Poor Man’s Wifi

I’ve spent the last week or so trying to get Treah’s laptop on WVU’s wireless network. One problem she’s been having is the signal strength at her desk is way to weak. So I started looking at ways to increase the signal she is getting. I came across the Poor Man’s Wifi site. I decided to give it a try. I found an 8 inch mesh strainer at Kmart for $5. I thought that if the project didn’t work I’d only be out $5.

This is a pretty easy project. I took my drill and put 2 holes next to each other in the center of the strainer. I then cut out the metal between the 2 holes out . This made a single hole just about the right size for a male to female USB cable to fit through. I decided to use a male to female cable so that I could use different wifi adapters in the future. I ran the cable through the hole, and wedged the female end in so that about a 1/8 inch of the adapter was left not pushed through. Here’s a couple pictures, I think they’ll explain what I did better.




So now I had my antenna built. The idea behind it is that the strainer takes the signals in the air and concentrates them on a focal point in the center of the strainer. This would be where the USB wifi adapter sits.

I fired up netstumbler to see if this really helped. I was at home so this is signal strength of my home network, not WVU’s. So the numbers you see show a stronger signal than she was getting at WVU.

The first graph shows signal strength with the adapter plugged directly into the back of the laptop, without the antenna. As you can see I was getting around -65 db of signal.


Here is the graph with the wifi adapter running through the antenna. I was now seeing signal strength of around -45 db. One thing I noticed right away is that running through the antenna you have to get it aimed almost directly at your access point to see any improvements. You can see on the graph when my hand moved ever so slightly it resulted in a signal drop off.


I would have never guessed $5 would get a 20db gain. It’s a pretty ugly solution but I think it gets the job done. We’ll see what it does for Treah at her desk.

Different Perspective

As you know by now WVU won the NIT this season. You might not remember how they got there. We beat MIssissippi State in the semi-final round. We won on a buzzer beater 3 pointer by Darris Nichols.

I came across this video of the shot on youtube. It was taken from some one in the stands at the game, I assume with a cell phone. I think it better shows the environment after the shot than anything ESPN showed.

Place of “Learning”

I came across this comic. I imagine this is quite possibly what it’s like in a some classrooms these days. If not it probably isn’t to far off. Enjoy:


Hello Springfield

Ever wonder what you would look like as a character in the Simpsons? Well now you can find out. Head over to http://www.simpsonsmovie.com/main.html and click on the link at the top that says “Create Your Simpsons Avatar.”

Here’s what I came up with for myself:


Getting Greener


Over the last couple of weeks I have been trying to make a conscious effort to reduce my impact on the environment.

Probably the biggest thing I’ve done is start recycling at home. I know this is a late start but it’s better late than never right? What peaked my interest is that I found out my city offers curb side pick up. I called the city offices and requested more info about it. After looking over the literature they sent to me, I was so upset that I decided that it would be easier if I just brought the recycling to the recycling center a couple times a month. I have a sneaking suspicion that the city is trying to make this so difficult that no one will use the service. One thing I don’t get is why the city requires everything to be put in plastic bags instead of reusable plastic bins. This seems counter productive to me.

But wait there’s more. I’ve also fixed both leaky toilets in my house. I’ve switched most of the house to CCFL light bulbs. Treah has a couple canvas grocery bags. I’m not a huge fan of these, I still can’t get over the dork factor of bringing in your own grocery bags. When we do use plastic bags we have been saving them to take back to the store for recycling. I have also powered off most of my electronics that I do not use regularly, the others I have set to be in stand by mode. I know it’s not as good as turning them off, but it does use less power.

I have had a programmable thermostat for years now, but don’t used it like I should. It always has the same temperature set no matter what the time of day. I will be switching this to match our work schedules. In the mean time I have bumped up the temperature 2 degrees.

I think the worse thing I have going for me is my Jeep. It needed a fill up last night. I had used 14.1 gallons of gas since the last time I filled up. I had only gone a measly 168 miles since my last fill up. That averages out to 11.9 miles per gallon. Wow!

I took my Jeep to the dealer today for maintenance. I asked about the millage, they seemed to think that this was pretty average. They did rotate the tires and check the air pressure. They also suggested changing my air filter. I decided I could do this my self as they wanted to charge me $25 in parts plus labor costs to do this. The last time I checked air filters were only $10 or so from Auto Zone. I don’t anticipate these will increase my mileage drastically but every bit helps.

If there is any good news about my Jeep it is that I don’t use it all that often. It took over 2 weeks for me to build up those 168 miles. It mostly only gets me to and from work. Anything else I use Treah’s Hyundai Elantra. We’re getting between 25-30 miles per gallon in it, depending on the amount of city or interstate driving.

I hate to admit it but the Live Earth Concert kicked this green movement into gear for me. I know it is what the concert set out to do, but it seems kind of cliche. The concert encouraged people to visit http://www.earthlab.com. Here you can enter in your daily activities, how much your monthly utilities run, and it will output how many tons of pollutants you release per year. After doing this I found out that I was above the regional average. This is when I decided I should change. It’s all stuff that deep down I knew I should have been doing for a long time now.

July 2007
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