Cellular Trail Cameras take your scouting game to the next level — literally to the “cloud” level! However, there are times when you place your cellular camera out in the woods only to find out later that the camera is not getting a good signal, or the signal is weaker than it was before. Check below for information and pro tips to optimize your cellular signal.
Terrain can heavily influence the strength of a cell signal. Mountains and hills can reduce or eliminate cellular coverage from other areas, especially in valleys. If your camera is surrounded by larger trees, it can weaken the signal. Heavy summer foliage can also interfere with a cellular signal — making it weaker. However, when trees drop their leaves in fall, cellular service will typically improve.
Pro Tip: In mountainous and hilly terrain, you might be restricted to using cellular cameras on ridgetops where a signal can be reached. Also, when the leaves are still heavy on the trees, it might be necessary to mount your camera on the edge of open fields, or in an area that you know has a strong signal.
Heavy cloud cover, thunderstorms and heavy snow can all affect cellular signals. When weather like this is present, it makes it harder for the cellular signal to reach your camera. Even solar flares from the surface of the sun can impact cellular coverage at times.
Pro Tip: Unfortunately, you can’t change the weather. In these situations, one can only wait for the weather to improve.
CELL TOWER TRAFFIC
If your cellular camera is located in a urban area, or close to a busy interstate highway, then there may be times that your local cell tower has many people using the network at the same time. This heavy cell traffic will interfere with your cellular connection and can even cause the cell signal to be dropped during photo transmission.
Pro Tip: In this case, it is better to have your photos upload more than once per day. This way your camera will be transmitting fewer pictures at one time and it’s less likely to drop the connection during transmission. Keep in mind, uploading images more than one time per day can reduce battery life in your camera.
Your cellular camera uses power to not only transmit, but to stay connected with a cellular signal. When a camera’s batteries are low, it has less power to stay connected. If the signal was weak to start with, then low batteries can make it even worse.
Pro Tip: If your batteries are getting low then it is best to replace them. Lithium batteries work better than alkaline batteries in the cold weather and will typically last longer in general. Another option to extend your battery life is by using one of our external power options that can be found HERE.
WEAK SIGNAL AREA
Many of us hunt far from urban areas, which can mean poor cellular signals. Be sure to check the signal in your location, and only set up your camera if you are getting a strong signal. Since cell signals are constantly fluctuating, the signal can fall below what is showing when you test it. Using your camera in a stronger signal zone will help ensure your signal is sufficient, even when the signal dips slightly.
Pro Tip: In weak-signal areas, set your upload frequency to “Immediate”. This will force your camera check in with the server each time a photo is taken. While your camera will check in more often, it will be sending fewer images at a time — greatly reducing the risk of a dropped cellular signal. Keep in mind, the “Immediate” upload frequency will use more battery power due to the increased amount of check ins.
The cellular provider your camera is associated with may also make changes to their towers and systems that can have an impact on your cell signal. Providers will relocate towers, adjust antenna alignment, adjust the power, etc.
Pro Tip: If you experience a sudden decrease in cellular signal, it might be due to one of these many factors. If the weak signal continues, it’s best to relocate the camera to an area with better service.
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