How to build a reflector for your wireless antenna

Written by adam quinn
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How to build a reflector for your wireless antenna
A reflector can focus and magnify your antenna's signal. (Satellite antenna image by ionut sarbu from Fotolia.com)

A reflector for a wireless antenna can both focus a router's Wi-Fi broadcast and magnify a weak or distant signal arriving at a computer's antenna. The curved or parabolic properties of a reflector bounce a received wireless signal into the antenna sensor located at the focal point of the reflector. Likewise, when the antenna sends information, the signal is concentrated and reflected away from the antenna in a particular direction. Depending on your type of antenna, you have a choice of strategies when building an inexpensive reflector for your router, desktop or laptop computer.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Build a simple parabolic reflector for your router or desktop vertical antenna using heavy paper stock, scissors, tin foil, glue and a utility knife. Save the template image to your computer, print it, cut out the two pieces, and open the slits. Glue tin foil to the back of the rectangular reflector, then fit the tabs of the stabilising piece into the reflector's slots. When slid over a vertical antenna, this reflector template, which can be found at the FreeAntennas website, will amplify the broadcast and receiving capabilities of your Wi-Fi device.

  2. 2

    Construct a metal parabolic reflector for your vertical router or computer antenna. Download the free parabola calculator program and draw a parabola on graph paper using data obtained from this program. Cut out two semicircular cardboard stabilisers, using the parabolic design. Cut a rectangular piece of sheet metal for the reflector and glue it to the parabolic-shaped stabilisers. This metal design, demonstrated on the PCWorld website, provides increased reflectivity and durability.

  3. 3

    Build a USB antenna reflector using a lid from a cooking pot. Drill holes in the lid for the antenna and the wooden extension arm. Glue the antenna in place, secure the arm with a screw, and mount the arm on a square plywood base. Due to the lid's large diameter, this design will focus the antenna's signal and maximise its send/receive capacity. A version of this design is outlined at Jose Pino's Projects & Tidbits website.

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