This summer I have been hitting up some campgrounds with the new camper, and most of them have WiFi access. Usually, we are behind trees, a hill, or other RV's of most AP antennas. At an earlier visit to a favorite campground, I could connect at a blistering 6~11 mbps with a weak signal (2~3 bars at best) wanted to see what was out there that could help me out, and found that there are many products geared for RV's and extending WiFi's but nothing in the budget I wanted to spend.

I did a search and found a couple of programs: NetStumbler and Easy WiFi Radarand loaded them into the laptop.

I also found this website:
Dusty Dragon Free Wifi Anywhere

I watched many of the youtube videos about extending your WiFi range and such, making antennas, cantennas, wifi dishes etc and it looked easy enough. so I went to work with what I could get my hands on cheap.

Making your own seems to be the gig, pretty cool perspective I think.

I had the USB wifi dongle that I had been using so there was no expense there. The task was to find a dish that had a focal point in the right place, was small enough to use in a camper (no big thing that eats up space) and had to weather the elements of camping.

So, after an hour of searching around the house, 30 minutes with some bench time and tools, and 15 minutes with the laptop this is what I came up with:



Shown here with my Homemade HD antenna, perched up above my camper you can see my own Mini WiFi dish. Its gain is amazing! From my place, I could only see my own network but with this mini dish I can find 28 access points just looking one direction, and looking another, I can connect at full speed, full strength to the public library's public access point about 6 blocks away, since it's within direct visual range with no obstructions to worry about.

Back at the campground 2 weeks later, I connected easily and found another 16 AP's that I could connect to! The gain was no less than -15db. but what was more amazing was how many AP's I could find and jump right into. I was able to aim the dish across San Diego Mission Bay, and connect to the AP at the Hyatt Regency about 3 miles away.

Amazing. I never knew it was so easy! Ya gotta love learning stuff on the internet.

SO, the question now is, has anyone else here done any local wifi sniffing? did you get the results you hoped for?

The Home made HDTV antenna you see there actually works BETTER than the set on my roof that I paid $350 for 2 years ago.


If you need any help with these amazing little DIY projects let me know.

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Hey, Jim can you build me up a scifi wifi thingy when you can? Need one for my test travel trailer i'm fixin up so I can suck in the signals like you do.

Also, do you think it can be mounted permanently outside on a pole that i can change directions on or is it sensative to wind/rain, etc? not a problem but i'm trying to think how i can mount it. Looks like you may mount it permanently on the back of your camper if i'm seein some of your pictures correcly.

thanks! pat
It can be mounted permanently, but I dont. Those clamps you see holding my PVC pole on are from a boating store, used to clamp stuff to the rails. Cheap and they can be left outside (permanently mounted).

The PVC pole I use is just held in, and on the top its just pressed together each time, which allows me to remove it from the pole.

Personally, I'm not a fan of leaving it outside as it collapses low and flat when not used, stores easy and keeps it looking new.

It is not sensitive to wind, but needs to be waterproofed for moisture exposure (not hard).

But if you are ready, I have one here with your name on it already.
I've got a lot of boating stuff in my stuff box so i can how brew something.

yep, need that one you have built up. what's that biz and site address that u have to process the order thru again?... my other friend Jim... took the one that i ordered last time. Darn thing worked so well he kept it!

thanks buddy.
pat
Hi Jim! Hope to receive our new home brew SciFi Wifi today!... we're at the cabin which is a little off the beaten path here in Osage indian land so we sometimes have to use smoke signals to get ups here.
Anything special i need to know about the new wifi, special mount and all?

Goin south next month and I'll blog about my install of your home brew wifi dish! Thanks buddy. Pat
Jim, got the new home brew wifi you build up for me yesterday. Love it! you really did some neat engineering with the new adjustable mount.

Question. I've got a perfect place to mount the wifi finder INSIDE my travel trailer (fiberglass side walls). Will it kill reception if i put it inside vs riggin some sort of elevated outside mount? Until i go to mexico most of my rving will be some dry camping and usual mix of campgrounds.

thanks buddy. pat
Line of sight is beneficial in any remote 'hunting' situation. If you are at a place where there is a known AP (access point) like at a campground, then the dish will function inside. Using that program 'net stumbler', you can connect, and look at the bars... move the dish inside and outside and visibly see the change. You can determine if inside does not hamper connectivity performance.

If you are at a typical campground that has wifi, you'd probably be within 1500 ft, so with that N format you'd be solid through the wall no problem.

If you were across the street from a Starbucks, and aimed the dish right at it, you could use it inside even if the RV was fiberglass over aluminum over plywood over siding!

Thanks for the compliments on the mount, it was inspired when a buddy wanted to use the flagpole mount near the door on his RV. Its a rigid flagpole mount that cant change the angle (typical to house flags). With the articulation, he can aim the dish any direction, even when the pole is it an angle. Once I did one for him that way, I changed my own to it also.
ok, thanks buddy. ya, very inventive!! I'm likin it. pat
Hi Jim
Been looking at the pictures of your homebrew wifi antenna. What is the part that extends from the dish? Sounds like you came up with a good combination. I'd like to try building one myself.
Geof
G. Yep, Jim's "sci-fi wifi" dish sure works great in our rig.

Check his earlier Blogs and I think he outlines all the parts pretty well that he uses and you'll need. "Scooter" Jim will probably get back to you himself also. He's way helpful and always comin up with home-brew neat stuff.
Post some pics in a blog if you do your own for us to see. pat
Wow! You ARE amazing! Can you post the plans showing us how to build our own? I'm a graphic artists/writer/designer. I'll even trade putting the plans into PDF form you can sell in exchange for the plans. Very impressive. Thanks for posting!
Isn't there a limit to length of USB cable? I heard 15ft is the maximum you can run a USB cable. If true this restriction doesn't allow you much heigth.
My neighbor, has 2 cables for about 50 ft with little 'amplifiers' in line attached to another little 10 ft cable. Her dish aimed at my router, is about 70 ft away from her machine.

Something like this:


Common item. Ideally the shorter the better, but I've stretched the rules with success.

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