I’ve always had a fascination with weather as a child, but for many years it was also a fear.-Brandon Sullivan
Storm Chaser Brandon Sullivan has had a passion for Mother Nature his entire life. From a young age, Brandon experienced firsthand the terror that comes with having to take shelter from incoming storms. Despite that, he dedicated much of his studies to transforming that fear of the monstrous into a fascination of the majestic. Fast-forward to today and Brandon is well into the second decade of his Storm Chasing career where he corresponds with outlets such as ABC Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360/CNN, National Geographic, and The Weather Channel in an effort to warn, document, and share firsthand the ferocious beauty of these storms.
Often driving against the tide of evacuees who seek shelter from these dangerous natural phenomena, Brandon broadcasts and uploads time-sensitive media from rural areas. Not only do these locations tend to have naturally spotty cell phone reception, the storms he chases can knock down nearby cell towers while introducing signal-blocking particulates into the atmosphere, making the sharing of these climactic events nearly impossible without the right equipment. This article provides a window into Brandon’s world of storm chasing as well as the steps he took to remain competitive as one of the media’s first point of contacts with the best footage.
Q: Appreciate you taking the time to share your story Brandon. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into Storm Chasing.
Brandon: I grew up in Western Illinois, and while we didn’t get many tornadoes, we often had strong summer thunderstorms. I’ve always had a fascination with weather as a child, but for many years it was also a fear. The excitement of knowing a storm was coming would be eclipsed by the fear of having to go to the basement when it actually arrived. Perhaps it was just the dark and scary basement, but regardless, this fear somehow blossomed into a fascination and a stunning realization that I actually felt safer out beside the storms, where I could see what was occurring, instead of hiding in a basement. Ultimately, that led to me studying Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and becoming a meteorologist.
SureCall won me over the instant I realized just how hands off the booster was.-Brandon Sullivan
Q: What was your line of work like before you discovered signal boosters?
B: I was always into electronics and gadgets. While in late high school and into college, I began working for a local shop that installed lights, sirens and all sorts of electronics inside of law enforcement and other vehicles. I had been tinkering around with my own cars, adding laptop stands and emergency lights (I was on the fire department), but this really helped me grow my knowledge of electronics and how to install things properly in a vehicle.
Q: Tell us about the impetus that led you to even search for a cellular signal solution. Was there a straw that broke the camel’s back?
B: Data is critical when Storm Chasing, whether it’s trying to have internet for weather data, or fast enough internet to upload video to news outlets, or even just enough signal for a phone call to be live on the air with a news station. I would say my urge for a signal booster started after trying to drive through the forests of eastern Texas while live on the phone with ABC World News in the evening and dropping my signal on Sprint. There’s just nothing more frustrating to me than looking like an amateur with dropping calls and audio when trying to be on world news!
Q: When you first used one of our boosters, you must have had doubts as to whether or not this technology would give you results. What exactly was it that won you over with SureCall’s boosters? Were there any early failures/setbacks in your quest for a signal booster solution?
B: SureCall won me over the instant I realized just how hands off the booster was. With boosters in my past, I would have to mount them in places I could easily turn them on/off, or setup switches for them specifically, because they would freeze, or stop boosting and until I rebooted them and suddenly got a better signal, I would have no idea they were frozen! This was a constant frustration. I also love how the SureCall booster adjusts to changing conditions. You can watch it change different bands based on signal strength or any oscillation issues, etc.
Q: What is the most important thing you’re able to do now that wasn’t feasible before the SureCall booster?
B: I think there are a few things here that stick out to me. First, I am able to, as I mentioned above, install the booster out of sight out of mind and know that it’s working flawlessly. I don’t have to constantly reboot it or worry it’s frozen.
The second, I really feel that this booster handles multiple bands and devices well. In the past, I can’t scientifically say it wasn’t working with other companies, but I never felt they really did a solid job of boosting my multiple networks at once (I run ATT, T-Mobile & Verizon).
Q: We understand that you’ve now used two of the top vehicle boosters in the market: the Fusion2Go 3.0 and its big brother the Fusion2Go Max. What sort of differences have you noticed between the two?
B: I guess the first thing I notice is the reception on the Max seems to just be incredible. I actually often find that it’s not actively boosting when I am in town, because the gain of the active antenna is so strong that it doesn’t need to. That gives me amazing confidence that when I am in really remote conditions, I am going to be just fine.
Q: Give us a brief overview of your current booster + hotspot setup.
B: Right now I have my new Active Antenna for the Max up on my roof at the rear. The actual booster is located underneath my drivers side rear seat. From there, my internal antenna runs up to my laptop mount and is stuck there, where all my devices are in the perfect range for amplification.
I am currently running a MR1100 Nighthawk router that is unlocked and running Verizon. What’s perfect though is with the proximity to the antenna, my ipad sits beside my drivers seat and is boosted, using ATT network, where I use it as a hotspot. I then run a bonding software on my computer, with 3 internet cards, to bond my signals together and get insane speeds or redundancy.
[T]he first thing I notice is the reception on the [Fusion2Go] Max seems to just be incredible… That gives me amazing confidence that when I am in really remote conditions, I am going to be just fine.-Brandon Sullivan
Q: Is there something the Fusion2Go Max doesn’t do that you’ve found yourself wishing it would (other than making breakfast in bed)?
B: I am a big fan of managing devices through portals. It would be fascinating if there was ever a bluetooth connection (or even USB, but bluetooth best), where I could connect in and understand more technical information. I think I saw something like this recently you have for the business boosters, but just something that is neat.. I always have my hotspots web page pulled up so I can easily check its signal strength without having to dig out the hotspot.
The Fusion2Go Max signal booster that Brandon uses is SureCall’s high-performance booster for vehicles. It sports all of the standard features of our signal boosters as well as SureCall’s exclusively patented Extended Range Technology™ (ERT) which provides an additional layer of performance advantages to users which include internet speed, vehicle-to-cell-tower distance, and maximum simultaneous user capacity.