The following email is one of is one of the best I have received here at DIY central. It's from "mojobob", a disabled person living on a limited income. He resides in a small town just south of Lansing, Michigan and his story is inspirational. Enjoy!
First of all, let me say that I am not real technically inclined, and due to my disability I am not able to spend the time required to build some of the antennas found on your website. But, I was able to use some of the info I found here and devised my own antenna. I have a buffalo usb wifi adapter and could not connect to the local wifi hotspot that is provided by our county for it's residents. This wifi hotspot is 2 city blocks (about 1/4 mile)away. I decided to attempt to build my own wifi antenna to connect to this hotspot (especially since it is free to residence and guests of the county per their webpage where you have to agree to their terms of service to get access, and since I am a tax-paying resident of this county).
Please do not get me wrong here. I am not condoning pirating free internet services. I stumbled onto your diy parabolic antenna reflector webpage and read the entire page. I then went to your coffee can antenna and pringles cantenna webpages and read them as well. Since I am not very well versed with understanding what and how to build these antennas, I figure I would try something less time consuming and less technical in nature. Since I am disabled and tire very quickly walking the 2 blocks uphill to the wifi hotspot at our county courthouse, I had to find someway of connecting from inside my home. I tried several different items with my Buffalo Air station wireless adapter, but could never get more than an intermittent 5% signal. I was about to give up, when all of a sudden my brain snapped into gear. I took a 9 inch aluminum pie tin (these are usually throw away items when people finish eating the pie). I guessed at where the center of the tin was and cut out a small rectangle hole just the width and thickness of my usb wifi adapter. Then I shoved the adapter through the hole and using a couple of small pieces of duct tape (shiny grey in color) and taped the adapter on the backside of the pie tin. Then I placed it behind the screen of my aluminum storm door (which faces towards the hotspot 2 blocks from my home. Then I plugged in the 6 ft usb cable into my usb port of my laptop and to the wifi adapter. Voila!!! I was connecting with 72-80% signal strength.
I couldn't believe my luck, so I unplugged the cable from my laptop and ran it inside my window (still connected to the adapter in my screen door) and reconnected to my favorite recliner. I still got the same 72-80% signal strength. So i started surfing the internet at about 1.3Mbps connection speeds. Wow! This is soooo cool! Now instead of using my cane and walking the 2 blocks with my laptop to get online, I can now connect from inside my home and surf for hrs. My total cost was the original $35 for the usb wifi adapter (which I had for my laptop anyways), and the $4 for the dutch apple pie (Sara Lee-which I splurged on when my monthly retirement check arrived). Not bad for someone on a limited income. I also was shocked to find about 5 or 6 other wifi networks (which for obvious reasons I chose not to connect to) with signal strengths varying from 11% to 94%. But the fact that I was able to get such great results from something so simple and cheap is fantastic.
Thanks for all the great info you and others have supplied here. It really did help to give me enough understanding to be able to build my own wifi antenna. I hope that with the info I have supplied here that maybe it will help someone else who also may not be able to spend the time needed, or have the understanding to be able to build a pringles or coffee can antenna. I spent a total of about 5 minutes building my pie tin antenna with great results.