This morning, we wrote about a WiFi Scope that can read the airwaves, detecting cold zones. It was a one-off art project, but really, who couldn't use more wireless range. So, here's a roundup of some gear that'll turn your hotspot into a data blast zone.
1. Go Parabolic
If you can do without the unidirectional spread of an access point, and know exactly where you want to point your data stream, go parabolic. Biggest and baddest is the Radiolabs Stage 1 parabolic Antenna. It's $240, without the appropriate adapter. But once you replace the finger-sized antenna on your hotspot with one of these badboys, the you'll gain 23db of signal boost which is good for over 64 times the power over a regular antenna. It's 27-inches wide, and rated to stand up to 130MPH winds, so its definitely going to piss off the significant other if you mount it in the livingroom...unless you disguise it as a chandelier or piece of modern art. (Just add christmas tree lights.)
Too extreme for you? Hit the jump to see some familiar $10 dollar hacks, and a WiFi adapter with a built in dish.
2. A More Reasonable Dish
This Hawking 802.11 G/B USB WiFi adapter kicks up reception with a parabolic dish, sucking in weak-ass 802.11G and B signals at up to 300% more power than a non-directional antenna. What's also nice is the LED signal strength meter. It'll cost you about $75.
3. What Was That?
Of course, the traditional way to boost a network is to add a signal repeater, like this Linksys Wireless-G Range Expander. It picks up on your existing signal, and retransmitting it.
4. Budget Boosters
At the less than 10 dollar range, you can boost your signal surprisingly high with mere kitchenware and pringles cans. Hacks of wireless lore, by now, but still some of our favorites. Especially the pringles can, which is good for 12db, good for 16 times the power, according to OReilly Blogs
According to a recent Wired article, here are some tips on how to optimize the signal you already have.
Place your router: 1) Near the center of the house; 2) Off the floor, ideally on a high shelf; 3) As far as possible from your neighbor's Wi-Fi router (which, of course, you've made sure is using a different channel); 4) Away from cordless phones and microwaves, which operate on the same 2.4-Ghz frequency.
What else have you found to make your WiFi go further?
Parabolic Kitchenware [Cult of Mac]
Pringle Can Antenna [Oreilly]
Hawking Tech HWU8DD Hi-Gain USB Wireless-G Dish Adapter [Hawking Via Red Ferret]
2.4 GHz Parabolic hi-gain antenna [Will at Maximum PC]
Linksys Wireless G Range Expander [Linksys]