WE WERE driving through the northern part of the Flinders Ranges and hadn’t had a telephone signal for days, when the phone beeped indicating a message. Stopping the convoy and checking the phone showed a swagful of messages and emails, with one in particular that required an urgent and now overdue response.
I quickly typed out the reply and hit the send button, but with just a single bar of reception the email wasn’t getting out. We considered the option of doubling west toward the highway where we might find a stronger signal, but that would add hours to our travel time and we’d have to come back this way again, so it wasn’t ideal.
Then I remembered Ron was driving our Ford Ranger in the convoy. I asked Ron to switch on the ignition and the signal almost instantly boosted from half a bar to three, and the email was sent.
No, this isn’t an amazing new feature from Ford - although the manufacturer would do well to consider it - but early on in the build of our Ranger we had a Cel-Fi Go repeater fitted.
The Cel-Fi Go is a repeater which picks up on the weakest available signal and boosts it. The unit will not give you phone signal where none is present, but it will pick up on the weakest signal and amplify it around your vehicle. The Cel-Fi is available to suit both the Telstra and Optus 3G and 4G networks in Australia, as well as in a variety of kits to suit different applications.
Our Cel-Fi kit came from Powertec and was installed by Freeway Car Audio in Dandenong, Victoria. It’s the Cel-Fi Go Telstra Trucker/4WD EDGE Pack which includes the Cel-Fi unit plus a 6/8dBi gain, 107cm antenna. With this antenna, the Cel-Fi can boost your signal up to 70dB in total.
The main unit can be concealed anywhere in the car such as under the seat, behind the glovebox or under the dash. It requires a 12-volt power supply and needs the two antennas connected to it.
Yes that’s right, two antennas. The first one is the one we have fitted to the bumper on the Ranger, but it can be a small, temporary, magnetised-mount antenna which we have used in the past. The bigger bar-mounted one provides better performance, as this is the antenna that picks up whatever cellular signal is available.
The second antenna is mounted inside, generally under the dash. It retransmits the ‘boosted’ cellular signal within the car and closely around it. Aside from the front antenna, it is out of sight and comes on when the car is on, so pretty much a set-and-forget operation.
You can set up and configure the Cel-Fi Go using a free downloadable ‘Wave’ app, which is also set-and-forget. The app can also be used to check the operation of the unit or find a Cel-Fi unit in your vicinity.
Available from: powertec.com.au
RRP: $1151.54 (Trucker/4x4 pack)
We Say: Easy, set-and-forget unit that works