Monday, October 23, 2006


This past weekend I finally found the time to assemble everything and give the dish/double biquad antenna a try, and it worked surprisingly well.

Here's how it went: first, I downloaded a copy of dd-wrt from, and used it to replace the built in OS on my Linksys WRT54G wireless router. It turned out to be a simple enough process, and took less than 30 minutes. By the way, it's amazing the additional functionality this replacement router OS offers -- even if you are not interested in building your own antenna, you should give this a look. It's a serious improvement.

Next, I removed one of the antennas from the router, and connected the router directly to the double biquad using a pigtail cable. I was preparing to hook the double biquad to a dish when I noticed that the router was already reporting more than a dozen available access points -- even without the dish!

This was phenomenal.

I browsed through the available access points to discover that the free wireless network I wanted to connect to was already showing up as available -- and this from inside my house, at my kitchen table. I Clicked on "Join" from within the dd-wrt admin tool, and lo and behold, I was suddenly connected to the internet. Admittedly, this was only a 1 meg connection, but I figured that would improve when I mounted the antenna to the dish, and put the dish on the roof. I made a note of the MAC address of the machine I had connected to so I could figure out just how far away the access point was.

Next, I mounted the double biquad onto the satellite dish. I decided to try the StarChoice dish first, as it was the largest, and I figured it would collect the strongest signal. Mounting was simple enough. I simply tore apart the LNB and then used a power drill and a wood screw to mount it to the plastic housing. That was simple. After I finished, it occurred to me that I should probably have taken into account the fact that I live in Canada, and we don't have the mildest of winters. So, it was off to the dollar store to see if I could find a microwave safe, watertight plastic container to cover the antenna. This turned out to be simple as well. Armed with a Xacto knife and a tube of silicone sealant, I proceeded to mount the assembly a second time, this time in a waterproof container.

An hour later I was up on the roof, and trying to point the dish where I knew there to be an access point or two.

It took some experimentation, but I managed to get a stable, relatively fast 4 meg connection to the wireless network in town.

Ah, the sweet smell of success.... and money saved.