A Wi-Fi (wireless) antenna is designed to receive radio transmissions through the airwaves -- the distance of the transmitter sending the signal being affected by the receptive capabilities of the antenna. You can build a high-gain Wi-Fi antenna that can receive a signal from any direction it is pointed at ("omni") not just where the tip of the antenna is pointing. A few supplies from a hobby store, combined with some household tools and a metal flashlight that can be gutted will be needed.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Metal flashlight, 10 inches long
- Portable drill
- 1/2-inch drill bit
- Needle-nose pliers
- USB cable, 6 feet
- Bonding glue
- 2.4 GHz USB Wi-Fi adaptor
- USB extension cable, 6 feet
Unscrew the battery cap from the back end of the metal flashlight. Remove the batteries and place them and the battery cap aside. Unscrew the reflector from the front of the flashlight. Poke out the lens from inside the reflector and dispose of it in the trash.
Place the reflector on the work surface. Drill a hole through the centre of the battery cap with the portable drill -- if a spring or metal contact is on the inside of the battery cap, first break the spring or metal contact off using the jaws of a pliers.
Unscrew the bulb from inside the flashlight with your fingers. Dispose of the bulb properly.
Insert the needle-nose pliers into the front of the flashlight. Grip an edge of the bulb socket module. Pull the module out of the flashlight and dispose of it properly.
Stand the flashlight on a work surface with the reflector side facing up. Insert one end of a USB cable into the USB connector on the bottom of the 2.4 GHz USB Wi-Fi adaptor. Push the other end of the USB cable into the top of the flashlight.
Apply bonding glue to the side of the adaptor. Place the adaptor into the flashlight with the tip facing up. Press the glued-side of the adaptor against a side of the flashlight at about the same level as where the bulb socket module was. Hold the adaptor against the side of the flashlight for a minute or two so that the glue can take hold. Let the bonding glue set overnight before continuing.
Hold the flashlight steady by its base with one hand. Grip an edge of the top of the flashlight with the jaws of a pliers. Pull the pliers towards you to widen the open mouth of the flashlight. Repeat this as you circle the mouth of the flashlight.
Pull the end of the USB cable out of the bottom of the flashlight. Push the USB cable's end through the hole in the centre of the battery cap from the inside. Screw the battery cap back on the end of the flashlight.
Insert the end of the USB cable into one end of a USB extension cable. Insert the other end of the USB extension cable into a USB port on a laptop. Hold the flashlight that is now a high-gain omni 2.4 GHz antenna towards a Wi-Fi transmitter that can now be picked up, for example, a free "hotspot" Wi-Fi transmitter at a store down the street or at the Wi-Fi transmitter of your wireless home network while you are in your backyard.
Tips and warnings
- A pole can be added to the flashlight so that it will hold itself in position, rather than relying on being held.
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