DIY wireless

One of the things I’ve come across in my work is the incredible hassle it takes to get a wireless network up and running – regardless if it’s Joey Napster trying to get Internet access in his basement, or large scale WiFi hotspot usage. From the user perspective, the technical details are rarely well explained, the wireless Layer 1 is fickle and unstable by nature, and software is generally no help in diagnosing errors or giving suggestions on how they can get the best signal they can possibly get. In light of this I’ve found a few fun and interesting resources on wireless networking:

For some good technical information that makes good bedtime reading, check out a free PDF entitled, “Wireless Networking in the Developing World”. Don’t judge this book by its title.

Commercially available directional antennae:
Both Linksys and DlInk has bigger, higher gain antenna available.

Do-It-Yourself Antennae
This is for educational purposes, or intrepid people with some time on their hands.

A commercial directional antenna often costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, but it’s reasonably easy to make your own with common household materials and some handyman skills. These could also theoretically help amplify the Wi-Fi AP signal in homes with poor reception.

* How to Build a directional Wi-Fi antenna out of a soup can: This inventor boosted his dBm by four orders of magnitude.

* How to Build a directional Wi-Fi antenna out of an old satellite dish: This inventor was able to access APs from eight miles away!

The caveat is, the antenna must be pointed virtually straight at a known wireless AP to pick up a signal. Obviously a clear line of sight is an asset.

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