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Beer Hardware Hacking Networking Wireless Networking Build

Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal Using Only a Beer Can 229

Posted by timothy
from the for-some-values-of-only dept.
First time accepted submitter AmyVernon writes with a small hack that "is supposed to boost signal strength by at least 2 to 4 bars," and which requires little more than a can of beer (or Orangina). She writes: "What you need: scissors, a utility knife, some adhesive putty and an empty beer can. The brand doesn't matter for the router, but I suppose it would be cooler looking if it were Asahi or Stella Artois than if it were Budweiser." Perhaps this will be added one day to my favorite (and very extensive!) list of low-budget Wi-Fi amplifying rigs.
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Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal Using Only a Beer Can

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  • by MindPrison (864299) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @04:22AM (#37361040) Journal

    ...if you have a satellite dish (which neighborhood doesn't?)
    you can just place your WiFi Dongle right in the focus area, or even various other places in front of your dish, and you'll have more hotspots than you EVER dreamed of.

    • by gomiam (587421)
      ...as long as they are in the line of sight of the satellite dish. I haven't worked with many of them but I kind of remember they are very directional, being parabolic and all that.
      • They indeed are. Sat dishes are fantastic for leeching wifi from a location where you can see half the city, because you can *literally* reach wherever you can see, but you'll have to move the dish around a lot. And if you live in a second-floor flat you won't be doing much leeching at all. Also keep in mind that you need to keep

  • by nacturation (646836) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `noitarutcan'> on Saturday September 10, 2011 @04:24AM (#37361052) Journal

    The attractiveness of the opposite sex greatly increases by two to four beers.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "The attractiveness of the opposite sex greatly increases by two to four beers."

      Which begs the question of feeding THEM the beer or drinking it oneself.

      • by HornWumpus (783565) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @11:29AM (#37362772)

        That's an easy optimization problem.

        Drink until they look good, continue feeding them beer until they think you look good. The problems are freeloaders (people better looking then you leaching your drunk girls), being 'too drunk to fuck', running out of money, STDs, rape issues and really really fat girls running your own game against you.

  • I thought its "thing" was the weirdly shaped bottle [wikimedia.org].

    • You can buy it in cans (certainly done so here in the UK). Why you'd want to is another matter.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Why you'd want to is another matter.

        cans float in water.. it's a little more difficult to break the neck off a can and use as a weapon. but more practical, a lot of event areas as well as concerned parents bar glass bottles so your broken bottle today doesn't end up causing the cut foot 2 weeks later when little sally runs across it barefoot.

        But i agree, otherwise, it's not a good idea to trade a bottle for a can.

  • 1. This is old news.
    2. Amplified signal power in your direction == amplified noise for your neighbors in other directions.
    3. This is probably illegal in many jurisdictions.
    4. Nerds don't measure "signal strength" in "bars". Use S/N or leave /..
    5. ???
    6. Profit!!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2011 @05:23AM (#37361240)

      OTOH, amplified signal power in one direction = reduced noise for your neighbors in other directions. Granted, if you measure signal in "bars", it's safe to assume you know nothing about laying out a site for minimal interference, but for those who know and care, directional antennas of modest gain can be quite effective for making your home network work without tragedying up the commons.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Obviously you're going to measure the maximum gain and adjust the power output to avoid exceeding the allowed EIRP. Then you'll still have better reception, and if the other side also uses a high-gain antenna pointed at your access point, you can each hear the other side better (because you lowered the received noise and increased the received signal), radiate less total power and create less noise for other Wifi users. That's what you're going to do, right?

    • by Hatta (162192) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @08:10AM (#37361754) Journal

      2. Amplified signal power in your direction == amplified noise for your neighbors in other directions.
      3. This is probably illegal in many jurisdictions.

      This isn't amplification. It's just a reflector.

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      S/N measured in dB.

      Or signal strength in dBm.

      At least this seems to be an alternative to the cantenna [uberreview.com] solution.

      And there are a lot of cantenna articles on /. already: http://ask.slashdot.org/tag/cantenna [slashdot.org]

  • Bars (Score:5, Informative)

    by TarMil (1623915) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @04:37AM (#37361092)
    Since when is WiFi signal strength measured in bars? It's a pressure unit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gaygirlie (1657131)

      Since when is WiFi signal strength measured in bars? It's a pressure unit.

      The writer is likely a person that doesn't have much experience with WiFi technology and is only familiar with the GUI WiFi signal icon. I agree that telling some actual numbers of expect boost to signal would be more useful, but.. well, the point is that it boosts the signal reception somewhat, ignoring the point and nitpicking about the wording expresses only arrogance.

      • Re:Bars (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pjt33 (739471) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @05:25AM (#37361244)

        Asking for figures to be given with units which actually make sense indicates competence, not arrogance. The arrogance, if any, is the submitter assuming that everyone uses the same software as them (boosting by "at least 2 to 4 bars" indicates that it can boost by more, which would be quite impressive with software where 4 bars is as high as it goes), but I think it's fairer to assume ignorance than arrogance.

        • Re:Bars (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotm a i l .com> on Saturday September 10, 2011 @10:45AM (#37362530) Journal

          Asking for figures to be given with units which actually make sense indicates competence, not arrogance....

          Not really. For the person asking the question "Will this mean I can get reliable wifi in my bedroom now?" the qualitative experience of "I'm seeing two to four more bars" is a relatively meaningful unit. The little 'bar'-type displays of wifi signal strength, or battery life, or whatever other electronic property one might wish a consumer to be aware of virtually always have between 4 and 6 bars at full scale; one doesn't have to be familiar with a particular brand or device in order to interpret a 2-to-4-bar increase as significant-but-not-magical.

          In contrast, saying "The reflector provided me with a 4 dB gain" isn't helpful to the average individual ("The router is how loud now?") and shrug-worthy to any competent electrical engineer ("Meh; that's about what I would have guessed. The gain is going to depend quite a bit on exactly how the can is placed and shaped - and on the design of my router - anyway; I'll just fiddle with mine until I get the best signal.")

          Demanding precise measurements in technically-correct units characterizing a one-off device held together with Blu-Tack isn't an indication of competence, it's an indication of arrogance and pedantry.

      • Re:Bars (Score:5, Funny)

        by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @05:31AM (#37361268) Homepage Journal

        The writer is likely a person that doesn't have much experience with WiFi technology

        Or beer for that matter. I mean, Stella Artois?

        First time accepted submitter? Hopefully the last time too.

        • by moortak (1273582)
          It isn't a bad looking can though.
        • "Initially marketed as a premium, ever-so-stylish French lager (even if it was actually Belgian) aimed at the upmarket drinker, it rapidly became "a success story beyond anything the beer trade had seen", says Graham Holter, editor of Off Licence News.

          The advertising campaign was hugely successful in increasing awareness of the brand. And this was soon coupled with huge price promotions. Despite the "reassuringly expensive" tagline, Stella Artois is very often anything but.

          Says one advertising executive who

        • by gpuk (712102)

          Lol true. In the UK Stella Artois is referred to as "wife beater"

      • by shitzu (931108)

        It does not "boost" the signal at all. It directs it. Basically it makes a directional antenna out of your omnidirectinal antenna. How much it helps, depends on your home and the placement of your wifi access point. If your wifi ap happens to be in the center of your domicile (where a reasonable person would put it) this cantenna does more harm than good.

        • I thought the placement of the reflector was odd. They intentionally tell you to place the antenna as close as possible to the back of the dish (since the antenna goes through the "drink hole"). The focus point is definitely nowhere near there, they should have cut it so that the drink hole would be as far as possible from the back of the dish.

      • Perhaps the writer is just trying to write an article for regular people rather than people who spend all day in their basement, tweaking the hanging bicycle they're using as an antenna to process radio waves from distant stars.
    • Re:Bars (Score:5, Funny)

      by nacturation (646836) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `noitarutcan'> on Saturday September 10, 2011 @04:46AM (#37361122) Journal

      My iPad displays its WiFi signal strength in kilopascals, or you can change this in the settings to display millimeters of mercury.

    • by wmspider (1333299)
      I can make you a GUI that makes the signal go to 12 bars! Even without beer cans! http://xkcd.com/670/ [xkcd.com]
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Better bars than kiloPascals...
    • This story is about beer cans, so I thought it would be obvious, but I'll spell it out for you: It means that you can see at least 2-4 more Pubs' WiFi hotspots from your flat.

    • by rossdee (243626)

      Real nerds measure 'pressure' in (kilo)pascals

    • On Saturday, it's not even nighttime yet, judging from the Scoring 5 on Informative, I'd say the Slashdotters have started drinking WAY too early, sheesh...

  • by alexhs (877055) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @04:46AM (#37361126) Homepage Journal

    Does it work with the iPhone4 ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2011 @04:53AM (#37361150)

    you could run the freeantennas.com template [freeantennas.com] through your printer, cut out the bits, glue them together, slap a bit of tin foil on the back, and off you go. It really takes less than ten minutes to make one. That's an easy 8..9dB extra gain.

    The thing that's critical to beer can and paper-and-tinfoil construction is a reasonable parabolic shape and positioning the antenna at that parabole's focal point. Though a nice square angle will do too, but there again it's the focal point that does it.

  • News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbetcher (973062) <nbetcher@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday September 10, 2011 @04:55AM (#37361164)
    Haven't we known this since 802.11 came out? Pringles can, anyone?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, and no. If you cut up a pringles can and use it like this cut-up beer can, then yes. But the trick of the pringles can was that you could use it as a waveguide, or you could put a yagi inside it. It's pretty poor as a circular waveguide for 2.4GHz actually as it's too small; dunno about the yagi inside.

      Building a good waveguide is a bit trickier than this. It starts with most materials expecting you to do all the horrible math yourself (it boils down to two constants, eventually, after you've fed the r

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      I was thinking the same thing, and a Pringles can is easier and cheaper. This is kind of like a higher form of dupes.

  • Proper beer comes in bottles, or barrels, you insensitive clods!

  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @05:26AM (#37361246)
    It might work, but I built one of the antennas described below for my brother, and the improvement was noticeable in terms of measured signal strength. http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template/ [freeantennas.com]

    So it would be better with a beer can *and* a couple of pieces of foamcore cut into parabolas...
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Actually that is false since you're assuming the receiver has no gain. A typical small antenna found on wifi routers have significant gain horizontally as you rarely have a computer sitting above or below one. By combining the cylindrical shape of the beer can with the horizontally streched doughnut radiation patern of the receiving antenna, the result actually looks like a parabolic dish with a point receiver. A parabolic dish would provide some additional gain but no where near a much a people commonly th

  • Boosting a wi-fi signal should be done only when one is having issues due to signal strength. The signal strength should be just enough to get good connection in the radius one intends to use it in (say your apartment/house). If it goes out further than that it is actually a negative thing. The stronger the signal the further it goes out and more vulnerable your wi-fi becomes as it is broadcast over larger area. Also it causes interference with other networks which reduces quality of all the interfering net
  • A long, long time ago...
    I can still remember
    How that tech news used to make me smile.
    And I knew if I had my chance
    That I could make those geeknerds dance
    And, maybe, theyâ(TM)d be happy for a while.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      August had me weeping
      When taco announced the he'd be leaving
      Bad news on the front page
      Geeks left in fits of nerd rage

      I cant remember if I cried
      The day this site would no longer provide
      But something touched me deep inside
      the day... slashdot died.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      slashdot should roll back a bit.

      like, having to to go to "options" for checking no karma bonus sucks big time.

      sucks even more when you come back from that options menu and see slashdot reloading the page for no apparent reason and the already written text disappears into oblivion.

      slashdot doesn't need ajax, especially when it's done fucked up...

  • I'm pretty sure this was covered years ago via http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template/ [freeantennas.com]

    Also, pretty sure the signal is not amplified, just directed.

  • Ten cents is ten cents in this economy...

  • I thought the whole point was to go cheap.

    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      The people who want it on the cheap have been gluing aluminium foil to cardboard - per. the designs over the past decade.

      All the author is trying to do is impress us that he/she/it is old enough to drink. That falls down flat as all the beer reference says is they're not old enough to know a decent brew.

  • The brand doesn't matter for the router, but I suppose it would be cooler looking if it were Asahi or Stella Artois than if it were Budweiser

    I didn't know Budweiser made routers!

  • Speaking about radio waves, I always have a hard time visualizing how they fly through the air, what shields them, what reflects them, what is transparent for them, etc. So does anybody know images that demonstrate how the world would look like when seen with radio waves instead of regular light, how a room would look like just illuminated by your WLan router? For IR one can find a few nice pictures such as these [nasa.gov], but for radio waves I haven't been able to find anything, aside of course from astronomy pictu

  • by GerryHattrick (1037764) on Saturday September 10, 2011 @08:38AM (#37361892)
    Contents are strange to eat, but the cylindrical foil cans with a dipole epoxied inside are great for long distances.
  • Glue some alluminum foil on a piece of heavy paper (construction, card stock, etc) in the same shape. Been doing this since about 2004.
    • by hey! (33014)

      There's an antenna guy who put up designs for a parabolic wi-fi reflector that had the correct geometry for reflecting and focusing wi-fi signals. You printed it out on card stock, cut, folded, glued and covered the reflective surface with foil. The part which held the reflector in the correct shape had a hole you used to slip it over the access point's antenna that would position the reflector just right. The effect of this thing was quite dramatic.

      Don't have the link still but people could probably stil

  • What utter useless crap. This is just a reboot of the Pringle's can antenna, which may have some use for war-driving but is not so great for actual communication. When you use such an antenna to narrow your signal's transmission pattern and to focus received transmissions, you need to have some sort of accuracy to match its precision, and that accuracy and precision have to be repeatable, and survive the environment they are installed it. This is not the days of old, where good antennas cost a few hundred d

  • If your wireless router only has an internal antenna, as mine does, then this is not possible to utilize without opening the router case up.
  • in relation to beer.. What is this "can" thing you speak of ?
  • Hello...?!? Early 21st century called and wants its' DIY project back.

    Cantennas have been around for over a decade.

    In fact a really simple search... of /. , shows it was first mentioned
    (Pringles) on August 27th, 2001:
    http://slashdot.org/story/01/08/27/172225/Wireless-Freenets-As-The-Parasitic-Grid [slashdot.org]

    I'm glad we are getting more "frist tme pissers" but it would be nice
    if we get some fresh articles with it.

    -AI

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