Instructables

Use a Satellite Dish to Improve Your 3G Wireless broadband Signal

While looking for a faster alternative to dial-up, (that's all you can get where I live in Western NY) I found a wireless provider that supplies a 3G wireless modem that claimed a 1.5 Mbps download speed. Now, I thought this was great until I got it home and realized it was more like 300kbps with the bad signal I was getting. That's when I began looking for a cheap fix for my problem and came upon an old satellite dish. These instructions will help you outfit a dish to accept your modem and supply weather proofing techniques to keep your modem dry. Please note that all dishes are not the same, you may need to variate this design to suit your dish type. You may also need to change the design depending on what carrier or model of modem you use. I used the UM100C modem from Cricket Wireless Broadband. Outfitting a dish with my modem only got me an additional signal bar, but increased my download speed even more than when i have %100 signal.

 
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Step 1: Angles and Preparing Your Dish

Picture of Angles and Preparing Your Dish
First you will need to remove the pickup from the dish and discard it, it is not used. The modem will take its place. Please make note of the angle of the pickup to the angle of the dish, you will need to maintain this angle when you attach your modem.

Step 2: Making the Mount for Your Modem

This is where you might need to get creative. The mounting bracket on my dish is a 3/4" by 1 1/2" rectangular tubing, but yours may differ. I simply used a piece of wood the same dimensions and inserted into the hollow tubing, and secured it with a screw through the bottom of the tubing. Then you will need to screw a piece of wood to the piece of wood inserted into the tubing, to form a ninety degree angle. What you should have is an L shaped piece that fits well inside the mounting bracket on your dish (refer to picture below).
ddown12 years ago
hey im probably a bit late to ask this question but is there a way to keep my modem inside and have a cable running outside to the dish

because i dont like the idea of mounting my modem onto the dish so can i just attach a cable to the dish or do i have to put the modem outside
Gathrax (author) 4 years ago
I would like to say that i posted this project without checking if there were similar ones already (there are). Some of these delve deeper into this type of antenna and have additional info like wavelength, frequency, and other contibuting factors. You might want to check out these for more info.
 I bought this cable from a website, not sure where though, but before that I used a spliced cable like that posted by Berserk87.
I have a Sprint modem and found this site to be most helpful for finding antennas and cables-
http://3gstore.com/index.php?main_page=index&zenid=pjplen8fq5s0r5qaep840ntvg1

I actually bought my antenna and adapter from a Petro truck stop about 20 miles from my home for less than I could have online,$47, and there was no shipping fee.  It had a 10 foot antenna lead. You can buy additional lengths on eBay, or 3gstore,, but it affects your speed the longer the run is.
http://www.wilsonelectronics.com////ViewProductB.php?ID=1

I attached the modem to a cradlepoint router to share the signal with 8 other computers.( Mostly Macs and a Tivo or 2)  I ran this set up for 3 years straight, 24/7 with no downtime. Weather never affected it, and the antenna was an omni directional type, so no tuning was required. It worked perfectly, but the old modem had a battery, and last week the lithium battery puffed up and
it won't work without a battery.

I was off contract by now, so I went to BestBuy and got upgraded to a new modem that doesn't need a battery for no money, just another 2 year agreement.

I found a new antenna connector on eBay for $10, and it was delivered by Wed. of last week and I am back in business.
joypad4 years ago
Question.
where can you find an extension cable that long?
 from the picture it looks like the modem is connected through usb, which only has 4 connections.
So if you have some wire and basic soldering skills you should be able to make one quite easily.
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