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Mimishu1995's avatar

Is this for real (details inside)?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (23444points) May 4th, 2015

Found this while wandering on Facebook.

Will what described in the image actually work?

I have some problem with my wifi router and if it works, it will solve my wifi problem without having to buy a new router, so I need your help to confirm this.

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19 Answers

Bill1939's avatar

The use of the reflector will focus the signal and make the antenna unidirectional. While it would increase the strength of the signal in one direction, it would reduce the strength in other directions.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Marginal improvement at best. It could also decrease performance depending on the size and shape. If you are having a problem with the router you can usually purchase a different antenna but in my experience it’s usually something else. I would first use a WiFi sniffer to see which channels are not being used by anyone nearby and switch to one of those. There are free android apps that will do this. Most WiFi problems are due to multiple networks on the same channel.

johnpowell's avatar

It is a soda can. Try it. If it doesn’t work throw it away. At worst you lose 30 minutes and a can.

Buttonstc's avatar

That is what’s called a Cantenna and has been around (in various configurations) for quite a while.

Wikihow and Instructables are two websites with instructions for how to make your own.

There are also YouTube clips posted by various people who’ve made their own.

Obviously, some people have had success with this. Some haven’t. There are so many variables that it’s hard to know whether it will work for you.

However, as @johnpowell observed, it’s cheap enough to try and your biggest expenditure is time.

There are also useful tips on numerous ways to boost your wifi connectivity on the website

They also sell an already constructed version by Lynksis.

Let us know how it works out for you. Good luck !

jerv's avatar

It’s conditional at best. It may work if you only have minor issues and can place the router such that it being highly directional isn’t an issue, but even then it’s a bit iffy, and in some cases it’s impractical and would cause more issues than it solves. For instance, in my place, the only spot I can put a router is one where it’d need 360-degree coverage to work. Then again, I don’t have a whip antenna on my router to be able to do that particular trick anyways.

So yes, they can work, but they generally require enough aiming and depend on so many other variables that, in my opinion, it’s not worth it; it’s easier to get a good router in the first place. Give it a try, don’t cut any fingers off, hope for the best, but don’t get too disappointed if you find that you can’t avoid getting a new router.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

To get a can-tenna working you really need a good host of tools like an swr meter if not a full blown rf test set. You could get lucky but it’s not very likely. I have done many home-brew antennas and none of them usually work properly until I run tests and make adjustments.

jerv's avatar

Quite so, @ARE_you_kidding_me. The reason parabolic reflector work at all is that they are precisely shaped in a manner that focuses the RF energy directed at them to a single point and for that particular instance, that point is the whip antenna. Just as a magnifying lens needs to be held at a particular distance from what you are trying to magnify, a parabolic reflector must be shaped with precision in order to be effective at all rather than being just a waste of time, if not actually make reception worse.
In that picture, what is the exact radius of curvature? Is it the right radius for the focal length to be equal to the radius of the can (the distance between the whip antenna and the reflector)? How can you tell?

Mimishu1995's avatar

Thanks everyone. The reason why I don’t buy a new router is that I can never convince my dad that our router has limited signal since he only uses the phone and always sits near the router, so to him the router is perfectly fine. Well, it won’t hurt to spend a couple of bucks on a can :)

My next step is to find what I want to drink tonight…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Mimishu1995 I’d recommend a nice Chablis.

jerv's avatar

Then relocate the router so that his favorite chair gets the reception you have now. I’m pretty sure that you’d have a new router pretty soon afterwards.

Or you could just forgo wifi and get a long CAT5 cable; it he finds the cord unsightly, then he has nobody to blame but himself. I think the CAT 5 cable is safer too. I’m not fond of sharp metal and it’s a real hassle to dull the edges of a cut-up can enough to make it “finger safe”, assuming you don’t slice yourself up making it in the first place. I wear my work gloves for that sort of stuff.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@jerv what is a CAT5?

jerv's avatar

CAT5 is your standard Ethernet cable. They’re cheap too

ucme's avatar

Yeah that’s right, take a technologically advanced system & play Flintstones with it ~

jerv's avatar

@ucme Yes, I know you’re being sarcastic, but consider the following.

CAT5 still exists and is in common use because wifi has it’s limits. The biggest use for CAT5 is for connecting systems in areas where wifi is spotty or unreliable. I have a buddy who lives in a house that uses aluminum studs in the walls, making wifi impossible and cutting off cellphone reception as soon as you step inside; the whole place is like a Faraday cage.

It also has a bit less latency than wifi, which is very important to some of us here who play the sort of games where the difference between 49ms and 124ms is the difference between life and virtual death. That is why I have a cable running down my hallway and part of why I don’t game on my laptop. The ability to plug all your computers into a giga-switch and transfer data between them at 1Gbps instead of the up to 150Mpbs of a regular 802.11n wifi router is also handy if you have a home LAN.

Security is also a bit easier; while wifi routers can be setup with “whitelists” to allow only certain devices on, MAC addresses can be spoofed, allowing access to your home LAN. However, when an intruder has to come into your living room and plug in a cable to leech off of your internet, the system is slightly more secure.

Of course, as the sales of netbooks and tablets shows, casual computer users could get by with something on par with a Pentium III, and if not for YouTube and NetFlix, they could also survive on 28k dial-up anyways. Being able to do so without wires is merely a convenience.

If it really were “playing Flinstones”, we wouldn’t still be doing it. You give up a lot for the convenience of avoiding a wire, and in some applications, plugging in a wire is a small price to pay to get all that back.

ucme's avatar

@jerv My response was to the question itself, so I guess you jumped the gun there.

dabbler's avatar

If it does work it will be because you got all those “IF” factors close enough accidentally.
But, indeed, not much to lose.

I do have to agree that CAT5 is your friend if you can use that between the router and your computer.

You don’t mention what kind of problems you’re having with your router, the suggestions to try other channels is a good one.

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jerv's avatar

One thing that might help your tuning efforts is getting a useful app for your phone. Personally, I use Wifi Analyzer on my Android phone, though there are similar utilities for iOS and Windows.

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