Mini Cabin Placement

I took a trip to the ranch yesterday. It was dicey getting in, but got there eventually. (I posted a video of what I was contending with on our Facebook page. If you haven’t gone there to “LIKE” it yet, please do. Go now and then come back to finish reading this post.)

I also tested our cell booster kit, to see if the cell phone would get a better reception. In short, it didn’t. I was very frustrated at that outcome. However, I have a way of getting it higher (elevation) than what I tested yesterday and there is a directional antenna that I can get, too. (The one I tested is an omni-directional one.) So, all is not lost. But it is definitely a disappointment.

I found 3 potential mini cabin sites on the property. (Well, I found more than that, but I have settled on 3 that we’ll choose from.)

Here are my main criteria, not necessarily in order of importance:

  1. South facing without losing some sort of view.
  2. Can the car reach the cabin without having to move tons of rocks?
  3. Is the drainage proper for that spot without a lot of drainage work?
  4. Can it even be built in that spot without having to move a ton of rocks?
  5. Is it easily accessible to the “farm” area that we’ll be building?
  6. Can we install solar and propane services within close proximity?
  7. Does it have a great view?
  8. Can it be defended easily against the inevitable zombie wars?

The reason I have not selected the site yet is because I really have to talk to someone who knows what they’re looking at (an engineer) to see what spot makes the most sense given all my criteria above.

Here is a flickr page with all the pictures I took yesterday. Be sure to read the descriptions below the pictures to get a sense of where you are on the property (if that’s possible.) The dirt pictures are so I can talk to someone about whether a pier and beam foundation will suffice and how deep they recommend going down for the piers.

Side note… I have all the stuff I need to experiment with my rainwater catchment ideas. I’ll be posting some pictures of that soon.

Another side note… I’ve started a spreadsheet to track my costs for this project. So far I’ve spent $610 and have absolutely nothing to show for it yet. Grumble, grumble. 🙂

Okay… go LIKE our Facebook page and tell your friends, too. Share it on your timeline if you think your friends would be interested in following our journey. Thanks!

Cell Phone Booster

Cell Phone Signal Booster KitI finally got my cell phone reception booster kit. I’ll post a more thorough review once I test it up at the ranch. But I’ve posted a short video of what it looks like, meantime (bottom of page.)

Of course, I couldn’t wait until I got to the ranch so I did a very rudimentary test in my dining room today. I pieced it together which took all of about 5 minutes and that includes unwrapping all the little doo dad connectors that keep the wires screwed to each other. Then I plugged it in to see what it would do with my Verizon cell service (it works for all major cell companies, though.)


To give you an example of just how well it worked, I tested my phone with a signal meter.

Side note… almost all phones actually have a built in signal meter. Not the bars. That’s crap. I mean an actual power meter that shows you the exact level of power you’re getting for your signal. Here is a list of phones and how you access that power meter for each. For the iPhone, you dial *3001#12345#* and then hit Send. The screen will come up immediately and you’ll be able to see in the place of the bar meter in the upper left corner, your actual signal power measured in dB. It’ll be a negative number. The closer to 0 the number is, the better. A good signal would be in the low -80s.

My normal cell signal at my house is about -85dB to all the way up to -92dB. It fluctuates. When I hooked the booster package up and just held the outside antenna up in one hand and standing about 15 feet from the indoor antenna (the one that receives and transmits to your cell phone inside the house), my signal went to -81dB. Now, remember, I’m in a suburb of Phoenix, where my signal is SUPPOSED to be good anyway. But with this signal booster, my reception DOUBLED (at the minimum). To understand that better, each -3dB that the number goes down, your power actually doubles. So, -81dB is actually double the power of -84dB. And it doubles again at the next -3dB. So -78dB is double the -81dB and actually 4 times greater than -84dB.

I also tested my data speeds. Unamplified, my data speed was PATHETIC. My ping time was 110ms and my download speed was a paltry, 40kbps (.04mbs) and my upload speed was .22mbps. (I just tested it again, later at night, and it was better with .43mbps download and .52mbps… but still.) My bandwidth numbers with the booster on was 96ms ping and 1mbps download and a .7mbps upload.

Remember, this was with the omni-directional OUTDOOR antenna, being held up with my right arm in the middle of my two story house. Imagine if you put that out on the eave where it was designed to go? Your signal would be rocking.

Reminder… if you get one of these, be sure to do your bandwidth speed testing with your wifi off. Otherwise, it’ll be testing your wifi speeds… not your cell data speeds. You can test your bandwidth speed by getting an app for your smart phone. Just search for “Speed Test” in your app store and you’ll find a lot of various speed testers. I use this one for the iPhone. It’s nicely laid out.

I’ll post my data and cell power tests from the ranch, later. I’m going out there next week.