Antenna Placement and Signal Quality

The BarnTalk Standard Antenna

You will receive two standard BarnTalk antennas with the purchase of a BarnTalk gateway. The antennas are interchangeable, however, they serve two different purposes. As you'll notice on the gateway labels, one antenna is for connecting your gateway to the Cellular network, while the other is used for connecting the LoRa network to your sensors. 

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Below are some guidelines and best practices for mounting your antennas. Barn site layouts and material vary widely so use your best judgement based on these recommendations and contact our support team if you have questions. 

Cellular Antenna Placement:

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    Mount cellular antenna outside and as high as possible.

  • Antenna should be mounted to point vertically, not horizontally. Antennas take electrical energy and convert it into Radio Frequency waves in a donut like shape around the antenna.

  • Items that can affect cellular signal strength:
    • Distance from cell tower
    • Obstacles - i.e. walls, buildings, terrain, vegetation
    • Capacity Planning - cell towers have a max number of devices that can stay connected
    • Weather conditions - rain, snow fall, fog, etc. can all cause disruptions to signal strength
  • Best practices for cellular antennas: elevate antenna as high as possible, mount at least 9" from walls (if possible, not always necessary), and place on side of the barn in direction of nearest cell tower (if known).

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Sensor (LoRa) Antenna Placement:

  • Mount sensor antenna as centralized to the sensors as possible.
  • Antenna should be mounted to point vertically, not horizontally, and should be mounted at least 9" away from walls if possible.
  • Typically, the sensor antenna is mounted inside the barn by drilling a hole through the office wall to run the antenna outside the office so the antenna is closer to the sensors and removes the office wall as a barrier.
  • If connecting a 2nd barn, you may opt to mount it outside to minimize the barriers between the antenna and furthest sensors in the 2nd barn.  
  • Keep in mind the visual Line of Sight (LOS) between the antenna and sensors: 
    • Minimize barriers between antenna and sensors (i.e. walls, machinery, bins, buildings, vegetation, terrain).
    • Mounting the antenna at a similar height as the sensors is preferable. 
    • The antenna signal will travel through surfaces that are perpendicular to its line of sight better than diagonal surfaces. Avoid placing antenna in a location where the signal would have to travel through a slanted surface like a roof. 
    • Sensor antenna range is good for ~700'. However, this is dependent on obstacles and line of sight between the sensor and antenna.

    Additional Resources:

    • If desired location of antenna placement cannot be reached with the given antenna, BarnTools does have 25' antenna extension and 50' antenna extension cables available.
    • In locations of known poor cellular coverage, BarnTools does have a High-Power Antenna available. However, it is recommended that one tries the included standard antennas first.
    BarnTalk Standard antenna specs

    Type 

    Description 
    Model  BT-HW-02-00
    Frequency Range 433MHz, 900-2700MHz
    Bandwidth 20-MHz
    Gain  5-dBi 
    Polarization  Vertical 
    Nominal Impedance 50 -?
    Connector SMA-J
    Antenna Dimension 2.5* 8 inch / 62*206 mm
    Cable size 10 ft / 3000 mm
    Weight  0.8 lbs / 0.36 kg
    Lighting protection DC Ground
    Working Temperature -22 F ~ 140 F / -30 C ~ 60 C

    If you have any issues or feedback, reach out to our support team via email at support@barntools.com or call 515-272-5122 during the hours of 8am-5pm CST Monday-Friday