Homemade wireless parabolic antennas

Written by contributing writer
Homemade wireless parabolic antennas
It's very similar to a TV satellite dish antenna. (Satellite antenna on the red brick wall. image by wrangler from Fotolia.com)

Wireless Internet access and Wi-Fi connectability offer increased convenience, productivity and potential monetary savings when you build your own parabolic Wi-Fi antenna. Getting a signal is more difficult than over-the-air TV reception, because the radio waves in the 2.4 gigahertz spectrum are more directional. Building your own parabolic antenna, however, can be surprisingly economical and easy, resulting in far stronger signal strength and range in connecting to wireless access points. Here's a DIY option.

Preparing the Parabola

First purchase a USB Wi-Fi adaptor, if you don't already have one. Wireless G and wireless N adaptors can be found on eBay, at Staples and other stores. Cut an opening in the centre of your parabolic shape, be it a pie pan or any number of different size wire strainers. The opening should hold the adaptor snugly. Insert the adaptor into your parabola. The increased surface of the parabola will boost your signal strength 12 to 15 dB.

Connecting the Receiver

Connect a female-to-male USB cable to the Wi-Fi adaptor. Next, plug the male end of the USB cable into a USB port on your computer. Once these connections have been made, follow the on-screen set-up instructions to configure your Wi-Fi reception.

Fine-Tuning the Reception

Hang the parabolic antenna. The parabolic surface and the Wi-Fi adaptor will face the direction of your nearest AP (access point). Position the antenna for maximum signal strength. Radio frequencies are very directional.

Streamlining the Process

Use a software program that streamlines Windows XP's Wi-Fi set-up. Easy Wi-Fi Radar is a freeware Windows program that automates Windows XP and Windows Mobile connections. Run it, and it connects you for free to the Internet automatically. Easy Wi-Fi Radar will connect to open hotspots, showing the signal strength of access points as green, yellow or red dots. Works on Windows XP and Windows Mobile; does not work on Vista.

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