Making a quality antenna to boost your USB dongle signal is actually quite easy, and you probably have everything you need laying around the house. This design increased my signal by about 14dbi of gain! Not bad at all. I built it for temporary outdoor use as well. Let's go through the process.
What you need:
- USB wifi dongle of course.
- USB extension cable. (Max length varies based on quality of cable)
- Metal bowl, about 12" diameter. Got mine from a discount store (Tedi) for $1.
- Optional plastic container with lid. Color or transparency does not matter. I used an empty Cashew nut container.
- Roll of tape. Duct tape or electrical.
- Glue. I prefer Gorilla glue or hot glue. Caulk will work well too.
- Cutting tool or scissors. Just for cutting tape.
- Needle nose pliers. You may need something better depending on the thickness of the bowl. Mine was thin and easy to punch a hole.
Step 1: Locate the center of the bowl. Using the pliers, punch a hole large enough to fit the end of the USB extension cable into it.
Step 2: Tape the hole so that there is no metal to metal contact with the USB connector.
Step 3: Insert the USB extension cable and neatly secure with tape or glue. Secure both sides. I made mine water tight.
Step 4: Cut a hole in the center of the container lid. Again large enough for the USB connector.
Step 5: Glue the lid to the dish. Ensure the lid is faced upward so the plastic container can be attached easily.
Step 6: Insert the USB wifi dongle into the extension port.
Step 7: Attach the plastic container to the cap.
Step 8: Plug it into your computer and point it toward the direction you require.
Modify the design to fit your needs. A larger bowl should produce better gain, but it is also important to ensure the dongle is positioned within the bowl in a manner that signal is reflect directly toward it. The slope of the bowl will determine where the perfect focal point is located. It's not rocket science.
I was temporarily assigned away from my normal duty station at Grafenwoehr. I could not get good signal with my 3G dongle, which I used for mobile internet. This 15 minute project solved the problem.
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