In regions without a wired LAN infrastructure, 2.4GHz IEEE802.11b/g "WiFi" increasingly allows a attractive datacomms pathway at modest end user & setup cost. However (given successful WiFi links are still rather a black art!) it'll be the boring things which will limit success,blow budgets & frustrate. And by boring we mean costly copper cables, specialised connectors, aluminium sections & plates, plastic housings, sturdy fasteners,mount poles etc. Allow $$$ ...
As part of an altruistic 2004 NZ student project,it was realised cheap USB WiFi adapters, in conjunction with reflective parabolic cookware, could offer a cost effective workaround. The USB approach appealed since -
- All the microwave-data decoding is done right in the USB "key", so no cable losses occur.
- Regular cheap USB extension cables (to some 5m) & connectors can be used to locate signal localised sweet spots, perhaps with auditing software such as Netstumbler.
- USB "keys" are cheap (~US$10),although their power output may be low (~40mW).
- Easy swap outs for testing assorted reflectors & adaptors results.
- The USB keys can readily be mounted at the focal point of suitable parabolic reflectors, yielding gains of ~12dB at little cost with just cookware,sieves,woks or the like. Such gains can extend line of site (LOS) ranges to several km.
Step 1: Inbuilt Laptop WiFi May Only Be Useful With Strong Nearby APs
Step 2: Parabolic Asian Cookware!
Step 3: High School Level Parabolic Maths & a Tape Measure IDs Prospective Cookware !
Step 4: The Profile of Promising Parabolic Reflectors Can Be Matched to a Hanging Chain
Step 5: Reflecting Sunshine to the Parabolic "hotspot" Also Helps Locate the Focal Point
Step 6: Support the USB WiFi Adapter & Lead With a Cheap Garden Hose Connector!
Step 7: Suits Site Survey Auditing!
Step 8: Portable or Indoor Use- Simple Supports.
Step 9: Boutique Version- Flexible Lamp Stand. (Netstumbler Shows ~12dB Gain = 4x Range!)
Step 10: Long Range Work (wok?) May Now Be Possible- Typically Maxing at 3-5km Line of Sight (LOS)
Step 11: Weather Proofing? Perhaps a Wide Mouth Baby's Bottle?!
Step 12: Smartphone Based Site Surveying?
With today's smartphone abundance, perhaps use a free app. like "WiFi Analyzer" to survey signal coverage and monitor dish enhancements.