Increase WiMax USB Modem Signals Even Further – Cantenna Version 2

An improvement over the Wimax Cantenna I shared in my last post, this configuration has taken the signal strength to new heights – ie. from the 40-60% of v1 to a consistent 80%!

The principal is the same as version 1: take a 330ml can, cut it into half (but laterally this time). Chop off both ends so that we are left with a concave sheet, make a slit in the center to insert the USB modem in, and try it out. I used scissors to cut the can, but be careful not to cut yourself. Plug the modem in, and find the angle and orientation that gives the best signal.

I get an 80% signal when the modem is almost parallel to the table surface, which is very counter-intuitive (as we expect antennae to be upright), but it may have to do with the relative position of the tower from my home in this small valley – and as long as it works, who cares!

Cantenna Version 2 Cantenna Version 2

Please do share your experience in the comments if you are a(n unfortunate) Wateen customer and if you try this hack out.

Cantenna and Plantenna for Wimax

A fixed line PTCL DSL is not a viable option for me in Abbottabad, so as luck would have it, I ended up owning not one, but two Wateen Wimax connections after moving to Abbottabad from Lahore – I believe this irony has something to do with god deciding to punish me for my sins in this world rather than the hereafter.

My first Wateen router, the indoor CPE, did not work out of the box, as I live on the ground floor and Wimax was probably invented exclusively for people higher up. After trying a hundred locations all around the house, multiplied by a hundred different angles and orientations, the best signal strength that I could find was a measly 2/5 bars, which translated to a 20Kbps out of the 1Mbps speed that I was paying for. Out of sheer desperation, I tried placing the device sideways and facing upwards, which is the exact opposite of how it is supposed to stand, and placed it closer to the floor, under a plant – and in a eureka moment (anything that increases bandwidth is pure bliss, right?), the signal strength shot from 2/5 to 4/5 and even 5/5 bars! Apparently, the plant catches the signals and throws them downwards using some kind of druid magic.

Since then, my experiments show that most plants and small trees act as great Wimax antennae – for the USB modems, for example, if you are working from a park, sitting below a tree will give you at least a 20% increase in signal. Now I understand what Buddha was up to when chose to spend his life beneath a tree. So here it is, my plantenna

plantenna plantenna

Perhaps Yateem can resuscitate their business by giving out a plant with each modem. If you try this configuration, do let me know about your results.

A few months ago, Wateen released the USB version of its Wimax modem, which would be perfect for the “location independent professionals” if not for the same signal strength situation as the larger modem. Their towers are a kilometer from my house, but the USB modem failed function inside my house. As I did not intend to die by frost or mosquito bites, I was planning to return the device the next day when I decided to experiment with cantennas. The cantenna I made took the Wifi signal inside my home from a non-functional 0%-20% to a fully functional consistent 40%-60%!

cantenna wimax cantenna

The instructions are simple. Take a cola can, chop off the top half, create a slit wide at the base that is enough to place the can between the modem and its USB adapter and you are done. No wire loops to make, no can diameters to calculate and no need to wrap aluminum foil around concave surfaces.

I think this hack should also work with the EVDO USB devices, as I hear a lot of complaining regarding the signal strength from the PTCL EVDO users. If you try it out, I’d be very interested to hear about it in the comments.

P.S. Being away from one’s blog for months isn’t a great idea, but I have been busy coping with a lot of change – the deliberate kind (like moving from Lahore to Abbottabad for a while – more on that later) and the uncontrollable kind (my family getting into a car accident – more on that later).  I will resume the brain-dump here in the days to come.