How to design a helical antenna

Written by joe kelly
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How to design a helical antenna
Construct a high-gain helical antenna for your wireless connection (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A helical antenna is a high-gain direction antenna that can increase the range at which wireless devices can receive a signal. A helical antenna works well for trying to acquire a wireless signal at a distance. If you have a dead spot in your home's wireless network, use a helical antenna to increase reception in that area. A helical antenna can be constructed in a few hours using supplies readily available at the local hardware store and some basic hand tools.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2 foot length PVC pipe, 1 1/2 inch internal diameter
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • 15 feet, 14 gauge copper wire
  • Two 1 1/4 inch bulldog clips
  • PVC adhesive
  • PVC end cap, 1 1/2 inch internal diameter
  • Hacksaw
  • Clean pie tin
  • Tin snips
  • PVC end cap, 6 inch internal diameter
  • Drill and assorted drill bits from 1/4 to 3/4 inches
  • 1/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch round head bolt with washer and nut
  • N-type connector, female, bulkhead mount with solder tab
  • Coaxial cable
  • Wireless card with external antenna connector
  • Male N-type to coaxial converter the wireless card's external antenna connector
  • Soldering iron and solder

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  1. 1

    Mark intervals at 1 3/16-inches apart starting at the end of the PVC pipe, which will be the antenna's base.

  2. 2

    Wrap the copper wire around the pipe, 12 times in a clockwise direction, using the marked intervals for spacing guides. Clip the ends of the wire to the pipe with the bulldog clips to hold it in place while you wrap the pipe. Secure the copper fire to the pipe with a dot of glue per turn and let dry. Remove the binder once the glue has set.

  3. 3

    Cut a 2-inch cross-section from one side of the small end cap with the hacksaw. The end cap should look like the letter "C" when done. Removing this section from the end cap creates clearance for the N-type connector.

  4. 4

    Cut a the bottom from the pie tin using tin snips and fit it inside the large end cap. Glue it in place with a couple drops of adhesive.

  5. 5

    Drill 1/4-inch holes through the centre of the large and small end caps.

  6. 6

    Drill a 5/8 inch hole 1 1/4 inches from the centre hole in the large end cap.

  7. 7

    Place the small end cap inside the larger end cap. Slide the 1/4-inch bolt through both end caps with the threads pointed toward the inside of the antenna. Tighten them with the washer and nut.

  8. 8

    Place the N-type connector through the 5/8-inch hole with the solder tab facing inside.

  9. 9

    Connect the base end of the pipe to the small end cap and solder the end of the wire to the N-type connector's solder tab.

  10. 10

    Attach the wireless card to a computer. Remove the antenna and attach the male N-type to coaxial converter to the wireless card's antenna connector. Connect the female end of the N-type connector of the helical antenna to the male end connected to the wireless card with the coaxial cable.

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