Introduction: Usb Wifi Antenna

Picture of Usb Wifi Antenna

this is the 1st. version of my usb wifi antenna. it has been inspired by:

i did not have immediate access to "Chinese parabolic cookware" however i will use one next time. instead,i used an eight inch strainer , without the strainer i do not get a signal in my house. this entire instructable has been uploaded via the strainer/usb antenna.

Step 1: Purchase Usb Wifi

Picture of Purchase Usb Wifi

i used the belkin wireless G usb adapter. it comes with a base and some cable.

Step 2: Purchase Strainer

Picture of Purchase Strainer

this one is an 8 inch strainer with a handle.

Step 3: Make Hole in Strainer

Picture of Make Hole in Strainer

Step 4: To Get a Better Signal Push It in About Half Way!!!

Picture of To Get a Better Signal Push It in About  Half Way!!!

Step 5: Connect to Friends

Picture of Connect to Friends

i am getting this signal from across a river.


Hypoherald (author)2017-11-04

I opened up a Tenda USB wifi card that plugs in with no extension cable, drilled a 1/16th hole in the plastic cover, soldered a single speaker wire (about six feet long) to the tiny circuit board squiggly antenna, ran the wire through the hole and closed it again. Luckily my living room window faces an xfinity hotspot. From my desk by the window, with the wire taped to the top of the window, my signal strength went from one bar to the max. If anyone know the frequencies for xfinity wifi signals I could probably trim the antenna length to get even better reception.

treii28 (author)2016-08-09

But uh, the antenna in a dongle like that tends to be essentially a coil printed on the PCB. Meanwhile, the shield of the USB connector that is basically electrically tied to your strainer is usually tied to the system ground.
Ever hear of a Faraday cage??

seth1510 (author)2015-08-26

MuhammadT9 (author)2015-04-24

i thinks its not better idea.................................. dufer

GorillazMiko (author)2013-01-24

Do you think this would work with a mini USB wifi adapter & a USB extension cord?


244 Jake (author)2012-02-25

Any comment for using the same idea for SMS - SIM chip modems. 3G stuff. I need a anttenna booster for mine.

Big Jake

TheITSystem (author)2012-02-25

That's just RAD!

simple_punk88 (author)2008-07-17

hey guys...i have made an antenna using a mesh drainer about 8 inches, i added some pictures and i added a 10 ft usb extention with a linksys WUSB54GC connected to the center of the bowl...and i don't get ANY gain at there a proper way to place the USB dongle...does it HAVE to have direct contact with the mesh...???? i added a 5onz baby bottle to prevent wetting when raining occurs... please help...have a couple of connections around i would like to improve the reception i also have copper wire....i heard that helps sending radio it good to recieve wireless AP better??? (if it can good...i wasted money buying a useless 25ft copper wire....LOL)

Did you use a powered USB extender cable? There will be signal loss with a normal passive cable.

runganwt (author)simple_punk882008-07-17

Hi Punk_88, There are a formula to calculate where you should put your dongle. It's a relationship between the curve of your dish ( of cause "mesh drainer" ). Try google "poor-man antenna" you will find it. good luck.

n3glv (author)runganwt2008-12-09

My favorite for lampshades and such (anything even remotely shiny) is just go out in the sun and aim the face of the dish toward the sun, measure the bright spot in the center with a stick. (In theory could also use a small flashlight bulb in a darkened room, while aiming the reflector at a light colored wall and peaking the pattern)

frollard (author)simple_punk882008-07-20

From how flat that dish looks, it would seem that it needs to be further away from the dish to be in the focal point.

The dish is not receiving the signal, its bouncing it into the built-in antenna
its making a uni-directional receiver a directional receiver. If your usb dongle is too deep, i.e. not in the focal point, the amplified signal is simply missing the receiver.

wombat7 (author)simple_punk882008-07-18

use "netstumbler" it will show you the signal strength on a graph. move the dongle in and out untill you get the best signal. good luck!

henyobarker (author)2008-12-27

Hi Just wondering could this work with a nintendo ds wifi to improve it? please email me or post the answer here at cheers henry!

i got the same problem any ideas anyone??

I use a small reflector like this to extend the range of a portable USB wireless speaker and it did improve the distance, so yes, it will work.

BTW, it's only nice to get answers to your questions posted here rather than asking to have them emailed to you. Other people are probably having the same questions you are and would like to find the answers also.

bluemeanie (author)2010-08-17

I have a 14" metal bowl. Could I tape the wireless card to the bottom of the bowl and it boost the signal you think?y

keebmn82 (author)bluemeanie2010-08-27

It might help some, but it would do much better if it was held out 4 to 5 inches. I used a wok lid and the pringles can combined with a paint roller (like in the parabolic microphone hack). Works great. I tried it with the can alone and with the lid alone and then together and that's what works best for me. Im pulling in a signal from about 400 feet away.

everyones a chump (author)2008-08-08

I don't know a whole lot about wifi signals, but what i do know is that you can use paper to direct a signal. That being said, the bottle over the dongle could be blocking your signal. Wifi signals are easily directed and blocked.

n3glv (author)everyones a chump2008-12-09

Paper? I think you are referring to the articles where they used ALUMINUM BACKED paper. And while some plastics and rubbers can act "funny" at microwave signals (sometimes in a GOOD WAY) in this case, probably not. So, who's a chump?

digitrunner (author)n3glv2010-03-22

A paper one would work great with an origami PC lol :P

everyones a chump (author)n3glv2008-12-09 You can make one of these out of paper, it works.

n3glv (author)everyones a chump2008-12-10

So if you have an AP in your house, snatch one of your cookie sheets and get out the tin snips =), just don't get caught by Mom :-( Actually you can make this reflector from just about anything. People have made good ones from Pringles cans, large tin cans, wire screen, aluminum sheet, and tin roofing material. Any flat metal surface or screen, even tinfoil taped to cardboard will work. You can build one of these in less than a half an hour using an old shoe box and a roll of tin foil.
I don't know about you, but does TIN SNIPS or TINFOIL TAPED TO CARDBOARD sound like plain paper?

Now, about that CHUMP comment?

haha whatever dude, i didnt even read that page, i assumed it was the same one i read another time but its not. U can make one out of paper and it does work just look it up instead of slamming me haha cause i don't care enough to look for you. (Maybe you don't know how to use google? It is simple just type in what your looking for, oh and spelling is important usually, ok also in case you didnt no google is

wq2315563 (author)2010-03-21


Bardouv (author)2010-03-10

I have a large, mesh satellite dish that used to supply my T.V. It is probably 5-10 feet across. I was wondering if I could use this as a wifi antenna. My only main concern is that, even though it is motorized, it isn't very positionable. It is also cemented into the ground, not that I think I could move something that big. But do you think it would give me good enough signal to overcome the mobility issues?

bwpatton1 (author)2009-09-20

Hey! I have a wifi stick just like that, though I am contemplating what to do with it, because I used wired for everything and all the laptops are wireless Good Idea, I might try this, see just how far I can go from the router, hehe

Foaly7 (author)2009-08-11

does the little USB stand there only work for the wi-fi drive?

awkrin (author)2008-06-11

I have a one about like that. it's belkin f5d7051. I actually bought it when my family moved to Ireland, in the city center and I was almost sure I would find an unprotected network. well there were about 15 protected network (about 5 with wpa). I really wanted to get free internet, so I spent hours looking for a driver or something(I have legal internet now) to make it work with aircrack or something. any suggestions?

krimlon (author)awkrin2008-07-05

try looking for backtrack 3 linux it basically designed for hacking.

awkrin (author)krimlon2008-07-10

so it's a live cd... I can't download now cuz I downloaded a lot this month and I only have around 250 mb left, but thanks

Suicide_Mouse (author)awkrin2008-09-27

I would boycott your ISP... Screw Caps. I have Bell, in Canada, and I have an "unlimited service (No caps)" but they throttle the hell out of Bittorrent protocol and I think I've heard that they actually do have caps (my memory is a little fuzzy), even on their "unlimited" service so I'm switching. Why pay for something you're not getting? Obviously I don't know what your ISP "plan" is but I suggest not supporting any ISP that limit's your download capacity unless that restriction was VERY clear when you bought their service. Actually, scratch that, why support it at all? If nobody pays ISPs with capped/throttled bandwidth, they'll stop doing it. Think about it. If say 20-30% stop paying for it now, they will raise the prices of their services due to loss in profit. When the prices are raised, people who were annoyed by the caps/throttling, but not enough to ditch them previously, will now likely be annoyed enough to ditch them. That would leave maybe about 60%-50% of their clients, that would simply be unacceptable to the ISP so they change their mind and get rid of their deconstructive restrictions or they get replaced by an ISP who doesn't have them. This would then, hopefully, teach other ISPs to immediately drop their restrictions. This plan would best be executed on a large ISP first, no use killing off small ISPs leaving only the influential ones and making the monopoly even worse. Yes, it's radical. Yes, it may not work as planned. BUT, yes, it can work. Anyways, I'm ranting, hopefully someone will see the sense in what I say.

Pixels303 (author)Suicide_Mouse2009-07-27

Catchy isn't it. Advertise a service as unlimited and have a service and use agreement which restricts and limits you from using the service. I remember a time when Telus bundles a modem with a 3 year contract agreement to users which stated that they must use that modem. However the modem they provided failed to be equipped with UPNP or a firewall setup. It left the end-user not being able to have access to port forwarding thus being unable to run any program on the internet which required a active connection protocol using TCP or UDP ports. And Shaw cable systems packet filtering users against using FTP or Torrent protocols, and blocking access to known sites which encourage downloads. All in all, there is no contract that states what your rights are in using thier service and they can at any time restrict usage however they want without any recourse. With Telus is even worse if you got suckered into a long term contract with their limited "Unlimited" internet. No boycott will do anything. The telecommunication industry is monopolized and the providers know this. They don't need to be honest with their profit machine.

mahabad1972 (author)2009-05-22

HI can you use satellite dish to make this wifi antena

DigitalDemolition (author)2009-02-20

i went out got myself the linksys wusb600n usb wifi adapter(80$ but you could probably use a cheaper one),its two channels 2.4 ghz,and 5.4 ghz(also it uses mimo technology), i got myself a gold plated 35$ usb male/female extender,some tinfoil,uber duct tape,christmas tree leg stands from a tree stand,a cd-r stand/holder,some skateboard wheels(for weights because of heavy winds) and a plastic food dish, i went from a horrible 10% connection(rarely..RARELY connecting)to a 26% signal of wich i am having right at this moment.also i use this in a outdoors environment! for proof of this take a look at my site!!! because it will show you EXACTLY how i built this BEAST.


I made something similar using a styrofoam plate and aluminum foil nearly doubled my reception

octavian234 (author)2009-03-09

I was thinking about building a huge dish for my usb wifi dongle. i was thinking about making it out of aluminim foil its goin to be 3 feet wide. to get the best signal how curved should i make it? I need to make the aluminum foil as unwrinkled as possible right? If i do build this will it make a dramatic increase in my signal strength

catdaddyo (author)2009-03-03

try using a lampshade. I'm still workin on my model. take a shop at it. I'LL UPDATE WITH MY PROGRESS.

lugwrench (author)2009-01-30

Just picked up a SS bowl at the 99cent store 4 2 bucks. Wainting 2 see how it works.

catsnw (author)2009-01-06

how far do these work (author)2008-03-19

I've been reading a LOT of this WiFi stuff here on our extraordinary and was wondering if anyone has tested the strainer method against the coffee can or pringles method and also against using an old directv satellite and such. Which one would give me the best reception? I'm guessing the satellite dish but I am new to this. TIA!

n3glv (author)Body4Change.com2008-12-09

The "coffee can" style requires a driven element, so do yagi's (that's a chunk of wire to you and me) The 1/4 wave or better antenna on a usb dongle is a pattern on the pc board. So, we are relegated to the reflectors and such that are being discussed here. If one has a card with an antenna jack you can buy a "pigtail" and go down the horn (can) route, and get great results, also using a simple can (tuna can size) and a figure 8 shaped wire inside to "illuminate" a dish can be real hot setup. All of this is FAR more expensive and time consuming. (Yagi's are pretty easy, but again, more skill and those pesky , expensive parts.)

grisgris2112 (author)2008-05-31

I have a good one for ya'll, while searching for an old strainer something caught my eye. I had one of those disposable aluminum foil turkey pans left over from Thanksgiving and I thought well I'll give it a shot "can't hurt to try" since I didn't have to spend any money and it was a cheap old thing anyway. Now the things not round, but I got a really good boost in my signal. Worked well for me without any modifications and real easy to work with since it's aluminum foil already.

n3glv (author)grisgris21122008-12-09

What we are looking for is improvement. This can be called gain. But it can also be a reduction in unwanted signals, therefore making the desired signal easier to use. It's called signal to noise ratio. Even a simple reflector on the unused or unwanted direction can result in a real improvement. (A few db anyway)

Peng (author)2008-08-21

great info here... is it possible to construct an antenna for a pc card type wifi adaptor to passively boost the signal?

n3glv (author)Peng2008-12-09

Yes, dozens if not hundreds of web pages. I had best results with the one called "nallys beef stew cantenna" you can find via google. You'll need a cable (called a pigtail usually) and basic measuring and soldering skills. I built something like the nally one and got tremendous results.

uptheground (author)2007-11-08

I have this useless Dish Network Antenna, do you think it will work with the USB WiFi adapted to it?

Gksarmy (author)uptheground2008-08-13

ohhh i want it... lol, i mean, everyone's using asian cookware, i want an old satelite dish! stuff specifically set up to recieve and send signals...woot! course i've got a pretty ghetto set up right now, but that's just me XD

n3glv (author)Gksarmy2008-12-08

HI Gksarmy,
I'm new to this site, but been a ham for over 20 years, and into microwave
communications as high as 10.5ghz band. (so 2.4 was no challenge)
There are TONS of how-to's etc on the web but you need to know a few things
about your would-be sat dish conversion.
1 unless it's a solid metal dish, the mesh material inside needs to be smaller perf
than 1/10th of a wavelength. And the surface accuracy also needs to be near
that tolerance or losses will be incurred. (that is mighty tight, since 1/4 wavelenth is about 1.8737 cm)
The other thing is that you will need to figure out the focus if there is not a feed
horn arrangement there. If so, you sill will need some kind of horn arrangement
so that you "illuminate" just the are of the dish, most of these things are going
to radiate semi-spherically and you would need to figure out a way to do this.
Having said this, just about anything parabolic or even roughly parabolic
will result in gain. That can be the curve of the domed lid or even the end of
a rural Propane Tank (the submarine looking ones) Or a "snow saucer" sled.
One of my favorite sites for usb wifi homebrew is
These guys have close to 100 projects from cookware to strainers to converted
fans and umbrellas! It's tons of fun, my best-favorite system uses a 10.5inch
"clamp light" from Home Depot, and a chunk of foam rubber and a usb-extension
to make this just unscrew the back of the switch/bulb assembly and remove
the guts. Mount the clamp and screw on the reflector. Shove the extension cable
in from the back, and wrap the foam around just behind the metal of the usb.
Pull backwards till near flush and insert the wifi dongle. Point at a known signal
and adjust for peak on the bar graph. Tada, total build time 5min or less.
Anyone would would care to chat live, and join #voipcoop
I'm usually there. (I'm a phone/asterisk nut these days)
Best wishes and happy wifi-ing
de Jeff Kephart

Foxtrot70 (author)uptheground2008-11-11

You bet that will work! I have a data card on cellular service I live in a rural area in central Iowa. You might ask where is Iowa? Well, first is almost God's Country, second if you take a map of the US mount it on a wall and back up about 20' and throw a dart in the middle of the map most likely you'll hit Iowa. I digress, at my location I am 6 miles from the nearest Cell site and my signal strength is -124dbm, not enough to activate the receivers at the tower. When I use my old Dish Network 500 dish with a bowtie antenna mounted inside a oval sardine can at the location where the LNB once was my signal increases to -89dbm. On other item the dish is inside my house looking thru a 6" wall! I am in the process of modifying the LNB shroud to house a cleaned up version of the Bowtie and also have 2 versions one for Cellular service 1.9 Ghz and the other for Wifi 2.4Ghz. If you really want to have some fun you and your friends can take standard cordless phones, must be on same freqs., use the modified DishNetwork dishes or for really long distant communications say 125 miles use a 10' C-Band dish. You might want to get some friends who are"HAMS" they can help you the most.

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