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What do you think about this dish as a WiFi signal booster? Answered

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Hello everybody, I am in the process of setting up wireless internet at home, but am still a complete novice in this field. I have just bought a ZyXEL G-202 USB wireless adapter and I am making an antenna of sorts following some instructables as we speak. On my laptop I usually get 1-2 stripes at most when it comes to signal strength, so I was planning to do some piggybacking with my desktop. :) (hey, internet is not cheap here in the Balkans. :P) Anyway, I live in the capital where we have many Cafes and institutions providing free wireless, so why not make the most of it, it's not illegal here. :) The only problem is, I live in an block of flats; so many surrounding buildings tend to block and corrupt the signal. For instance, in my room (using an Acer laptop with built-in wireless) I get a list of 5-6 free (read: unsecured) APs, but the signal is so weak, it's good for nothing. :( Now, having examined my options, I was planning to make an antenna and put it on the roof of the building. But, when I climbed to the top, I found this old abandoned satellite dish SEE PHOTO (I asked around the building and nobody knows who it belongs to. Additionally, it's very run down as you can see, and the cables are torn out, so I was planning on claiming it. :p). Now, my questions are: 1. Can anyone tell me if it's a good idea to use this dish as an antenna, if I weather proof my USB receiver and mount it on the focal point of the dish? (Line of sight (aerial) distance from it to the nearest free wifi hotspot is approx. 600 meters) 2. Is there a possibility that my USB will get too hot, maybe catch fire, because of the signal boost? (Maybe this is a dumb question, but I really don't know much about these things) 3. Finally, I would also need an advice in regard to the cables needed. I already downloaded the "How to extend your USB using UTP" instructable, but since the cable should be about 60 meters long, is there a way to make it not loose too much signal? Thank you all for reading this, and thank you in advance for your advice. Any type of help is welcomed. :)

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frollardBest Answer (author)2009-03-31

That would be an excellent dish for it. Mount the usb or antenna of choice in a glass jar (or baby food bottle, etc). Silicone around the usb extension cable for waterproofing. a 60 meter usb-over-utp cable might have (likely has) too much resistance to be of much use as a data cable. I could be wrong, but usb spec REALLY doesnt like long distance. Weatherproof a cheap wifi router, mod it to output higher signal (with custom firmware like ddwrt), and attach its antenna to the dish, then configure it as a wireless-wired bridge. I dont have specific instructions for that, but basically the router talks to the internet for you over wireless, and serves as a gateway for wired (on the 60 meter cable).

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Kandid (author)frollard2009-03-31

Thank you for answering, but a "cheap" router here means about 60-70 USD for a used one, and I'm not sure I can afford that, being a student in a big town and all... :( Even the USB took me my monthly savings. :p So, if I do find one, what is "custom freeware like ddwrt"? (and bear in mind that English is not my native language :p) and do you have any idea where I can get instructions for that? Anyway, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question, Your opinion has been very helpful. :)

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Kandid (author)Kandid2009-03-31

Sorry, it should say "custom FIRMWARE" not freeware.

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frollard (author)Kandid2009-03-31

Not a problem. The router I have in mind is the infamous Linksys WRT54-G. You can buy them online for VERY little money (20 usd some places)

http://dd-wrt.com has downloads for a LOT of linksys routers.

wrt predator (search it) also works as a hotspot finder/bridge.

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Kandid (author)frollard2009-03-31

Yeah, that's gonna be a problem... 20-30 bucks for the router, and another 40-50 for shipping and handling (I live outside the EU, so no PayPal, no WebMoney, no Credit Cards...) :p But I will look up your suggestion, and hopefully come up with something. Thanks again. :)

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nerd.500_2 (author)2009-04-18

you should go to popsci.com and there is a project like this

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marigo (author)nerd.500_22009-06-16

I went to this popsci.com site and dont see no similar project as you suggested

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OhBrian (author)2009-04-23

I would suggest not using the pictured sat dish. The reason is that you are going to want to tune your new antenna with booster and that would be difficult to do if the equipment is on the roof. Instead try and fashion a small parabolic antenna booster. A plastic strainer covered with tin foil should do the trick. Make a little stand to hold the strainer so that it can point directly at one of the local hot spots. Place it in the window and off you go. I'd suggest trying to find a wireless interface card that you can open up and extend the antenna leads. I don't know what ports your computer has but I'd not suggest USB.

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Kandid (author)OhBrian2009-05-23

Did just that. :) I used an asian cookware instructable and it works fine. :) By the way, I have a "Zpc Iwill" computer. It's basically a micro PC which can never be upgraded but is good cause it fits in your basic backpack. :p That's why I had to use USB, otherwise I wouldn't.

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lakerman23 (author)2009-04-06

How long ago did you get it? It looks pretty old so I'd get a new one. It doesn't have to be expensive. But I guess that one could work until you get enough money.

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Kandid (author)lakerman232009-04-12

Amm, actually, I didn't have to use it at all. :) A big Chinese strainer and some scotch tape turned out to work great. :)

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NobodyInParticular (author)2009-04-01

How about starting up a little business? It would certainly help you pay for some good (used) equipment. Could you get five people to pay you $10 per month for Internet service?

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Probably, but that's far from the point here. :) Anyway, thanks for answering. :)

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