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Extend Your Wireless Network with a DIY 2.4 GHZ WiFi Cantenna

Q: How do I connect this to my computer?

A. There are a couple of options. First if you have a laptop, you can purchase an Orinoco Gold (not silver..) PCMCIA Wireless card. (This is what I did..) On the edge of the card, there is a tiny antenna adapter (really!) Below is a photo of an antenna connector:

DIY cantenna to extend a wifi signal

Antenna connector on an Orinico Gold card

Yeah, I didn’t believe it either! Now as far as the type of connector that is. Well its called a “MC connector”. You can often times find these wifi cards on Ebay.Unfortunately, there aren’t many PCMCIA cards out there with an external antenna connector. I have seen some ambitious folks tear apart their wireless cards to add an external antenna, but I don’t recommend this, as it definitely voids the warranty!

Ok Lastly, we still need a cable. Trust me, I don’t recommend making one! so when I need a cable, I just order one from Cable Experts. They are great guys, and very knowledgeable, and more than willing to answer your questions. The only downside is that they have a $50 minimum order. But maybe you have a friend that wants to build one too. Also, you can purchase the type N connector you need for the wifi cantenna there.

The second option for connecting to your wifi cantenna:

I have also taken an access point or a router with removeable antennas (like a D-link or Linksys access point, or router) and figure out what kind of connector it is. (Please use google to find out this info, it is easily found there) Then order the appropriate pigtail from our buddies at Cable experts. Once you are hooked up, you are good to go. Now this if for a fixed wifi connection and not necessairly for a portable one.

Q: OK, I’ve built one of your wifi cantennas, and it just doesn’t work! Its worse than with out the wifi cantenna. What gives?

All too often when I get asked this question, after more questions about the installation, I find out that they put the wifi cantenna on the roof of their house, then ran a long piece of coax through their house. The problem is that is that at wifi frequencies, coax / pigtails are very high in RF loss. I recommend a pigtail / coax length between your wifi cantenna and your network device of no more than three feet. What is happening is that you have lost more signal in the coax than what you have gained in the wifi cantenna.

BTW, I have seen people put wireless access points in waterproof boxes and mount the whole assembly on their roof, then run cat-5 cable and power up to it. Like This guy (who is a ham radio operator.. My kind of guy!) who put one on top of his 110 foot tower! Oh yeah!

Q: So only one of my friends can connect to me, what’s going on?

This is a highly directional antenna, therefore it only performs very well in one direction. Oh by the way, wifi is at microwave frequencies. Since this antenna concentrates the signal, don’t look into the cantenna while it is connected.