Wifi is bloody everywhere.
These days you cant stick your laptop out of the door without at least stumbling over one or more SSID signals indicating that multiple wireless routers are up and running in your vicinity. Wonderful wireless routers blast their unsecured unprotected signals at your wifi-card, propagating not only their default SSID name like "linksys" or "belkin" but also an ip, a chance to hitch a free wifi ride. Thus proving the glorious stupidity of their owners who graciously grant us a wifi mesh to use virtually anywhere.
But there is also the other part of the story. A frustrating story of NOT getting a wifi signal through. Forget broadcasting your signal to far of DHCP-requesting wardrivers. Sometimes you can have a problem in getting your wifi signal to go where it is supposed to go, let alone go beyond. You come to the point that you think your house must be built by the secret service because no matter how hard you try , its just impossible to get the wifi signal where you want it. Wether its the concrete wall ,the steel in the floor , or the microwave in the kitchen , something is messing up your wifi signal. Why ?
One of the reasons is that most wireless routers/ acces points (and wifi cards) have what we call an 'omnidirectional' antenna. An antenna that sends and receives the wifi signal in all directions and spreads its transmitting power over a 360 degree radius. Now If your router was mounted dead center in the middle of your house that would be ideal. But we all know its not. A setup like that would require you to re-organize all of your furniture and would make your family members do the 24 hour limbo underneath the network cable running to the darn thing.
What we need is : An antenna ! Now I can hear you moan in agony. You're a computer geek, not an electro-nerd. You have no idea how to build your own antenna or where until this post blissfully unaware that you could even swap out antenna's on your wifi equipment. But don't worry ! We are gonna go Jodie-Foster-in-Contact-Deflector-Dish style .. With nothing more then a peace of paper.
The trick is "aiming" your wireless signal TOWARDS the areas where you need it, and possibly away from the neighboring apartment (where you know that your neighbor is using your wifi to surf Russian-goat-porn sites) So , either you BUY a directional Can-tenna like the one in the pic above .. OR you deflect the rays from your own wifi router. You can do this by using two some of these great parabolic antenna's made from nothing more then .. Cardboard.
You can do this in a very simple way like this.
Or go more elaborate like this.
or keep it a little simple like this.
THIS great site will show you how to make them and will give you a graphical representation of what your little cardboard deflector will do to the outgoing signal.
The great part is most setups come with great diagrams that you can print ant cut out so its easy as pie ! You don't need to read all the math part, best is that you use a program like NETSTUMBLER and measure what you little setup does for you. The good news is that you cant really damage your wireless router , there is no soldering or anything involved, just deflecting the signal.
So have fun, get your scissors and enjoy !