One of the early enhancements we made to our Cricket was a cell signal booster. We went on 26 trips in the first year of our Cricket. That’s every other weekend plus a few longer trips (4–16 days), and we continued going out throughout the cold winter months, so having a good cell signal allowed us to do work, or entertain ourselves longer in the small space of the Cricket. The Mantis, with its expansive room (compared with the Cricket) is an even better mobile office, and we were quick to take our cell booster from the Cricket to our new trailer.
With the Cricket, we ran the outer antenna cable under the rubber insulation around the roof and down into the Cricket from there. We let the booster just sit in the space against the driver’s side wall, under the mattresses. And the interior antenna was routed to the back of the Cricket. The Mantis has a lot more going on, so placement would be trickier.
Part of the challenge was that we wanted to be able to move the booster from the Mantis to our tow vehicle, which had its own antennas set inside it. So velcro was going to be a necessity. I went to the hardware store to look at options and decided to go with a 10lb velcro-like material from Scotch. What I liked about this material was that there was no fuzzy side to stretch out and become less effective over time. Additionally, the hard plastic connections looked better able to stand up to dirt and dust without collecting it. As a bonus, both sides were the same, so there was no need to match a soft side and a rough side like with traditional Velcro.
With strips of this as well as some precut squares, I was halfway there. The other challenge was going to be routing cable. I had already found a route for the majority of it, however, I wasn’t sure how to get it through the kitchen area with the most efficiency and staying out of the way. So I searched Amazon and found adhesive cable clips that would allow me to control the wire.
The last item was the outdoor antenna. We already had a small antenna that came with the booster, however, we often found this barely increased our signal. We wanted to see if we could get a better boost with a larger antenna. So we ordered the 12-inch antenna from Wilson Electronics.
Armed with all our parts, we were ready for the setup. On the Cricket, we’d had to place a small adhesive magnet on the roof to get the magnetic antenna to stick. The Mantis, however, is rimmed by a ferrous metal border and has a ferrous cargo deck up front, so we had plenty of choice on placement. The trick was figuring out where was best. The user manual suggested the center of the vehicle was best, so we placed it on the front edge, dead center. Using the holes in the decking, we routed the cable to a corner and into the lower corner under the tent fabric.
From there, we routed the cable through a couple holes, and wrapped it around the cable management tube for the lighting on that side of the Mantis, going all the way to the bottom and back up in order to take up the extra slack.
There happens to be a 12-volt port right at the bottom of the outer wall of the wet bath, perfectly locate for the booster. From there, I began using the Scotch fastener to attach first the booster, then the power adapter to the wall above the 12-volt port. Using a cable wrap, I shortened one end of the power adapter. The other end I hid between the framing and the outer wall of the wet bath.
Now it was time for the indoor antenna. Since the antenna itself cannot be removed from the cable, I had to begin from where I would place it and work back from there. I decided to attach it, using the Velcro it came with, just above the voltmeter. From there, I ran the cable straight up to the underside of the lip at the top of the kitchen cabinetry. There I used the adhesive clips every 4 inches or so to keep the cable hidden and secured. From there, I used a single clip to wrap it around the cabinet and underneath the fastener for the popup roof.
, and more between the wood panel and the door, carrying the cable for the booster across towards the kitchen. From the far side of the wet bath, I used a few of the holes on the frame, and then the adhesive clips to run the cable under the lip at the top of the kitchen cabinetry.