Wi-Fi

Peter Cochrane's Blog: Poor wi-fi? Cook up a better signal with a baking tray

Amazing how a kitchen utensil can get you out of the soup…
Wi-fi experiment

After some experimentation, it should be possible to find the best position for the baking tray in relation to the laptop's internal wi-fi antennaPhoto: Peter Cochrane/silicon.com

Written on a boat cruising on the Norfolk Broads and dispatched to silicon.com the same day via an open wi-fi connection with the aid of a novel signal reflector.

No matter how well prepared you are, there are times when you don't quite have to hand all the technology you really need.

Today, I find myself on a boat in just that situation and unable to get online with wi-fi or 2.5G for want of a better antenna.

My mobile phone is showing one bar of 2.5G and one bar of wi-fi. My laptop isn't doing any better, and a data connection is proving impossible.

There are some buildings behind the trees on the other side of the river, and my scanner is showing a number of open access wi-fi opportunities. But all I have is what I carry, and that does not include a high-gain antenna.

Establishing the best position for the baking tray relative to the 2.5G dongle is a little more obvious

Establishing the best position for the baking tray relative to the 2.5G dongle is a little more obviousPhoto: Peter Cochrane/silicon.com

Time to improvise. A visit to the galley turns up a much-used baking tray. A few simple experiments later and I'm able to locate the direction of the 2.5G base station and the strongest wi-fi signal.

So I now have three bars of wi-fi and 2.5G by way of the unlikely combination of a baking tray and some judicious positioning.

You won't find this in any textbook, but it works sufficiently well for me to complete my email and other business online. All the other options would have been far more expensive and far less convenient.

About

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.

11 comments
NZJester
NZJester

I have seen a Wok used to focus a week WiFi signal. A local commercial company that supplies WiFi connections for businesses also uses WiFi receivers placed onto a satellite dish on top of buildings to extend the rang of their WiFi signals

fierogt
fierogt

back in the day (1971) we used to stand beside our dispatch panel van to speak on the UHF brick radios while on the flight-ilne. Turn the truck perpendicular to the direction you wanted to speak.

sarai1313
sarai1313

been doing tis for years now .longer cord and some kind of reflictor and you extend the range for reception.got one from over a 1/2 mile.you just need to site it in and deal with slow upload.

techrondo
techrondo

Another good trick that takes up less room is an extra long USB cable in your computer bag. You can then string it up near a window or... Use it with a reflector to get even more gain, not being limited by the USB port location on you computer.

frankinks
frankinks

I've played with improving WiFi signal strength also and found that many metal pans and bowls work to concentrate WiFi signals and thus making it possible to use an otherwise weak signal. Best I've found so far is a stainless steel mixing bowl. Once I get it located in the right direction it really increases the signal I get.

Computer Dave
Computer Dave

You Were On A Boat! Put the laptop away and enjoy the cruise! I will, however, keep that trick in mind should I find myself out of range.

peter
peter

NZJester = I didn't have a wok or a parabolic dish on board - if I had I would have used them

peter
peter

fireogt = I couldn't get a van on the boat :-)

peter
peter

d'oh = Using baking trays? Invest in a good antenna - they work far better :-)

peter
peter

You actually get no gain at all - you just access more energy from a better location than the side of your laptop....

peter
peter

Computer Dave = When you run your own business, when others depend on you delivering, then you do whatever it takes...and sometimes it takes :-)

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