Asset Tracker Bigger Antenna


#1

I have been trying the asset tracker in various rural parts of Alberta, Canada for it’s cell coverage and data transfer reliability. But unfortunately it does not always works. For example, I was in Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada for 7 days, and the cellular and GPS worked for 2 nights and after that she did not work anymore. Not too sure why. Could it be that I need a higher gain cellular antenna connected to the Asset Tracker?

I wonder if anyone has seen this happen to them? Or maybe I am over looking something here.


#2

Hard to say for sure, but an external cellular antenna can be helpful.

The Electron comes with a Taoglas PCB Antenna. It is possible to use the Electron with other antennas, however.

Note: If you are building a product, there may be additional considerations if you use an antenna of a different type or a higher gain than the Taoglas antenna. This may require additional testing for certification.

The Electron comes with a u.FL connector. Most GSM antennas require an SMA connector. A small adapter can be purchased:
At Adafruit, you can get this adapter. At SparkFun this adapter. At Amazon this adapter.

Once you have an SMA connector, you can most cellular phone antennas. For example, I use this antenna from Amazon which is about 4" long and has a magnetic mount to improve reception in fringe areas.


#3

In addition to what @rickkas7 mentioned, you can also figure out which network carrier offers the best coverage for Alberta, and use one of their Simcards? The Particle simcard roams on Rogers’ network in Canada (if I’m not mistaken); going straight with Rogers/Bell may yield better results.


#4

The Electron with the Particle SIM card will only ever use Rogers in Canada.

You can use whatever 3rd-party SIM card you like, however there is a limit of 100 3rd-party SIM cards in your account before you start hitting monthly device cloud charges.

The Boron 2G/3G, however, is completely different. It doesn’t fit in the AssetTracker, but it does have more available carriers in Canada:

Primary: Telus
Secondary: Bell Mobility

Backup - only used if the area does not have primary or secondary coverage:
Mobilicity
Rogers Wireless
Sasktel
Videotron


#5

Question: How can the Boron 2G/3G use a different carrier than the Electron? Isn’t the carrier based on the use of the Particle SIM card?


#6

There are three different Particle SIM cards. The one in the Electron and E Series, the one in the Boron 2G/3G, and the one in the Boron LTE.


#7

Follow-up question: We’re talking about the Boron 2G/3G here, but I’m going to make the assumption that the Boron LTE simcard uses the same carrier. In that case, Telus/Bell already have a very extensive LTE-M1 network in Canada, at least since mid-2018. If the Boron LTE indeed uses Telus/Bell as its carrier, why is it still promoted as a US-only product?

Does the Boron LTE simcard use a different carrier? Has it not gone through the certification process yet outside the US?

I haven’t had much luck setting up my Boron LTE, so I haven’t had the opportunity yet to actually test whether or not it works.


#8

No, the Boron LTE has a different SIM that only works with AT&T in the United States. The only way to make it work elsewhere is to use a 3rd-party SIM card.


#9

Oh I see. I already ordered several Bell 3G/LTE simcards which will be delivered next week, so I will be able to test and determine whether I can get the Boron LTE to work here :slight_smile:


#10

Hello All,

Thanks for your comments and feedback. I have spoke with Telus and they were very confident that their network can support the IoT devices, and therefore have order a SIM from them. We will see how it turns out. But for now the SIM card provided by Particle (that latches on the Rogers network) have a very spotty if not no coverage in most rural cities in Alberta; cities like Fox Creek, Bonneyville, Edson, Innisfail, just to name a few.

I will try with Telus SIM card once I get home and maybe pick up higher gain antenna.

Btw. My test platform is Electron (Asset Tracker). You probably know it.

Thanks again.


#11

I really find the Particle SIMs to be subpar here in Canada, even in major metropolitan areas. From what I understand, Bell/Telus (shared network) is king in rural Canadian areas.


#12

You might be right Vitesze but right now my Electron is having a bit of problem after I tried upgrading the firmware. Once I get my electron going, I will finish the last few test.