Before you proceed, you can gain some familiarity with generic info on selecting an external antenna. Another article describes typical connectors and cables used by 802.11b devices:
"802.11b Homebrew Antenna Shootout". Pringles Yagi, Tin Can Waveguide, Omni and others. The very cheap, very easy, tin can waveguide beats the pringles in performance, cost and simplicity.
http://www.wirelessnetworkproducts.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=29 (They have the pigtail you will need to connect a pringles can antenna to a Access point or wireless card.
Includes directions to build the antenna from cans
A HOWTO for a modular variation of the Pringles/Beefstew antenna
http://www.novawireless.org/antenna/ (DEAD LINK 3/2006)
Slotted Waveguide Antenna (Omni or 180 degree Sector)
http://www.paramowifix.net/antenas/guiaondas_marshall.html (spanish translation)
15 dBi Yagi
11 dBi Directional Panel antenna designs
2.4Ghz Omnidirectional Vertical Collinear Antenna Designs
A passive repeater:
Modifying a wireless cable TV Antenna for use with Wireless Networking
Antenna Comparison Testing
Guerrilla.net Workbench. extensive network link, antenna, and other RF calculation tools. (project is similar to ours, but appears stymied)
The folks in Canberra, Australia ( http://www.air.net.au/ ) have directions for making a helical 2.4 GHz antenna by hand (using PVC piping and copper wire).
They also reuse defunct old pay-TV dishes with defunct old (pre-802.11) WaveLan cards for their wireless network.
Here's a great example using a Primestar DSS satellite TV dish.
This guy made a really scary antenna for his ZoomAir card from cable TV wire, a sheet of copper, and some solder. It was inspired by a Pepsi can. He says it works great.
http://www.allcompc.com/ - LMR-400, pigtails, surge suppressors, etc. Very good prices.
http://www.ee.washington.edu/stores/local_stores.html - list of seattle region electronics stores
Video on how to make your own cantenna:
Within this heading, icon for Seattle Wireless and user group member discounts.
AntennaSystems antenna Same company, but this page offers antennae by type, manufacturer, and frequency range. [Cf. below]
BAProducts - N Connectors
Cantenna (Wireless Garden) Super Cantenna, 12 dBi indoor Wi-Fi antenna, $19.95 (2006/03/14 $50 list.)
Cushcraft .us and .ca distributors
EdigitalWireless 200mW Senao/Engenius equipment, matches or beats all competitor prices. User Group Discounts
FAB-Corp Provides a Seattle Wireless discount, i.e. pigtails $15, regular price $21
HDCom very complete site of antennae and other WLAN products. Mention Seattle Wireless, receive 5% discount. Wholesale prices, and further discounts for larger quantities too.
InvictusNetworks Stocking Distributor of Pacific Wireless and many others, please call. [Is this an advert?]
JefaTech Great prices on wireless equipment including pigtails and antennae
MoonblinkWiFi Wide selection of wireless equipment. Excellent pricing and bulk discounts
NetNimble Take a look at the outdoor AP and cool solar package.
OSElectronics - N connectors
Solectek San Diego-based broadband wireless manufacturer
Pasadena Networks (wlanparts). Aggressive discounts for freenets and community wireless
Pasadena.net store Mag mount, panel, and omni antennae, pigtails, cables
Riskinformatica Also European Union. Senao, Buffalo, cable and pigtails. Prices for Europe and South America. Discount for groups and wireless comunities
Superpass Good selection and prices on flat panel sector antennae
Teletronics Antennae, amps, splitters, and cables
TimesAntenna Manufacturer and exporter of 2.4GHz-5.8GHz antennae
Wireless-Kit European Union Belgian-based wireless consultancy with a sideline in Wi-Fi hardware at great prices
WirelessNetworkProducts has indoor antennae and indoor/outdoor antennae and more.
WispShop 200mW equipment. Offers discounts to all Wireless User Groups. Ask for coupon code.
WLANmall Wireless bridge Ever expanding online offering of Wireless bridging and WLAN equipment
Continetnal Computers Build end to end core and wireless solutions on a tight budget
1.3. Cable and Electronic Parts (have not bought from them yet)
InvictusNetworks Over 30,000' of cable in stock in Portland, OR, call or check web site. [Advert?]
BAProducts - N Connectors
OSElectronics - N connectors
Vetco Electronics - various connectors, shells, and pigtails. Their store is located on Northup Way between NE 130th and 124th, next to Iron Works gym. Details are on their website, including revised hours. They carry components as well (IC's, resistors, caps etc.)
It seems that most people will inevitably need a PigTail if they use an external antenna. Local sellers that may carry pigtails, connectors include:
AntennaSystems - bought from them, and I got what I needed. Just call or e-mail.
InvictusNetworks, located in Portland, OR, stocking all popular pigtails starting at $9.50
Cantenna, Wireless Garden. RF-Pigtail and Wi-Fi antenna site. The price per cable is $19.95
HDCom (Mention seattle wireless for 5% discount)
Advanced Cable Systems located on 132nd and Northup Way in Bellevue. They also sell USB repeaters. When I visited the store, they even offered to make a one-off pigtail on the spot. Their weakness is in MMCX connectors though. (Apparently no longer in business. Does anyone know what happened to them?)
Vetco Electronics Located in Bellevue on Northup Way (12718 Northup Way). Usually have weird adapters and surplus pigtails.
For local and for more suppliers, cf. Buying pigtails (and connectors) on the PigTail page. The section has become the consolidation of the sorted pigtail, connector, and cable suppliers, including above and those also on the AntennaCable page and Sources on the ConnectorsAndCable page.
2. Link Hardware
2.1. Commercial Systems
Complete wireless bridge bundles include, radios, antennae, cables, under $500
Quick and easy link page - http://www.wirelessnetworkproducts.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=20
Reviews of wireless LAN hardware (Cisco wins):
The AppleAirport, while no longer the cheapest it is still a nice access point. It lacks some flexibility, but a number of people have made "unofficial" enhancements:
http://www.macwindows.com/airportpc.html (User experiences with Airport using different client cards)
http://edge.mcs.drexel.edu/GICL/people/sevy/airport/ (Java configurator for non- AppleComputer hosts)
http://macintouch.com/airportantenna.html (Modifying the antenna for greater range)
http://www.msrl.com/airport-gold/ (Adding 128-bit encryption)
The Linksys WAP11 is one of the cheapest access points on the market under $150. It offers some neat features that you would not expect in such an inexpensive device like bridging and access point client modes.
http://www.wirelessnetworkproducts.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=228 (Link to Full range of kits using the Linksys WAP11)
Guerrilla.net has just released a Senao AP3 / CB3 hardware hacking page that covers tips and tools on how to program the IP2022, which is the embedded processor that runs the show in the AP3 / CB3, schematics on how to build a programming dongle for the In-System Programming port, which you can populate on the board, as well as instructions on how to convert an AP3 into a CB3 and back again.
2.2. DIY Node/Router Hardware
Absolute Value Systems (AVS) offers a "developers kit" which is basically a mini motherboard, four wireless LAN cards, and Linux in a box. If this is affordable (It's not , as it's $10,000+! -Eric), it could be a useful hardware platform.
miteROUTER looks pretty interesting. There are a couple of models. 386 and 486 based.
RootInc root inc. in japan have a series of wireless routers available, i beleive that they are currently working to get regulatory approval in american and europe. They run NetBSD.
The LART is a small, StrongArm-based hardware platform developed by researchers at TU Delft looking to prototype wireless multimedia applications. LART systems are not (yet?) commercially available, but you can download the schematics and roll your own. Many SeattleWireless members believe a LART-like system could form the basis of a "node in a box" plug-and-play solution.
Soekris have a nice system into which you can plug a MiniPCI 802.11b card:
There is an OpenBSD distro called embsd which works on the above board, they sell a complete system (board + case + wireless card + antanna) here:
Cheap PC-based Linux hardware may be useful for building nodes.
ITOX (a division of DFI, the PC motherboard manufacturer) sells EBX motherboards with (3) 10/100 LAN and 3 PCI slots, possibly useful in an embedded router system. Socket-370 CPUs, use one with a low-power Cyrix C3 CPU and passive heatsink.
Here's something completely different: directions for building a cheap serial transceiver using a laser pointer. The speed is probably slow and it's unclear how well this will survive rain and fog, but wireless optical networking is an interesting field.
KE5FX describes "An Experimental Microwave Data Link for 10-Megabit Ethernet" that's truly DIY (he built his own radio!).
Ronja is an Open-Hardware optical datalink that connects two PC's point-to-point. Ronja's design is licensed under the GNU Public License: you get all the necessary documentations and construction guides free. The construction costs are minimal, it's probably the cheapest wireless system ever. The operation is very reliable and immune to interference
4. Storefronts in Seattle area
This section under work.
- Radio Shack (everywhere)
- Vetco Electronics (Bellevue)
- House of Science (Seattle)
- Supertronix (Tukwila/Southcenter)