Commercial Wi-Fi receptors cost you a bomb. There are alternate ways to make a Wi-Fi antenna at home that will not only increase the range of your network, but will also be very inexpensive. An antenna is nothing but a directional waveguide device that converts electrical power to radio signals, and vice-versa. Hence, pretty much any material that is capable, or can be made capable, of this function can be used as a Wi-Fi antenna.
A ‘cantenna’ is a directional wavelength reception device for long-range Wi-Fi. Ideally, a cantenna’s periphery is not strong enough to receive signals all by itself. Hence, cantennas are mostly used to extend a wireless network’s range or to improve reception over a distorted signal path. A cantenna can also amplify signals from 5 – 22 dB. While a ‘Pringles’ can is widely used for such setups, it is important to note that these cans are narrow in diameter and inappropriate for 2.4Ghz. Hence, for such a project, always use a can about 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter and approximately 6 or more inches in length.
Building a Homemade Wi-Fi Antenna using a Can
Materials and Tools
~ Can (about 3.5 inches in diameter)
~ Solder paste
~ 1.5 to 2 inches length thin copper wire strand
~ N-female chassis mount connector
~ Pigtail cable
~ Duct tape
~ Tripod stand
~ Drill machine
~ Soldering iron
Drill a hole in the can about a couple of inches from its base. Widen the hole according to the connector’s diameter.
The connector should just fit in; the hole should not be too small to get the connector in, nor too big so the connector falls off.
Set the adapter in the hole firmly.
Make sure it is set like how it is displayed in this image.
To the connector’s inside end (inside the can), solder a copper wire strand.
Be very careful when you solder the copper wire strand. This is how it must look like.
Plug in a pigtail cable into the connector outside the can.
Connect the other end of the pigtail cable to the Wi-Fi device/card. This will work only if you have a compatible Wi-Fi adapter. Hence, before proceeding, check the connector and adapter compatibility.
Mount the can on the tripod using duct tape, facing the Wi-Fi adapter. Once mounted and steadfastly in place, rotate the cantenna on its axis slightly, and adjust its tilt to work out the position in which it receives the strongest signal. This antenna has linear polarization, i.e., its rotation affects signal strength, positively or negatively. The tilt, though, is required in only very rare cases, and should be done carefully and only if necessary.
Once you shift the cantenna’s position to gain optimum signal strength, you can use your homemade Wi-Fi antenna!
Building a Homemade Wi-Fi Antenna using a Strainer
~ USB Wi-Fi adapter
~ USB extension cable (at least 15 feet in length)
~ Duct tape
~ Wooden stick
~ Tripod stand
Using the USB extension cable, connect the Wi-Fi adapter to your computer. The cable’s female connector goes in your computer and the Wi-Fi adapter is inserted in the cable’s male port. If you haven’t found an extension cable long enough to position the antenna where you need, connect multiple cables together.
Using duct tape, attach the USB adapter to the handle of the strainer. If the strainer does not have a handle, attach a wooden stick to it using duct tape, and tape your adapter to the wooden stick.
Make sure your dongle is at a point where you receive signals at maximum strength. Temporarily place the dongle on the handle of the strainer and shift its place around the handle to find the hot spot.
Aim the strainer towards the Wi-Fi transmitter in a straight line and straddle a little to the left or right depending on where you are getting the best signals. Once you have figured out the exact spot which generates best strength of the Wi-Fi signal, mount the strainer on a tripod stand and get ready to use your strainer Wi-Fi antenna!
As compared to expensive Wi-Fi antennas, homemade antennas can be made and setup in almost half the price. A cantenna in fact, will not take your total expenses above $15 – $20! A strainer antenna too wouldn’t cost you more than $25. So get the materials, ready your tools and save some money!