written by: Jesma•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/5/2009
Having trouble with your wireless Internet reception? Low on cash, or feeling adventurous? These home made signal booster and antenna designs will help you improve your wireless signal without costing you money.
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Boost Your Signal With Household Materials
One of the most common complaints about wireless routers and wireless cards is their short range, and often weak and easily disrupted signals. There are ways to increase your wireless router's broadcast range, or increase your wireless card's receiving range, using some very basic household materials, like tin foil and discarded cans. Let's take a look at what some of these projects are, and how they work.
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The Cantenna - Or - Tin Can Waveguide Antenna
One of the most beloved of all home made wireless devices is the cantenna - quite literally an antenna made from tin cans. There are tons of websites out there that will show you have to make your own cantenna using whatever you have handy. I like this guide from TurnPoint, which also includes a calculator that shows the exact spot to mount the copper probe to get the best signal strength.
I made a cantenna from two large Busch's Baked Beans cans. On one, I cut off the top and bottom with a can opener. On the other, I only removed the top. I duct taped them together, making one long tube. I had to buy the n-type connector, but it was only $3, and I found the piece of copper in a scrap pile. The cantenna works by amplifying the signal that bounces into the tube, then focuses it onto the copper probe, providing a strong clear signal.
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Aluminum Parabolic Booster
Even less expensive than a cantenna to make, (and far more unsightly) is a parabolic booster made from carefully molded tin foil. This is used on wireless router antennas to increase their range and signal strength. It works similarly to the way the human ear works. The cup shape gathers more signals than a little stick antenna, and focuses them to increase strength. This video demonstrates how to create an effective, and quite ugly, foil parabolic signal booster.
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A bowl-shaped antenna can also be used to increase your signal strength. This design is most often used with a USB wireless receiver, unceremoniously mounted in the center. A popular design is to use a mesh strainer with a handle. This allows it to be aimed, or even mounted, and cutting a hole for the USB receiver to sit in is very easy. Similar to the parabolic booster, this design works by capturing more signals and focusing them. It can be made from a metal bowl, strainer, or other half-sphere-shaped items you may have in your possession. I found this guide particularly detailed and concise, and I'm sure you will too.