Introduction: 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.

Step 1: 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).

Step 3: Attaching and Weather Proofing Your Modem

Place the modem on the mounting and secure it with a strip of tape (refer to pictures below).. Again, make be sure the modem is in the same basic place as the original pickup was. You don't have to be perfect, but close as possible. Now, attach the USB extension cord to your modem . Tightly wrap electrical tape around the modem, end of USB cord, and mount until it is completely covered, this will weather proof it. Also, a spray on liquid electrical tape like the type made by Performix will provide added protection if sprayed over top of tape. An alternative to the tape would be to simply put a large plastic bag over the modem and tape in in place. Your mount is now complete (refer to pictures below). Now just simply attach your mount to the dish and your ready to install it in. Install the dish in a place you would normally see one (see step four, Parts and Reference).

Step 4: Parts and Reference

To find out where to aim your dish use a tower finding site, or just experiment with different directions.  Because there will most likely be trees and other obstacles in between your modem and the tower, it might be a good idea to mount the dish as high as possible. Is a tower and antenna finding site, it displays the towers for your location, but not the carrier for each one. Below is a picture of a dish with parts labeled and of the liquid tape mentioned in step three.