Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Desperate Times Call For… Engineering

As you may remember from my last entry, my dorm was struck by lightning about 3 weeks ago. Although things could be worse, as in my computer could have blown up or the whole housing establishment could have caught fire, instead we merely lost internet. However, this is not to be taken lightly. In fact, for someone like me in an age like this, internet is like a faithful sidekick – it’s always there and no matter how bad the going gets, the trusty steed is still there chuggin' along with you, except without internet, I feel I’ve lost my right hand man.

This is the first of a two part entry I will be putting together this week. I’ll be sharing my experience on coping with internet loss, and my journey to getting it back!

This is no Epic Narrative akin to Lord of the Rings or Star Wars etc, but it’s a story worth telling. The problem: I have no internet. The solution: DIY Wireless Range Extender, AKA, the Cantenna!

A Cantenna, for lack of a better term, is a combination of a Can and an Antenna. Basically, you can use a can and some crafty techniques to build yourself a cheap directional waveguide antenna for long range Wi-Fi.

Here’s what you need:
• A Can
• N Type Female Chassis connector
• 2”+ of #12 copper wire
• Nuts/Bolts
• A Desperate need for internet or otherwise curious as to how antennas work
• Solder/Soldering gun

This list will cost you about $10+, give or take a few bucks. Since I’ve never done this before, I ended up buying a bunch of stuff I didn’t need. Oops!

I actually already had the can of soup, soldering gun, and keyboard

I’ll be taking most of that back within the next week! Construction starts ASAP, as soon as I can finish a couple of other projects I’m working on!

It was harder than you think it would be to find all of this though, especially without internet. I had to use the good ol’ cell phone and call a dozen people before I found all that I needed. There are several stores not worth mentioning that didn’t have anything I needed, but the one store that did have everything was Tanner’s Electronics in Fort Worth… Thank you Tanner!

Despite my endless search for all my materials, there is still a diamond in the rough to be found here. A thin, modest and cute looking cashier with short light hair rang me up at Home Depot. She drew this on my receipt

She said "you have very pretty eyes" :) that made my day! It was pretty obvious I was flustered as I lost my stuff I bought 15 seconds ago and had to ask where I put them. She smiled and laughed as she pointed at them sitting on the checkout counter. In a nervous dash to end my embarrassment, I laughed and admitted to my social ineptitude, and briskly walked out the door, also forgetting where I parked. Nerdyness always gets the best of me in every situation…

End of part I