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Old Dec 16, 08, 9:32 am   #1
 
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I need a WIFI signal enhancer to access a hotspot .5 mile away

So, I'll be actually only about 500 feet from a hotspot for the next couple weeks. I know, I KNOW just go OFF the grid already.

But, in this market it isn't an option.

In the past, think eight years ago, I managed to fabricate an early cantenna, YES using the pringles can, and it got me access to a starbucks type place that was about .75 miles away. Granted, I was on the top floor of a building and pointing OVER A park to the building where the AP was.

Now, I need something similar, but don't have a great deal of time.

Are there better solutions for this? I have seen a couple on ebay, that look much improved for about 50$ but I don't have time to have it shipped.

Does anyone have any tips, or products that one could gather relatively easily?

Is the cantenna still the best cheap solution for this?
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Old Dec 16, 08, 9:39 am   #2
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In Eastern Europe cheap USB antennas are quite popular. Here is an example http://www.wificentrum.sk/buxus/gene..._id=567&lng=sk. You could probably make one with a solder iron and an hour of your time.

On the high-end, a very new antenna has hit the market which is quite revolutionary in its design. It completely eliminates most all WiFi interference and works at a vastly longer distance than any other antenna, yet gives much more throughput. PM me if you want details.
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Old Dec 16, 08, 9:43 am   #3
 
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Originally Posted by stimpy View Post
On the high-end, a very new antenna has hit the market which is quite revolutionary in its design. It completely eliminates most all WiFi interference and works at a vastly longer distance than any other antenna, yet gives much more throughput. PM me if you want details.
What? Sounds like a sales pitch, but lets hear it
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Old Dec 16, 08, 9:57 am   #4
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What? Sounds like a sales pitch, but lets hear it
Yes Paolo, it was getting dangerously close to a sales pitch, which is against Flyertalk customs, if not rules. So I think it is best to continue by PM. I'm referring to a professional level (read expensive) antenna. So that should narrow down the audience a bit.

The website is http://www.samsohite.com/ but it really takes a lot of thought time to comprehend what the designers of this antenna have done. Even 40 year world-class radio experts take a week or so to get their head around it. So I wont' try to explain it here!
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Old Dec 16, 08, 8:34 pm   #5
 
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Sounds like electrically scanned phased array antenna.
Not sure how effective it is in a mobile/laptop device, but very effective in an access point.
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Old Dec 16, 08, 9:02 pm   #6
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Sounds like electrically scanned phased array antenna.
Not sure how effective it is in a mobile/laptop device, but very effective in an access point.
Yeah, my read of their site says it's an access point, not the device. You could always use it as a relay, though.

I see nothing about how to obtain it, though--I suspect they've got the antenna, not a whole piece of equipment.
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Old Dec 16, 08, 10:11 pm   #7
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Sounds like electrically scanned phased array antenna.
Not sure how effective it is in a mobile/laptop device, but very effective in an access point.
Nope. It is something you've never seen before. No electricity required. And it's not an AP either. It's just an antenna. The website doesn't really have a lot of detail since it really takes a serious one on one explanation as well as physical tests to comprehend how much better it is. And you really have to compare it to other antennas to see how much better it is. Especially in difficult environments.
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Old Dec 16, 08, 10:17 pm   #8
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If there were time to get it to you, I've got a spare cantenna.

You could always pick up a Belkin or Linksys Range Extender at Office Max(and if it doesn't work like you need, return it).

Put a bigger gain antenna on it and stick an aluminum pie plate or colander behind it and see what happens.
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Old Dec 17, 08, 12:15 am   #9
 
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Some excellent products here:
http://www.fab-corp.com/
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Old Dec 17, 08, 12:53 am   #10
 
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Originally Posted by nmenaker View Post
So, I'll be actually only about 500 feet from a hotspot for the next couple weeks. I know, I KNOW just go OFF the grid already.
Err well less than 0.1 mile
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Old Dec 17, 08, 7:58 am   #11
 
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sooo

So, I found a couple of local solutions.

I had an OLDER eek, 802.11B PC card, which has an external antenna socket on it. I couldn't find a local shop, which had any of the USB dongles with external antenna in stores. no BB, frys, CC (man, THAT place was empty!)

What I found at Fry's, was the "cantenna" which seemed to have been returned, and a couple of other AP antenna. One of the antenna, from airlink said it was directional, and it was pretty tiny. 17.99$. And I needed a pigtail to connect the pc card to the external antenna. 7.99$

gotta love frys. Sometimes at least.

Well, I tested out the orinocco gold pc card I had, it worked after about 10 minutes of windows update in vista trying to find a driver! Technically, I don't think the X61t and vista LIKES the older card from the Jurassic days of WIFI networking.

Time to test:

With the Airlink directional antenna hooked up, I drive straight away from the house and test the signal. .1 mile, strong signal, -54bd. .2 miles still strong, .69db. I'm still doing speed tests, getting 5x5 up and downlinks.

So, I decided to test the "cantenna" to see how much better a rifle barrel directional antenna will be. I "aim" it at the house, .2 mile away, and I get about the SAME. WOW, this little directional guy really is working hard.

So, I got to about .3 mile away. At that point, the directional airlink falls to about -98dB. Signal is going in and out, the cantenna seems to do better, but it still isn't great. -89dB.

Couple points about the environment. I couldn't drive .3 straight away from the house, so I was technically .3 mile away, but through about three houses, across a busy street and lots of power lines. As well, I was picking up about 25 OTHER AP's with netstumbler. so, even being able to retain SOME connection was pretty surprising.

So, since the airlink unit was able to give me at least about 1000 ft., solid connection, AND it is really only about the size of 1.5 decks of cards, I'm going with that puppy. (can you even imagine what TSA would say with me opening up my bag and the rifle CANTENNA in there?)

Oh, and the airlink upon checkout at fry's was only 7.99$ instead of the 17.99$! gotta love fry's.

Thanks all for the tips, I'll let you know if I am successful at using it all while on the island!
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Old Dec 17, 08, 8:11 am   #12
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Originally Posted by nmenaker View Post
With the Airlink directional antenna hooked up, I drive straight away from the house and test the signal. .1 mile, strong signal, -54bd. .2 miles still strong, .69db. I'm still doing speed tests, getting 5x5 up and downlinks.
I hope it works for you, but you should know that RSSI db doesn't really mean that much with WiFi. It is unfortunately what most people use to determine the quality of the link, but what you should really care about is data throughput. The new antennas I work with have horrible RSSI numbers, but massively better data throughput than other antennas which have great RSSI. So when you do your tests at various distances, through walls and trees and with surrounding interference, you should do a throughput test with a tool such as iperf. That is the only way to know the true quality of the link.
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Old Dec 17, 08, 10:56 am   #13
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Nope. It is something you've never seen before. No electricity required. And it's not an AP either. It's just an antenna. The website doesn't really have a lot of detail since it really takes a serious one on one explanation as well as physical tests to comprehend how much better it is. And you really have to compare it to other antennas to see how much better it is. Especially in difficult environments.
Except they were discussing using with a laptop using it's internal antenna. That says to me it's an access point antenna.
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Old Dec 17, 08, 11:48 am   #14
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Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
Except they were discussing using with a laptop using it's internal antenna. That says to me it's an access point antenna.
Yes it is an antenna which attaches to an AP. But they don't make actual AP's. Sorry if I wasn't clear on that.
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Old Dec 17, 08, 12:25 pm   #15
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my solution

I usually tote a commercial 2.4GHZ flat panel antenna (I have 8dB, 14dB or 18dB antennas) and a USB Alfa 500mW adapter Model #AWUS036H along with some proper connecting wires. The antennas were all new, bought on ebay for $25-$40 incl S&H and the Alpha sells for about $60 new on ebay etc. Since hotel internet in Europe hotels usually runs 20-40 euros/day you can save your equipment cost in 2-3 days. My best guess is I used my wifi setup over 50-60 days in Europe and 20-30 days elsewhere over the past couple years. Only once did the TSA ever want to inspect the flat panel antenna. The rig weighs 2-4 lb depending upon the antenna to be used and usually is packed in my 22" Costco wheelie and carried aboard. Just point it out the hotel window, scan for a open signal and surf. My best guess the 18dB unit range is 3000+ ft and the 14dB is 2000+ ft connecting with typical hotspot power.

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