How to Build a WiFi Signal Catcher

By Debbie Wash

There are two things needed to build a Wi-Fi catcher: a dish-like surface for the "catcher" part, and a Wi-Fi antenna. Though a Wi-Fi antenna can be built with a quarter wavelength wire of the Wi-Fi frequency, which is 1.2 inches, a USB Wi-Fi adapter is easier to get and inexpensive to use. Think of a TV satellite dish. The dish reflects the TV radio waves to the receiver that faces it. So too does the reflective surface that catches the Wi-Fi signals to send to a Wi-Fi adapter.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal pie plate
  • Nail or hole punch
  • USB Wi-Fi adapter
  • Silicone caulk
  • USB extension cable
  • Electrical tape (optional)
  • Broom handle (optional)
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Screws
  • Wi-Fi software

Step 1

Obtain a large aluminum or metal pie pan.

Step 2

Buy a USB Wi-Fi adapter, either g or n speed. The 802.11g standard for wireless networking supports a maximum bandwidth of 54 Megabits per second (Mbps); the 802.11n standard up to 300 Mbps of maximum bandwidth.

Step 3

Cut a hole in the center of the pie pan using a nail or hole punch. Enlarge the opening enough to push the Wi-Fi adapter halfway through. Apply silicone caulk to secure the bond between the adapter and the reflector pie pan.

Step 4

Connect the female end of a USB cable to the USB port of the Wi-Fi adapter. Wrap it with electrical tape if the antenna will be outside.

Step 5

Screw a length of a wooden or metal broom handle to the flange of the pie pan to add height to your antenna.

Step 6

Plug the male end of the USB cable into any open USB port on your computer, and install the Wi-Fi software that came with your Wi-Fi adapter if you have not done so already.

Step 7

Adjust your Wi-Fi signal catcher in small increments until you find the position that yields the strongest signal strength.

Tips & Warnings

  • Adjusting the Wi-Fi signal catcher in small increments ensures that the optimum signal strength is found. Wi-Fi radio waves are very directional.