Introduction: Uni-Directional WIFI Range Extender

Picture of Uni-Directional WIFI Range Extender

Easily receive WIFI signals from far away using a standard USB WIFI adaptor and a bit of ingenuity. This Simple idea requires no modifications to a USB WIFI adaptor or your computer. A simple way to increase the signal strength and range of your WIFI. Plus it works with all USB WIFI adaptors

Step 1: Tools and Parts Needed

Picture of Tools and Parts Needed

You need only a few parts for this project and they all are pretty cheap except for the USB WIFI adaptor. ( I got mine on sale for $10, just check the ads)

1 - Metal Strainer/Steamer
1 - USB WIFI Adaptor
1 - USB Extension Cable (I chose a 10ft long)
½” Drill Bit (I like to use stepper bits for metal)
Gorilla Glue (Epoxy works well too)
2 - Zip Ties

Step 2: Drilling the Strainer/Steamer

Picture of Drilling the Strainer/Steamer

Remove the Center Post (If your's had one) and drill a 1/2" hole as that is perfect size to fit the usb extention.

Step 3: Glue and Zip-Ties

Picture of Glue and Zip-Ties

Insert the Female end of the USB extention (the part that doesnt connect to your computer) into the hole you just drilled.
Then just apply the glue/epoxy and let it sit for 24 hours. This Creates a strong bond between the plastic and metal. I used some tape to help hold the connecter in place while the glue cured. Be sure to apply glue to both sides of the connecter. Once thats dry the next day, zip tie 2 of the metal "ears" so they wont fold in on themselves when you use it.

Step 4: Finish

Picture of Finish

Just plug the USB WIFI adaptor into the socket on the dish and plug the other end into your computer. Enjoy boosted signal strength and improved distance. Fire up Netstumber or Kismet to really see the gain in power. This works even better than I thought it would. Be sure to leave your comments on how well it worked. Works great for war driving too.

Step 5: Update: Tripod Mount

Picture of Update: Tripod Mount

I decided to make the dish tripod mountable as its really hard to try and hold it to lock in a far away signal. The parts needed are pretty straight-forward.

Nut for the bolt on the tripod
9/32" Drill Bit (Stepper bit works really nice for enlarging the hole)

Pick a hole near the edge of the dish and use the drill bit to enlarge it. I chose the one where one of the feet had once been secured. Then just put the bolt from the tripod trough the hole and secure with the nut. Works great.


docman100 (author)2017-09-26

Can you use this for the phone (like it's plugged in to the laptop but also brings in wifi for the phone?)

uncfan (author)2015-01-23

Would this help boost the signal to my smart tv?

astral_mage (author)2014-03-30

haave u you check the mineral deposit in an around yr home at all. also u could have rf signals the are interfering with yr wifi. and or some 1 else is hooging yr band with on you. also check 4 competing wifi in an around yr home as well.

ladams36 (author)2014-03-18

Hi, I've got a ? About cell phone service. We live just on the edge of the Verizon tower range would something like this help with cell service? Any suggestions welcomed and thanks!

Naticris (author)2014-03-16

I bought the adapter and when I connected to the laptop, didn't increased the signal strength. I used to have one wireless icon in the tray of my laptop, now I have #1 and #2 icons, the strength is the same. The connection comes and goes. How this can improve the strength and not show the two icons? Thank you for any help

alesserivy (author)2012-11-05

Good instructable, it's always good to see peoples diy projects, everyone's unique way of looking at a problem, and implementing a solution.

This ones my personal favorite. Picking up signals from hundreds of feet away is cool. Picking up wifi from a couple miles out.


helllordkb (author)2012-05-28

Quick tip on this. The dish strainer is acting as a mirror/focusing the rf single for the usb wifi receiver, however since sits not actually connected to the antenna in the usb adaptor you only get some benefit. Some usb adaptors have an external antenna connector. They are usually RP-SMA, RP for reverse polarity, so the matching connector on the antenna you want to connect it to will need RP-SMA as well, unless you have an antenna wire to connect them with different types of connectors.

fivefingers (author)2009-02-02

this is amazing. but i was just wondering if this would work with a home wireless router setup. also, i want to know if you need to put the satellite with the wireless USB adapter near the window to increase reception.

anibioman (author)fivefingers2010-10-27

if your router has a removable antena then yes you can (in theory). if you can find a matching cable for the attachment for your antena, you can use it instead of the usb extender and have the original antena where the usb thing plugged in on the other side of the dish. i might not be making any sense so ill try a makeshift diagram

l router l=------cable------(---- antena

helllordkb (author)anibioman2012-05-28

Quick note here. The longer your antenna wire, the more noise you can introduce into the signal. And its alot easier using moving the router closer to the antenna and using longer ethernet cables then it is to filter out the noise. In addition even the antenna connectors can be noisy. you can get noise resistance or shielded antenna wire but it only does so much.

edrichhans (author)2011-05-04

can i ask what the zipties is for??


GmanM (author)edrichhans2011-09-11

Looking at the photo, you can see two small loops at the sides where the zip-ties are laced through the holes at the edges of two separate petals of the strainer. The effect is to lock the strainer into an open position.

In my experiments I found paper clips to be more convenient because I could remove them to close the strainer for travel.

Also, if need be, you can also use the zip-ties/paper clips to lock the shape of the dish into a different parabolic shape which may better focus the "hotspot" of the signal for a particular wifi adapter.

Remember, the strainer used as a parabolic focusing device can also be used to increase the signal of a bluetooth device or a cellular phone, so the adjustable aspect of the parabolic shape of the strainer makes for some good experiments.

I disagree with hard-mounting the USB cable of the wifi adapter to the center of the strainer. Instead the hole in the center strainer should be based on the width of the wifi adapter, or even better, based on a small piece of plastic tubing which the adapter can snuggly slide back and forth in.

How one would make the hole is up to the individual and the tools at hand, but making four cuts with a pair of tin snips and carefully bending the pie-shaped pieces with pliers to hold either the adapter or a two inch long plastic tube to mount the adapter into is not rocket science.

Not only does this allow for the adapter to be tuned for best signal strength, it also makes the unit very portable and easily dis-assembled, and preserves the wifi adapter and its USB cable in their original condition for other applications.


mhoffman52 (author)GmanM2012-02-23

Note you can do this with a female usb adaptor. Make it so it would fit in the center so both the adaptor and cable and be removed. Also you it would not damage either end.

FrozenIce (author)2012-01-21

real cool :) but does this make ur wifi signal larger or will it make how much ur computer recieves more?

lvraider3 (author)2012-01-11

Would you think something as simple as a soup can would work? I just was to be able to pick up reception a few hundred yards so I don't need something so strong. I'm pretty sure it would not have as much range as the dish-like strainer but would it still work? I don't know if the cylinder shape would affect the range or reception compared to that of a dish shape. Great Instructable!

tinyneutrino (author)2011-12-20

Only thing missing is the drivers to make it work on Linux systems. I can plug the usb in all day but without the driver to recognize it, it don't want to work...... Searching for drivers I constantly find ways to build the antenna, but no instructions on how to make it work....

94todd (author)2011-11-20

lol, is that a pampered chef strainer?

kaZantipman (author)2011-10-13

It's funny how did you make wifi extender from all this tools :)
I think it would be easier to buy adapter for example from wireless adapter reviews website. It's only cost 10-20$

H3xx (author)kaZantipman2011-10-16

That would defeat the purpose of this site. also, those cheap little omnidirectional boosters aren't nearly as strong as a cheaper, high end usb wifi adapter with a mono directional wave guide. One guy made a wifi connection from 128 miles away using a 12 foot dish. This should get you at least two miles.

wilgubeast (author)2011-09-19

Even a few years later, this project is still awesome. Thanks for sharing!

kazefal (author)2011-01-30

does it work???

mrob (author)kazefal2011-09-04

I just did what you said but used a pringles can an duct tape no drilling. I got internet now. I'm on it now. No signal before.

crazzy robot (author)2011-09-02

rubish its not free so tipe how to bulid a wifi hotspot that wifi is 100% free

shadow4742 (author)2011-05-21

Wouldn't you have to find where to parabolic's focus is instead of just randomly guessing as to where it is?

SeanPatrick (author)shadow47422011-06-15

It would maximize your reception to have the adapter right at the focus of the parabola but since this instructable uses a strainer you should be able to adjust the shape of the parabola instead. This way you can guess and check rather than doing any math. Not that there's anything wrong with math.

kaZantipman (author)2011-06-14

You can buy very powerful WIFI usb adapter for less then 15$.
My favorite is Alfa AWU

You can find various reviews of best usb adapters here

lukeford (author)2011-05-29

thank you i have been looking for that for a while now i have been seeing it around the internet

ourmoneypit (author)2010-04-08

This is a great 'ible.  If I had only seen this a year ago, I wouldn't have sent that old satellite dish to the scrapyard...

We regularly spend time at our cottage where we are internet-less.  As the crow flies, we are probably only about 1 km from an unsecured wifi network, but it is 10 minutes over rough roads, and it would be kinda obvious if we just parked outside.  We also have an antenna tower on that side of the house doing nothing, since we have satellite. 

Since I have a USB wifi adapter that's been sitting in a drawer doing nothing, I am definitely going to give this a try.  I would be willing to climb partway up the tower with my laptop to connect to the 'net occasionally to be able to download weather forecasts and download/upload e-mail when we're there for longer spells.  If it works, I'll post back with firmer data!  Wish me luck!

Slim49 (author)ourmoneypit2011-05-19

try making an Cantenna out of a 46 oz. juice can.
if the probe making & construction is troublesome & it is.
teh simpler way is to
just take the can & measure 1.24" from the cans rear. cut a slot your existing ubs donagal antenna fits tightly into. shove it up inside an 1" to 1.3".
you will need a short usb extender cable.
play with it to find the HOTSPOT. aim the can & you will be amazed at the improved signal!!! cost of a can of juice.
I have made several, gave to friends .
Mr steve

jb0579 (author)2010-07-03

I am dumb. Not in the literal sense, as my auditory and vocal capabilitites are abundantly adequate (even too adequate at times). I have a problem which I have ennumerated to hundreds of people who haven't been able to help, so I am going to try to posthere in hopes one of you kind folks'll help me. I w ill laud the person who can help!! I bought my mother DSL so the hotspot is at her house with a wifi capability, and we live about 200 ft apart. But my Sony Vaio VGN-NW310F only gets 1 bar - if that. So the first thing I bought was a Hawking HWUN3 high gain antenna that just unput into my USB. Didn't work - if anything it was worse, plus - their customer service at Hawking Technology is absolutley intolerably, insanely, inadequately, pitiful. So I returned it. It took them 5 minutes to charge my credit card when i bought it, and a month and a half to refund it - but i digress...... The Westell 327w router from the phone company had a puny antenna on it so i upgraded the antenna to a beefier Lynksys 7dBi high gain antenna hoping that I could improve from 1 wifi bar to at least 3. Didn't happen. I get 2 sometimes now, but rarely. The antenna was like $40 which is fine if further modifications suggested here will work in conjunction with it to solve the issue. Actually, the new Lynksys antenna ( model HGA7S) seems to be a good unit! Question is this...what can i buy, make, install, change, or whatever on a decent budget that will get me a better signal. I am willing to mount something outside, drill a hole in the house and run a USB cable inside if i have to - whatever is necessary. I did look at this: But it just doesn't seem adequate - unless there are people out there whi will testify that it works well... As far as line of sight goes - nope. There's a garage 'tween us, however, remember, I still get 2 bars (sometimes) with the new, beefy antenna on the router/modem thingy, AND, when the laptop was out of the boxand with the old puny antenna on the router I STILL got 1 or soemtimes 2 bars - even with no "clear" line of sight. If someone could please help I'd love you forever. Preferably, I'd love you to email me as it is easier for me to retrieve responses that way... it's (and that's a ZERO after the 'b', not the letter o). Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. i am a disabled vet and this laptop is one of the only things i have left - plus it's supposed to run med equipment - IF I CAN GET A DAMN SIGNAL! Someone, Jim 218-256-1135 cell 218-566-1135 home

Slim49 (author)jb05792011-05-19

you need a directional antenna.
go here:
good directions, I have made 6 of these biQuads. any metal will make a good back plate.
you need to get a reverse sma antemma extender cable, cut off the connector not needed & solder its end in the biquad. I use one on the distant computer to bump the signal up 3 bars. the garage is not much an issue.
My hawking tech usb antenna has a removal antenna. I just screw in the biquad & aim.
your router may have a larger connector, so buy the cable & solder it in.
teh biquad will boost singals thru the wall & thru a window is steller!
I have made ALL the various antennas. the single Bi-Quad is my Fav!
Mr Steve

YukonM (author)jb05792010-07-24

Jim, You have an interesting problem but you should be able to handle it. Have you tried sitting on the roof of the garage with your laptop? If that works then try mounting the Lynksys antenna on the roof of the garage and running some coaxial cable to it Do it temporarily with duct tape and whatever else you need to see if both you and your mother can connect to it. If you have only 200 ft between your computer and the router thenit seems to me that you should be able to connect to it without expensive modifications.

AmericanColleen (author)2011-04-02

I JUST got a strainer from my mom two weeks ago! Now I have something to do with it! Oooh, this is gonna be fun!

dwarren-1 (author)2011-03-07

that is awesome, im gonna go get a strainer and try it out.......wait a sec, I already got 2 WiFi networks at home. ill try it out anyway

jc penny (author)2010-11-02

what's war drive ?

SparkyGage (author)jc penny2010-12-04

"driving" or walking around looking for open wifi connections.

pvanheck (author)2010-11-04

I built one myself and have it suspended from a ceiling light fixture, it just about triples my signal and data rate from a home wifi router and I am 300 foot and several wall thickness between the line of sight.

GFriday (author)2009-10-15

Hi! I hate to appear stupid, but there's no way around it thistime...can this setup be used with a wireless router? I'd reallyappreciate some help with getting things right the first time! Thanx!

anibioman (author)GFriday2010-10-27

f your router has a removable antena then yes you can (in theory). if you can find a matching cable for the attachment for your antena, you can use it instead of the usb extender and have the original antena where the usb thing plugged in on the other side of the dish. i might not be making any sense so ill try a makeshift diagram

l router l=------cable------(---- antena

Kryptonite (author)GFriday2010-02-09

This would be a lot harder to be able to attach the antenna to the little dish, making it impractical. I do not think it would work very well, but you can try it!

XOIIO (author)GFriday2010-01-11

:But ther's no way around it this time" LOL! nice

SHIFT! (author)2010-09-23

This is my all time most favorite instructable! It's amazingly simple in design but oh so extremely effective! I built one from your plans a year ago and it works amazingly! Thanks so much for sharing this on the site!

GmanM (author)2010-03-21

Wow.. I am surprised to see this thread still er...steaming along.
It is a good place to start on a wi-fi extender project, with many more different examples shown at .

The problem I found with this particular setup is the hard mounting of the USB cable, which is not only unnecessary, but also may be placing the USB adapter out of the parabolic "hot-spot".
A quick and easy way to find the hot-spot is to cut a piece of paper to the curve of the dish, then take it outside and point it at the sun. The focused sunlight will show the parabolic hot-spot of that dish. (there is also a mathematical method to calculate the hot-spot at the site above)

I think it may have been more advantageous for this project to have hard mounted a piece of plastic tubing of the apporopriate diameter to allow the USB adapter and cable to snuggly slide in or out to adjust reception. 
This technique also would allow for further experiments with the same cable and adapter using other types of dishes.

Some photos and directions for the making of my variation of the (portable) wi-fi steamer can be seen in the comments at  (October 12 2006).
I found that the five foot cable attached to the base of the USB adapter, could not only be removed from the base, but it was made at a 90 degree angle to the cable which meant that drilling out the steamer was unnecessary. As luck would have it, I found that the tip of the USB adapter was perfectly matched to the hot-spot. (beginners luck) All I needed to do was zip-tie the USB adapter and cable to the steamer and it was good to go, and totally portable. I even fashioned a spring tension coat-hanger base which held it open and allowed it to sit-up straight. (if I hung the steamer with a hook from its top, the petals stayed open by gravity)

When hung from the raingutter outside of my window, depending on which direction it faced the setup worked well enough to receive 17 to 20 wi-fi networks in my neighborhood, several of which were not password protected. I suppose that if it were mounted to a pole extending above the roof which could be rotated, I would receive many many more networks.
I had similar results in Bangkok, and elsewhere on the road. Just remember that your reception is always based on line of site.

As I said, this project by tm36usa is a good starter, and from there you will find other useful dishes/strainers/steamers/reflectors etc to play with.
I found a clamp-on work light with an aluminum reflector which works awesome for extending the reception of my home wi-fi network from three bars (very good), to five bars (excellent). This is through several walls and a distance of about 60 feet from the network router.

The veggie steamer has moved-on to its next job, as base station for my cell phone. My cell phone reception inside my home has always been terrible, one to two bars at best.
I mounted a piece of a coat hanger with a loop at its end to the center post of the steamer, and hung the steamer on the wall facing my window. Then, I hung the phone by its antenna from the wire loop and presto, four out of four bars reception! If I get a call, as long as I am in front of the dish the phone works great.
The nice thing is that if I take a trip, I can re-rig the steamer for wi-fi duty in about five minutes.
So again, if you want to do this project, think about hard mounting a piece of plastic tubing to the steamer instead of the female USB cable end, and you will likely find you can use the same tube/cable/USB adapter combination with other types of parabolic dishes too.
Have fun experimenting.
Thanks again tm36usa for this instructable, and thanks again Manuka for the great ideas at the site.


Splash Wounds (author)GmanM2010-05-06

would using a antenna rotator with this? (I don't know what they are called exactly, we just called them rotors.)

GmanM (author)Splash Wounds2010-07-25

Sorry Splash Wounds for the delay, Yes, an antenna rotator would have worked well for tuning puposes. However, my experiments were strictly to test the theory, and not intended to be a permanent fixture meant to leech internet service from my neighbors. Having a dish of some sort mounted on a pole is not exactly invisible, not to mention that your traffic may show up in a temp file of some sort on their computer. It is also known that many people who leave their wireless networks unprotected may be like spiders in a web preying on unsuspecting borrowers of their wifi signal, be careful as far as personal information. One of the things I liked about the veggie strainer was its portability. There are places where you may be legally using a wifi hotspot where the dish can significantly improve signal strength, because it can be aimed. I bet if you were in a city environment and you were to go up on the roof of a tall building, you would be amazed at how many wireless networks you would see listed, dozens and dozens, even if most were password protected, I would imagine you could find a few which were not. To extend the range of my wifi at home, I prefer to use a clamp-on worklight with an aluminum reflector (the one with the dark brown plastic light fixture body, not the metal body). All you do is remove the light socket by unscrewing the retainer on the inside of the reflector, pull the socket out and unscrew the wires, and then unscrew the back side of the plastic light-socket body. What remains is the part of the socket body the clamp is attached to. Roll up the female end of your USB wifi adapter cable inside some cardboard, or a plastic tube which fits the socket body snuggly, and then slide it into the socket body. Take the reflector outside with a piece of paper, aim it at the sun and hold the paper inside the center of the dish. The sunlight focused inside of the dish should light up the "hotspot" of that particular dish shape on the piece of paper, and that is the spot you want the last inch or so of your USB wifi adapter to be positioned. Attach the USB adapter to the female end of the USB cable which is at the end of the rolled up cardboard or plastic tube, and slide the rolled up carboard in or out of the light-socket body to position the USB adapter in the hotspot and Bob's yer uncle. Should take all of 20 minutes maximum to assemble. Not quite as portable as the veggie strainer, but should work very nicely nonetheless. Cheers GmanM

Planet_Jeroen (author)2010-04-08

I have seen a lot of antennas that are supposed to be easy to build etc. etc.

This is still the ultimate winner for both simplicity and gain:

Asmodeous (author)Planet_Jeroen2010-06-05

This did nothing for my network.

Planet_Jeroen (author)Asmodeous2010-06-05

It enables me to use internet through 4 concrete walls and boosts the 5Mbps connection to across the street to 54Mbps here. I did make it on A3 sized paper tho (twice the original size) and used quite a few layers of foil.

Kryptonite (author)2010-05-18
guineapig101 (author)2010-05-17

anyone know if this works for traveling with a notebook?

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