Level 2 Training
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Wilson Certified Installer Level 2 Training:
Welcome to Wilson Certified Installer Level 2 Training. This training is to be completed after completing Level 1 training and having a basic understanding of signal boosters. In this level two training, let us examine the installation process a little more closely.
First we will go over each system component in greater detail. We will cover how to do a proper site survey. We will conclude with system design and installation. This training is designed to give you the training necessary to design your own larger systems and give you a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of a booster system. Please take a moment and print out the slides for Level 2 training using the link provided above the video. To earn your rating as a Wilson certified installer and receive all the benefits, you will have to pass the WCI exam (link above video). It is a 40 question open book test requiring a score of 90% or better to pass. The test can be taken at any time once you have reviewed this training. I encourage you to pay close attention and take notes in the margins of your print outs.
The wide band directional antenna works very well with all cellular frequencies and is generally thought of as an antenna. It averages about 7 decibels increase and is high gain. The shape of its beam extends to about 45 degrees. It is considered highly directional. Because of its directionality, it offers about 18 decibels of isolation front to back. This helps reduce the need for excessive physical separation from the inside antenna and allows the installer to tune out signals that are too strong. Two wide band antennas can be paired in order to cover two different service directions by connecting them together with a Wilson two way splitter. However, they would need at least three feet separation vertically.
The wide band directional antenna includes pole mounting hardware for easy adjustment. The paddle antenna is a vertically polarized directional antenna which has a much wider beam of 115 degrees, giving it very good inside coverage area. It is now the preferred inside antenna over the dome antenna. The gain on the panel antenna averages about 5 decibels increase and the front to back isolation is about 8 decibels. When properly installed with sufficient cell signal, a panel antenna can cover up to 5,000 square feet in open air. If not in open air and to ensure best coverage, plan one panel antenna per 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of coverage area.
An antenna can be mounted on the wall or ceiling or behind the wall or ceiling. A flush mount kit similar to a speaker mount kit is also available. An antenna comes with wall mounting hardware. It is best to mount it in the attic laid face down on the sheet rock under any insulation. The Pro Series Boosters can generally accommodate up to four inside antennas when there is adequate outside signal for a total coverage area of up to 20,000 square feet per booster system.
One thing to remember about any antenna is that they all do the same thing. That is they send and receive information. Differing characteristics set them apart. One antenna may have a narrow beam and high gain, while another has a wide beam with less gain. Regardless, an antenna is just an antenna. Either style can be used at either end of a booster system depending on what is needed for the installation.
For example, you are installing in a neighborhood where HOA (Home owner's association) has a strict rule about antennas on roof tops. An alternative to trying to mount the wide band directional antenna in a hidden location could be to use a panel antenna instead. It could be mounted on a cable end or side wall and painted to match the building. The antenna will generally perform adequately as long as there is enough signal where it is installed. Conversely, the wide band directional could be aimed into a long narrow space inside if there were no access to mount wall panel antennas. If the house or apartment is rented, be sure to have the home owners permission in writing before installation to prevent problems afterwards.
When adding additional inside antennas to a booster system in a home run configuration, a splitter is used to evenly divide the signal between antennas. Splitters are available in 2, 3 or 4 port configurations. The important thing to remember about splitters is to divide the available power by the numbers of ports. For a two way split, this means a 3 dB drop in each leg. On a three way split, you lose 4.8 dB per leg and on a four way split, you lose 6 dB per leg. Remember never to attempt to use CATV splitters as they will not work with pro boosters. Also do not arbitrarily split the signal. Make sure your system can supply enough power to drive the extra antenna by following the -20dBm rule, which you will learn in a few minutes.
Another type of installation called daisy chain or trunk line uses a tap in place of a splitter. The tap creates an uneven division of signal with a pass through port and a tap port. The tap port loses 10dB while the pass through port loses 0.5dB. This allows you to maintain more power in the main line over a longer distance. Again you will use the -20dBm rule to determine coverability. The home run approach using only splitters is the more common method. Tech Support can assist if you are unsure which is the better option.
A lightning surge protector is included with each Pro Booster kit. The lightning surge protector is placed between the outside antenna and the Pro Booster and will shunt the high voltage discharge, like a lightning strike or a downed power line. The device has very low loss and works with all cellular frequencies. Make sure to check your local code for required placement. Corroded connections will cause the Pro Boosters not to work. Any time you have a connection that has been exposed to the elements, make sure to weather proof it. There are several good ways to weatherize an F connector. One of the easiest is a product called Temflex by 3M. It comes in a roll like electric tape and is very easy to apply.
The Pro Booster or amplifier is 100% self optimizing and needs no adjustment from the installer. If any oscillation or over load occurs which causes the booster to self adjust, the power light will change color and an '*' will blink in the upper right corner of the LCD screen. Cycle through the frequencies using the band select button to see what is happening on each frequency. Let's review the possible warnings and what to do if you get one.
A green light indicates the unit is powered and operating at full gain. If coverage is good, no further action is required and your installation is complete. An alternating orange to green light indicates proper operation, but at reduced gain due to overload. Recall that overload is too strong a signal coming from a nearby tower. If coverage area is adequate, you can leave the booster in this condition. If more coverage area is required, locate the direction of the overload signal and aim the outside antenna away from that direction. This should cure the overload. In some cases, relocation of the outside antenna to a more sheltered position may be required. An alternating red to green light indicates proper operation at reduced gain due to oscillation. Again, if coverage inside is adequate, you can leave the booster in this state. If more coverage area is required, simply move the inside and outside antennas further apart or add some type of mechanical shielding like radiant barrier liner to increase isolation. Contact Wilson Technical Support if you need more information about this approach.
A solid red light indicates the booster has shut down due to extreme oscillation. In this case, you must take action. Either separate or isolate the inside and outside antennas and then recheck the booster for proper operation. A solid orange light indicates the booster has shut down due to extreme overload. In this case, you will need to re-orient the outside antenna and possibly relocate it to a more sheltered location.
The Wilson Electronic Signal Meter is an essential tool for installers. With it, you can quickly determine what kind of results you will achieve as well as identify any potential problems before you begin the install. The signal meter is capable of reading all cellular signals, not just the one which can be received by a cell phone. This is important because all cell signals can affect booster operation. The optional directional antenna kit transforms the signal meter into a directional signal finder. Before using your new signal meter, take the necessary time to learn how to use the device. Without a thorough understanding of its use, the signal meter will be of little value.
In order to conduct a site survey you will need to learn how to look up certain carrier frequencies for the area you are working in. Take the time to create a notebook and record your searches so you have a reference for each zip code in your service area. This will eliminate looking up local frequencies again the next time you are called to that area. Complete instructions on how to operate this signal meter and conduct a frequency search are included with the signal meter. Contact Wilson Technical Support if you need further assistance.
Once you know the local frequencies for all the carriers in your service area, you can initiate a site survey. Begin your survey by creating or obtaining a floor plan of the building in question. Record dimensions and square footage and any special conditions that could have an effect on signal propagation internally. For example, concrete walls or wall treatments that could block signals. This information will be necessary when you plan your system and select locations for your inside antennas.
Next, using this signal meter equipped with the included zero gain antenna. Take signal strength readings on each side of the building for all carriers and record your findings on your floor plan. In the video the trainer is showing only two sides of the building for simplicity. Use the frequencies you recorded in your search and select the channel power or single frequency setting as needed on your meter to check signal for each carrier. Make sure to stay as close as possible to the building so you can identify which side truly has the strongest or most usable signal.
At a minimum, you will need an outside signal of at least -100dBm in order to achieve any results, but at -100dBm coverage will be limited. Also make note of any signals in excess of -65dBm as these could cause the amplifier to overload. If this is the case, select location where the offending signal is not as strong or aim the outside antenna away from the source of the overload to attenuate that signal. Inline attenuators are available, but are not recommended for 4G systems.
Once you have determined which side of the building is best for installing the outside antenna, select a mounting location. If possible, obtain a signal reading at the position to confirm you are placing the antenna in the best location. If you're trying to boost multiple carriers, use a multiple signal strength for planning purposes. Remember, to reduce the possibility of oscillation, always point the inside and outside antennas away from each other as much as possible. A soft install of the signal booster system can reveal any unexpected issues and work great as a sales tool should your customer need convincing.
If you have purchased the optional directional antenna accessory kit, you can connect the wide band antenna to the signal meter with the supplied cable and adapters. A mast mount kit is supplied to use as the handle for the antenna. In this configuration, the signal meter becomes a directional signal finder and can be used to optimize antenna placement. This is done once the best side of the building is determined using the zero gain antenna. Alternately, you can use adapters to connect your meter to the outside wide band antenna and cabling to fine tune pointing of the antenna.
Remember, never to connect your signal meter to the system downstream of the booster as this will ruin your signal meter. Using a zero gain antenna, survey all interior spaces to locate the areas most in need of signal improvement and note them on your site survey. Plan one panel antenna for 4,000 square feet of needed coverage area. Note that interior walls or surfaces which might block signal could reduce achieved coverage area. Once the installation is complete, survey the interior spaces again to confirm signal improvement.
The -20dBm rule states that each inside antenna you plan to deploy must be driven by a calculated signal of -20dBm or better to achieve proper coverage. You must follow this rule when adding extra outside antennas to a system. You can add inside antennas to the system as long as you can achieve -20dBm per antenna. Once that threshold is reached, do not add any more antennae. If you need more area covered, you will need to plan a second separate system. Dual system installations may not share any components. To determine whether or not you meet the -20dBm rule, follow these easy steps:
First decide how many inside antennas will be needed based on square footage and interior conditions. Next draw out your system on a blank piece of paper just the way you intend to install. Carefully label each component and cable length with the associated gain or loss. Remember, RG11 loses 60dB/ 100' and RG6 loses 10dB/ 100'.
Now create a column for total system gain as well as a column for each inside antenna to keep track of loss. If doing a more common home run installation and the cable runs to each antenna or are roughly the same length, only one loss column will be necessary since they will all be about equal. Now list each part of the system in the appropriate column along with it's gain or loss.
When adding up loss, always include a safety margin of -60B in the list to account for a lightning surge protector, short cable runs, mechanical connections etc. Finally, starting with your average outside signal, add your total system gain and then subtract your system loss. Repeat this for each leg of the system and note your calculated signal for each.
In this example, we will show you just how simple it is to calculate. On leg A, the outside signal is -80dBm to which we add our total system gain of +82dBm. This equals +2dBm. Next subtract the total loss, include safety margin for the given leg, +2dBm - 21dBm from leg a equals -19dBm. This meets the -20dBm rule. Leg B is .5dB over budget so it might have slightly reduced coverage area. In the case of the very weak outside signal, you may not be able to meet the -20dBm rule.
In this example, our calculated signal works out to -26dBm for one antenna. This signal antenna system will still provide coverage, but the area will only be about half of what it would be at -20dBm. Recall that every 6dB will either double or halve your coverage area. We could improve the system and coverage area by switching out the RG6 to RG11. By doing this, we would expect about a 50% increase in coverage area, but we could not add a second antenna.
Here is another example. In this case we have a strong outside signal. Notice that we're able to use a lower gain amplifier and still achieve good results for our two antenna system. You can see that outside signal has a direct affect on which amplifier you choose and how much area you can cover. Please take a moment here to look over the numbers. As previously stated, Pro Boosters will generally support up to four inside antennas as long as there is adequate outside signal.
Of course now that you know the -20dBm rule, you can determine for yourself how many antennas your system can actually support. You can use any combination of taps and splitters as necessary to build the system. Just make sure to use taps correctly and keep system power balanced within about 5dB across all antennas.
Wilson Technical Support can assist with system layout if necessary. We recommend that you try to build the system yourself first for practice, then submit the design to Tech Support for approval. This way you can confirm that you have learned this information correctly and that your future designs are following correct design principles.
If you need assistance with a building recommendation, email Wilson tech support and request a building recommendation form. This form must be fully completed and accompanied with building plans in order for Tech Support to make a system recommendation. Please allow 3-5 business days for a system recommendation to be returned from Tech Support.
When you are ready, click on the level 2 test link above the video, to complete the level 2 WCI exam. Remember it is open book so you are encouraged to use the notes you took on your copy of this presentation while you take your exam. Please fill out all requested information on the test before you submit your answers. You will receive an email with your results immediately after you submit your test.