Overview

This article explores how to extend a wireless network using:
  • A Super Cantenna
  • Wireless Router
  • Open source firmware

Purpose

Say your house is close to campus but you can't get a strong enough wireless signal to connect to the internet from your home. Maybe you even pick up a wireless signal from the campus network outside your house but not inside. So sad.

Typically you might have a couple of options:
  • Buy internet from the cable company
  • Dig a trench and lay cable connecting yourself to the campus network
  • Not have internet in your house

Normally when you set up a wireless network in your house what you would do is get internet from an ethernet cable, you'd run that into a wireless router and re-broadcast that throughout your house. This won't work for us since all we have is a nearby wireless signal. So we're going to trick a wireless router to take the internet in via one of it's antennas, then using it's other antenna we're going to re-broadcast that signal into the house.

Process

Test it

Will this system work? Find out first, before you buy anything. Here is what you should do.
  • Do you have direct line of site from your house to a campus building? Nice.
  • How far a way is it? Less than 100 yards? Sweet!
  • Walk outside with your laptop, can you pick up a signal outside or near your house? Yes? Proceed to the next step

Buy some supplies

You'll need a couple of things:

DD WRT

Normally wireless routers don't want to get the internet in via the antenna (they expect internet to come in via the ethernet cable) so we're going to have to use an open source firmware called DD WRT. The easiest thing to do is to use the router search option to find the best version of the DD WRT firmware for your particular router. Download the firmware and proceed to the next step.

Flash new Firmware

Next you'll need to add new firmware to your router. This is something you can do from within the current firmware of your router. From here on out I'm assuming you are using the same router as mine (Linksys WRT54G).
  • Plug into your router using an ethernet cable
  • Open a browser and go to http://192.168.1.1/
  • Default username and password is 'admin'
  • Flash the new firmware onto your router, this article can help with this

Set up the new router

You will want to set the router to 'repeater mode'
Was there other stuff that I needed to do? I forget, but this article was pretty darn helpful I recall.

Connect the Cantenna

Unscrew one of the antennas and attach the Cantenna. You'll have to set the router antennas accordingly. I completely forget how I did this, but basically you have to tell the router which antenna to get the internet signal from and which to broadcast into the house.

Mount Cantenna

Once it's all working mount the cantenna outside the house, run the cable through the wall and power up the router.