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Cheap and quick enhancing your wifi internet speeds in Canberra, with a wok.

By welkin31 - 26 October 2011 23

wok antenna

I am a newcomer to using wireless internet on a daily basis – I first tried wifi at motels, quickly learning that the signal varied greatly depending how close your room was to the source and there was also a variation within the room. Placing the modem up high usually helped get a good signal.

I had been with Iinet ADSL for a decade and grew tired of the daily dropouts – paying the line rental – decided rightly or wrongly last month to ditch Iinet and the landline phone and gave Virgin mobile broadband (wireless) a go. For several months I have been working at times in the boondocks of NSW and ended up buying a pre-paid Telstra mobile broadband USB modem – that way I could stay in a small motel that had no wireless internet but was nearer work. That modem has a small brass socket where you can attach an aerial – for example: www.crazysales.com.au

pigtail antenna connection

When the Virgin Wifi USB modem arrived there was little in the way of instructions about positioning the thing. I recall reading – “put it in your laptop bag”. I am sure there is better advice in their FAQ’s.

My speeds with the modem on the 20cm USB cable supplied were similar to my Iinet speeds as measured at http://www.speedtest.net/ – about 1.5Mb/s

I realise the Iinet connection had advantages of greater bandwidth.

I then attached a longer USB cable and put the modem on top of a bookcase – this got my speed up to 4Mb/s. I did some reading on the Whirlpool forums – http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/ masses of information there. That lead me to the NZ site – http://www.usbwifi.orconhosting.net.nz/ with many practical examples of how to DYI enhance wireless signals using cheap or scrap materials. That lead me to find an old wok and position it on a fan stand – up high near the ceiling – some sticky tape and wire and I experimented with it pointing in various directions. I quickly found the strongest signal was with the wok pointing at the aerial mast at the roundabout in Clarrie Hermes Drive between Horse Park Drive and Kelleway Avenue in Casey. Happens to be about 1km away as the crow flies.

wok antenna on fan stand

Once I homed the wok onto that aerial mast my speeds have been as high as 6.4Mb/s. I have a lot to learn about wireless internet – learning the implications of GPRS(slow), UMTS(fast), HSDPA(very fast) connections – my modem is connecting with UMTS at around 95% – whatever that means.

[ED – This article comes after Welkin31’s earlier post about speed dropouts. When he was talking about “wok antennas” we never dreamed he literally meant using a wok.]

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23 Responses to
Cheap and quick enhancing your wifi internet speeds in Canberra, with a wok.
andym 1:29 pm 26 Oct 11

Also dont forget for your 11.n devices to set security encryption to AES for 300mbps throughput.

Henry82 1:22 pm 26 Oct 11

Deref said :

How did you work out how far in front of the wok the modem should be placed?

F = (D^2)/(16xC)

F= Focal point
D = Diameter of wok
C = centre depth

Henry82 1:15 pm 26 Oct 11

I’ve been using the “windsurfer” ( http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template2/ ) for years on my wireless cards and routers which works very well. There are plenty of forums arguing the effectiveness of these, but from my experience it picks up far more signals.

Classified 1:12 pm 26 Oct 11

Skidd Marx said :

I’m guessing you’re single.

Not for long after this…

johnboy 1:06 pm 26 Oct 11

For the pedants, the device pictured in the wok is a wifi router as well as a 3g receiver.

Rawhide Kid Part3 1:02 pm 26 Oct 11

M0les said :

First the congrats: It’s always good to see people hacking, regardless of how simple or finnicky.

Now the pedantry: This is not WiFi (802.11x), these things are 3G modems – different frequencies, power, ranges and applications (but whatever).

The parabolic (curved) shape of the wok (Actually it just looks like a frying-pan in the pix) is possibly not a factor in your case. Just having a large flattish metal object behind the dongle will likely be all you need (A ground-plane reflector). It’s a bit like putting a candle infront of a white wall or mirror vs a window: 2x the brightness with 1/2 the vieing-angle. If you can get a 90-degree inside-corner (a bit like a book opened-out to 90-degrees) conductor behind the dongle, you should get something like a 4x gain with 1/4 the “viewing angle”.

Also WiFi which operates in the 5Ghz range has a maxim transmitting range (outdoors) of 95 meters whereas the Phone Towers (3G) operate in the 2100MHz range and have an output range of around 26 square kilometers depending on the terrain, location (proximity to buildings etc) and power output.

Skidd Marx 12:59 pm 26 Oct 11

I’m guessing you’re single.

poetix 12:16 pm 26 Oct 11

WiFri is a better name than WokFi.

M0les 11:57 am 26 Oct 11

First the congrats: It’s always good to see people hacking, regardless of how simple or finnicky.

Now the pedantry: This is not WiFi (802.11x), these things are 3G modems – different frequencies, power, ranges and applications (but whatever).

The parabolic (curved) shape of the wok (Actually it just looks like a frying-pan in the pix) is possibly not a factor in your case. Just having a large flattish metal object behind the dongle will likely be all you need (A ground-plane reflector). It’s a bit like putting a candle infront of a white wall or mirror vs a window: 2x the brightness with 1/2 the vieing-angle. If you can get a 90-degree inside-corner (a bit like a book opened-out to 90-degrees) conductor behind the dongle, you should get something like a 4x gain with 1/4 the “viewing angle”.

Disinformation 11:24 am 26 Oct 11

I’ve built 30dB plus wifi antennas out of cantennas feeding satellite TV dishes and found the focal point of the dish by sticking little bits of mirror tile onto the surface of the dish and then pointing it at the sun. The convergence point is the focal point. (Hey, the Wokfi wikipedia link even mentions this method)
What they don’t mention however, is that if you make a mount on the dish (or wok) that lets you point a straight rod or tube at the sun (for the least shadow) while you’re finding the focal point, you can have an extremely accurate sighting device for aiming the dish if you know where you want to (or have to) point it to make a link.

arescarti42 10:51 am 26 Oct 11

It’s called a WokFi, and they can be reasonably effective.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wokfi

The Cantenna is another similar device.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantenna

Jivrashia 10:45 am 26 Oct 11

Vodafone should seriously consider offering a free wok with every 3G subscription.

Deref 10:11 am 26 Oct 11

🙂 Brilliant! Thanks Welkin31!

How did you work out how far in front of the wok the modem should be placed? I see you’ve used tape to hold it in position, but is there a cardboard tube or something behind the modem to hold it at the “focus”? (I realise that the wok isn’t a parabolic reflector so there won’t be an accurate focal point.)

johnboy 9:56 am 26 Oct 11

We’d very much like to be the first port of call for canberra seeifixedit candidates.

Reprobate 9:53 am 26 Oct 11

This belongs on seeifixedit.com, not RiotACT…

I look forward to seeing someone using this approach for better mobile reception on Canberra’s streets soon.

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