators go to great lengths to get the proper match on an antenna. Failure to do so can quickly fry circuits.

Crossing my fingers for this feature, but not holding my breath.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 11:31 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Has anyone had any luck/disaster with this? I'd love to get a bit more stable coverage.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 01:07 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireChief View Post
I won't risk sticking a wire and melting down or frying something.. I did find it interesting though..

I am a little disappointed that I LOST signal strength by dumping my Centro for the Droid.. I love the Droid, but this is a bit of a problem for me..

For more background, I don't think my phone is faulty in any way.. I am just at the 'edge of service.' The Centro worked well, but the Treo I had before that didn't.. The Treo reception was much like my new Droid..

just looking for solutions for home.. .. as soon as I leave my house my reception is fine..
You know, VZW sells a network extender that is like having a cell tower in your house. It hooks up to your router and uses your high speed internet to create a cell site. Its $249.99, and is voice only, but that would definitely help you(and your family?) on the cell service issue, without hacking up your phone.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 07:17 AM   #30 (permalink)
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If anything this thread is a good MacGuyver action to keep in mind in the event of an emergency in remote areas.

My cabin is on the fringe of coverage in the mountains of CO. I have to be standing at the exact right spot near the stove to get even a single bar. I'm going to have to give this a try next time I am up there.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 07:48 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gilligan156 View Post
You know, VZW sells a network extender that is like having a cell tower in your house. It hooks up to your router and uses your high speed internet to create a cell site. Its $249.99, and is voice only, but that would definitely help you(and your family?) on the cell service issue, without hacking up your phone.
I just did some Computer work for a family in my Neigborhood, they had a mess of stuff in there office. They had the Network Extender and a bunch of other stuff that was hooked up incorrectly. They wanted it all removed and disposed of. I gladly took it off there hands and figured i would give it a shot at the house. I normally get one bar at the best, after hooking this device up and getting a GPS signal, I am now getting 3 bars. Kinda Sweet for free.
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