What is the best WiFi antenna for me?

Posted: 23/04/2009 in How to....

OK, so I have been asked by friends and work colleges over the years how to get a better wireless signal for their laptops and computers, so in this article I thought I’d go through the antenna types you can use.

The best thing you can do to extend the range of your wifi signal is to add an external antenna with stronger gain to your system.

There are two basic types of antennas: directional and omni-directional. Directional antennas, primarily used in point-to-point networks, concentrate the waves in one direction much like a flashlight concentrates light in a narrow beam, in a “conical” radiation pattern.

Directional antennas include yagi, dish, panel, and sector. The pringles, coffee can and parabolic antennas are directional. Omni-directional antennas (omni is a prefix meaning “all”), can transmit radio waves in a 360 degree “doughnut” radiation pattern. They do however have lower gain than directional antennas.

Visualize how antennas work with a flashlight. Point a flashlight at the ceiling – the circular pattern it makes is light an omni-directional antenna. If you use a larger flashlight, the size of the circle grows larger. Now, take the same flashlight and point it across the room. If there is no interference, the light travels far in the direction you point the flashlight. There is little or no light behind the flashlight, and the pattern of the light is cone-shaped – it starts small at the source and then grows with distance. This is the way a directional antenna works.

For multi-point to multi-point use omnidirectional antennas on both ends, for point to multi-point use an omnidirectional antenna for the point (or center) and directional antennas for the endpoints, for point to point use directional antennas on both ends.

You will need to decide where to add your external antenna. Distance is an important factor to consider. Connecting it to your computer is usually less of a security risk than connecting it to your router. However if you are comfortable with your network’s security, than you should get more signal strength with the external antenna at your router.

Replace the Wireless Router WiFi Antenna

How to Build a Wireless Home Network – Tutorial

How to Optimally Position a Wireless Access Point or Router

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