Tactical WiFi Cantenna.

Posted by Wes | Posted in Tech | Posted on 14-04-2011

This project was largely based off of the CookieCantenna from Seattle Wireless.
The main can used is the can from Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies thus the name. It is preferable because it is a tall, straight walled, metal can with a 4″ diameter. If you are just here for the pictures then scroll down.

As a warning, the pictures are huge.

For the exact measurements, see the tutorial here.

I cut out the bottom of the can (It is preferable to use the lid as the back end of the can as the bottom is rippled) and marked where the holes needed to be cut for the N type panel jack. I then attached a 4″ to 6″ heating duct adapter and soldered it to the can. After removing the paint and with the correct application of flux, the solder will stick to the metal can and heating duct adapter. After that, I attached the modified N type jack.

Radioshack sells an N type to SMA pigtail but this is the wrong type as WiFi uses the RP-SMA connector and the other end is a female N type connector. As I am impatient I bought an N type coupler so I could attach the pigtail to the cantenna. To get a RP-SMA connector I cannibalized an old wifi antenna from my shitty Netgear card (playing Minecraft would cause a driver conflict and give me the old BSOD). The Radioshack pigtail is not of the most robust quality and I would suggest buying a better quality one that does not need to be modified.

I had an old broken airsoft spring pistol and used the grip to make a handle for the cantenna. After cutting the grip to fit, I attached it with epoxy putty. The magazine lock was still functioning so I placed a 1/4 – 20 hammer in nut in the bottom of the magazine so the cantenna can be mounted to a tripod. If you need to manually point the cantenna you can press the magazine release and lift it off then replace it in it’s old position when finished.

The open end is covered with a microwave transparent plastic lid from a container of powdered onion soup. After it was assembled and tested, I covered the N type connector and painted it with a high build primer followed by 2 coats of Rust-Oleum truck bed coating mostly because it is supposed to be very durable and partly because I like the look of the textured finish.

For the WiFi I used the ALPHA AWUS036H. I chose usb so that I could keep the pigtail short and because it came with a mount, I could mount it directly to the cantenna. The 1000mw power rating and the Realtek RTL8187L chipset were also major selling points.  I do not possess the equipment to get the gain of this cantenna but this design is purported to get +18db.  I can only confirm that it does function as expected.  I estimate a range of a couple hundred feet non-line-of-sight.

And now for the eye-candy.

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Glamor Shot.
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Easy detachment!
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Above you can see how it is mounted to a tripod.
the image
The workhorse.
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I am not the best at spray painting.
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Easy detachment!

Edit: Featured on HackADay.com

  • http://twitter.com/iToasterman iToast

    Nice, just police might not trust it XD

  • Anonymous

    iToast: They don’t trust many things.

    • http://twitter.com/iToasterman iToast

      true

  • http://purakushi.blogspot.com Wahlgren

    I’m already busy with other hacking projects and then I stumble by this! Great work and thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    For us folk with no hacking experience what so ever….I think I understand the concept but just want to make sure.  If I am at a location with no wifi service and want to gain access to the enternet, this will help me pick up available service that is out of my base laptop range?  If i’m totally missing the point, please explain…because what I just said above is what I am looking for….Thanks in advance =)

    • Wes

      That is pretty much it. It extends the range of whatever device you have plugged into the antenna. In this case, I have a 1 Watt Transceiver hooked up to the antenna which helps extends the range quite a bit more.

  • Anonymous

    okay, one more stupid question, I just clicked on “subscribe” below and it appeared to work just fine and said I would be updated via email…..but I was never asked to provide my email??  what’s up with that?? lol

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