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

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