3D PRINTING LONG RANGE WIFI ANTENNAS
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[This project first appeared in NODE Vol 01, our independent zine. Check it out by clicking the zine link at the top of the NODE site.]

[UPDATE: Some antenna experts did get in touch with me, and suggested this design is not great. While it does work, they tell me it is flawed, and nowhere near as efficient as it could be. I'll look into that, thanks for the feedback!]

This simple guide will show you how to create a long range wifi antenna, using a 3D printer, and some other cheap, readily available parts.

All the parts combined only cost a few dollars, and the process to put it together is very straight forward.

- Youtube mirror
- Source Files

DESIGN

There are a bunch of tutorials out there showing you how to create antennas out of sticks and paperclips, and all sorts of stuff like that, and while cool, they are usually pretty time consuming to measure out and build.

That's why I created this 3D printed yagi antenna as a way to remove the need for manual measuring, and make the process very simple.

This design is based off another 2.4GHz yagi antenna I own, where I just recreated all the necessary parts, like the element sizes and spacing, and reduced other parts that aren't critical.

The antenna can also be taken apart to save space when storing in a bag or something, which could be a handy feature if you're on the move with it.

The performance of the antenna is decent, and is maybe only slightly less powerful than the professional metal one that it's design is based on. I'd still think this could reach perhaps 1-2 miles if you had a good line of sight, which isn't bad for something that costs so little to create.

These things would be perfect as a way to boost signals in large buildings, or connecting an outhouse to a main building etc. Perhaps they could be a cheap way to connect a small scale local meshnet or something? There are lots of potential possibilities.

PARTS

- 3D-Printed Antenna Parts
- USB Wifi Dongle with SMA adapter
- 14AWG Flexible Silicone Wire (~1m length)
- Male to Female Reverse SMA Cable
- M6 x 6mm Screw
- M6 x 10mm Hex Standoff
- Small rubber band

BUILD GUIDE

1. 3D print all the antenna pieces, and snap the two halves together.

2. Insert the wire into the spaces (they should fit snuggly), and cut the ends so they're flush.

3. Push the two halves of the driven element into the antenna. Make sure the top half has the opening facing toward the back of the antenna.

4. Wind the wire around the driven element, making sure it starts at the beginning opening, and ends a little after the end of the opening opposite.

5. Cut the wire, strip 5mm off the end, and tin it with solder.

6. Take the female end of the reverse SMA cable, cut it to about 5cm, and strip the end so the inner core is exposed. (Make sure to cut the outer shielding away)

7. Solder the SMA cable to the wire on the driven element. If the wire isn't sitting down, you could add bluetac or something to hold it in place.

8. Add the hex nut and screw to the back of the antenna. The M6 size works with all standard tripod mounts.

9. Screw your USB dongle into the SMA adapter, secure it with a rubber band, and you're ready to use it. I used a mini tripod to position the antenna, and it works great.

CONCLUSION

So that is how to create a 3D printed wifi antenna. As always, all the files for this are on the NODE site, so check them out if you want to make your own.

I also made a 3D printed, helix, pringles cantenna type design, which you can read more about in the zine.

I'm not an antenna or radio wave expert, so if you have any suggestions on improving the designs, I would gladly welcome them.

Alright, thanks for watching, and I'll see you in the next video.

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CREDITS

Music: Xtract - Audiotool Day 2016 (CC License)

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BY NODE