UPDATED 03/29/2020: Embedded video of actual construction of the wifi yagi antenna. Removed angry rant about " instructables" taking my graphic without crediting ab9il.net as the source. After more than a decade, I will just let it go and GTF on with life...
Build this wifi antenna when you want results FAST and have just a few inexpensive tools and supplies available. It will greatly extend your ability to reach wifi access points - well beyond the limits of the dipoles supplied with most routers and some wireless adapters. When connected to a typical USB wireless adapter, the performance is excellent. When connected to a high powered wifi adapter, the performance is astounding! Forget about building those overly hyped wifi cantennas - they don't perform anywhere close to the yagi antennas depicted here. This antenna works best when connected to a wifi adapter, and it works very well as a single router antenna (to extend the range of an access point). Read more below for instructions and a narrative of how they were designed.
Build a wifi yagi antenna for longer range connections.
If your goal is to get wireless internet from another building and use it indoors, you should instead consider using a wireless bridge. If you want to provde strong wireless internet coverage to an area, but cannot provide a fiber optic or ethernet cable to your wireless router, again consider using a wireless bridge to substitute for the unavailable cable, and connect the bridge to the router. A wireless bridge is a better solution for situations such as:
If you are interested in building a high gain wifi yagi antenna, continue reading below for the details.
Reach hotspots via window mounting.
Connect through concrete walls!
The 15 element yagi wifi Antenna
The antenna modeler also
The yagi wifi antenna design depicted here can be built in just an hour or two, and it works great! It is computer designed, made of wood and wire, and provides high gain and directivity. It is directional - favoring wi-fi signals in one direction and rejecting interference from the sides or behind the antenna. The 15 element wi-fi antenna provides over 15 dB of gain (multiplying your effective radiated power by 31), while the larger 20 element wifi antenna provides over 17 dB of gain (multiplying your effective radiated power power by 51). Front to back ratio for both antennas is about 22 dB.
Yagi wifi antennas can be rather difficult to build, but it can be done if you measure precisely and cut precisely. The hard mathematical design work for the wifi antennas shown here was accomplished elegantly using a yagi antenna modeler, created by Kevin Schmidt (W9CF) and Michael Lee.
The on-line antenna modeler initially starts with several examples tailored for operation in the amateur radio bands. One of the best designs is the classic K1FO yagi. By following a few steps, the antenna can be scaled for the 2.4 Ghz wifi 802.11 b/g/n frequencies:
- Start with the 15 or 20 element K1FO 70cm example.
- In the "units" menu, select "Radians."
- In the "conductivity" menu, select "Copper"
- In the "frequency" field, enter 2450 (MHz) for the center of the wifi networking band.
- For "Element Diameter", enter 0.08729 (radians).
- Click the "calculate" button.
- In the "units" menu, select "millimeters."
- Note that the element diameter perfectly matches 14 gauge wire!
- In the file menu, select "list elements."
The elements list will show each antenna element, from the reflector (element 1, position zero mm), to the last director. Do not use a different metal or a different diameter of metal for the elements, or performance will suffer. Changes in element diameter, metal type, or design frequency will need recalculation and the generation of a new elements list. These dimensions work quite well:
|Element||Length (mm)||Position (mm)|
|2 (Driven Element)||58.55||18.34|
|Element||Length (mm)||Position (mm)|
|2 (Driven Element)||58.91||18.34|
Below is a graphic, meticulously adapted by AB9IL from the modeler, which shows element lengths and positions along the boom, measured from the reflector (location zero millimeters). Note that the driven element is depicted in green, and for the wifi yagi project, will be a folded dipole. Why a folded dipole? It provides a good impedance match to coaxial cable when used as the yagi wifi antenna's driven element. In free space, a folded dipole has a 300 ohm impedance at resonance, but the impedance drops drastically when parasitic elements are brought into close proximity.
This high gain wifi antenna can be constructed in a couple of hours and requires some measuring, cutting, bending, and bolting of metal. Use caution around the sharp edges. When finished, put it up and enjoy a very durable antenna that provides outstanding wifi performance.
YAGI Wifi ANTENNA PARTS LIST:
- A 1.2 meter length of 14 AWG bare, solid copper wire.
- One wooden square, 1 cm per side, 50 cm long (70 cm for the 20 element antenna).
- Wire cutters.
- Metric ruler.
- Drill, with 1.6 mm (1/16") bit.
- Printed or written template with antenna dimensions.
- Ball point pen or fine felt tipped marker.
YAGI Wifi ANTENNA CONSTRUCTION:
Assemble the yagi wifi antenna following the steps below, starting with preparation of the boom, followed by mounting the elements. After the elements are mounted, a suitable connector is added, and the antenna is tested over-the-air. Keep in mind that it can be connected to most usb wireless adapters by cutting the circuit board antenna trace and patching in a pigtail feeding the antenna.
- Draw a line as accurately as possible down the center of one side of the wooden boom.
- Mark the boom centerline 5 cm from one end. This is the "zero location," where the director element will be mounted.
- Continue down the boom, carefully marking the locations of each element on the centerline.
- Carefully drill through the boom at each element's location. Make sure to drill straight through the boom, emerging on the other side still centered and perpendicular.
- For a no-drill alternative, carefully cut a perpendicular groove across the boom, to a depth of 2 mm.
- Cut one element at a time, carefully measuring each element before and after cutting, trimming as necessary for proper length. File the wire ends and make sure the lengths are as accurate as possible!
- Press elements through the boom, centering each before moving to the next element.
- If you cut grooves for the elements instead of drilling holes, press the elements into the grooves, and make sure each is straight and centered. Affix them permanently with epoxy.
Element positions marked
The reflector element
- For the driven element, cut a 130 mm length of wire, and make a 180 degree bend 30 mm from one end. Mount in boom, then make a bend 30 mm from other end. Adjust as necessary to create a folded dipole just under 59 mm in length with 5 mm spacing.
- Double check all elements, making sure all are centered and parallel.
- Attach a pigtail (or connector) to open ends of folded dipole.
Folded dipole prior
The driven element
After all of the elements are measured, cut, and mounted, the antenna should resemble the finished yagi pictured below. Connect the pigtail or connector to the driven element. Then connect the wi-fi adapter or wireless router to the antenna and start checking over-the-air signal strengths. Note that the antenna may be sensitive to polarization: when the antenna seems to bring in the best signal, rotate it to find the best polarization. Mounting the antenna is possible using commonly available hardware, such as 90 degree angle brackets, U bolts, or even velcro.
YAGI Wifi ANTENNA TESTING:
For the most practical method of signal checking, consider using a wifi auditing utility such as Kismet or Slitaz Aircrack-ng. Either of these will produce a rapidly updated received signal strength indication that is useful for comparing or aiming wifi directional antennas. Make a set of measurements for any desired wi fi access points on the original antenna, then make a new set for the yagi wifi antenna.
The antenna should exhibit high forward gain and front-to-back ratio. A prototype in fact performed as well as the wi-fi 12 turn helical antenna shown elsewhere in these pages. Indeed, the antenna exhibits near the theoretical 15 db gain, enabled broadband connections at 54 MB/S over a path that at best reached 11 MB/S on an unmodified wifi adapter. Again, for ultimate performance over long distance wifi links, use a short version of the yagi to feed a parabolic reflector as well as a high powered wifi adapter.
Watch a video the wi fi yagi antenna construction on Youtube:.
Egads! Someone made a very well constructed wifi yagi with a plexiglass boom! Their video adds some hip hop music and slick graphics to showcase this design. It retains attributions and links to this page, so the webmaster is happy to see it! There are others too! One person, in China, built one and created a smart-phone access point covering a long section of street.
Good luck building the yagi wifi antenna, and may you enjoy solid long range connections!
Tags: Wireless Access, Wifi Antenna, Wifi Booster, Wifi Extender, Wireless Yagi Antenna, Long Distance Wifi Access