There are some situations when the Internet signal does not get to the point where you need it. Or if it does, it is very weak and the connection resets every 10 seconds, making you angry. Of course, there are lots of ready made solutions – and some of them quite cheap! Still, if you are a geek, the mere thought of building your own Wi-Fi antenna using off-the-shelf parts may seem like a good plan. Read on to discover how easy it is to build your own Wi-Fi antenna, and thus boost the strength of the Internet signal in your house.
1. First of all, you will need a USB wireless LAN adapter dongle. The device is required even if the computer has an integrated wireless chip. It is recommended to get a dongle that uses both the 802.11b and 802.11g standards. The good news is that the prices for such a device range around 15-20 USD. Often times, a cheaper dongle has a smaller size, whereas more powerful ones are a little big larger in size and, of course, cost a little bit more.
2. You will also need a USB passive extension cable. Just purchase an inexpensive U.FL to RP-SMA cable. This cable is used to connect the USB Wi-Fi adapter to your computer’s USB port. The cable should be long enough to be positioned in direct sight view of the wireless access point. You can always use extension cables, of course.
3. The next thing you will need is a mesh-covered dish. Dishes that look like a cooking Asian wok are the perfect size. You may also use steamers, pot lids or even lamp shades, provided that they are made of metal and have the shape of a dish. The bigger the dish, the powerful the signal will be. From my experience, the optimal size of the dish is about 12 inches.
4. Are you ready to assemble the system? The dongle and the USB extension cable have to be attached to the dish using twist-ties, tape etc. The dongle should be positioned at the focal point of the dish, about an inch above the surface of the dish.
5. Plug in the antenna. Insert the male end of the USB extension cable into the computer, and then set it as the Wi-Fi card using the network settings.
6. It’s time to locate the Wi-Fi transmitter that you want to access. As the antenna we’ve built is very directional, it is crucial to orient it properly. Basically, the dish needs to be pointed towards the remote antenna.
7. Tune the dish. This is the step you need to perform right after connecting the antenna. The dish should be tuned by adjusting the position of the dongle as you read the signal meter on the computer. There are several software programs that can help you with this, and you can also use a mobile / smartphone app for this.
That is it! If all went well, you now have a high gain antenna that only took 30 minutes to create and – most of all – it’s been built by yourself!