Home IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi networks have been popular for many years, but as with all electromagnetic signals, the strength of the signal reduces with increased range and can drop if it is impeded by walls or other objects. This is a significant barrier to setting up long range business or neighbourhood network. In this article, we will look at how you install a long range Wi-Fi antenna to increase the range of your wireless network.
For most home networks, the routers used standards known as 802.11 a, b, g and n. Whilst these standards can be used with longer range networks, it is best to look out for wireless network routers that can operate on the 802.11-2007 standard. These devices can offer 10Mhz and 5Mhz OFDM modes rather than just the standard 2.4Ghz. Using a system like this can in some cases double the Wi-Fi range without using any other special equipment.
Another way of boosting the signal is to use a range extender or power amplifier. These devices supply around 0.5 Watts of power to the antenna and can increase the range of the network by up to five times.
The final option is to combine one of these range extender amplifiers with a special Wi-Fi aerial. Specially shaped antennas can drastically increase the range, but generally work by transmitting the signal through a narrow channel across several kilometres. These high gain antennas can be either purchased from a company like Cisco, or made at home.
Pringles can In developing countries and on low cost community Wi-Fi projects, the idea of spending hundreds of pounds on range extenders is not always possible. As a result, "homebrew" high gain antennas have been innovated. The most famous of these is the use of a Pringles can in a system called the 'cantenna'. Similar designs using tin cans and woks have been proven to improve the range of a network with very little capital outlay. It is worth noting that these devices are directional antennas and require line of site. A simple WokFi antenna using a USB Wi-Fi dongle and a cheap piece of Asian cookware can improve the range of a network to up to 5Km. The direct line of site method of communication also reduces the effect of electromagnetic interference from sources like mobile phones and microwaves. Cantennas Cantennas generally use a tin can, an n connector and some 12 gauge copper wire. The cantenna is connected to the router using a pigtail lead and will give an impressive increase of range. Perform a Google search to find a cantenna calculator to work out precise dimensions.