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Choosing a WiFi Antenna

 

choosing wifi antenna

What is the best WiFi antenna for me?

Some of you that have come here are looking for a quick, simple and inexpensive solution to your wireless problem. You are not that interested in a complex diy project due to lack of time, skills or inertia. You don't want to digest a lot of theory and math. That's O.K. However, you do need to have some basic understanding of the terminology before you can make an informed decision as to which solution is the best fit for your situation. Hang around for a bit and take a look around, it will be well worth your time.

The best thing you can do to extend the range of your wifi signal is to add an external antenna with stronger gain to your system.

There are two basic types of antennas: directional and omni-directional. Directional antennas, primarily used in point-to-point networks, concentrate the waves in one direction much like a flashlight concentrates light in a narrow beam, in a "conical" radiation pattern. Directional antennas include yagi, dish, panel, and sector. The pringles, coffee can and parabolic antennas are directional. Omni-directional antennas (omni is a prefix meaning "all"), can transmit radio waves in a 360 degree "doughnut" radiation pattern. They generally have lower gain than directional antennas.

Visualize how antennas work with a flashlight. Point a flashlight at the ceiling - the circular pattern it makes is light an omni-directional antenna. If you use a larger flashlight, the size of the circle grows larger. Now, take the same flashlight and point it across the room. If there is no interference, the light travels far in the direction you point the flashlight. There is little or no light behind the flashlight, and the pattern of the light is cone-shaped - it starts small at the source and then grows with distance. This is the way a directional antenna works.

For multi-point to multi-point use omnidirectional antennas on both ends, for point to multi-point use an omnidirectional antenna for the point (or center) and directional antennas for the endpoints, for point to point use directional antennas on both ends.

You will need to decide where to add your external antenna. Distance is an important factor to consider. Connecting it to your computer is usually less of a security risk than connecting it to your router. However if you are comfortable with your network's security, than you should get more signal strength with the external antenna at your router. If you are interested in mobile wifi and accessing public high speed wireless networks directly from your car, truck, or RV, there is fun and entertaining reading here. Select from the list of topics on the left side of this page to further explore your options.

For an easy, no-tools setup on any desktop or notebook computer with USB support you can connect your USB-equipped desktop or notebook computer to a wireless network with the Cisco-Linksys Wireless-G USB Network Adapter with Speedbooster WUSB54GS. Using your high-speed USB 2.0 port, the Adapter delivers quick data rates without the trouble of opening up the case of your computer. Using a longer USB cable gives you the flexibility to position the unit and its external antenna to your advantage.

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Revised: 07/07/2011