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Boost a Weak 3G Modem Signal, With a Saucepan

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the raid-the-kitchen dept.

Hardware Hacking 146

modeca writes "Using only commonly available kitchen equipment this guy demonstrates the amazing powers of an ordinary metal pan to boost the 3G reception of his USB modem. It really seems to work, check the right hand side of the graph in the video." It's not that crazy: cheap antenna boosting (for USB WiFi dongles, Bluetooth, and more) has been elevated to a fine art in New Zealand.

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very scientific (2, Funny)

fasuin (532942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600852)

isn't it?

Re:very scientific (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601002)

The meaning of words change over time, and the meaning of fag is quite different from the beginning of the decade.
Once it was a derogatory term for a homosexual, in our increasingly homotolerant world, fag means someone who owns and iphone or ipod, and all the usual shiny Mac rubbish.
The average fag loves nothing more than to smear themselves with poop, then drool over their shinies for hours.

This is (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601462)

This is not actually bad quality flamebait.

Especially for Slashdot.

Re:This is (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601720)

I've seen better. It's spicy, but it lacks bouquet. It'd go well with fish.

Re:This is (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602706)

What is sad is the trolls and flamebaits have gotten so bad here that you would think that. Sigh...once upon a time Slashdot used to be home to the greatest trolls and flamers in the world bar none. We had guys that spent ages making very intricate and truly vulgar ASCII art, trolls that would go on for three or four pages before they got to the eating poop or incestuous sex, I mean you could really tell they put a lot of heart into it, you know?

Personally I blame digg and the chans. They have lowered the bar on trolling so badly that true artisans of the troll have left the hallowed halls for Slashdot for places where their malevolence and mischief will be appreciated, like working at Comcast, Goldman Sachs, or lobbying congress. It really is a shame, as another great art is slowly suffocated by the "dumbing down" of mass market appeal. The great trolls long past are looking down from under that great bridge in the sky and hanging their heads in shame. Truly a sad end for what was once a noble profession.

Re:very scientific (1, Funny)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601778)

The meaning of words change over time, and the meaning of fag is quite different from the beginning of the decade.

Really? At the beginning of the decade it meant a cigarette. Based on my attempts to "bum a fag, mate" in Leicester Square last weekend, it still means a cigarette. Was there something I missed?

Re:very scientific (2, Funny)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602278)

My favorite sentence that has totally different meanings in US and UK English is "I was so pissed that I couldn't find a fag when I had that torch."

Who knew? (4, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600854)

Who knew that tinfoil hats actually _boosted_ reception. It's a government conspiracy I tell you.

Re:Who knew? (2, Funny)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600974)

The solution is to cover your entire body in tin foil, faraday cage!

Re:Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601044)

Your 'solution' is hindered by one's lack of ability to acquire 'tin' foil.

Re:Who knew? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601288)

If you want to be a dick about it, you can acquire still, just not at the supermarket.

http://www.advent-rm.com/lines.asp?criteria=materialform&materialID=48&FormID=4

Re:Who knew? (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601036)

Who knew that tinfoil hats actually _boosted_ reception.

everyone but you [mit.edu]

Re:Who knew? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602300)

Are tinfoil hats omnidirectional?

oh, nice. (5, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600856)

a pantenna.

Re:oh, nice. (5, Funny)

moodz (514621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600986)

hmmm yes i can see the pot-ential.

Re:oh, nice. (5, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601234)

I should probably just wok away, but I can't resist.

Re:oh, nice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601278)

Sauce plz.

Re:oh, nice. (5, Funny)

Jophish (1489121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601378)

Let's not get curried away

Re:oh, nice. (4, Funny)

Panoptes (1041206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601478)

I'm pasta caring.

Re:oh, nice. (3, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601776)

Such fun with pots and puns.

Re:oh, nice. (2, Funny)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601516)

You are addicted to pot?

Easily done (4, Informative)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600866)

You can find plans for aluminum foil and cardboard reflectors in many places as well. Here's one now!

http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template/ [freeantennas.com]

They work great.

Re:Easily done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601218)

Mirror: http://exe64.com/mirror/wokfi/ [exe64.com]

New Zeland (5, Funny)

Jbcarpen (883850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600922)

New Zeland appears to have been Slashdotted.

Re:New Zeland (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600978)

I just spell it En Zed.

Re:New Zeland (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601318)

No, it's Tim Finnland.

Re:New Zeland (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601394)

Tm Fnnlnd

Re:New Zeland (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601430)

So they've been hosed. Enzed [enzed.com.au]

Re:New Zeland (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601488)

Which reminds me I need to buy a hose adapter today. Its 35 degrees C and the hose from my tank can't reach all the garden.

Re:New Zeland (2, Insightful)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601790)

Does it shrink in the heat or something?

Re:New Zeland (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601896)

Yeah, we're going up to 38 on Sunday and it's going to be a hot, dry summer. Goodbye, lawn.

Moola! (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600958)

I'm gonna buy up 10,000 of those pans and sell them on Ebay as a "Hi-tech USB modem booster" for $69.95. That is until IBM patents the pan.

Re:Moola! (3, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601350)

That is until IBM patents the pan.

Take the high road, son.

Patent the pan before IBM does.

Re:Moola! (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601400)

Patent the pan before IBM does.

Do you really think *I* can compete with IBM's bribery power?
   

Re:Moola! (1)

Jbcarpen (883850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602144)

Nah, your 'I' might not, but considering the shit that gets through the USPTO, your 'BM' may be able to.

Re:Moola! (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601442)

No, the pan is a specific physical object. It's much better to patent the method of use. That way you can get people using any kind of kitchen utensil.

Re:Moola! (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601838)

Yeah, this would also avoid the issue of prior art.

Though I think some have already tried directing/deflecting signals using spoons...

Now I am torn (5, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30600996)

Between my liking for my wife's prawn crackers and my need for a good 3G signal.

Re:Now I am torn (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601160)

Take up shoplifting.

Re:Now I am torn (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601412)

Between my liking for my wife's prawn crackers and my need for a good 3G signal.

Please keep your romantic procedures to yourself.
       

Re:Now I am torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601522)

LOL, you made my day!

Re:Now I am torn (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601582)

LOL

I represent the International Business Machines company....

Re:Now I am torn (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602306)

LOL

I represent the International Business Machines company....

And a new meme is born!

Re:Now I am torn (1)

story645 (1278106) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601560)

Ikea sells the pots for $10.

Re:Now I am torn (5, Funny)

jpedlow (1154099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601568)

But with a good 3G connection, you can get all the prawn you can handle!

Re:Now I am torn (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601606)

You owe me a new keyboard. And I still haven't got the prawn.

Re:Now I am torn (3, Insightful)

dtmos (447842) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601846)

my wife's prawn crackers

If that's not a euphemism, it should be.

Hats off too (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601006)

It works so well that now I can get all the MacGyver episodes.

Hijacking advantage (2, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601018)

Isn't the real value here for wifi hijackers? Why park suspiciously outside the house/cafe with an open wifi node when you can snag it from out of sight?

Re:Hijacking advantage (3, Informative)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601266)

Welcome to the club. People have been doing this since wi fi was first publicly available. There are special antennas available that are much better than improvised ones, as well as special wireless radios that are hacked to give a stronger signal. For a long time, everyone was using WEP for security so that basically anyone with the right equipment also had access.

Re:Hijacking advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601882)

Yes, congrats to the GP for discovering war-driving.

Re:Hijacking advantage (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602700)

"special antennas available that are much better"

What are the cost of these antennas? If they are much more then some tin foil or an already purchased pot like the guy is using then their antenna is MUCH more cost effective.

Re:Hijacking advantage (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601572)

Wi-fi hijackers know perfectly well how to make a high-gain antenna. This is not rocket science.

rj

Re:Hijacking advantage (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601726)

Wasn't suggesting it was... although using a rocket to put a giant one 'o these in a low geosync orbit might qualify as such.

Re:Hijacking advantage (1)

JakartaDean (834076) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601632)

Isn't the real value here for wifi hijackers? Why park suspiciously outside the house/cafe with an open wifi node when you can snag it from out of sight?

I'm not an electrical / electronic / radio engineer, but I think I can take a stab at that: Because it's a 3G dongle. You might want to RTFA next time, or even just RTFS.

Re:Hijacking advantage (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601744)

The FS linked to a site that had everything to do with WiFi and nothing to do with 3G, so I was just mirroring their own confusion.

I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backpack (3, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601048)

Why not? I already have a GPS, mini binoculars, a radio scanner, a flash light, an external hard drive, a 20x zoom camera, multiple cables, a AAA/AA battery fast charger, batteries, a USB r/c flight sim controller (Realflight), a Logitec gamepad, a graphics tablet and a laptop in my backpack. I figure if I ever get into trouble and get searched the authorities will already think I'm some sort of hyper-nerd spy anyway. Heck if I didn't have to face the consequences it would be a laugh to catch a plane and cross into the US with my backpack just to see the look on TSA drone's face. Why not add a frypan to the mix? Now if only I could work out a way to fit a kitchen sink in my backpack.

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601226)

no. they'll just think you're a fucking loser. it's sad that you brag about this shit.

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601264)

fuck that was funny

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (3, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601238)

...TSA drone's face...

TSA personnel aren't drones. Drones have been much more effective.

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601380)

Sorry for the meta, but this is one of the funniest things i have read in a long time.
The look on the guys faces would be priceless.

Also, i am sure it would be fairly easy to make a fold-up sink. Pipes and fittings detachable.
Making it watertight at the bends is the only problem. I guess there could be another separate plate that you insert in to the sink to create a near perfect seal.

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (3, Insightful)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601484)

I guarantee they'll be there for hours ignoring the hi-tech and working out the significance of the frying pan.

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (1)

llamaxing (895844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601714)

Ford wrench, teflon tape.

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601866)

I think you too high opinion of you and your "tech" gear that you carry...... where you see "hyper-nerd spy", I'm seeing a damn dweeb that thinks a AAA/AA battery charger is nerd spy gear.

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601904)

Don't forget the Fleshlight.

Re:I think I'll start keeping a frypan in my backp (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602672)

What, no towel? Every hoopy frood carries a towel.

Top This! (no pun intended) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601064)

If you put on Mormon underwear and face east, you can receive signals from Voyager II.

Re:Top This! (no pun intended) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601074)

Seriously, do mormon have special type of underwear?

Re:Top This! (no pun intended) (2, Informative)

Tehrasha (624164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601232)

Yes, we do. It is akin to a full body version of the Jewish yamacha, which is lined with tinfoil of course.

*facepalm*

Re:Top This! (no pun intended) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602266)

yamacha

Uh...

*facepalm*

Ah, neatly confirming my theory that this "meme" is used primarily by fucking morons. Thank you!

Re:Top This! (no pun intended) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30601678)

Yes, yes they do. [dailymotion.com]

what's going on? (1)

supernova87a (532540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601092)

can someone explain what the pot is doing? Is it acting as a focusing/collimating device? Because if that were the case, I would expect the signal to be focused in the up direction, which I doubt is where the average wireless signal is coming from. Or is it somehow providing a larger surface area for signal collection in all directions, and focusing it internally to the modem? But I don't understand how that would work. Would love to hear a cogent explanation.

Most likely (4, Interesting)

Tehrasha (624164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601154)

He is probably located in a wifi-dead spot where singals bouncing off various buildings/objects causes some of them to arrive out of phase and cancel out. By placing the antenna in a pan, the signals are only arriving (mostly) from one direction and the out-of-phase signals are being blocked.

No magic. Just math. He certainly isnt using the pan as a reflector which then would more accurately 'boost' the signal.

Re:Most likely (1)

instarx (615765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602618)

Actually it isn't math, it's logic.

Re:Most likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602630)

He is probably located in a wifi-dead spot where singals bouncing off various buildings/objects causes some of them to arrive out of phase and cancel out. By placing the antenna in a pan, the signals are only arriving (mostly) from one direction and the out-of-phase signals are being blocked.

No magic. Just math. He certainly isnt using the pan as a reflector which then would more accurately 'boost' the signal.

You are shit.

Re:what's going on? (4, Interesting)

dtmos (447842) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601334)

I'm suspecting that the pot is shielding the modem from a nearby source of interference. There's probably 3G signal arriving from above (e.g., from a tower), and it will certainly be scattered by various objets d'home so that some signal will be available from the vertical. Since the modems typically have rancid selectivity, the source of interference doesn't even have to be in the 3G band -- it could be a Wi-Fi access point, microwave oven, or any number of other things.

Re:what's going on? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601466)

Maybe the signal strength shown on his computer includes signals reflected from the pan back into the wifi modem.

Re:what's going on? (2, Insightful)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602576)

Maybe the signal strength shown on his computer includes signals reflected from the pan back into the wifi modem.

Just to be sure, I watched the video again. The graph on his computer was measuring download speed in KB/s rather than actual signal strength. Although there's a correlation between the two, I'd tend to agree with the other posters who have postulated that the pot was more likely attenuating interfering signals rather than boosting the desired ones.

Re:what's going on? (1)

cuby (832037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601968)

What the previous posters said seems right. The saucepan seems to have a diameter compatible to the wavelength of one of the UMTS bands (~15 to ~30cm), it may resonate or focus the RF beams to a nearby tower. Obviously this may work in this particular place, maybe at that particular time but is not a general solution.

Are you serious? (1)

Bubba (11258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601250)

I can't believe I still subscribe to slashdot RSS feeds. All I get is crap like this and stories that I saw two days ago on other sites. Talk about going down hill...

Re:Are you serious? (2, Insightful)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601794)

Try putting your slashdot rss feed in a pot.

Re:Are you serious? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602652)

Or reading it while on pot.

Pots and pans ain't nothing new... (2, Interesting)

t0p (1154575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601336)

I've seen stuff about people using woks [wonderhowto.com] and TV satellite dishes [instructables.com] to boost signal power, so there's nothing surprising about saucepans doing it too. I'd be interested to see a comparison of these improvised devices with "proper" boosters. Would I be better off saving my money and just rigging up an old wok instead?

Re:Pots and pans ain't nothing new... (2, Informative)

rantingkitten (938138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602710)

Depends on the application, I guess. Years ago, I was out of work, and so my phone got shut off, along with my DSL, leaving me with no useful way of communicating with the world. If I put a laptop on this certain part of the kitchen counter I could get a really weak wireless signal from one of the neighbors, but not enough to be useful. So I put a wok next to the antenna of the computer, and with a little adjustment in direction here and there, got a signal that way, decent enough to actually stream video most of the time.

It was an ancient 233mhz laptop with Windows 2000, so I enabled ICS and ran a cable from it to my router, which then fed the rest of my network. I did this for two months, which was very useful for sending out resumes and such. Without the wok, it didn't work at all; with the wok, it was fairly reliable.

So, yes, you may be better off with a wok or something similar, if your needs are modest. I did have a cantenna, built by my friend, but didn't feel like opening the laptop case to figure out how to connect the wires properly, and that would have been even more directional than the wok with no good way to prop it up to aim.

Dim-sum scoop works on modem antennas too (3, Informative)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601396)

I came accross the USB Wifi site [orconhosting.net.nz] by accident a couple years back. I recalled seeing the dim-sum scoops in the local chinese mini-mart up the road, so I went up and bought one (NZ$4.50), and leaned it behind my modem's wireless antenna, then went to my garage sleepout for guests, which previously was out of range. Using NetStumbler, I watched the graph while a friend adjusted the scoop in the house. It went up to a usable "Good/Excellant" signal.

I havent investigated why, but a wire mesh scoop seems better than a sold dish(Engineers will know I am sure).

Re:Dim-sum scoop works on modem antennas too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602504)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage

Works well for WiMax (2, Informative)

Coert (1710558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601486)

The approach works equally well with WiMax (clear.com). I am 5 miles from a tower, but get plenty of signal using a simple Al foil reflector. Boost was about 6 dBm.

Revese use (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601670)

Coming up next, make a peppercorn sauce with a 3G Modem Antenna.

This just in! (3, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601676)

In response to Verizon's "Map" ads, All AT&T 3G phones now come with a skillet. A new iPhone ad states: "Frying bacon and eggs for breakfast? There's an app for that"

Well that worked.... (5, Interesting)

skimitar (730902) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601728)

...against all expectations on my USB modem using a metal bowl I had lying around (think of a paraboloid with a flat bottom). Boosted download speeds on 3 consecutive tests by 50% (with bowl over without). Also, 3 tests in a row with no bowl showed some variation, but didn't peak at the same speed as with the bowl. Whod've thunk it.

Re:Well that worked.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602392)

Anyone with a ham radio license? Anyone here ever seen a direc-tv dish, by chance? Or any dish that one does not eat from?

cluster? (1)

relaxinparadise (943965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601730)

imagine how many starving children could be fed with a Beowulf cluster of these

Protip (5, Funny)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601770)

Spraying it down with Pam prevents the radio waves from sticking; worth at least 10 extra Mbps.

SNR help... (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601892)

it may be shielding it from an interference source and not necessarily "boosting" the signal, it might be lowering the noise - there is lots of crap at 2.4 GHz, cordless phones, microwave ovens, etc.. strong interferes will look like poor signal strength since the signal to noise ratio is low... just a thought...

Old time ham radio guys (2, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30601978)

Already knew about this sort of stuff.. Kids these days ..

Covered (1)

dledeaux (174743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30602160)

Seriously, Mark Erickson covered this years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY8Wi7XRXCA

Mark Erickson is awesome.

Rogers 3G package (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30602510)

Wow, suddenly I understand the pot that came as part of my Rogers 3G USB dongle package!

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