Wi-Fi antenna extender hack


You know that someone is going to cry fraud any time there’s a how-to on extending wi-fi range. And this one is no exception (read the Comments). I don’t know why people doing these projects don’t show before and after readings on a signal strength meter to prove their claims. I’m not a radio engineer or a ham, so I can’t really judge without trying this out for myself on a spare antenna. I’d be interested to know what MAKE readers think who have experience in this area.

WIFI Antenna Hack! – Link


  • Other wif-fi antenna coverage on MAKE: Blog – Link

24 thoughts on “Wi-Fi antenna extender hack

  1. Bil.Kleb@nasa.gov says:

    This looks like a transformation from a simple whip antenna to a J-pole antenna, but I’d consult homebrew antenna master of the aviation world: Jim Weir of RST Engineering.

  2. wa8wte says:

    Read Jeff Duntemann, K7JPD’s book,
    Wi-Fi Drive-By Guide…many
    antenna projects, or just read a good amateur radio UHF antenna book….

    woof woof, George, WA8WTE

  3. kylecroft says:

    I’m not quite sure that an antenna can double your power output, but I could be wrong

  4. jbond says:

    I’ve built a few and the only ones that made any worthwhile difference were a waveguide made from a premium brand Whisky container and a Bi-Quad. None of the toothpick designs gave enough gain to make much difference at all. It may be that commercial omnis are worth it, but I couldn’t make them accurately enough to succeed. And 5dB difference is pretty hard to see in the real world of PCs and Wifi.

  5. NGinuity says:

    “I’m not quite sure that an antenna can double your power output, but I could be wrong”

    You can double your power output by increasing your gain in a field of radiation by 3dB. Of course, it decreases it from somewhere else in the model, but generally speaking, it is somewhere like the extreme top and bottom where coverage is not needed. The more gain you have on the sides of an antenna, the more of a coverage null you will have on the top and bottom, or vice versa.

  6. Tek465m says:

    Looks like a vertical antenna with a load coil. I’m not sure how you could measure efficency without at least looking at SWR. I don’t see a groundplane; anything near it would change the pattern.

    2.4 GHz is pretty unforgiving dimensionally for any frequency, just a mm or two will throw off SWR and completely change your radiation pattern. Plus it has to be a wideband system since it uses Spread Spectrum of over a hundred MHz.

    A good program to model an antenna is at
    Look for MMANA-GAL. It works best for lower frequencies, but it will give you an idea of how shapes affect antennas.

  7. dragonphyre says:

    I call shenanigans as well. I had an extra base here for my router, and for my wireless NIC. I made up two of these antennas, and tested them in every possible configuration.

    Conclusion: Negligible improvements, could be attributed to error. I placed the laptop in the same spot for each test, but I had to move the router around quite a bit to get the new antennas in place. Also, the new antennas were significantly more ‘flimsy’ and were easily bent out of shape–which made SNR TERRIBLE.

    It would be a better idea to move the router to a much better location, and give it a bigger antenna than to mess with your laptop’s antenna anyway.

  8. 928Quest says:

    Yes it can double the power. Antennas can have “gain” but as the poster above said it is because you are taking the power and concetrating it. There are antenna designs that can do far more than double, look up “yagi” for instance.

    There is an error in this report howver. Doubling the power does not double the range. For this type of antenna doubling the power will get you a little more range but not double.

  9. skeptical says:

    I doubt that antenna will even help. youll probably make your cheap antenna worse by adding poor quality wire and bad connecting methods you will lose gain and pickup more nose. More noise will be received due to the sheer inconsistency of the above design as screws taper and have different angles and distance between teeth this depends on sheer luck. If you have never used a soldering iron or taken anything apart your wasting your time because it could take hours of fine tuning and even then it could be a total flop.

  10. haode says:

    This WOrks thanks alot :)

  11. triedit says:

    Disappointing. I modified my router antenna per the video. Initial performance was worse by about 4 dB per netstumbler measurements. After spending some time adjusting the coil I was able to equal the performance of the original antenna. I have to agree with the comments that achieving better performance is more luck that anything else.

  12. dvps says:

    pure luck

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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