Networking

Peter Cochrane's Blog: Out of range?

Simple fixes for getting online

Written in a Lisbon hotel bedroom and dispatched via my home LAN two days later.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from one of my start-up companies gearing up for an exhibition and demo that was dependent on having online connectivity.

Unfortunately, the location was at a marina some 500 metres from the nearest wi-fi hotspot and no 3G signal was visible. They wanted to know whether I could help.

In my lab I looked out a couple of old wireless routers and a wi-fi extender plus a wi-fi dongle. About an hour later I was able to get four bars at 200 metres and began to get confident that this was going to be an easy fix.

To get the final throw I needed to focus the energy in a beam and enlisted the help of an old domestic satellite dish and a dongle. The rough and ready set-up is shown below.

On the day the team opted to use the 3G dongle. They managed to pull five bars of signal from an initial level of zero.

So it occurred to me that many of you folks living out in the country, villages and towns, who email me from time to time complaining of net deprivation, might just appreciate this very simple, low-cost solution.

All you have to do is make sure the dongle and especially the USB connector cannot get wet. Anything from a plastic canteen cup to a plastic bag should do the trick - depending on how professional you would like it to appear.

One last warning; watch out for the sun and the UV rays that degrade plastic and for the full enclosures that raise the temperature above 50C. Make sure there is some ventilation and adequate drainage holes should water actually get in.

Oh, and if you are having trouble getting a good mobile phone signal - standing in front of a dish also helps but it isn't very portable. Enjoy.

Check out more blogs from Peter Cochrane here

And don't miss out on his latest video blog here.

About Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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