Stop Dropped Calls

Poor cell reception at home? Install a cellular amplifier, and put an end to frustrated redials

For instructions on how to boost your cell signal, launch the photo gallery

On the street, cellphone dead zones are annoying; at home, they´re unacceptable. If your calls end every time you cross the dining room, you need a cellular amplifier kit. These little DC-powered devices extend service from the outdoors inside by taking even a faint signal from the closest tower and sending it around your home through an indoor antenna. You can even put an amp in your car to keep a consistent signal while on the road. Besides fewer dropped calls, you´ll also get better battery life, since your phone´s radio won´t be working as hard. The kits are coming down in price, but they still aren´t cheap, so make sure you choose the right one for your situation and set it up correctly. Once you do, you´ll never have to shout â€Hello?†again.

How to Tell if Your Amp is Working
Most cellphones have what technicians call â€field test mode,†which displays the signal strength more
precisely, as negative numbers instead of bars; closer to zero means a stronger signal (zero means you´re standing on a cell tower). Accessing that mode usually requires entering a code. Download this list of codes (PDF) to find the correct one for your phone.

Mike Outmesguine is the man behind wifi-toys.com.

Single-Phone Home

Equipment: Wired, carrier-specific amplifier, such as the Signalwide ClickitBase ($230; signalwide.com), connected to your phone Installation tips: The antenna doesn´t have to be outside, but it will work better if it is. Inside, your phone attaches directly to the amp with a handset-specific cable or a mini-antenna, called an inductive coupler, stuck to the handset. Since the phone is tethered, use a Bluetooth headset to roam around the house.Paul Wootton

Multi-Phone Home

Equipment: Wireless multiband amplifier kit, like the Signalwide LiveBase ($500; signalwide.com), which works with most carriers Installation tips: Place the outdoor antenna on your roof in a spot with the best all-around visibility. The amplifier box can go anywhere inside your house, but the indoor antenna should be mounted vertically wherever you need the best reception, and 6 to 20 feet away from the outdoor antenna (depending on the model) to avoid interference.Paul Wootton

Car

Equipment: Wireless mobile amp kit, such as the Digital Antenna DA4000MR-10A ($500; digitalantenna.com) or the Signalwide DriveBase ($400; signalwide.com) Installation tips: Stash the amplifier under your seat, and plug it into your lighter socket. Set the ex- terior antenna in the center of the roof and the interior antenna near the driver´s seat (I used double-stick tape to attach mine to the dome lamp on the ceiling).Paul Wootton