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23564974 USB Adaptors DIY Antenna Poor Man s WiFi

23564974 USB Adaptors DIY Antenna Poor Man s WiFi



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Published by: baptise777 on Jan 02, 2012
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USB adaptors & DIY antenna = "Poor Man's WiFi" ?
Make 2.4GHz parabolic mesh dishes from cheap but sturdy Chinese cookware scoops & a USB WiFi adaptor !The largest (300mm diam)shows 15-18dB gain (enough for a LOS range extension to 3-5km), costs ~US$5 &comes with a user friendly bamboo handle that suits WLAN fieldwork- if you can handle the curious stares!DIY antenna details best followed from these pix -click on a thumbnail for full size 800 x 600 images
Note -the phrase "Poor Man" is not usually considered insulting, but indicates (possibly with a degree of DIY pride) a desire to"make it do, use it up, wear it out" while laterally solving a problem. New Zealand Kiwi's are champions of such #8 wire ingenuity,with electric fences a typical appropriate technology example. Guess our project even has East meets West cross cultural aspects-in the style of Kiwi Fruit evolving from Chinese Gooseberries !? Lab note jottings below pix rather blog style,but arose during aneducational WiFi workout & are intended to stimulate others into similar DIY investigation. The author- who first wrangledantenna as a radio ham in the 1960s- is a career educator with a flair for innovation,& has had extensive hands on DIY WiFiexperiences -www.manuka.orcon.net.nz has insights into "his"Sardine Can Biquad antenna.
LAB NOTES text below intended to document rather than entertain- suggest you stay with images for the latter!
http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz/ (1 de 5)14/09/2005 23:40:31
21 April 2004
: The long awaited NetStumber 0.4 ( + PDA MiniStumb.) is just out ! (www.netstumbler.com~1.2MB). Of coursewe've been trying all sorts of Wi-Fi cards to hand! Originally NS only favoured Orinoco PCMCIA, but the latest flavour IS talkingto such cheapies as the popular NZ Dick Smith Electronics (DSE) NZ$69 USB thumb dongle adaptor (cat XH6822). This DSEsweetie is based on a ZyDAS chipset,& seems to perform almost as well as esteemed Orinocos under XP. Yah! Can't say thingslook bullet proof with NS 0.4 yet, but it's certainly a tempting way to go, since USB cables & active extenders are dirt cheap,&being just digital are lossless compared with COSTLY microwave coax cable & connectors. Will maybe do a roof top "sweet spot"trial from here in central Wellington, New Zealand & perhaps upload a NS file,but picked up a AP ~500m LOS away OK.
25th April 2004
: Well - ANZAC day dawned fine here in Wellington (NZ), so in best military tradition we ran a few LOS(Line Of Sight) scouting trials,supporting the USB device on a broom handle tied to the roof,fed by ~5m of regular el cheapo USB cablefrom an XP laptop running the new NS 0.4 inside. As always LOS means just that at 2.4GHz, & assorted in line trees & buildingscaused massive signal losses, so ~100m was all we managed while walking around the house/yard/street with a Dell Axim PDA &a Socket low power CF WiFi card.We'll give it a further trial tomorrow across the inner city Basin Reserve to Mt.Vic, where a standby Orinoco Sardine can biquadeasily handles the 2km from work ( Massey University). Experiences however indicate already that such simple food can reflectorsat each end look only good for ~2km LOS, & this USB receiver doesn't seem as sensitive as an esteemed PCMCIA Orinoco.Sniff ! That USB adaptors ceramic antenna may be the culprit - anyone fancy a "hack" & installation of say a Biquad ?!THOUGHT - fit this thumb at the focal point of a directive antenna? Quick trials with NS 0.4 showed useful gain with even a baremetal plate behind it. Perhaps the classic "Sardine can" biquad reflector? Simple metallic plates behind the unit gave significantweak signal boost, espec. when spacings were ~32mm ( which of course is 1/4 wavelength at 2.4GHz). With DIY dishes (each 15-20dB ?) then range increases to say 5-10km may result - dB maths says each 6dB gain will double the range.The real attraction with USB of course is the jelly bean cheapness of cable & connectors-we paid NZ$95 for just a 1/2m Orinocopigtail in 2002 that eventually broke it's tiny connector! Grr... In contrast the entire box of tricks used here today came to ~NZ$75,& with a USB active extender (~NZ$30) cables could be run on to the basement. With USB cables in place you can swap out theWiFi unit for a golf ball web cam up there for an improved view too- cheaper than moving house maybe ! USB cables are so cheapthat they're almost worth cutting up as DC hookup wire - 5m USB 2.0 extension cables( the USB 1.0 limit) wholesale here forunder $NZ4 each. Woops- broom handle still outside in the dark. Stay tuned...
26th April 2004
: Rustled up a simple corner reflector (folded aluminium)to good effect & NetStumbler 0.3/W98 Orinoco detectedOK ~1km LOS away. Gain of such quickee antenna typically 5-8dB,& a simple open mesh dish (bird netting etc) will usually beMUCH better. The eventual idea of course is to have a lowish profile antenna that can be mounted inside something like an emptyplastic blank CD "cake" tin or bowl. Mmm-recall a movie where the hero linked to a satellite via a chopsticks supportedhomemade antenna! It might have some merit- what WAS that movie called?
28th April 2004
: Update- predictions on use with a dish confirmed, since we noted a (nameless!) AP some 8km LOS away whenpositioned at the focal point of an old 600mm parabolic reflector (~21dB). Compared with the expense & lossy cable runs of regular devices, this USB approach just COULDN'T be easier. ~1/2dB loss per m is typical with microwave coax, with maybeanother 1dB at each connector. A 10m cable hence may "cost" you 7dB of gain that spiffy roof dish provides... We'll try next someDIY smaller reflectors, with aluminium foil coated curved plastic lamp shades ($2!) showing particular promise. Only downsideseen so far is that the USB units run rather warm, although an overnight soak test gave no hassles. Surely we're not the only onesevaluating these USB adaptors - any other feedback ? With their tiny size & bargain NZ$69 (~US$40) price (plus jelly bean cheaplossless USB cable/fittings) they look a winner.
30th April 2004
: Have contacted DSE (Aust.),who inform these XH6822 dongles are a NZ only item, & they've no plans to retailin OZ- yet! However they DO sell a similar USB WiFi adaptor, the Spirit XH4268 @ A$59. Anyone had experience with these?Can they use NS 0.4 ?
1st May 2004
: Poor Man's WiFi ? You can thank an impromptu visit to a Chinese emporium for our latest variation- a 300mmdiam mesh parabola (gain ~15dB ?) that fits this USB dongle beautifully. It's based on a NZ$8 Chinese cook vat scoop c/wbamboo handle. Asian students here inform this classic Chinese cookware item is known as a "Spider Skimmer", & is usuallymade of brass rather than cheaper galvanised mesh. Sizes are 6", 8", 9", & largest 12" (300mm) as we used. Total setup B.O.M <$NZ80 (~US$50 ) & that includes the ZyDAS ZD1201 WLAN adaptor, USB cable,& dish antenna with environmentally friendlybamboo support handle. Field trials anyone ?
2nd May 2004
: While in the Asian Emporium diverse other cookware was noted, much of it stainless steel. Customers gavesideways glances as assorted woks, lids and pans were measured up& focal points calculated! Although tempting, normal woks areof course TOO solid & have serious wind resistance - a major factor here in Wellington even when closely attended ! Have just
http://www.usbwifi.orcon.net.nz/ (2 de 5)14/09/2005 23:40:31
hilltop trialled that spider skimmer mesh scoop & managed an AP 5km LOS away ( NS 0.4 showing -80dB ). The wholedevelopment suits "Poor Man's WiFi", since for ~NZ$100 (~US$60) one could have the works ! Being appropriate technologyfans, it's envisaged such a setup could have immense appeal in less developed, rural areas or schools etc. Naturally USB connectorsare easy to maintain too.
5th May 2004
: Finishing off quest & prowling hardware stores for antenna supports & tripods. The very thing-a garden hosemender makes a PERFECT mount for the USB socket, & only modest mesh trimming needed. To allow USB cable placementhack saw an angled slice cut in the hose mender- the screw on rings will secure OK. The plug in adaptor even fits in the recess at just on the desired 94mm too when internal joiner plastic trimmed/drilled off. As a "just how far can USB cables go " trial today,we had 5 x 5m cheap USB 2.0 M-F extenders cobbled together for a 25m ( 75') run, for which the USB adaptor never missed abeat. Yah ! Visions of WLAN PC at ground level & USB adaptor/antenna in a tree top sweet spot arise. Well - why not ? There'sbeen a similar but corporate Power Over Ethernet (POE) approach for some time of course. EXTRA: US contacts inform Texanoutlet =>www.axiontech.com sells for ~US$25, this exact ZyDAS adaptor as a ZONET ZEW2000C. Apparently NZ outletComputer Dynamics also sell a similar EDIMAX WL7117U (ZyDAS) unit ~NZ$65,but have not tried. At these prices a user groupcould buy a box & sell them at a modest profit while still in stock!?
7th May 2004
: Phew- we spoke too soon- is this ever a fast moving field. Dick Smith NZ inform this XH6822 adaptor, after astore life of only months, is about to be replaced by a similar ZyDAS (cheaper ?)XH6859, & that a faster 54MHz IEEE 802.11"g"USB unit (cat XH8227) is on the horizon, but at ~twice the "b" price. With antenna such as we've developed, simply swap out theold & insert the new units as they arrive (or you can afford them !) With 54 Mbps "g" being so rapidly adopted, 11Mbps "b"hardware may become almost free to a good home. 11Mbps is naturally MORE than enough for many users, since even if only1Mbps achieved with weak links & USB decoding overheads,it's still equiv. to ~20 times the speed of a wired dial up connection,& thus suitable for streaming video/Internet sharing/voice traffic/games/Netmeeting or even impromptu event/sports day/ emergency WLANs etc.
19th May 2004
: Sacre Bleu- this DIY Kiwi WiFi idea seems to have struck a worldwide chord, since ~10,000 hits in a week &numerous global links & citations. French,Spanish & even Polish mentions are "readable", but the Hindi version, while mostexotic, defies our translation! Site overhaul needed, with proper DIY instructions instead of lab notes? Thoughts?
25th May 2004
: In spite of wind susceptibility & carrying weight, pressed steel parabolic woks have also emerged as suitablehomemade WiFi dishes. Woks sell cheaply & are easily drilled/chassis nibbled for mount holes. Gains ~17dB reported from aNorth Otago (NZ) user-enough to use an AP 4km away. Having come this far we may as well explore other suitable dishes-coolingfan mesh screens & even umbrellas have caught our eye.Publicity from yesterdays Dominion PostInfotech article shows NZ interest is keen, with schools especially enthusiastic-one had bare APs with just 50m LOS range... Yikes!
27th May 2004
: Gadzooks-SlashDotted! Our humble WiFi lab notes went ballistic following aSlashDot mention,with ~43,000 global hits yesterday afternoon. Amazingly the Orcon server & Extreme tracker survived,even at hit rates ~200 a minute. To thosewho emailed & have yet to get a reply- responses have near swamped us,so please follow DIY instructions-shown as text notes onmany pix- while we consider a site rewrite( perhaps a Wiki ?)! Severalmirror sites now exist too (US & France). As a tribute to the democracy & efficiency of the Internet, "old conference junkie" Stan reflects that the info we've gathered here would have takenkilobucks & decamonths to circulate traditionally, with far fewer eventual recipients...
30th May 2004
:As well as gunpowder & the compass, perhaps the ancient Chinese even stumbled on microwaves & these"scoops" may have been antenna all along? To prevent their secrets falling into barbarians hands,they were disguised as cookware!This could explain the Ming dynasty fascination with ceramics (= semiconductors ?). Such jests aside, parabolic reflectorsuniquely have the property of a fixed focal point-unrelated to frequency. Hence our visible light technique in bringing the sun to afocus is valid for showing the WiFi sweet spot. Aha-this means any microwave wireless device at the FP could be enhanced!Bluetooth (also on 2.4GHz) is an obvious swap out, but quick checks indicate GSM cell phones (900/1800 MHz) & evenWellington's newWoosh IPWireless (~2GHz) indeed show better performance. Downlink signal levels came up ~2 bars on the latter, although Woosh signals failed to connect when ~10km LOS! Small cell radius (apparently 6.5km) maybe? Naturally acradle to hold these devices would be needed, but it could allow indoor coverage in marginal regions without costly externalantenna. See pictures above
7th June 2004
: Trials with Aluminium foil glued to the fabric of assorted (~600mm diam) umbrellas gave mediocre WiFi results(as did metallic spray paints) even though the resulting dishes verified as bringing the sun to a good focus. No doubt the resultingpoor electrical continuity to blame-silver paints of course have aluminium particles finely distributed. Such antenna are VERYwind prone & thus hazardous anyway - suggest insect screen mesh used instead if outdoor umbrella dishes developed, even if shortterm & well attended ! NewDSE NZ XH6859 adaptor,also a ZyDAS ZD1201, tested as identical to their original XH6822.Darwin  Dave'sdinkum Aussie blog covers a similar (?)DSE Oz. XH4268 Spirit.
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