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

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.

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    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Hi. Im looking for similar solution to my problem currently. Just not so sure if it would even work. I'm trying to get some telco signals out in a very rural area in middle of nowhere, where the closest place to be able to get telco signal is several kilometers away. Im thinking of mounting the outdoor antenna of a mobile signal booster ( on the satellite dish then pass it to an amplifier and then hopefully creating a small network of mobile signal. Can anyone shed some light onto the feasibility of the project?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Looks kind of ghetto or hillbilly depending on where you come from, but hey, it works cool. We got lots of old C band antennas in WV you can have.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I have a Sprint modem and found this site to be most helpful for finding antennas and cables-

    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.

    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.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

     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.