Wednesday, June 30, 2004

This afternoon when I tired of writing, I decided I would spend some time figuring out how to get my little 5 dB antenna to work a little better. I've seen designs for antennas made from Pringles cans, tin foil, and Chinese mesh cookware. I know something about RF waveguides, though my training is not as an electrical engineer. And I only need a little boost, since I know that I can get the signal I want; I just kept losing it.

After some reading online, a trip to Barnes and Noble to read the O'Reilly Wireless Hacks book, and a trip to the local hardware store, I thought I would be ready. But the book told me little that I didn't know, and at the hardware store I forgot what I wanted, and just bought some more clothes hangars and a roll of tape. Still, I came home filled with the notion of my own cleverness, ready to build a parabolic antenna from tin foil and start scanning it about.

That's when I rediscovered the wonder of binder clips. It turns out that the signal I get is just fine, so long as the pigtail connector from my wireless card to the external antenna is held firmly in place. A binder clip does that trick. With the binder clip in place and a little piece of cardboard to keep the antenna from falling over, I'm all set.