Instructables

"Poorman's WiFi"- USB adapters & DIY cookware reflectors!

Picture of
We've reached an age when internet access & email should be available for everyone AS A RIGHT. Aside from obvious educational benefits, the ability to port audio, phone calls,messages & even video helps banish the tyranny of isolation & ignorance. Better informed people make for a happier world...

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.

'Check further DIY pictorial details & test results at our EXTREMELY popular "WokFi" resource site !
 
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Step 1: Inbuilt laptop WiFi may only be useful with strong nearby APs

Picture of Inbuilt laptop WiFi may only be useful with strong nearby APs
Laptop inbuilt WiFi may be "screened"- roving USB adapters help find "sweet spots"

Step 2: Parabolic Asian cookware!

Picture of Parabolic Asian cookware!
Reflective devices for 2.4 GHz WiFi abound- pot lids,sieves,lamp shades etc! Asian cookware is sturdy,cheap & easily modified

Step 3: High school level parabolic maths & a tape measure IDs prospective cookware !

Picture of 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

Picture of The profile of promising parabolic reflectors can be matched to a hanging chain
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

Picture of Reflecting sunshine to the parabolic
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!

Picture of Support the USB WiFi adapter & lead  with a cheap garden hose connector!
Support the USB WiFi adapter & lead with a cheap garden hose connector!

Step 7: Suits site survey auditing!

Picture of Suits site survey auditing!
Done- suits site survey auditing!

Step 8: Portable or indoor use- simple supports.

Picture of Portable or indoor use- simple supports.
Portable or indoor use- simple supports.
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sal8764 years ago
this is usefull once you have connected :
http://wireless.comxa.com/index.php/wireless-repeater
sn00ze sal8763 years ago
rovasapyan3 years ago
I have tried many many wifi adapters.....and I can say one thing for sure...
..I don't know about you guys, but for me UAWIFI UA3 usb adapter is the BEST.
No other adapter can compare to this baby, it is VERY powerful.
There are few people sell them on ebay, but I got mine directly from mft. website www.uawifi.com price is same.
I also know that it is Made in USA, so at least by buying it I am supporting US workers.
UAWIFI-UA3-Rugged-USB-WiFi-1.jpgUAWIFI-UA3-Rugged-USB-WiFi3.jpgUAWIFI-UA3-Rugged-USB-WiFi.jpg
manuka (author)  rovasapyan3 years ago
This is not an adapter I've tested, but at it's quoted US$99 one would certainly hope it cuts the mustard!
Muzhik3 years ago
I wonder if keeping the foil on would improve the signal strength? It could only be used inside, but it might be worth experimenting with.
manuka (author)  Muzhik3 years ago
If the mesh gaps are better than ~ 1/10 a wavelength it makes no real difference. At 2.4 GHz this translates to about ½ inch ( ~ 12.5mm) minimum hence- anything better than that will be "seen" as a solid screen by the RF. Naturally more open designs are lighter & far less wind prone too.
cool, now if your poor you can steal internet! :-P Most buisness'es have encryption, and some houses to (most dont) so if you live in a city or semi- packed area you can get free internet :-P! great instructable!
I like steeling Internet
Make sure not to use aluminium woks then!
sn00ze3 years ago
more information on getting the focal point or 'hotspot' right, and more images: http://urbanwireless.info/antennas/dish-with-usb-feed/
I used an old dish network dish and installed the usb adapter in the old lna tube. this works great but make sure to adjust the dish to horizontal you don't need the angle up. the higher you go up with your dish the better and you can turn 180 in either direction usually you can pick up 5 to 20 free internet points.
wgrube3 years ago
Hey! Great job!
Some suggestions to this topic:
You can easily build your own parabolic dish with cardboard with glued tin foil on it. There's a diagram somewhere on the web, you only have to print it on a A4 paper, cut the cardboard following the lines, glue the tin foil and mount it on the router's antenna. It works nice, but I would use a wok for better durability. Also I would connect the ground wire from the usb cable to the dish. This improves the shielding.
Modifying the laptop's antenna is also an option like in:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Dell-Laptop-WI-FI-High-Gain-Antenna-Mod-Increase--1/
I'm looking for a circuit to measure signal strangth in the WiFi range, this would be nice to adjust the correct bearing of the dish. I'll let you know...
JTomM1293 years ago
Wow - love this! How about all the sat-dish LNA's you don't have to send back when you stop your dish service? You have that nice 18 inch dish and exact focal length (Plus a nice heavy-duty mounting system that looks like about a million others and does not call attention to itself). Just pull out the original LNA unit and replace with the USB WiFi and reaim at the best hot spot . . .
diannagail3 years ago
I can't get high speed where I live. It's crazy because it is literally all around me but as they came down a street toward my place they made a right at the street just before mine and went three miles out to a remote area of homes. I have been told there is no way they can get a signal to me unless I'm willing to put in the lines .2 of a mile down my road at my own cost. Give me a break! There are three of us on this street and we think we deserve what everyone around us has for free. I am ready to go out and get it for myself 'for free'. Is this what this device is?
well, if we're going to postulate that good (and necessary) things should be given out as rights...I claim the right to have sex with Angelina Jolie -- unless she has crabs as claimed by South Park.

It really is necessary, I swear!

oops forgot to mention - I freely share my wi-fi. So if you're in Morrow GA USA look up free_da_net.

Just becuz I'm a nice guy!
Just to help out, Did you know that people can get your classified information from using your wifi network?
thecensor4 years ago
Is the Asian Cookware better then a strainer? if so, by how much?

Thanks
Danny
chrism82d4 years ago
 Wow, very inspiring and inventive. I'm going to make a list and buy stuff tonight. Thank you for mentioning formulas needed to figure concentration point. Most don't mention it and I wouldn't have thought of it.
sameheddy5 years ago
help me my usb wire when i long it it doesn't recognize the device - how can i fix that- i think it needs more power
Hey sameheddy, I used a USB/CAT5 extender when using my poor-man's wifi setup (it requires no power and can extend up to ~50m)... I bought one but I think there is a instructable here if you are keen to make your own.
get a powered hub, or maybe you can find some way to reduce the voltage drop by using two or more cables to carry power. those things use alot of power
charlieb0004 years ago
i looked on the site but couldnt find it, on one image (usbscoop) it says 0.1 (percent??) minimum wavelength and wavelength is 125mm so what is the minimum size holes in the dish for a certain freq? or is it a case of the more whole the dish is, the better?
michael_2855 years ago
I agree with you on how Internet should be free by now cause of how dependent we have become on it. I am a little behind the learning curve of what Wi-Fi is and how to use it what one need to connect ones computer to use it. Can you sujest a good sorce to refere to? To get me up to speed and save me alot of money not buying extra junk and gadgets I don't need.
agis685 years ago
GENIUS.......and Simple....5/5
wurlybird95 years ago
very nice instructable! good pics and annotations
Oh!! So great!! Thanks for all.
xjessie0075 years ago
Something related to access points. Not even those that are encrypted are safe. There can be found many tutorials on the web that explain how to get the WEP key. Here are a few examples:

How to crack WEP encryption (wifi security)

How to break MAC filtering (wifi security)
themonkeyz6 years ago
Well my access point is open while still isolated from my wired network. Anyway I've got a 200gb cap.. And my neighbor was very happy to be able to use it while waiting for his line to get connected. If everyone would do this it would just be awesome.
pretty soon the FAA is gonna come banging on your door because airplanes are falling out of the sky from this!
Gavabc1236 years ago
cool my laptop (eee pc) can pick up wi fi signals from about 100metres away
dollariipe6 years ago
Ok, I'll take that back that's pretty cool...
dollariipe6 years ago
LOL
kakashii6 years ago
how can i use one antenna with three pc/laptops and have each computer pickup a different or same signal! i can't get any hot spot range without teh antenna!
kakashii6 years ago
als have a qustion about a post called: How-To: Build a WiFi biquad dish antenna. question: I'm curious to know why is it necessary to remove the LNB from the dish? Wouldn't the LNB work like a can?
iKiLLdJFK6 years ago
I have hurd of people getting 10k off these things. i also read an article on San In San Francisco USA, There is a WAN (Wide Area Network) that is free and public based with no restrictions!. Free internet, LAN Games, File Sharing, No Fees!, and its all free!. Streaming DVD, Video Files, TV, Music is also Something that could be looked at once the network is hooked up?. Free Voip could also be intergrated (Internet/network phone calls).
The problem is getting the coverage for such a project for this to work. we need people and resources. People can also donate any amount of bandwidth to share on the network (i.e. 1gig or more?). Coverage could be overcome with the concept of WokFI as seen here http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz/ I think these small ideas can be the building blocks of a free network without the extreme regulations of a professionally run network.

Auckland wide Wifi Network? anyone keen? or have ideas to expand on this?
finnegan196 years ago
I have a MacBook Pro, and was wondering if I could still use this set-up to enhance or instead of my built-in airport? Thanks!
jaadmc6 years ago
i have a D-link range boosterG desk top adapter and a D-link 7dBi omni directional high gain indoor antenna. Would i be able to some how use your idea with this type of antenna??? or does it only work for the usb type antenna??? thanks
manuka (author)  jaadmc6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
josefy manuka6 years ago
Manuka, first of all thank you for sharing your experiences. I thought I would share my experimenting also. I have had a different experience. That is, more APs at lower levels. Most houses in my neighborhood, SW Minneapolis are the same level ranches. I have gone up on roofs and aimed the antenna around, but have had the best luck mounting it under the eve of my house. I have a homemade usb with a parabola reflector. Your terrain may be ideal, houses of different levels sending signals over neighboring rooftops.
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