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What are the GPS requirements for the MicroCell? I know that I have trouble getting my handheld GPS to work in my house even by the window. Does the GPS typically prove to be an issue for people?
I can't get my Garmin GPS to lock inside my house either, but I have no trouble getting a GPS lock with my MicroCell, even in our basement.
If your house is a Faraday Shield (metal walls or roof) you may have difficulty. Otherwise, probably not.
If you're thinking of trying a MicroCell give it a try. You can always return it within 30 days if you can't get it to work.
The micro cell has a remote GPS antenna jack on the rear. You can buy a cheap GPS antenna on eBay (less than$5 with shipping). I mounted mine to the inside of a window using a flat magnet outside. Picks up the GPS signal even with a large OAk tree shading the window.
Here is one on eBay
Any one with a MCX plug will work
Another factor to keep in mind is that most terrestrial radio sources enter your house through the walls, because they travel horizontally from their sources. GPS signals, by contrast, enter your house through the roof/ceiling because they come from satellites.
Our house has stucco walls, so the AT&T signal is relatively poor indoors. But above, all you find is just composite shingles, some plywood, some cellulose insulation and a layer of drywall. GPS has no trouble getting in.
The Microcell also generally can do better than most portable GPS receivers because it is optimized for a stationary use-case. That, and it only needs a fix that is within a few hundred meters (since all it is really doing is verifying that it is located where you say it should be).
You should only buy an external GPS antenna if you verify that the GPS light never stops blinking when you put the Microcell where you want to put it, but DOES wind up going solid if you (temporarily) put the Microcell somewhere else as a test. Once you have done that, then you know that you need to put the antenna where the Microcell was able to get a lock, and run the cable to where you want the Microcell to be permanently installed.
As for where to try, because of the fact that the signals come from the sky rather than the ground, "up" is better. Barring that, near a window is a good choice, but watch out for windows that have metallic coatings - sometimes those can attenuate UHF (which is what GPS is).
Microcells seem to be having difficulties lately. I've had one since October. It was next to a window and my house has a metal roof. Never a problem until last weekend when it lost it's GPS and couldn't conncect at 3G (GPS and 3G indicator lights blinking). Had it replaced under warranty and now it can't lock onto the GPS. Other folks in our area (the Bay Area) are reporting issues as well so maybe I was just lucky with my first 5 months of use and now I'm seeing what others have been reporting for a long time.
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