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How to Turn an Old Satellite Dish Into a Satellite Dish Antenna

Updated February 21, 2017

The purpose of a Wi-Fi antenna is to gather in the signals being transmitted so that a device can access a local network or Internet. Turn an old satellite dish, for example, a Direct TV satellite dish, into a powerful and efficient Wi-Fi antenna. A few hardware tools and some supplies from an electronics store and from around the home are needed.

Place a sheet of newspaper on a table to protect the surface. Stand the empty coffee can on the newspaper. Measure up 3 inches from the bottom of the can. Drill a hole through the side of the can at the 3-inch mark with the portable drill.

Cut off the connector at the end of the Pigtail N adaptor with the scissors. Separate the two wires at the end with your fingers. Strip a half-inch of insulation off each end with the wire strippers.

Wrap the end of one of the two wires around the head of the nail. Insert the metal nail, point end first, into the hole in the side of the can. Push the metal nail so that the nail head is flush with the hole.

Heat up the soldering iron for five minutes. Solder the nail head to the can. Let the solder cool for a minute. Solder the end of the other wire coming from the Pigtail N adaptor to the side of the can. Let the solder cool for a minute.

Screw one end of the coaxial cable into the coax end of the coax-to-pigtail adaptor. Plug the Pigtail N adaptor into the other end of the coax-to-pigtail adaptor.

Place the satellite dish face up on the newspaper. Unscrew the reflector from the end of the reflector arm with the Phillips screwdriver. Dispose of the reflector properly.

Tape a side of the can to the reflector arm with strips of masking tape so that the can’s open end is facing towards the satellite dish.

Go outside in your backyard. Stand the satellite dish against a building or the side of a tree or piece of lawn chair. Aim the satellite dish so it is facing in the general direction of a Wi-Fi transmitter, for example, a store down the street that is offering free Wi-Fi.

Rail the coaxial cable back into the house. Attach a coax-to-pigtail adaptor to the end of the coaxial cable. Plug the other end of the coax-to-pigtail adaptor into the antenna input on a Wi-Fi card or wireless Wi-Fi router.

Tip

You can get a used satellite dish on an online auction site or from a satellite services provider.

Warning

Do not use duct tape to secure the coffee can to the satellite dish because it will interfere with the Wi-Fi signal.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • 794gr empty coffee can
  • Portable drill
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Scissors
  • Pigtail N adaptor
  • Wire strippers
  • Metal nail, 2 inches long
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Masking tape
  • Coaxial cable, 50 feet long
  • Two coax-to-pigtail adaptors
  • Wi-Fi card/wireless Wi-Fi router
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About the Author

Marshal M. Rosenthal is a technology maven with more than 15 years of editorial experience. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography with a Bachelor of Arts in photographic arts, his editorial work has appeared both domestically as well as internationally in publications such as "Home Theater," "Electronic House," "eGear," "Computer and Video Games" and "Digitrends."