SureCall Fusion2Go 2.0 cell booster, the testing begins
This is the selection of SureCall Fusion2Go cellular booster system components I’ll lug to the boat in North Carolina early Monday morning. The white outdoor antenna should mount fairly easily on Gizmo’s mast, the booster itself will tuck behind the lower helm with switchable 12v power, and I’ll put my phone on that indoor patch antenna when boosting is needed. In fact, I tried roughly that configuration in my basement shop yesterday, and the results were quite promising.
Note the signal strength graph in the Network Signal Info app running on my Google Pixel 2 XL Android phone. Without boost it was showing -113 dBm or about 7 of 15 bars, or 3 of 6 bars in the phone’s own less accurate and less responsive estimation. Sitting in exactly the same spot — and I saw this result several times — the powered up SureCall increased the signal to 13 bars (about -87 dBm) which looked like maximum signal on the phone itself.
In use on the boat, I expect this to mean that the phone will work better as a fast Verizon LTE WiFi hotspot in similar signal conditions, and should also be able to eek out some connectivity in marginal areas where the phone is otherwise nearly useless. I’m also confident that the SureCall Fusion2Go 2.0 will not get me in trouble for overpowering a cell tower (unlikely in a boat anyway), and will also let me know via red LEDs if the outdoor and indoor signals get mixed up (quite possible on many boats).
That’s because the FCC mandated automatic protections against these issues a few years ago and I don’t think that non-compliant cell boosters are available any longer (but watch out for eBay and similar). The regulatory change makes marine cell boosting easier, though getting the right parts kit can still be confusing.
Shown above is the complete contents of the SureCall Fusion2Go RV 2.0 kit loaned to me for testing by the good folks at the RepeaterStore. The low-power interior patch antenna is not shown as included, but I think that one comes in the box with every basic Fusion2Go. I will try the short RV-style whip interior antenna because then I could get boosting with the phone held to my ear, but I suspect that the relatively short distance to the exterior antenna with just a fiberglass cabin top in between will force me to use the patch antenna and my (fabulous Bose Hearphones) Bluetooth headset for boosted calls.
Meanwhile, I do wish that the SureCall outdoor antenna could adapt to a standard 1″-14 thread marine mount, but it does appear well made and I can use its base bolts with the flat mounting plates I added to Gizmo’s antenna farm. (Some boats may be able to use the aluminum L bracket, but those U bolts are not stainless.) Incidentally, the Fusion2Go User Guide (PDF) nicely lists all the antenna kitting options, including two for Marine use, and note that other antennas and cables can be substituted as long as the maximum dB gains are equivalent. I believe that means I can also try this booster with the excellent Digital Antenna Bullet and LMR 400 low-loss coax I once used successfully with a low-power Wilson car booster.
At any rate, a full review of the SureCall Fusion2Go cell booster will appear here eventually, and I’ll be testing lots of other gear as Gizmo slowly moves up the East Coast. Apologies in advance to TSA for all the gadgetry they may come across in my luggage on Monday.
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