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WiFi Reception Help! Answered

I'm not very adept with computers, explaining any incorrect use of terminology. My computer has a built-in wireless card, and I'm in range of two WiFi signals- Starbucks and McDonalds. Usually each one tops at around 2 bars and 20ps. How can I get better reception without running to Mcdonalds or Starbucks? I saw the strainer-on USB instructable, but that was not as practical as I had hoped. Is there some USB antennae type thing?

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Just a non-technical senior citizen here. I read all the replies and watched the videos, but what I don't understand is how to connect the antenna, any antenna, to my laptop's built-in wireless. I don't have an antenna connector (SMA...?) Can I just plug a cable or something into a USB port or the place where the CAT5 cable would go, then build a cantenna on the other end?

well u see i dont know of a way to do it to a internal card. But a cheap external card has a little port for a pigtale then u can add the antenna.

So does an internal card. The difference is that an internal card is likely using the port. One can disconnect the notebook's internal antenna and plug in an external. The trick is finding a way to route the wire without interfering with the notebooks normal functions.

you can buy a USB powered antenna that will increase your range a lot. But just so ya know if you connect to McDonalds you have to pay but starbucks is free.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/accessories/7060/

That is a tad over the top for some people but there are smaller ones.

Fifty bucks for a cantenna?! A brain damaged chimp with a lisp could build one, after all I did. A can, a connector and a piece of wire.

Cool! The McDonalds here has complimentary access. If they changed it, that's not good.

Frank... I hope you aren't serious on this. It's a joke. A good one. And what makes it most hilarious is that many are actually trying it. I'm surprised that it hasn't been posted as an Instructable!