How to Build a Wi-Fi Antenna to Connect With a USB

By Martin Wolfson

Satellite Dish Improves WiFi Reception
i satellite tv dish image by Kathy Burns from

Old satellite dishes are fairly easy to come by. They provide an excellent basis for boosting the reception capability of any USB WiFi adapter. USB WiFi adapters offer some distinct advantages over other DIY WiFi antennas that use coaxial cable, since USB cables aren't prone to the signal loss that happens with any long coaxial length. This antenna also does not require a WiFi card with an external connector or the pigtail cable to connect the coaxial cable to the card. So, if free WiFi hot spots are your connection goal, build a WiFi antenna to connect with a USB cable instead.

Remove the LNB unit that receives TV signals, and replace it with a USB WiFi adapter.

Secure the USB WiFi adapter to the satellite dish's extension arm, pointing towards the reflective surface of the dish. Use plastic ties, a metal strap or a plastic L bracket.

Connect a USB cable. A USB cable extension may be needed, depending upon the length of cable to the computer or router, but USB doesn't suffer the signal loss over distance that coaxial cable does.

Position the dish outside in the direction of known WiFi hot spots generally, as the radio frequency (RF) signals are very directional. The signal strength boost with the dish as the reflective surface should increase up to 600 percent over the USB adapter alone, exceeding 15dB.

Connect the cable to a computer, using any available USB port. Windows will automatically detect the port.

Install the WiFi software. It comes with USB adapters or can be downloaded from the Internet. The Wireless Network Setup Wizard in Windows XP will step you through the process.

Connect to available WiFi hot spots. Enjoy greater wireless range and perhaps web surfing for free.