How to Make a Wi-Fi Antenna Out of Tin Foil
Numerous factors influence Wi-Fi signal strength, including the distance from the router, the number of wireless networks in the area and the presence of interference from devices such as microwave ovens. Although it may sound unlikely, you can help offset these issues by crafting a simple antenna -- known as a parabolic reflector -- from tin foil and sturdy paper. According to Macworld and Popular Science, this do-it-yourself gizmo can increase your wireless throughput by about 12 to 46 percent, depending on your distance from the router, and potentially triple the range of your wireless access point.
Things You'll Need
- Windsurfer Ez-12 parabolic reflector antenna template
- Thick stock (business card paper or acetate sheets)
- Aluminum foil
- Glue stick
- Hobby knife
Visit FreeAntennas.com (link in Resources) and download the free template for the Windsurfer Ez-12 parabolic reflector antenna. Scale the image so that it fits onto a standard 8.5-by-11-inch sheet for printing -- the entirety of the image should fit on the paper, but printing to exact dimensions is not essential; however, remember that a larger antenna leads to a greater boost in signal.
Print the image of the template onto a sheet of thick stock, such as business card paper. Carefully cut the two shapes -- the semi-circular, tabbed “Windsurfer” image and the rounded rectangle that will form the antenna's parabola -- from the paper using a pair of scissors.
Trace the shape of the rounded rectangle over a sheet of aluminum foil, outlining it with a marker. Cut the shape out of the foil and affix it using a glue stick to the back side of the rectangle so that the template is still visible on one side. Allow the glue to dry completely.
Cut the six separate lines indicated on the rectangular piece using a hobby knife. This creates six slots in the reflective surface. Cut the plus-sign-like lines in the “Windsurfer” piece with your scissors if your router already has an external antenna.
Insert the six tabs of the “Windsurfer” piece into the six slots you cut into the reflective rectangle shape. This lends support to the rectangular sheet and gives it a slight curve, making it into a parabola. Likewise, the two plug-sign-shaped slots allow the support to slip over an external antenna, if available.
Slip the parabolic reflector antenna over your router's stick-style antenna or place it behind the router if it does not have a visible antenna. Orient the parabolic reflector antenna so that the foil side faces the direction in which you'd like to send the signal.
Tips & Warnings
- If business card paper is not available, print the Windsurfer Ez-12 template out and glue it to an acetate sheet, which is the type of material used for document sleeves.
- To further improve your signal strength, create two parabolic reflector antennas; position both behind your router or on its antennas if it has dual external antennas.
- Experiment with distances between your Internet-enabled device and the router you've equipped with the parabolic reflector antenna to find the optimal connection speed. According to tests performed by PCMag, this DIY solution works best within a range of 50 feet.
References & Resources
- Macworld: Fact or Fiction: What Affects Wi-Fi Speed?
- Popular Science: Parabolic Reflector Antenna
- PCMag: Wireless Witch: DIY Wireless Extenders Put to the Test
- YouTube: How to Make a Wi-Fi Extender
- Free Antennas: Ez-12 Parabolic Reflector Template
- PCMag: 10 Ways to Boost Your Wireless Signal
- Mashable: How to Improve You Wi-Fi Signal
- Gizmodo: Five Free Ways to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal