More things to do with a Leatherman

This is a wireless router: a gadget that connects computers to a network using radio signals.

If you stand it on this chair and walk down the path towards my hose with the laptop, you can watch the radio signals getting weaker and weaker until they die alltogether…
….just here!
By the hedge in front of my house.
One possible low-tech solution is to download, and print out, the template for a Cylindrical Deep Dish Parabolic Reflector.
Transfer the shape to a piece of corrigated cardboard by pricking the pattern with a pin.
Then cut along the dotted line.
Meanwhile fold a piece of wire mesh (for unsuccessfully keeping rats out of your chimney) into shape as specified by the template.

(In the background in this picture is the path to my house down which one has to walk with the laptop to check the signal strength)
And crease the fold, by hitting it with a stone so, so you can tear the wire along the fold-line.
Then carefully bend the wire into the parabolic shape described on the template.
Make a small hole in the cardboard former exactly at the focal point…
… and poke the antennae of the routher through to hold them in position.
The wire reflector has to be fastened to the cardboard former …
… so take a bodkin and sew it on.
Then your reflectors are ready to go.
Put the modified router on a chair…
… and point the reflectors towards the house, then set out walking down the path with NetStumbler running on the laptop.
You can configure the software to use the computer’s built-in midi synthesizer to make a noise every second and the pitch of the noise indicates the strength of the signal. This makes the whole process more fun for the college groundsmen who are puzzled to see you wandering about with a small computer making sounds like a one-fingered man’s first piano lesson.
The reflectors make the signal more directional and increase its strength in the direction of the house. Signals can now be detected past the hedge and even inside the house, if you hold the antenna very close to the window. The distance is, in fact, more than the advertised range of the router and the windows and doors all have grids of bars that act like a Faraday cage and effectively keep the signal out. Oddly, I could get an intermittant signal in the coridoor outside my bedroom door but that’s not the best place for me to set up the computer, so I might be forced either to abandon the project or get a couple of Pringles tubes.

Dramatis Personae

All the jobs described above can be delegated to your friends:

  • “The signal ends just here” – Kioko
  • “Just hit it with a stone” — Jackson
  • Cutting and sewing — Benard
  • Farting about — Yours Truly


  1. Drew +Mithi Says:

    Best Blog entry to date 🙂
    Pull the string tighter!
    Two baked bean cans, and Pull the string tight!

    Time to boost the recieving power of your laptop.
    Put the Wireless dongle thing on a 5m cable, then

    What you be needing is more chinese cookware.
    Stage 1:

    Stage 2:


    If that don’t work, then replacing one of the aerials on the router with a wire linked to more fabulous chinese cookware should sort you out.

    Perhaps with a wok or a champion steamer:

    Please report back with further results
    Lala laaaaaaa
    Drew and Mithi

  2. Nic Says:

    Fantastic, there should be more cookware in comptuing!

  3. Chris Says:

    Yayy!! Hackety hackety hack.

    Did you try putting the antennae higher up? Radio waves like being high up.

    Get yourself a cantenna on the roof, mate!

  4. Lydia Says:

    When you get back to the UK, Blue Peter needs you!! Havent been on this site for a while so lots and lots of hugs. 😀

  5. Mark Says:

    Enuf already, I can’t compete with this!

    We only have this router whose antennae are not removable, or at least if removed would no longer be replacable. So Im limited in scope for positioning the antenna in the focus of the dish. Also the dish is a little irregular still. I tried the triuck of rotating the unit through 90 degrees once the antennae were installed and measuring the gain with net stumbler as described on the Chinese cookeare page. I got slightly lower results which kinda suggest the signals weren’t
    being reflected as I’d like them to be.

    Also have a problem positioning the unit. The router has to be connected to our Ethernet LAN and to a power supply. I konw that there are ways of putting power over ethernet and also of putting network over power lines, but we have neither here. This limits me to a long patch cable and a white plastic extension cable from the lab window. Leaving it in the lab is undesirable for reasons of stone walls. There is a student hostel made of stone between the lab and my house so I don’t get line of sight until the base station is out on the verandah as shown in the pictures above. Clearly I can’t leave it there standing on that chair.

    As for putting it up high, its not that simple because of said accommodation block in the way of the roof of the lab, but if there were easy power and ethernet up there I might consider it. Meanwhile Im still wondering if there wasn’t something we coudl do to improve the reflection on those dishes. Here’s where I found the template;

  6. Mark Says:

    There’s clearly something wrong with my comment filter because as far as I understand Drew shouldn’t have been able to post four URLs even though they didn’t contain the word blowjob.

  7. Drew Says:

    Trying to post a rude link:

  8. Mark Says:


  9. Chris Says:

    …it could be worse, could actually be a real site! :blush:

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