The $5 Wi-Fi Cantenna… it’s cheap and it works!
There are a TON of external Wi-Fi antennas on the market. Directional, Omni Directional, Parabolic, Yagi and others styles. Prices range from $10.00 online to several hundreds of dollars.
I own some pretty expensive units, but nothing is more satisfying than building your own directional Wi-Fi antenna!
I have built and tried just about every “do it yourself” Wi-Fi antenna that you can find on the internet. I’ve built fancy hard to assemble antennas, not so fancy “pringles” can antennas, and even directional “yagi” style antennas. I have even modified an old TV Satellite dish with a USB Wi-Fi adapter, but out of all of these “do it yourself” antennas, my favorite can be found here: How To Build A Tin Can Waveguide WiFi Antenna by Gregory Rehm.
Gregory’s site has a form that will calculate the frequency that your new “cantenna” will operate at. I take no credit for his work, to me he is a mad genius that supplies easy to follow instructions to make a kick ass directional Wi-Fi antennas. Out of the multitude of antennas that I have built, his by far has been the most reliable. I’ve been able to pick up wireless SSID’s at up to 1 mile using a 26 ounce soup can!
Here is what you need:
4. A N male to RP-SMA male “pigtail” cable… Don’t cheap out on the cable, this is the most expensive part. You can make your own cable if you have the tools, but I would suggest purchasing from a reputable shop. If you use low grade cable (or coax) your antenna will not be as efficient! This cable will connect your shinny new “cantenna” to your USB wireless adapter.
(this is an extra expense but you will thank me later!)
5. A tripod… This is optional, but I highly suggest putting your new “cantenna” on a tripod. Be creative! I’ve seen window mounts, table top tripods that you can purchase at the $1 store (pictured below). My personal “cantenna” is mounted on a $10 adjustable camera tripod.
Cost = $1.00 (found at any $1 shop, Drugstore or Walmart!)
6. A small amount of time, a little solder, and something to cut your brass rod to length. THAT IS IT!
Simply add to your favorite USB Wireless Adapter and Enjoy!
As far as USB Wireless Adapters go, there are a lot of those on the market as well. The only wireless adapters that I use and recommend are by Alfa Wireless. I personally use two of their units. The AWUS036NEH 802.11n/b/g Long-Rang USB Dongle & the more powerful AWUS036NHR 802.11b/g/n Long-Rang USB Adapter. Both units are inexpensive, both have been reliable in Windows and Linux. The Alfa adapters also allow “injection” and “monitor mode” in Backtrack! And this is why I use these particular adapters. You can buy these adapters on eBay & Amazon for under $30.00.
Editors note: In some areas possession of a “cantenna” may be illegal. Use and build at your own risk. You’ve been warned!