Instructables

Wifi Antenna Questions From A Mac User

Hi. I just recently got a new Mac and my job requires me to travel a bit. They won't pay for a antenna, and I don't really have the money to buy one...so, I need to build one, *shrugs. Basically, what I want is everything for nothing, *grins. I want the smallest, fastest, sleekest, most powerful antenna I can get...for as little as I can get it for. That said, here's what I'm dealing with: ***13-inch MacBook; 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo & all the wifi business is internal ('Airport')*** I'm a bit unknowledgable with Mac so far, so try to dumb down the responses for me, *grins. I've been told that because everything is internal regarding wifi, that I would have to drill or cut into the case to make any sort of antenna for it...but I'm reeeeeallly hoping this isn't true. Shouldn't I be able to still do something a bit easier involving the USB ports? If so, what's a good cheap one to buy? Will it work with an Intel based Mac (seems that comes up alot with everything) ? I've seen the antennas online that talk about receiving signal from x amount of miles, rather than just x amount of feet...how do I accomplish the same distances? What's the best for achieving a balance between power, ease, and portability (i.e. being tossed in and out of a backpack a few times a day) ? I would guess some sort of mesh parabolic like the strainers I've seen used, but I'll leave that up to you guys since you seem to have a better grip on these things than me. Thanx in advance for your help on this one, & I'll be sure to letcha know how your suggestions go! :)

comodore6 years ago
OK, now here is a good question! What is a Wi-Fi antenna??? I know what an antenna is but what does that Wi-Fi mean, what is it used for? :)
how about 1 for 1? an antenna broadcasts your wi-fi, or wireless internet, over a larger distance and with a faster speed than without an antenna. did you ever build your automotive ignition coil sparker?
I got all the parts. I found out that my dad has a friend who studied electronics and he could help me. He told me of some other components that I need, something just for safety and he agreed to help me build it. In about a month I should have it done. You will be the first to know. Sooner or later I will make it.
what exra parts? i already said fuse, key switch, momentary switch.... did i miss some kind of scr to cut power if you get zapped?
no, just some insulation for the transistor ( the insulation that is on the bottom of the transistor which insulates it from the cooler(photo)) and silicon paste, that is all. I have a big, and I mean big test coming up and I have to prepare, so I am a little short on free time, but as I said sooner or later I will make it and you will be the first one to know!!! :)
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thermal past? you only need that if your using the system continuously, or have cheap heatsinks, or the circuit will really heat up.
zoozack6 years ago
I'm also a Mac user of about 14 yrs now. I know this has been posted some time ago, but I have a comment for olyryran, might help. As far as a Mac picking up "PC" access points, you're mac can pickup any PC access point as a PC (windows) can. I have a PC laptop & a Mac Powerbook, and the results with Macstumbler picked up about twice as many AP's than my Windows machine did with netstumber. You will have no problem picking up netgear, linksys, or any PC type of wireless AP's and use KisMAC to crank in some bandwidth. If it's a wifi 2.4ghz connection Macstumbler will pick it up. Macstumbler picked up about 2x the amount of AP's than KisMAC did, but KisMac has the tools to get for closed networks. Of course who would do such a thing?! Just doing a simple 2 mile drive into my very, very small town and back I got about 17 AP's with my Mac. The Airport Extreme in the Mac isn't even that great IMO, so I was surprised to say the least. What's funny is there's a McDonalds advertising Wayport on their windows that costs $3 per 1-hour connection. 2 houses down theres a Subway with no wifi signs but my Mac picked it up. I stopped in for lunch with the Mac and hooked right into an open (no security) connection with a 900-1.2mb DL speed and a 400k up, about twice that of McDonald's, plus it's free. Subway doesn't advertise it, so looks like I'll be stopping by Subway for lunch from here on out. I have a T1 at work and I come home (out in the country) to a dial-up. So the Subway alternative will come in handy. Now all I need a A>B solution to connect to Subway from my house. (1.8 miles away)? I've got some ideas but I'm clueless when it comes to antennas. I can build anything when I have the plans, but the search is on. Any suggestions?
poonanii7 years ago
As Vegas said that would be the first thing to look at. When you get that straightened out and you want to increase your range even farther you could pick up a cantenna on Ebay. They are inexpensive and now that you have a transceiver you have something to hook it up to. To get the best of both worlds you can put a splitter in the line so both your omnidirectional and cantenna will be picking up signal. With the cantenna you will have to mess around with it until you find out exatly which neighbor will give you the strongest signal. Point it at them, lock it down and gobble up their bandwidth. The transceiver has been fine in my neighborhood. It made the difference between seeing 1 to 2 people and not being able to connect for long and seeing 8 to 10 people and being able to connect to 2, one having between 60 and 75% signal strength which is plenty for high speed access. If you decide to get a cantenna or yagi wifi antenna, please let me know how it does. This is supposedly the strongest thing you can get. The yagi claims a mile! If I can get that kind of power I will get one to hook up to my tranceiver
poonanii7 years ago
You need a "Quicky USB transceiver".

Dont bother with the cantennas or the one that you are talking about. The problem with them is you will not be able to hook to your MacBook because macs dont have RF ports. To hook one of those kind of antennas to something you have to hook it to an airport extreme base station. It has to be the base and all airport extreme bases dont have an "external antenna port" or the RF port.

Now, lets say that you bought a cantenna or one of those that you were talking about. You hook it to a range expander like the airport extreme base station with the external antenna port. The airport works well with airport stations but will not work with other pc routers (linksys, etc) which is likely what you will find when you are trying to steal bandwidth. So that option is out.

Your other option besides the Quicky USB transceiver is you could hook your mac up to an "omnidirectional antenna" which will have to be hardwired to your airport card inside your laptop. You see, the biggest problem you face is the connection to your computer.

Here's a link to what you want. Be prepared because its pretty pricy.
http://www.quickertek.com/

olyryan (author)  poonanii7 years ago
Yea, since my initial comment & yours I got online and ponied up on the Quicky USB Reciever. It hurt a bit. Anyway...so here's an update. I got the Reciever, and was only so impressed with it's functionality. They claim an increase of 10x the reception. I would say I got about 2 - 4 times the range on a good day.

Unimpressed with the reception, I went out and put money down on a D-link antenna, which I connected to the Quicky. This means an upgrade in antenna size, of about 3 or 4 inches, about as round as your average Bic ink pen...to an antenna that was nearly about a foot tall, and about as round as 3 Bic pens taped together. A sizeable increase. This also increased my receptivity, from 2-4 times the average, to about 4-6 times.

So now I have an increase in receptivity that I would just say is better than nothing at all...still not what I need though.

PROBLEM: The Quicky recently stopped working. I plug it into the USB port, and the icon doesn't bounce and pop open the screen. Clicking on it and opening it that way = "No Device!" reading from the Quicky application.

TRIED: Tried other things on the USB ports and it works. So it's not the ports.

Tried uninstalling, and reinstalling from the disk that it came with.
Result: Nothing.

Tried: Every Driver download from the Quicky website.
Result: Nothing.

soooooo....It looks like I'm gonna have to send it back to them and have it repaired, or to send me a replacement or whatever.

Once that is handled:
What can I do to aquire the results I want as mentioned in the first posting I made?

Sorry if that was a long post...I can be long winded. Thank you for your time and feedback!
Use Apples System Profiler (Apple Menu -> About this Mac... -> More Info...) to see if the Quickly appears in the USB area. You can refresh from the Edit menu with it plugged in and out to see if it appears as anything. Failing that, I would return the unit for repair/replacement.