January 9, 2011

wireless internet antenna (WokFi)

We got tired of paying $60 a month for internet, so we decided to try something different: "WokFi". We use a parabolic-shaped wok strainer as an antenna to boost our signal from a particular access point from 30-40% (-76 dBm) to 60-80% (-66 dBm). The strainer was $8 and the USB wifi dongle was ~$15. There are lots of instructions out there.

In review, using the antenna boosts us from a barely useable connection to a pretty strong connection, but it's not perfect; I found it has to be mounted outside to get the best reception. I'm guessing this is because our windows have a metallic coating. With this set up, we have to be plugged in and can't move around the apartment, but we're okay with that. And now we don't have to give $720 a year to any of the big telecomm companies.

Side note: The USB wifi device that I bought has drivers for Linux, but I found it easier to use NDISwrapper to install the Windows drivers.


  1. Great post. I also use a high powered WiFi card with a parabolic dish. A few things I've discovered:

    The Alfa cards are excellent all platform (Win/Lin/Mac) and can run in "open mode" for WEP cracking. I believe the Alfa cards are the most powerful as they have a 1W model which is probably 10x the power of your wifi dongle. They are more expensive at $30 each.

    Curving a large piece of mylar has given me the best range. I normally don't like to deal with the flimsy aspect of that sort of dish so I use a aluminum bowl and high powered magnet to mount it to things.

    Many "closed" networks use WEP which can easily be cracked (less than 2 minutes in most cases). The linux distribution backtrace is excellent for getting into closed networks.

    Temperature is a big deal. If you can cool down your wifi dongle you should see the signal rise. I see more networks and faster transfer speeds during cool weather. Direct sunlight on the USB dongle will greatly reduce the performance.

  2. Cool! Thanks for the tips. The Alfa cards sound pretty good.